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 too 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.
Remembering a song is lot like remembering 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. With a songs it's the chords, the melody, style, the harmonic cells, the form, etc that are part of the song that you want to remember.
With a few music tools and an understanding of the basic principles of how chords and chord progressions - the songs work. You can start unraveling what's going on in any song.
There's a lot more in common between songs than you might think. Each song has it's own direction, signs and landmarks that can be used over and over again to actually remember songs.
Additional Content Available for Site Members Only
This lesson is a Premium / Gold Member lesson and part of the LearningUkulele.com Site Membership and Study with Curt - On-line and Private Lesson Program. To view additional content for this lesson you'll need to either Sign In or register for a site membership or upgrade your membership level from your user profile.
Where to Start
ALL music - melodies, chords, progressions, licks, leads, riff, 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. From the major scale, ALL your chords can be created or derived. 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 the 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 scale 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.
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 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. Can also be used for comparing songs an identifying the commonality between songs. There is a lot more in common between songs that not.
The Nashville Number System is an informal method of transcribing music by denoting the scale degree on 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. Improvisation structures can be quickly 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 a 5th lower than 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 1, ...
Learn the Chords
For learning the chords of a song or chord progression - unlike the melody that your 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 ukulele. 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 is - while they're playing the current chord. 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.
As soon as you play the first chord of a song you should be thinking ahead to what the next chords or chords are.
Related Lessons for Remembering Songs at this time.
There is a load of information in traditional Key Signatures.
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.
Harmonic Analysis ( HA ) is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression.
Introductions are a composed or improvised pieces of music that introduce - sets the stage for - a song or composition.
Two Feel, bVImaj7 bIImaj7, Basie Ending, Single, Double and Triple Tags, Chromatic, Take 'A' Train Ending, Shave and a Hair Cut, Lawrence Welk Ending.
There are two approaches when learning a musical instrument like the ukulele or guitar.
There's actually a lot common between songs when it comes to chord progressions.
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 melodies, licks, riffs, motifs, single note lines by ear is all about getting your ear to recognize intervals and train the fingers-the hand to follow your inner ear and play these melodies on demand.
Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets
Related Assets for Remembering Songs at this time.
A Guide to Advanced Chords Series - Chord Building Chart
A handle dandy reference chart for building fifteen (15) basic triads and 4-part chords.
Log-in to access.
Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
A chart of the most common ukulele chords in the most common keys of C, G, D, A, and E.
Related Lesson Books
Related Books for Remembering Songs at this time.
Related Lesson Series
Related Lessons Series for Remembering Songs at this time.
Harmonic Analysis for Scale and Chord Selection
Harmonic Analysis is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression or song. A chord progression is defined as a sequence of chords, each chord has a root and is a particular chord type. The relationship of a chord's to a scale determines its function within that scale's tonality.
This series of lessons are extracted from my book for use with individual private and on-line students-members.
Common Chord Progressions and Remembering Songs
Learning the similarities between chord progressions and songs helps you remember a lot of songs. There's a lot more in common between songs than one might think.
This series of lessons explores common chord progressions.
Remembering songs is lot like remembering the directions for a road trip. There are the turn-by-turn directions, road maps, signs and landmarks. Turn here, turn there, remember this and remember that landmark. With a songs it's the chords, the harmonic cells and form of the song.
With a few music tools and an understanding of the principles of how chords and chords progressions work. You can start unraveling what's going on in a song. There's a lot more in common between songs than you might think. Each song has it's own direction, signs and landmarks.
Jazz Standard Chord Progressions
These are the chord progressions, extracted from my book Exploring Jazz Chords on Ukulele for use with on-line and private students.
QuickStart Chord Progressions Play-along Series
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.
There are four background tracks for each scale featuring the chords of the scale. These tracks give you the opportunity to explore the sound of each scale in a lead guitar setting.
Related Songs for Remembering Songs at this time.
Related Videos for Remembering Songs.
disqus displayed in production only!!!
Site Membership Plans
FREE Bronze 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.
Forever Premium Gold Plan - The Forever/Gold Premium Plan 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. Pretty much everything on the site and NEVER worry about a subscription or surprise payment due. And jump the que for my responding to any questions.
NOTE: Each higher membership level includes ALL the benefits of the lower membership levels.
The Private Lesson Plans include all the benefits of a Premium Access Plans as long as you remain a student on 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 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
32 years ago.
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!!!
Content is added and updated almost daily - so check back often.