Ukulele Study Plans, Evaluating Your Ukulele Music Knowledge...
Taking a survey of your ukulele music knowledge is the first step for creating a well rounded plan for development and furthering your ukulele enjoyment.
What Level Ukulele Player Are You?
If you’re not sure of your current level click on one of the buttons below.
The best way to determine your current level is to book a lesson or two with a seasoned ukulele expert, with experience, with teaching all levels of players. Tough to find but we are out there. You can even book a single lesson with me (Curt) via skype for an analysis of your current level and discuss your goals. This can help your develop a plan for future development.
Note: You might be a beginner in one aspect of your learning and intermediate or advanced in other areas. This is especially true if you have experience playing other instruments, or have focused on one aspect of your playing.
Most beginners think they are intermediate players, and most intermediate players think they are advanced. Advanced players typically knowing what they need to work on and think there are more intermediate.
Chords are a good indicator of you current level:
- Beginners: C Am F G7 . Maybe C7, Dm, Em, etc... The basic Open Position Chords major, minor and a few seventh chords.
- Intermediate: Movable Form Chords . A/Bb form, C/Db form, D/Eb form, F/Gb form, G/Ab form. Your diminished , diminished seventh and augments chords.
- Advanced: The Big Six - Level I Chords , 7, m7, maj7, m7b5, dim7, aug7 4-part contemporary chords, commonly called "jazz" chords. These are based on the open position A7, E7, G7, C7.
- Master: Levels II, III, IV and beyond of "Jazz" chords. Then, basically you can create any chord you'll need based on your solid foundation of chords and how chords are created, constructed and used.
With the Intermediate and above levels you really need to start to know the notes of the ukulele fingerboard. When well into the advanced levels and beyond it is imperative that you flat out know the notes of the ukulele fingerboard and they are on instant recall and second natures.
Scales are another good indicator of you current level:
- Beginners: This is typically an intermediate chord player starting to learn the Blues and Pentatonic scales. Two of the Six Essential Scales for a contemporary ukulele players.
- Intermediate: The Major, Natural Minor, Mixolydian and Dorian scale. The rest of the Six Essential Scales .
- Advanced: The seven modes, Altered Mixolydian scales, Whole Tone and Diminished scale. Basically what every else you need to know know for your style of music.
As you can see it's actually really hard to create a generic appraisal of a ukulele player without actually knowing that particular player, their experience, their goals and technical abilities. This is where an experienced teacher can help out. It's often hard to evaluate yourself, where you are in your development. An outside set of ears and eyes can assist in determining a right course of development, depending on your goals.
Teaching yourself can be frustrating at times. One problem with going the self-taught route is the glut of information available on-line - even right here on my site. There's no one controlling the flow of information, no one to guide you from the basic foundation skills and knowledge needed to for more advanced concepts for any particular topic. Patience is paramount with yourself and crucial — there’s nothing in the world that someone hasn’t managed to learn, starting from right where you are now. And, it's probably written down somewhere, either in a book or accessible on-line.
For someone new to ukulele start with this series of weekly lessons that will help you create a core foundation for future development. And, fill in some gaps in your existing knowledge and skills.
Self-assessment is typically hard to do when you don't know what there is to study or how to approach organizing all the possibilities. It's not until you get a bit further along in your development that you can determine what is needed. However - there is one area that is hard to do on your own. And that is technique.
For technique you need someone that understands the mechanics involved and more importantly can communicate what is required. Think of the parallel to sports coaching and how it's typically not the great players that are the great coaches and managers. This holds true for musicians. It's the rare few that can handle both.
Where Does One Start?
1) Step One
Get a Ukulele - If you are anywhere within the Philadelphia, PA area of the USA - stop by our family run music store Funky Frets . We have the largest selection of ukuleles in the area and I do know a bit about the ukulele and can hook you up with just what you're looking for to get started.
2) Step Two
Get in Tune!!! - Best bet is to initially just get one of the many available clip-on electronic tuners and learn the names of the open strings.
In C tuning they are: G C E A from your nose to your toes.
3) Step Three
You're First Ukulele Chord - Every ukulele player learns C as their first chord - or - at least they should as it's the most common chord played.
Learning Ukulele • The reason for this site...
It can seem an overwhelming task to learn any musical instrument, even one deemed to be as simple as the ukulele. However, with the right plan of attack and taking inventory of what you might already know – It can be done and is a lot of fun in the process.
I've been asked more than once to put together a plan of attack for getting started and growing beyond the basics. There is no better recipe for success that a proven plan and organization for development. That is actually where a good, organized teacher able to communication is needed. These lesson pages are intended to provide material for developing your ukulele skills and expanding your music knowledge.
Music..., regardless of your instrument, involves parts or all of these elements: Melody, Harmony and Rhythm and putting it all together in Songs, Compositions, Arrangements, Orchestration, etc...
Most players have a few holes or gaps in their music knowledge and technical skills – some more than others. Being able to identify those is a first step to improving, updating and developing your skills.
I like to use the analogy of a Recipe. If you want to bake a cake, you need a specific list of ingredients to have the cake turn out and taste good. If you are missing of few ingredients or don't know how to use an ingredient or substitute ingredients, you run to the store and get what you need and learn how to use them. A song is a recipe; it tells you what notes, chords, rhythms, style, etc. you need to create a performance or learn the song.
NOTE: All my material has been developed, refined and used over the past 30 plus years of study, private teaching with hundreds of students. As well as performing and putting it to use. And It Does WORKS!!!. There's a plan for everyone and more than one way to approach any topic.
Here are some of the typical areas of study and recommendations to on-line lessons and books to check out. And, not always mine.
This is where you’ll spend the most time as a ukulele player. Chords and Chord Pprogressions comprise the majority of the lessons on my site. This is the minimum need to play songs.
Chords and at least one basic strum are all you need to get started.
Technique is the manner and degree of which one employs the technical skills of an endeavor. For ukulele it's the physical control and coordination needed to play or sing. It involves position, efficiency of motion and effort, as well as exercises and drills to develop specific physical skills.
Reading 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 interpretation. It's actually somewhat easy on ukulele and opens your musical world to all kinds of music - not just TAB.
Improvisation is the ability to spontaneous to create melodies with a predetermined chord progression or song. It involves scales, alternate fingerings, arpeggios, intervallic development, sequences, embellishments, superimposition, rhythm, motifs, development techniques and idiomatic considerations.
Ear Training is the development of the active and passive capacity to relate to music aurally. It includes the ability to recognize melodic and harmonic intervals, chords, chord progression, rhythm, melody and harmony.
Theory is the body of principles behind music. It includes scales and chord building, intervals, progressions, resolution, harmony, motion, power, color, chord substitution, keys and time signatures, rhythm, melody, etc.
This is how music works!
Repertoire includes the songs within the performance ability of the player. These songs maybe memorized or read. They may be literal reproductions or creative interpretations. It's all about songs.
A Strum is the execution of a specific rhythmic pattern, in a particular style, at tempo. Strums are inseparably linked to rhythm.
Use your accumulated guitar and music chops on ukulele.
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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
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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.