Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One

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

Published: 31 Oct 2013 Updated: 19 Nov 2021Visits: 749Code: ULB01-wk-1

INSTRUMENTS: Basics Main: Ukulele Others: Ukulele
Subjects: Beginner

Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One


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

For the first lesson you'll learn to following basics:

There is a lot in lesson one. Don;t let that scare you away. Lesson one really gives you and overview the possibilities of what might be in a lesson. Typical private lesson contain anywhere up to five or six are as of study.

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 and should take as long as you like to master each week's lesson as there is a lot of material in each lesson in the series.

The individual lessons in this series are viewable from the Lessons button bar 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.

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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.

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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. I lue of that, you have Learning Ukulele with Curt right here and me, Learning Ukulele with Curt

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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.

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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.

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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 consonance 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.

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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, transitions and switches. 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 for a Sustained Strum.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

Related Lessons, Videos, Lesson Series, Songs, Books & Reference Charts, Resources & Assets, Workshops are below.

Videos

Related Videos for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

Ukulele Chord a Day, January 1st - C

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

What better way than to start the new year off with learning a new ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 1st is C.

Ukulele Chord a Day, January 2nd - F

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

What better way than to start the new year off with learning a new ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 2nd is F.

Ukulele Chord a Day, January 3rd - G

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

Learn a new Ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 3rd is G.

Ukulele Chord a Day, January 4th - G7

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

Learn a new Ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 4th is G7.

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

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 - but simply knowing the name of any note on the fingerboard - intuitively, second-nature. At a minimum you need to know the open strings to tune the ukulele. In C tuning they are G C E A.

Understanding a `Ukulele Chord Diagram

There're a lot different ways to show chord shapes, diagrams and images on a fretted instrument. This is the basic chord diagram I use in all my lessons and book. In this lesson the basic chord diagram as used for ukulele is explained.

Types of `Ukulele Chords

Naturally, for Ukuleles, all chords need to be voiced using only the four strings available. You would think that this is limiting when in actuality it's quite liberating when you learn the makeup of chords. Chord can be categorized into four categories: "Open Position Chords", "Movable Form Chords", "4-part - a.k.a. Jazz Chords", and "Free Form Chords."

Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - 10 step Program

Here is a 10-Step Program for really learning the ukulele fingerboard.

Quarter Note Strum

Chords and music are organized into bars or measures with the most common number of beats per bar or measure being four. One of the most basic strumming patterns and the foundation for ALL future strumming is the "Quarter Note Strum". As the name implies this strumming pattern is one quarter note per beat.

Primary Chords - C Major

The primary chords for any major key are the I, IV and V chords of its corresponding major scale. For C Major, the primary chords are: C, F, G, and G7. From the primary and secondary chords of a major key, countless songs and chords progressions can be played.

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

In music, it is important to learn and recognize the key signature for C Major and A Minor. These two keys have corresponding major and natural minor scales, along with basic ukulele chords that can be used with each scale. The key of C Major, also known as the learning key, is particularly easy to memorize and start using.

The Major Scale

Called the "learning scale" for a reason. The major scale is a great scale for learning how music and chords work. It’s a core scale from which a majority of your core, essential scales can be derived. There are 15 major scales.

Whole Steps and Half Steps Explained

The distance between any two notes can be defined by steps - half steps, whole steps, semi-tones, whole tones. From this series of steps you can get the names of the notes of ANY of the fifteen major scales.

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

To play the ukulele effectively, your fingers need physical strength, agility, flexibility and coordination. This one finger-one note drill is designed to get your fretting hand in shape.

Using Songs to Learn `Ukulele

There are two approaches when learning a musical instrument like the ukulele or guitar. The first approach and one 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 the basics before working with songs.

Standard Music Notation

Music notation or musical notation refers to various systems of writing music. Diverse systems of musical notation have developed in various cultures. In fact, many cultures simply do not notate their music in any form.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

Getting Started Series of `Ukulele Lessons

Updated: 01 Jul 2023

The aim of this series of lessons is to provide comprehensive guidance for beginners embarking on their ukulele journey.

Related Books & Charts

Related Books for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

BC1UKE-C

Ukulele Chords - C Tuning

Updated: 12 Feb 2024

This chord book is a great addition to you music book library. Ukulele Chords covers basic open position and basic movable form chords.

ULUNN-C

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - C Tuning

Updated: 18 Jan 2023

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.

UKEREAD1

Ukulele- Reading Music Series - Primer

Updated: 03 Jan 2020

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).

UKESTRUM1

A Guide to Ukulele Strums

Updated: 24 Apr 2024

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.

A Selection of Books & Reference Charts that are recommended for creating a solid foundation with your chosen instrument and music in general.

Books

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard – C Tuning

Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard.

Six Secrets of Ukulele Fingering

Learn the six fingering principles to navigating the ukulele fingerboard. Fingering is one of the most universal topics.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords. It is the process used to analyze the harmonic structure of a progression, song or composition.

Ukulele – Reading Music Series – Primer

Learn to read single note melodies in the first/open position is a lot easier than you might think.

Daily Practice Material for the Contemporary Ukulele

An organized collection of daily practice and reference material for the contemporary ukulele player for developing the vocabulary and knowledge necessary for single note playing.

Checkout the Books for ALL available books.

Reference Charts

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G - G C E A

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G – G C E A

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for G Tuning, Low or High A – D G B E

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for G Tuning, Low or High A – D G B E

Key Signatures — Circle of Fourths and Fifths – ANSI A & A4 sizes

A handy reference chart of all 15 major and relative minor key signatures. US Letter 8.5 x 11 sized (ANSI-A) , A4

Checkout the Books for additional Handy, Dandy Reference Charts.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

Related Assets for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

WEB_CONTENT_ONLY

Basic Ukulele Chord Chart

Updated: 11 May 2019

A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys of C, G, D, A, and E.

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Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G

Updated: 11 May 2019

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.

WEB_CONTENT_ONLY

Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths

Updated: 14 Oct 2019

A handy reference chart of all 15 major and relative minor key signatues. US Letter 8.5 x 11 sized.

WEB_CONTENT_ONLY

Open Position Flash Cards for Ukulele C Tuning

Updated: 07 Jan 2022

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

WEB_CONTENT_ONLY

Movable 7th Chords for Ukulele Chord Chart - C Tuning

Updated: 31 Dec 2016

A handy dandy single sheet chart showing the each voicing of the four, seventh chords Big Six seventh chord voicings.

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