1
Different types of Uke Tunings
2
Singing and Playing Ukulele at the Same Time
3
Double Stops
4
Introduction to Modes
5
Summer Songs for the Ukulele
6
Intros, Turnarounds, and Endings
7
Ukulele Warm-Ups
8
Common Chord Progressions
9
Advanced Ukulele Practice
10
Ukulele Troubleshooting

Different types of Uke Tunings

The most common tuning for a ukulele is G-C-E-A,when each string is played starting at the G it gives us the famous “My dog has fleas!” My (G) Dog (C) Has (E) Fleas (A), a popular method of singing this tuning. These notes (GCEA) make up a C6 chord, The C is the root and bass note, the E is the 3rd, G is the 5th, and the A is the 6th making it a C6 chord. Because the uke only has four strings this C6 is also known as A minor 7 or Am7, but that is a discussion for another time. C6 tuning is also used for lap steel guitars, it is the tuning that gives instruments that “Hawaiian feel.” Most often when you here music that has an island mood to it, C6 is used. It was also common in old country music of Hank Williams and[…]

Read More

Singing and Playing Ukulele at the Same Time

For many of us who pick up the ukulele it is not enough to just play, we also want to sing! While there are specific vocal techniques used in singing, in this article we are going to discuss a few pointers on how to start singing along with our uke. What is most important isn’t just an ability to sing, but a will to sing. A great singer works on their voice for many years, but in the very beginning they had to have the confidence to just do it. And think about this, some of the most famous singers out there really don’t sound all that great. Some singers are raspy, some sound like they are heavy smokers, some sing quietly, the key is they sing. It isn’t always necessary to have a great and trained voice, instead have a confident and maybe even a unique voice! Are You in[…]

Read More

Double Stops

The technique of playing only two notes at the same time is known as a double stop, when done correctly it can sound very pretty on the ukulele. The key to practicing double stops is to make sure you only pluck the two strings that are to be played. Double stops are also great practice for your music theory, as they consist of two note intervals. Remember intervals are the difference between two pitches, and since we are dealing with two notes at a time here are some of the more common intervals (using the G major scale G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G): G-B is the major third interval, as the B is the 3rd note G-C is the perfect fourth G-D is the perfect fifth G-E is the major 6th G-G is the octave or perfect 8th If we want a G minor third interval? Well the G minor scale is G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F#-G so that[…]

Read More

Introduction to Modes

What Are the Modes? The modes are simply scales taken from a reference scale, every note in this reference scale gives rise to a mode. The main and most important modes come from the major scale, namely that the seven notes of the same major scale will each be the starting point of a different mode (thus giving rise to seven modes). The Value of Modes The value of modes is that each mode of the same major scale corresponds to a precise degree of the latter, implying that each mode also corresponds to the chord on the same degree. The modes are very useful for improvisation on a grid of chords which are diatonic or even foreign to the main key of a track. It can also be very interesting on the same chord to play different modes to help evolve your improvisation (some of these modes have a[…]

Read More

Summer Songs for the Ukulele

It’s summertime! Today the French have La Fête de la Musique (a street music festival), and we celebrate the summer solstice with a list summer songs for your Uke! The ukulele is the perfect instrument for lazy summer days and late night campfires after-all… They are small enough to carry almost anywhere making them perfect for parks, campgrounds, and downtown for a little busking! (Busking is setting up an impromptu show on a busy pedestrian street or sidewalk and playing music for money). Whether you are playing for an audience or just a couple friends, below is a perfect list of summer and sunny day songs for the ukulele. Everyone will smile when you play your uke on a warm summer day. Daydream This classic by the Lovin’ Spoonful is perfect for beginning and intermediate ukulele players. The chords are not too complicated and you can always use a cheat[…]

Read More

Intros, Turnarounds, and Endings

By now playing your ukulele may often consist of looking up chords or tabs to a song and learning the specific chords necessary to play it. This is great in the beginning because it helps increase you chord knowledge; however, you will eventually want to add more to your songs. By adding melodic intros, turnarounds, and endings we end up accessorizing our songs and filling them out. In this situation the terms intro, turnaround, and ending can often be used interchangeably. We are simply learning popular harmonic progressions that help to start, transition, or end a song. Over time you may want to creatively make your own turnarounds and intros for the music you play. Once you have the basics down it is a lot easier to start substituting and experimenting with chords to find that perfect turnaround! The Turnaround The musical idea of the turnaround are chords or notes[…]

Read More

Ukulele Warm-Ups

Take a Breather This goes for any activity, not just playing the ukulele. Sit up straight with the best posture that you can muster and breathe. Deep breaths counting in to 10 and out to 10. Spend 5 minutes just relaxing and breathing, there is no exact science to it, after all we aren’t attempting transcendental meditation or astral projection. Whatever breathing exercise helps you relax and chill out will work. I think we all would be happier people if we just took some time every day to focus on our breathing! Warm Your Hands Literally warm your hands, using warm water or friction, get those muscles ready for some stretches. While you are at it use your hands and body heat to warm your ukulele a little. The wood sounds better and your fingers work better when they are warm! Finger Stretches Not only should you stretch your fingers[…]

Read More

Common Chord Progressions

One of the best aspects of playing the ukulele, is getting to write your own songs. Of course we all begin by learning some of the more popular Uke tunes, but as time progresses most players want to pen their own unique tunes. To do that we need to learn a little about chord progressions. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, writing songs is really not that difficult. There are specific formulas that nearly every songwriter uses and progressions that have stood the test of time, yes of course a great songwriter knows when to bend the rules, but the basics are nearly always followed. In fact, by the end of this article you will realize just how many songs share the same chord progressions! A quick legal note: it is perfectly acceptable to use common chord progressions, they cannot be copyrighted. It is the melody[…]

Read More

Advanced Ukulele Practice

OK, so we already discussed some basic practice techniques in a previous article. Great advice about keeping your ukulele tuned, setting aside time to practice, playing slowly at first, using a metronome, and playing along to songs you like. After a few weeks and months of this we start to advance, but instead of a peak we find a plateau! Often when folks pick up a musical instrument, they try it for awhile and then get frustrated and slowly practice less and less. Trust me, I give music lessons, and it’s quite common for folks to peter out in the beginning. However, there are those dedicated few who keep with it, they follow the beginner advice and they practice, but then they get to a point where they have trouble moving further up. While a plateau is common with every skill, I’m going to give you a few pointers on[…]

Read More

Ukulele Troubleshooting

Whether we have been playing ukulele for a few months or perhaps just started there is always a good chance that we will run into some basic problems. Sometimes the problems are minor and easy to fix, other times they might be major issues (which may mean a particular ukulele is not playable). When it comes to troubleshooting any instrument, or anything at all, the key is to always start with the basics and check off any potential problems. IT employees who fix computers will often say that folks always forget the simplest stuff first… like plugging in or turning a machine on in the first place! Below is a guide to some basic ukulele headaches and how to potentially fix them. Tuning This is the number one beginners issue; in fact, this may be one of the most serious issues for all instruments! If what you are playing is[…]

Read More