Today's Chord

Learn a New Ukulele Chord Each Day of 2017!!!
Today's Chord a Day, January 21st - A

Each day of 2017 there’s a new chord you can learn and add to your chord vocabulary. First time here? Start with the January 1st chord.

Today's Chord

News and Announcements for LearningUkulele.com

All the news and announcements that's fit to print around here at LearningUkulele.com. For the latest on Curt Sheller or Funky Frets checkout their respective sites. There is a lot planned for the end of 2016 and for 2017.

Learning Ukulele Strums 2017-01-11

D-D-U-U-D-D-U Chunk... Blah, blah, blah... This is no way to learn strumming on `ukulele or any instrument capable of strumming chords.

*A strum is simply the execution of a specific rhythmic pattern in tempo - in a particular style.

One of the first skills a ukulele player learns is the art and craft of strumming, playing rhythm. This refers to an accompaniment technique suitable for the singer, singer - songwriter or someone who plays a support role for another instrument. Strumming requires a specific set of skills. They are: 1) Memorization of chords 2) The ability to switch chords smoothly and 3) The ability to choose and execute a suitable rhythmic strum.

First and foremost, the subject of strumming is inseparably linked to rhythm. Though an ability to read rhythm is helpful, it’s not necessary to profit from learning strums.

Each strum is identified with a term that differentiates it from every other strum. This term is typically called a “feel”. Drummers learn these terms early in their studies so learning this language is not only helpful to learning the strums, it’s also helpful with communications among musicians in general and drummers in particular. Strumming can be executed with fingers or with a pick. Regardless of your own style of strumming, it ultimately involves combinations of down strokes and up strokes.

In the finger style, down strokes can played with the thumb or the nail side of your fingers. Up strokes can be played with the thumb or fingers. Any technique is usable as long as you can differentiate between down and up strokes.

A metronome is helpful to these studies but not mandatory. The purpose of a metronome is to help develop a steady sense of rhythm and to help increase your awareness of tempo in a beats per minute format. Terms like medium or fast tempo are approximate.

All strums can be executed at any tempo.

One strum is different from another based on the stroke direction, the stroke density, the subdivision of the beat and the accent pattern.

Preliminary Exercise

As a way to get started, set the metronome speed on 60 or just tap your foot slowly and evenly. Strike any chord with a down stroke (i.e. towards the floor) corresponding to the click or tap. Though this could be considered a strum, for our purposes, it’s just a way to get familiar with the relationship between tempo (speed of the beat) and the down stroke.

Next, try to coordinate an up stroke (i.e. towards the ceiling) with the space between the clicks or taps. Don’t be surprised that the up stroke is more difficult than the down stroke, There are two reasons for this discrepancy. First, the up stroke is anti gravitational (pulls away from the ground). The second reason is that the space between taps or clicks is more abstract and difficult to locate than the down and is consequently, more prone to error.

Go back to your metronome set at 60 or your slow even foot tap. This time, strike the up beats (space between clicks or taps) with down strokes. It’s also valuable to up stroke the clicks or taps (down beats). Though not as natural, there will be important applications for this seemingly “backward” stroking.

For more information visit the A Guide to Ukulele Strums book page and the lessons series Ukulele Strums - Getting Started.

2017 2016-12-30

With 2016 winding down 2017 right around the corner. Here are a few tuning in the works for 2017:

  • New rates for private, on-on-one on-line skype lessons. These are one hour intensive and advance lessons that will really challenge you and get you on the road to the next level.
  • Finally getting around to filming video for selected lessons. The initial lessons will be focused on technique, as that is the area that is holding most players back.
  • Moving more exsisting lessons in to the top, gold membership level.

What Do You Work on When Practicing? 2016-11-20

I've been asked a few times this vary question.

I mainly focus on new material that I’m adding to my repertoire. I also make sure I write out everything. Writing it out reveals new voicings or a different approach to the arrangement. Recording it’s not enough, with a recording only you’ll have to transcribe yourself. A recording and written documentation combined are a better solution.

If I have a performance coming up or a recording I focus on that material only. I work on sections, even small phrases over and over and over. Rarely playing through the whole piece until all sections are worked out and mastered. Then I perfect the overall performance of the arrangement or song. If it’s a section that I have a high level of confidence that I’ll never screw up in performance I’ll never practice it. But, never say never! I do advocate writing out all your arrangements using what ever method you can. Whether it’s standard music notation, chord grids, TAB, chicken scratch and any combination, just get it down somewhere. So even when it gets to the point that you think you can’t really forget it. You have something to check with for reference. Somethings might change from your original arrangement that you didn’t expect, but still sound good. I’ve even when back and incorporated mistakes that I like into the original arrangement.

I even write stuff out without the instrument at hand. Then you really know it. If you really know it intellectually, you own it and then you can start "playing" around with it, adding variations, phrasing the melody different, trying different styles, etc. After several down-sizings, I went full time music, teaching, writing books, the web sites and performing. My playing really went up a notch. My income went down several notches. So the "Quit your day job!" if you can, gives you a lot of time to work on music and probably Less money to spend initially. I see the workers at the music store I teach at always fooling with various instruments that they are not familiar with. A few minutes here and there really pays off. Over several years one or two have taught themselves piano.

I used to keep a guitar under my desk when I was a full time computer programmer and pulling late hours. When the programs I were working on where compiling. I’d pull the guitar out and get five or so minutes in. Now, I always have a ukulele with me. You can get in a lot of little practices everyday if you have an instrument with you.

When you only have a few minutes to “practice”, you sometimes actually practice. Before you pick up your instrument. Have a goal, a plan of what you want to work on. Lots of short term goals are better then one or two long term goals. And, the short term goals always add up in the long run. Practicing and playing or performing are different. My Dad had to hear me play in public before he ever heard me finish a song. If you are an intermediate or advanced player. You practicing, to someone listening should never sound like a full song. It your practicing sounds good you probably not practicing.

Latest Changes for LearningUkulele.com 2016-10-25

Have been doing lots of changes, additions and tweaking to the site since our 2016 Funky Frets Uke Fest is over. Updated some internals that will allow me to add some new features down the road.

Here are some new things I've added or are planning to do to the site.

  • Thinking of moving all my books that are available as downloads to a subscription basis. This is already available to ALL paid Premium Site Members as well as active students. They get any or all of my books as part of the membership.

  • Dropped the three month premium membership plan. There is only the Six Month and Annual Premium Gold Plans available as well as the Forever plan. The Silver Annual Membership remains the same low price.

  • The FREE Bronze plan remains - however I'm moving more and more of the lessons to the other plans. There is a lot of time and effort that goes into the lessons and site content to be giving it all away. Teaching and helping fellow musiciand and ukulele players is true passion – but it doesn't pay the bills.

  • Setting up a dedicated video area to start shooting accompanying videos for selected lessons. So that takes even more time. They should start to be available to registered members soon.

  • Will get a blog going and this news section will morph into the blog.

Fall Updates and Changes 2016-09-08

  • Favorites and Completed Lessons, Songs and Books gold member feature is on hold until early 2017. Code was a little problematic and I have a better solution for 2017.

  • Finally will be shooting some videos for the lessons after the Funky Frets Uke Fest is over and we get done with hosting and organizing that at Funky Frets.

Added Videos of The Curt Sheller Trio 2016 Berks Jazz Fest Performance 2016-08-30

I have the complete concert on video and will be swapping in and out various songs that we performed.

New Listings Added 2016-08-10

  • Added a new information, resources and listing to ukulele festivals section
  • Added a Hoyer Guitars to the ukulele manufactures section. Yet another manufacture jumping on tot he ukulele band wagon.
Added the Following Ukulele Manufacture and Builders

Seems everyone is jumping on the ukulele bandwagon. Like James Hill say and I concur. "Can we all finally admit tat the ukulele craze is over and it is her to stay."

  • Ken Franklin Guitars - Custom builder
  • Hoyer Guitars - A resurrection of an old work grand dating back to 1874 in Germany.
  • Grace Harbor Ukuleles - We carry these ukulele at Funky Frets and they are pretty nice for the price point and all come with nice padded gig bags.
New Ukulele Listings
  • World of Ukes - home of UKE Magazine, the UK’s first ukulele publication for ukulele players

2nd Funky Frets Uke Fest 2015-08-23

The Early Bird Special for the 2nd Funky Frets Uke Fest ends July 31, 2016. Save on an ALL festival ticket.

New Community Submitted Links 2015-08-23

Registered site members can submit cool ukulele links to the site for all LearningUkulele.com community members top checkout.

Chord Mis Information 2016-06-16

All Seventh Chords Are NOT Dominant Chords

I hear and see this all the time online, at workshops, videos and even in communication with fellow musicians and even experienced teachers call every seventh chord a dominant chord.

Chord Name vs. Chord Function

It comes down to separating how chords are named and not how they function.

A chord name contains a capital letter identifying the Root of the chord and the chord type information, such as major, minor, diminished, augmented, sus2, sus4, 7+9, 13, 9, etc... Basically the instructions for creating or building the chord NOT the chord's HARMONIC function. Dominant refers to a chord harmonic function and how the chord is being used - it is not a chord type.

I'll use C7 based chords as an example.

Granted most seventh chords not major seventh (Cmaj7), minor seventh (Cm7), augmented seventh (C+7), diminished seventh (C°7), etc..., just chords with a lone 7 in their name (C7) or derived from seventh chords (C9, C11, C13, C9+5, C7b9,...) are most likely functioning as some sort of dominant chord. Maybe as the primary dominant chord of the current tonality, chord progress or a secondary dominant chord. And, right there you can see the problem that all seventh chords are not dominant chords. Simply call it by is root and chord type. C7 is C Seven not C Dominant Seven.

All traditional chord types where the chords are built in thirds are, at their heat either major, minor, diminished are augmented. Major is the default and rarely written with the or pronounced with the root of the chord.

Checkout this the Dominant Seventh Chords? lesson for more information.

Silly saying but true. "You can call anything a duck, but it doesn't make it a duck."

Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue in C Major is ||: C | E7 | A7 | D7 | G7 | C | G7 :||

Five Foot Two is a classic song played at almost every ukulele jam session I've been to.

  • C a.k.a C Major is the tonic chord and we don't call it C Tonic Major.

  • E7 is a Secondary Dominant chord, the (V of VI) in the key of C major. E7 has the urge to resolve to a chord with a root of A - typically it would resolve to a major or minor chord type. Here it' i's resolving to A7 which is a major chord type. E7 is the primary dominant (V) chord on the key of A major.

  • A7 is a Secondary Dominant chord, the (V of II) in the key of C major with the urge to resolve to a chord with a root of D and in this case D7. A7 is the primary dominant (V) chord on the key of D major.

  • D7 is a Secondary Dominant chord, the (V of V) in the key of C major with the urge to resolve to a chord with a root of G and in this case G7. D7 is the primary dominant V chord on the key of G major.

  • G7 is a true Dominant chord, the (V of I) in the key of C major with the urge to resolve to a chord with a root of C and in this case C is the tonic chord and we are home. The E7 A7 D7 G7 is a chord cycle setting up and leading our ear home to the tonic chord.

So simply call the chords C, E Seven, A Seven etc... Not C, E Dominant Seven, A Dominant Seven, etc... Saves time and doesn't telegraph and propagate this long standing mis information regarding chords.

And, with this information we can spice the turnback, the last two measures to be | C A7 | D7 C7 |.

Chord Names 2016-06-15

Chord Names vs. Chord Shapes

Chords get they names from how they are being used harmonically and the root or perceived root.

Now we could leave it at that but most people don't know the how chords are functioning within a song or chord progressions and simply try and name the chords by their shape. On ukulele this really leads to wrong names.

Try this piano test next time you are at a piano. And, you don't even have to know the how to play the piano. Just the following info is enough to hear what I mean.

Play C major (C E G ) in you right hand starting with middle C and then skip the next with key and play E and skip the next white key and play G all at once. In a high G, C tuning these are the three open strings closest to you nose.

We all know this as part of the first chord, the C major or plain ole "C" chord all ukulele player typically learn.

No with you left hand play the first C that is lower than the C E G you are playing on your right hand. This is a bass note. Now this really drives home that this is a C chord.

Bass Notes do More to Define Chords

Now play an A bass note in your left hand. Whoa, this doesn't sound like C any more. Close but not the C with the C bass note. You have effectively changed the name of the chord to Am7.

Try it with each of the white keys and even the black key. As you can hear the sound of the chord really changes.

You can really come up with some strange contemporary chords like sus2, sus4, add2, add9, chords without this or that note. But, basically think and listen if it really sounded like a chord change and not simply subtle change to the internal sound of the chord and it is still functioning as the what is was.

Chords like Csus2, Csus4, Cass9, Cadd2 are still A C chord as the root sis not change or it's harmonic function. No need to get crazy with the names. Just ask yourself "Did the harmonic function of the chord change?" If it did it needs and has a different name with a different root.

It can get pretty bad as far as names of chords go when someone doesn't have a clue regarding a chord's harmonic function. One of the worst examples I ran across where the names of the chords for a jazz standard One Note Samba which in the key they where presenting it should have been Am7, Ab7, Gm7, Gb7 for the first section which is a common simply descending chromatic III bIII7 II bII7 harmonic cell. They had C6, G#7, Bbadd2 and C9 vs. the Cm7, F7, Bbmaj7 Eb7 is should have been. No regard for the root movement of the progression. I actually doubt they knew the key they where in. If they did know, it's even worse that they cam up with those names.

Granted on the ukulele you can't really address the root movement of chords as a guitar or bass would - but you have to know the correct names. They must of been naming the chords by shape with no regard as to how they where functioning harmonically. I can tell they where trying to come up with the chord name and including the melody as it affects the chord name. Melody and chords, the harmony are separate elements. The reset of the names where just a bad.

New Learning Ukulele Top Sites 2016-05-10

The Top 50 Ukulele Sites site is now hosted right here on the Learning Ukulele with Curt Sheller site. Since 2007 the Top 50 Ukulele Sites has be hosted and maintained by Jerry Hoffman on his Boat Paddle Ukuleles website. The third-party script / code that was used for the site has not been updated since 2009 and suffers from not being maintained or updated since then. Issues such as not being able to serve up the actual badges to member sites from a secure site ( SSL ). Along with a few other issues ( Spaghetti code ) and the opportunity for Jerry to move on from hosting the site and maintaining the site has allowed me, Curt Sheller to take it over and create a new modern implementation.

How Learning Ukulele Top Sites works is that a badge is served to a members site and in the process this visit/hit is tracked, allowing for rankings within the community of sites. For the original Top 50 Ukulele Sites this was boatpaddleukulele.com. In order for the current members to continue there is a need for current sites to re-join here and receive a new code to use on their site.

The process is as simple as registering for a FREE Learning Ukulele with Curt Sheller site membership right here on LearningUkulele.com. Then joining and adding your site information.

Starting June 2016 ALL tracking and ranking numbers will reset for all sites that are active on that date and new sites added from then on. No numbers can be carried on. It's a fresh start - a chance to, maybe even briefly a higher ranking.

The tracking is Daily, Weekly, Monthly and All Time and is slightly different than the old Top 50 Ukulele Sites.

Learning Ukulele with Curt Sheller is a secure (SSL) site using certificates from Let’s Encrypt a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).

New Faster Servers for LearningUkulele.com 2016-04-22

Moved LearningUkulele.com to new hosting and faster SSD ( Solid State Drives ) on DigitalOcean. This will allow me to scale up and add a ton of new features – as soon as I learn how to actually implement them.

With the combination of the SSD drives, DigitalOcean and PHP 7. The LearningUKulele.com site is now blazingly fast. and getting very easy to maintain and update.

My Daily Ukulele 2015-08-23

This is a cool project. Heather is playing a song a day from "The Daily Ukulele"

Inspired by Jumpin' Jim Beloff and a brand new Ukulele, Heather decided to not only teach myself how to play, but make some videos of myself during the process. You can play along with Heather by following the chords on screen, or go out and grab yourself "The Daily Ukulele" and strum a different song every day with easy arrangements of 365 of your favorite songs in one big songbook!

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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Content is always being added and updated. So check-in often. Thanks, for visiting!!!

One of the largest collections of lessons, songs and TABS, archtop luthiers, ukulele builders, festival information, ukulele links on the web. I’ve been on the web since the early 90's and growing everyday. This site just never stops growing!!!