1
Summer Songs for the Ukulele
2
Intros, Turnarounds, and Endings
3
Ukulele Warm-Ups
4
Common Chord Progressions
5
Advanced Ukulele Practice
6
Ukulele Troubleshooting
7
Love songs on the Ukulele (Valentine’s Day Issue)
8
Christmas Music on the Ukulele
9
How to Get the Best Ukulele Sound?
10
Fingerpicking Basics

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

Love songs on the Ukulele (Valentine’s Day Issue)

What better holiday to have near the end of a cold and dreary winter than Valentine’s Day? It seems strange we don’t celebrate love at the height of spring or the warm days of summer, but hey I don’t make the rules. For those ukulele players who made New Years resolutions to start practising more, we have a few weeks to prepare the perfect love songs for our ukulele. Below are a few song examples for the beginner and more advanced player to learn for Valentine’s Day, hopefully they will impress your love to be or an audience just simply in the spirit of such a romantic day! La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf) The French cabaret singer-songwriter Edith Piaf wrote this song back in 1946, and was made popular with an English version by Louis Armstrong. The title can be translated as “Life Through Rose Colored Glasses” or its[…]

Read More

Christmas Music on the Ukulele

Every year Christmas music seems to encroach on us earlier and earlier, we see the decorations in the store and hear the music over the speakers. Even those who are driven nuts by this perpetual holiday, must admit how infectious Christmas music really is. Even if you do not particularly celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, or the Winter Solstice, it is difficult not to tap your foot and hum to the best Christmas songs out there. When it comes to playing Christmas music, there may be no better instrument than the ukulele. After all the ukulele is already associated with fun and smiles, add some catchy tunes into the mix and you have a winning combination. The earlier Christmas music of chants and psalms, really aren’t the best for the ukulele. A piano or a harp is more suited for some of the more traditional songs. The 1930’s –[…]

Read More

How to Get the Best Ukulele Sound?

Learning to play any instrument takes time, while the ukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn, you still need to take the time to develop enough skill to make it sound great. There are a few basic pointers to make sure you are guaranteed to wow folks when you play the uke for them! The Right Ukulele I see many articles out there about how to make a cheap ukulele sound great, the best way is to not be cheap, luckily with ukuleles we aren’t talking about huge price tags. From the very beginning it is essential that you have a proper uke to play. Music is a great business these days, there are a ton of instruments to buy, supplies to get, and lessons to purchase. Unfortunately, not everyone is out to truly help you in your journey, many instrument makers out there both locally and foreign[…]

Read More

Fingerpicking Basics

In a recent article we discussed advancing our scale routines using specific fingers for each string on the uke, that way we could start peppering our chord progressions with notes. The basic and beginning way to play the ukulele is to use the index finger or thumb (or both) to simply strum up and down, however once we start adding in notes we get into the fun world of fingerpicking. Below we will discuss some basics on fingerpicking, however there is nothing wrong with just doing whatever works for you. One of the keys to fingerpicking is actually having memorized your chords and being able to switch quickly back and forth in a progression. If you are still having trouble with that you may want to hold off on fingerpicking for awhile, otherwise it is difficult to be focusing on both hands at the same time. Grab your Uke and[…]

Read More