Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One

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

Published: Oct 31, 2013 Updated: Jan 20, 2017 Visits: 1

ukulele Subjects: beginner

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

The lessons in this series are viewable from the Series 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.

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!

Related Lessons

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

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.

Understanding a `Ukulele Chord Diagram

There're a lot different ways to show chord shapes, diagrams and images on a fretted instrument.

Types of `Ukulele Chords

Naturally, for ukulele, all chords need to be voiced using only the four strings available.

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.

Primary Chords - C Major

The primary chords for any major key are the I, IV and V chords of its corresponding major scale.

Your First `Ukulele Chord

Your first ukulele chord is typically an open position C major 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.

Key Signatures - C Major and A Minor

Learn the recognize the key signature for C Major and A Minor.

The Major Scale

Not called the learning scale for a reason.

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.

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.

Using Songs to Learn `Ukulele

There are two approaches when learning a musical instrument like the ukulele or guitar.

Standard Music Notation

Rather than do a complete lesson on standard music notation.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

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

Basic Ukulele Chord Chart

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

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G.

Members Only
Log-in to access.

Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths

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

Members Only
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.

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.

Members Only
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Related Lesson Books

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

Ukulele Chords - C Tuning

The ukulele chord book for every ukulele gig bag or case. New Updated 2 Printing.

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - C Tuning

Finally, learn the names of the notes of the fingerboard. - C tuning

Ukulele- Reading Music Series - Primer

Learn to read single note melodies in the first/open position.

A Guide to Ukulele Strums

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

Related Lesson Series

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

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.

Spend at least one week, if not more on the material presented in each lesson. Each one builds on the previous series of lessons. Take as much time as needed with each task. Skipping or rushing through will only come back to haunt you later down the road. You miss a lot when taking shortcuts or skipping around.

Suggesting and recommending lessons to visitors and players that haven’t had the benefit of a one-on-one personal evaluation with me is a bit of a challenge. Just as any one book does not address anyone player and their needs, a series of lessons has to be somewhat generic and cover a lot of material. Think of each set of lessons as a menu of choices.

They're over 600 currently available lessons online and counting for ukulele that I’ve created over the years. If you don’t see a particular topic or specific task you’re looking for I probably have something here or can create a lesson to address your needs.

Related Songs

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