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Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One FREE LESSON
Published: 2013-10-31 Updated: 2017-01-20 00:00:00 • 4566

Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One

The FIRST lesson on the series for getting started with `ukulele.

by Curt Sheller, Curt Sheller Publications

Got a ukulele, it’s in tune and your now ready for your first `ukulele lesson.

For the first lessons one 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 their More... 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

PERMANENT LINK: https://LearningUkulele.com/lessons/getting-started-with-ukulele-week-one

Additional Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Additional Lessons, Books, Songs, Lessons Series, Reference Material, etc...

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.

Members Only
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Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths

A handy reference chart of all 15 major and relative minor key signatues.

Members Only
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Open Position Flash Cards for Ukulele C Tuning

Standard music notation flash chards for learning the notes in open position for C tuning.

Members Only
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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.

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Related Lessons

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Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - Open Strings

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Understanding a `Ukulele Chord Diagram

The basic `Ukulele chord diagram is explained.

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Types of `Ukulele Chords

Open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part "jazz" chords, and free form chords.

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Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - 10 step Program

You CAN now master that crazy notes layout of the `ukulele.

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Quarter Note Strum

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Primary Chords - C Major

The I, IV, and V chords of the C major scale.

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Your First `Ukulele Chord

The FIRST chord every `ukulele player learns is...

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Reading Music on `Ukulele Series - Reading in Open Position

Music notation is the Lingua franca of amateur and professional musicians alike

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Key Signatures - C Major and A Minor

Sometimes called the learning key, the key of C Major is one of the easiest keys to memorize and begin using.

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The Major Scale

The most important scale in music.

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Whole Steps and Half Steps Explained

The distance between any two notes can be defined by steps.

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One Finger-One Note Basic Single String Fingering Drills for `Ukulele

Developing physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination.

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Using Songs to Learn `Ukulele

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Standard Music Notation

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Ukulele Chords

This mini (1/2 size) chord book is the perfect size for every ukulele gig bag or case and a great addition to you music book library.

Ukulele Chords covers basic open position and basic movable form chords. From these two chord categories a variety of songs and styles can be played.

Seventh chords, Major Sevenths, Minor Sevenths, Diminished, Augmented chords sus and add chords.

Tunings: C with low or high G - (GCEA or gCEA).

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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.

Beyond knowing the names of the open strings, most players find it hard to learn the whole fingerboard. You need to know the names of the notes like it's second nature - just being able to figure them out is too slow.

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Ukulele- Reading Music Series - Primer

Learn to read single note melodies in the first/open position. It is a lot easier than you might think with this step-by-step easy to use approach. Tunings: C with low or high G - (GCEA or gCEA).

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A Guide to Ukulele Strums

Learn a variety of strums and rhythmic patterns in wide range of musical styles.

One of the first skills a ukulele player learns is the art and craft of strumming, playing rhythm. This refers to an accompaniment technique suitable for the singer, singer - songwriter or someone who plays a support role for another instrument.

Strumming requires a specific set of skills:

  • Memorization of chords
  • The ability to switch chords smoothly
  • The ability to choose and execute a suitable rhythmic strum

It's this 3rd skill that is our focus in A Guide to Ukulele Strums and Rhythmic Patterns.

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Getting Started Series of `Ukulele Lessons

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.

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No related songs for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One at this time.

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No videos for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One at this time. Filming a lot of videos for various lessons, songs and books.

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

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