Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One
Got a ukulele, it’s in tune and your now ready for your first `ukulele lesson.
For the first lesson you'll learn to following basics:
- What is a `Ukulele Chord Diagram is and how the read it?
- Your first chord, the chord everyone learns first: C major.
- The types of chords possible on ukulele.
- Fingering Drills for developing finger independence and strength.
- The Major Scale - The major scale or Ionian scale is one of the most commonly used musical scales, especially in Western music.
You’ll also learn a basic strumming pattern, the primary chords of the common key of C major and the names of the open strings.
NOTE Although these lessons are presented as a weekly series you can take as long as you like to master each week's lesson.
The lessons in this series are viewable from the Lessons... tab above.
Understanding the Ukulele Chord Diagram
If we had to wait to learn the notes of the ukulele fingerboard, the principles of how chords are created and what the notes of any chord that we wanted to play – there wouldn't be many ukulele players around.
We live in a visual world and as the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words.”. So, before I right a thousand words here's a lesson I created explaining the chord grid that is used the represent the notes of a chord without having to wait to learn what the inner workings of a chord are.
Your First Chord
Your first ukulele chord is typically an open position C major chord. It’s only one finger and ukulele players love to show new players this, the easiest, usable ukulele chord for new players.
Memorize and visualize this chord.
Using Songs to Learn Ukulele
There are two approaches when learning a musical instrument like the ukulele or guitar. One approach that is very popular with the ukulele goes right along with its “easy” to play reputation. This approach uses songs to learn the ukulele.
A second approach is to learn what would be consider the “basics” before working with songs. This would be akin to the apprenticeship system developed in the Middle Ages. An apprentice would develop his or her skills at the foot of a master for several years before going on their own. My personal opinion when learning a musical instrument is to seek out a master teacher or two and study with them one-on-one.
The Quarter Note Strum
After you get your first ukulele chord, the C chord down, you can learn a basic strum. The first is the Quarter Note Strum. from this strum we can derive variations and new strums.
Chords and music are organized into bars or measures. For the Basic “Four” Beat Strum, the number of beats per bar or measure is four. This is the most common number of beats per bar used in songs.
One of the most basic strumming patterns you can do, and the foundation for future patterns is the Quarter Note Strum. As the name implies this strumming pattern is one quarter note per beat. For songs in common 4/4 time where there are four beats per measure or bar. This is one down stroke per beat.
Use this strum for practicing the chord switches for this weeks lessons.
Types of Ukulele Chords
The types of chords possible on ukulele.
Open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part, a.k.a. jazz chords and free from chords.
Really a chord is three or ore notes play together or almost together. Chords can be played on any instrument that is capable of playing three or mores notes at a time. So a chord is a chord no matter where it is being played. If it’s on a ukulele I guess it’s a ukulele chord
The more important thing to learn is an organization of chords and that there’re far too many possible chord shapes to learn all your chords by shape alone.You need a plan for learning chords beyond learning a few core chords by shape.
Primary Chords - C Major
The primary chords are the three major chords that are the main chords of the key. The primary chords create the tension and resolution in music that gives a chord progression emotion – a feeling of rest and resolution or constance and dissonance.
After learning the C major chord or the C chord. Learn the F, G and G7 open position chords. With these four chords you can play countless songs in the key of C major.
Using the Quarter Notes strum focus on switching between C, F, G and G7.
Ultimately any chord can go an any chord so practice all the following combinations:
- C to F
- C to G
- C to G7
- F to C
- F to G
- F to G7
- G to C
- G to F
- G to G7
- G7 to C
- G7 to F
- G7 to G
This will cover all possible connections. Practice switching at a SLOW tempo and slowly increase the tempo as you get comfortable with the chords.
Visualize the next chord while you’re on the current chord.
Play each chord on the one of the Quarter Note strum, sustaining the chord through the two, three and four counts.
When switching from one chord to another chord have your fingers take the shortest route from the current chord to the next chord. Look for efficient motion to the next chord.
With these Three Chords you can play a lot of songs.
Learning The Ukulele Fingerboard
There’s nothing that gives you more return for effort than really learning the names of the notes of the fingerboard of the ukulele. This is not that same as learning the music notation for every note of the fingerboard – is’s just the name.
If you got your ukulele in tune you might have inadvertently learned the names of the open strings and fret (12) as well. The open strings are G C E A from ceiling to floor, strings four to one.
Technique - Single Finger - Single Note Fingering Drills
The Ukulele Gymnastics series contains quite a few lessons for developing your finger strength and independence of the fretting hand. The fretting hand is responsible for playing chords and single notes. The fretting hand and plucking hand are responsible for getting the music out.
The Major Scale
So much music originates or can be directly related to a scale that it's beneficial to dive right in and understand the function of scales in music. And, there is not better scale to start with than the Major scale.
Reading Ukulele TAB - Alternate Notation
Reading Music is the ability to reproduce music from written notation. It includes five phases: note recognition, alternate note locations, rhythm recognition, fingering considerations, communication terminology and interpretations.
TAB or Tablature is an alternate form of musical notation, which tells players where to place their fingers on a particular instrument rather than which pitches to play.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys.
Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G
Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G. Shows natural, sharp and flat notes for the ukulele fingerboard. This tuning can be used on a soprano, concert, tenor and baritone ukuleles.
Log-in to access.
Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths
A handy reference chart of all 15 major and relative minor key signatues.
Log-in to access.
Open Position Flash Cards for Ukulele C Tuning
Standard music notation flash chards for learning the notes in open position for C tuning.
Log-in to access.
Movable 7th Chords for Ukulele Chord Chart - C Tuning
A handy dandy single sheet chart showing the each voicing of the four, seventh chords Big Six seventh chord voicings.
Log-in to access.
Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - Open Strings
There is nothing that returns more value for your investment when learning a fretted musical instrument like the ukulele than really, and I mean really knowing the names of the notes of the fingerboard. This is not the same as learning to read music â€” but simply knowing the name of any note on the fingerboard - intuitively, second-nature.
Your First `Ukulele Chord
Your first ukulele chord is typically an open position C major chord. It's only one finger and ukulele players love to show new players this, the easiest, usable ukulele chord for new players. Especially someone coming from guitar where an open position C major is three fingers and not that easy as the first chord.
Reading Music on `Ukulele Series - Reading in Open Position
This series of lessons will allow you finally, to check that Reading item off your music To Do list. Learning to read standard music notation opens a world of music to you. Music notation is the Lingua franca of amateur and professional musicians alike.
Key Signatures - C Major and A Minor
Learn the recognize the key signature for C Major and A Minor. Learn their corresponding Major and Natural Minor scales with basic ukulele chords for each scale. Sometimes called the learning key, the key of C Major is one of the easiest keys to memorize and begin using.
Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - C Tuning
Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard. Learning the notes of your instrument allows you the flexibility of not having to remember so many shapes. There are simply way too many chords, scale and notes patterns, and shapes to remember. It all comes down the notes.
This series of lessons is intended to take a beginning ukulele player, just Getting Started through the basics. Your goal, as well as mine, is to help you create a solid foundation for future learning and development with this fun, cool instrument - the `ukulele. This series of lessons are also a great refresher for all players who've been playing for awhile or are in a position to offer assistance or advice to fellow players.
No related songs for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One at this time.
No videos for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One at this time. Filming a lot of videos for various lessons, songs and books.
FREE Plan - A limited selection of basic lessons ( currently over 140 ) and 100+ songs for ukulele as well as basic general music reference material — Completely FREE — Simply Register/Signup to access associated lessons, books, songs and their related assets.
NOTE: Each higher membership level includes ALL the benefits of each of the lower levels of membership. The Private Lesson Plans include all the benefits of the Premium Access Plans
Just browsing over both books, they look fantastic! I'm a guitarist and uke player for over 25 years and was thinking about writing a ukulele book but you've already written what I think are the best, most comprehensive and thorough books I've ever seen for the instrument. I just might end up buying every book you've written and I'll be giving my highest recommendation for your books to my friends and students. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such great books! — Peter Rhee
Aloha, Curt, All I can say is WOW! What you have accomplished is simply incredible! All the best — Glen Hirabayashi, The Aloha Boys
Folks, if you haven't stopped by Curt's site, do so right now! ..And get his books, they are fantastic. This guy knows his stuff and is able to pass it along too. — Alan Johnson Proprietor, The 4th Peg
I can highly recommend Curt's Uke books — I have four of them and they are excellent. — fatveg — Portland
Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!
Original Curtie Animation - 1987 for my first web site
31 years ago years ago.
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.
LearningUkulele.com has one of the largest collections of lessons, songs, and TABS, luthiers, ukulele builders, ukulele festival and club information, and, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!