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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 • VIEWS: 114 • LESSON CODE: ULB01-wk-1

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: beginner

Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One

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 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.

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

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, transation 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.

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!

Videos

Videos for Getting Started with `Ukulele - Lesson One.

Ukulele Chord a Day, January 1st - C

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.

The C chord is typically the first chord all new ukulele players learn, uses a single finger and is relatively easy to play on ukulele. The C chord is a major chord type and the most common chord type. The major part of the chord is seldom written and almost never pronounced - simply say C.

The C chord is responsible for getting more people hooked on the ukulele than any other chord. Even if you already know this C chord I've included a lot more information regarding the C Chord. So take a look and around.

In the common keys of C, F, and G - C functions as a "primary" chord.

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Ukulele Chord a Day, January 2nd - F

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.

Learn a new Ukulele chord every day of the year. The chord for January 2nd is F. January 2nd happens to be my (Curt) birthday. Sorry, Mom and Dad, you didn't get that tax deduction.

Initially, chords are learned based on songs that players would like to play and this means the primary chords of the common keys are typically first. F is a primary chord in the keys of C, F, and Bb.

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Ukulele Chord a Day, January 3rd - G

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

G is a primary chord in the common keys of G, C, and D.

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Ukulele Chord a Day, January 4th - G7

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

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Related Lessons

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

Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - Open Strings • Updated: Mar 18, 2020

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 • Updated: Jul 24, 2011

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 - Chords, Chords, Chords • Updated: Dec 31, 2019

Naturally, for ukulele, 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. This lesson covers the types of chords possible on ukulele. Chord can be categorized into four categories: open position chords, movable form chords, 4-part - a.k.a. jazz chords and free from chords.

Learning the Fingerboard, C Tuning - 10 step Program • Updated: Mar 8, 2019

Here is a 10 step program for really learning the ukulele fingerboard.

Sequential Fret Order - One fret at a time and same string order. Random Fret Order - One fret at a time and same string order. Key Frets Concept - Secondary and derived frets from string four to one / one to four., Three Element Drill - fret, name, string?, Geometric Shapes, Chord Shapes, Isolation Drill, Visualization, Name Notes in Rhythm, Random, Rapid Note Jumps and Skips

This is one the elements of learning a fretted stringed instrument that really and I mean really has one of the biggest return for the time and effort it takes to really learn the neck.

Quarter Note Strum • Updated: Apr 10, 2020

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. For songs in common 4/4 time where there are four beats per measure or bar. This is one down stroke per beat.

Primary Chords - C Major • Updated: Feb 12, 2020

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 • Updated: Feb 29, 2016

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.

For more information than you'll even need for a C chord visit the lessons for January 1, Chord of the Day - C.

Reading Music on `Ukulele Series - Reading in Open Position • Updated: Sep 4, 2013

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 • Updated: Sep 21, 2011

Learn the recognize the key signature for C Major and A Minor. Learn their corresponding Major and Natural Minor scales with basic ukulele chords for each scale. Sometimes called the learning key, the key of C Major is one of the easiest keys to memorize and begin using.

The Major Scale • Updated: Feb 11, 2016

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 • Updated: Jun 7, 2019

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 • Updated: May 17, 2019

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 • Updated: Mar 13, 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.

Standard Music Notation • Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Musical 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 Books

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

Ukulele Chords - C Tuning
Updated: Aug 31, 2019

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

Learning the Ukulele Fingerboard - C Tuning
Updated: Apr 19, 2017

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

Ukulele- Reading Music Series - Primer
Updated: Jan 3, 2020

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

A Guide to Ukulele Strums
Updated: Apr 11, 2019

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
Updated: Jan 1, 2003

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.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

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

Basic Ukulele Chord Chart
Updated: May 11, 2019

Ukulele Fingerboard Chart for C Tuning, Low or High G
Updated: May 11, 2019

Key Signatures - Cycle of Fourths and Fifths
Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Open Position Flash Cards for Ukulele C Tuning
Updated: Dec 31, 2016

Movable 7th Chords for Ukulele Chord Chart - C Tuning
Updated: Dec 31, 2016

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