Remembering Songs

It's ALL About the Learning & Playing Songs!

Published: 09 Jun 2013 Updated: 01 Jun 2023Visits: 503Code: UL59

INSTRUMENTS: Songs Main: Music Others: ANY Ukulele Guitar
Subjects: Chords • Theory • Beginner • Intermediate • Learning • Advanced • Songwriting • Transposing • Progressions

Remembering Songs

Listening to songs and wanting to play the same songs on ukulele – that's what draws most people to the ukulele. That and it looks like a load of fun and easy to play – which it is. Then you need to actually remember the songs that you're learning, so you can play them again. And, hopefully, not have to read them off a sheet all the time.

Additional Content
Available for Premium Site Access Plans Only

Sorry, can't give it ALL away!

This content requires a Premium / Gold Access Plan or enrolled in the Study with Curt - On-line or Private Lesson Program.

To view additional content for this page you'll need to either Sign In or Register for or Upgrade to a Premium Site Access Plan.

Login or SignUp to View Content

The main allure of the ukulele for many people is the desire to play the same songs they enjoy listening to. It's not just about the enjoyable and effortless nature of playing the instrument, but also the freedom to recall songs from memory instead of always needing sheet music.

Songs share more similarities than one might initially think. Each song possesses its own set of directions, signs, and landmarks that can be repeatedly employed to aid in remembering them. It's a akin to recalling the directions for a road trip . There are the turn-by-turn directions, road maps, signs, and landmarks that will get you to where you are going. Turn here, turn there, remember this and remember that landmark. Songs rely on elements such as chords, melody, style, harmonic cells, and form that contribute to the song's memorability.

By employing a few music tools and understanding the fundamental principles of chords and chord progressions, you can begin to unravel the inner workings of any song.

Tn essence, there is a lot more common ground between songs than meets the eye. Each song possesses its own unique directions, signs, and landmarks that can be utilized time and time again to effectively remember them.

It's ALL About the Learning & Playing Songs!

Where to Start

ALL music — melodies, chords, progressions, licks, leads, riffs, etc … comes from some scale and there's no better scale to start with than the major scale. From the major scale is the most common scale used. From the solid foundation of the major scale, you can learn and derive the other essential scales. The major scale can be used as a basis for creating and deriving chords. The major scale is your go-to / fall back scale for all your primary music information.

Memorize the Major Scales

The Major Scale is one of your most common and important scales to learn and MEMORIZE in ALL 15 keys. The majority of popular and traditional songs are in major keys.

All 15 major scales need to be memorized for creating chords, melodies, and improvising. However, as far as the keys that songs are created in they're a few common keys for every style that is performed.

Go to the Major Scales lesson …

Harmonic Analysis

Harmonic Analysis is the understanding of the functional sequence of chords. It's the process used to analyze the harmonic structure of a progression, song or composition. This analysis is then used to make scale selections for improvisation, analyzing and creating melodies and chord substitution.

Go to Harmonic Analysis Lesson Series … , based on my book Harmonic Analysis for Chords Substitution and Scale Selection.

Learn the Nashville Number System

This numbering system — based on the principles of music allows for writing a song in NO key to be played in ANY key. It can also be used for comparing songs an identifying the commonality between songs. There is a lot more in common between songs than not.

The Nashville Number System is an informal method of transcribing music by denoting the scale degree of chords within a progression, tonality, or song. It was developed by Neal Matthews, Jr. in the late '50s as a simplified system for The Jordanaires to use in the studio, and further developed by Charlie McCoy. It resembles the Roman numeral and figured bass systems traditionally used to transcribe a chord progression. By writing chords as numbers, transposition to other keys is possible with verbal communication or without rewriting a chart. As a simple system of transcription, it can be used with only a rudimentary background in music theory. Harmonic sequences, chord progressions can be explained using numbers, and chord changes can be communicated mid-song by holding up the corresponding number of fingers. The system is flexible and can be embellished to include more information (such as chord color or to denote a bass note in an inverted chord).

Learn the Melody

Melodies, licks, riffs – typically are single notes and can be sung and these you can learn. The famous jazz guitarist Jo Pass said, "Learn melodies – No one goes around whistling chord progressions. On a ukulele, you can learn a melody in one key with a set fingering that can always be the same, as a melody will not change. The rhythm might change, but the melody typically does not. Happy Birthday's melody is always the same, regardless how bad it typically is sung.

Identify the key intervals of a melody for future recall. Based on the major scale Happy Birthday starts with the 5th below the root, and in the key of F major it is: C C D C F E C C D C G F … 5 5 6 5 1, 5 5 6 5 1 2, ...

Learn the Chords

For learning the chords of a song or chord progression – unlike the melody that you can sing, hum or whistle – the chords can be understood intellectually and referenced to other songs you learn and know. This can be accomplished using the resources above.

Know the Song Intellectually

Know the Song Away From the Instrument. You've probably heard this if you have ever been to a ukulele jam session or play-along. It's where someone is yelling out what the next chord or chords is — while they're playing. They don't have to wait to see what someone else is playing — that is too late. They know what is coming up and can prepare. They know the song.

As soon as you play the first chord of a song, you should be thinking ahead to what the next chord or chords are.

Write Out a Chart

This goes hand-in-hand with the Know the Song Intellectually. If you can write out, you know it.

A Few Writing Tips

  • Write charts out long hand. No repeats, no D.S,.D.C, Coda, etc. Remember this is for YOU, not to be published which would have different requirements such as the number of pages (page count).
  • Name the sections, verse, chorus or use Rehearsal Marks: A B C D etc..
  • Write some lyric cues if creating an instrumental chart.
  • Checkout a Brown Eyed Girl handwritten chart.

Sign-IN — it's FREE — to view, un-blur any additional content for this lesson.

End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!

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

Related Lessons

Related Lessons for Remembering Songs.


Key Signatures and the Circle of Fifths and Fourths

Updated: 09 Jun 2023

Traditional key signatures provide a wealth of information that can enhance our understanding of music and its underlying principles.


The Harmonized Major and Minor Scale Charts

Updated: 11 Jan 2022

The "Major Scale" or Ionian scale is a diatonic scale, made up of seven distinct notes, plus an eighth which duplicates the first one octave higher. In solfege these notes correspond to the syllables Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti/Si, (Do), the Do in the parenthesis at the end being the octave of the root.


Harmonic Analysis Lesson Series

Updated: 06 Jan 2020

Harmonic Analysis ( HA ) is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression. A chord progression is defined as a sequence of chords, each chord has a root and has a particular chord type. The relationship of a chord's root to a scale determines its function within that scale's tonality. Once a chord's function is identified, scale selections along with chord and scale substitutions can be made. This process is called Root Movement Analysis ( RMA ). This series of lessons are extracted from my book for use with individual private and on-line students. Each lesson directly corresponds the chapters in my book Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution by Curt Sheller (me).


Creating Introductions and Turnarounds for `Ukulele

Updated: 20 Mar 2020

Introductions are a composed or improvised pieces of music that introduce - sets the stage for - a song or composition. Introductions, or intro for short, are used in all types of music. In this lesson, the focus is on introductions in contemporary pop, rock, blues, country, folk and jazz styles.


Classic Endings for `Ukulele

Updated: 08 Nov 2022

Two Feel, bVImaj7 bIImaj7, Basie Ending, Single, Double and Triple Tags, Chromatic, Take 'A' Train Ending, Shave and a Hair Cut, Lawrence Welk Ending. These are common classic songs ending that are used over and over in the standard song repertoire.


Using Songs to Learn `Ukulele

Updated: 13 Mar 2015

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.


Songs Using a Common 1 5 6 4 Chord Progression

Updated: 19 Feb 2022

There's actually a lot in common between songs when it comes to chord progressions. Here is an every growing list of songs that use the common 1 5 6 4 chord progression. This is a “Full Diatonic” chord progression, with each chord coming from its corresponding major scale. This common progression is called the “Four Chord, Pop Progression.”


Playing by Ear - Chords

Updated: 06 Oct 2016

Playing chords, chord progressions, and songs by ear is all about getting your ear to recognize the sound of chords and chord progressions and just like melodies, train the fingers and the hand to follow your inner ear and play these chords, chord progressions, and songs on demand.


Playing by Ear - Melodies

Updated: 13 May 2024

Playing Melodies, Licks, Riffs, Motifs, and Single Note Lines by ear is all about getting your ear to recognize intervals and train the fingers to follow your inner ear and play these melodies on demand.

Related Lesson Series

Related Lessons Series for Remembering Songs.

Harmonic Analysis for Scale and Chord Selection

Updated: 09 Jun 2023

Harmonic Analysis (HA), also known as the study of chord relationships, is the method used to identify the harmonic role of chords within a chord progression or song. A chord progression refers to a sequence of chords, with each chord having a root note and belonging to a specific chord type. The function of a chord within a particular scale's tonality is determined by its relationship to that scale.

Common Chord Progressions and Remembering Songs

Updated: 08 Jun 2023

Understanding the similarities between chord progressions and songs can greatly enhance your ability to remember and play a wide variety of songs. It's fascinating how much common ground exists among different musical compositions.

Jazz Standard Chord Progressions

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

These are the chord progressions, extracted from my book "Exploring Jazz Chords on Ukulele" for use with on-line and private students.

Playing by Ear

Updated: 10 Jul 2023

Mastering the art of playing music by ear represents the pinnacle of achievement for any aspiring musician. The objective of this lesson series is to guide you towards attaining this goal. Whether it entails mastering melodies or chords, rest assured that it is within your reach.

QuickStart Chord Progressions Play-along Series

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

QUICKSTART Rhythm Section CD contains 24 unique styles designed for contemporary lead guitar. Each track is devoted to a scale covered in the QUICKSTART Scale Fingerings for Lead Guitar and QUICKSTART Scale Fingerings for Ukulele.

The Blues Progression in Common Keys

Updated: 01 Jan 2003

This series of common blues chord progressions uses the seventh chord vs. a triad to explore the blues chord progression.

Related Songs

Related Songs for Remembering Songs.


Any Song Will Do

Updated: 07 Dec 2015

This is not really a song, but simply saying that for the purposes of a lot of the lessons and lesson series on this site ANY song will do for exploring the lesson's material and concepts presented in the lesson.

Related Books & Charts

Related Books for Remembering Songs.


Harmonic Analysis for Scale Selection and Chord Substitution

Updated: 08 Jun 2024

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. This analysis is then used to make scale selections for improvisation and chord substitution.


A Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Ukulele A to Z

Updated: 22 May 2024

The Blues are at the heart of all American music. It has influenced Country, Rock, Folk, Jazz, Bluegrass and just about every form of American music we listen to today. 26 blues progression in C and G tuning, progressing from basic to advanced jazz progression, with chord grids and substitutions explained.


The Advanced Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Guitar - Volume I

Updated: 25 Jun 2019

Volume I covers the keys of C, F and Bb. The key of C includes detailed accompanying text explaining the principles behind each progression. Each volume of The Advanced Guide to Blues Progressions for Guitar features basic to advanced blues chord progressions. to be used with the chord voicings from volume I, II & III of The Advanced Guide to Guitar Chords.


The Advanced Guide to Blues Chord Progressions for Guitar - Volume II

Updated: 09 Jan 2018

Volume II covers the keys of E, A, D and G. The key of E includes detailed accompanying text explaining the principles behind each progression. Each volume of The Advanced Guide to Blues Progressions for Guitar features basic to advanced blues chord progressions. to be used with the chord voicings from volume I, II & III of The Advanced Guide to Guitar Chords.


The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Guitar - Volume I

Updated: 15 Mar 2002

Volume I of The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Guitar features the principles of voice leading applied to chord progressions. These principles, explained using chords from volume I of The Advanced Guide to Guitar Chords. Chapters with common major and minor full diatonic, partial diatonic and chromatic chord progressions are also included to further explore voice leading.


The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele - Volume I

Updated: 15 Apr 2024

Before individual chords become the background of songs, they must be put into orders called chord progressions. The Advanced Guide to Chord Progressions for Ukulele organizes progressions according to string family, position, voice leading and chord magnetism.

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


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 Remembering Songs.


A Guide to Advanced Chords Series - Chord Building Chart

Updated: 31 Dec 2016

A handle dandy reference chart for building fifteen (15) basic triads and 4-part chords.


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.

Site Access Plans for

Forever Access - With Forever Premium Access, you get ALL the benefits of a Premium Access Subscription such as Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources, related assets, and ALL books by Curt as FREE downloads. Pretty much everything on the site, and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment again. And jump the queue for responding to any questions.

If you're anything like me (Curt) and getting Subscription overloaded with everything and everybody on-line wanting money from you once a month — I'm with you. For like-minded individuals, this forever plan is a pay once, and you're done.

The price for Unlimited Forever access is right around the cost of a few months of private lessons. I can guarantee there is more than enough material on-line to keep you busy for a long, long time. And, you get all of my books for FREE. That alone is more than the cost of this plan.

Premium Access - This premium gives you Unlimited 24/7 access to ALL lessons, downloads, songs, play-along jam tracks, videos, email access to Curt, resources and related assets. As well as ALL books by Curt Sheller as FREE downloads.

Basic Access - 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. HOWEVER - I've been doing ukulele and since 2003 and probably have given too much away already - as reflected in my income from the site in relationship to the time spent on the site. So help support this site and its continued development by signing up for one of the below Premium Access Plans or buy a few of my books. - Thanks, Curt

NOTE: Each higher access level includes ALL the benefits of the lower levels. Private Lessons include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on the schedule.

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 bestGlen 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

Want to leave a nice comment for & Learning Ukulele with Curt? We'd love to hear how we're doing and how you are too. We'll share your comments and quotes throughout the site, helping to spread the word.

Thanks for visiting and checking out the site!


Original Curtie Animation from 1987 for my first web site on a Macintosh II, 37 years ago. Man, does time fly.

“Built for myself (Curt), and sharing with the `Ukulele community!” 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. Curt has been on the ®Internet since the early 1990's and This site just never stops growing!!!

Content is added and updated daily — so check back often. I really do need to get out more ;-)

Love • Show your support!
Support development via a monthly membership or a one-time forever membership!