Ukulele Beginner

Ukulele Beginner: Week #1

List of Goals for the week:

  • Warm Up: See finger exercises below

  • Scale: We’ll cover this in Week 2

  • Technique: Holding instrument, tuning, how to strum

  • Repertoire:

  • Additional Studies: See below

Hello all!

So great to meet you all yesterday! Try to schedule 10-15 minutes of practice time each day.  Remember that tuning from string #4 (closest to your face) to string #1 (closest to the ground) is as follows:


First our tune and  brief description— Ernest Kaai’s “Waialae"

The first Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso, Ernest Kaai, made appearances all over the world. Not only a gifted performer, "Hawaii's Greatest Ukulele Player" organized ensembles, composed and published music, and ran the Kaai Ukulele Manufacturing Company. He was undoubtedly the foremost ukulele authority of his time and had a profound understanding of the mechanics of playing, for which he published the first ukulele instruction book in 1906. Although known for promoting the ukulele as a featured instrument in the Hawaiian orchestra, his sophisticated fingering, picking, and stroke styles also inspired the modern establishment of the ukulele as a solo instrument.

In our first class we covered the following:

  • Brief introduction of everyone in the class

  • Overview of school policies

  • Ukulele diagram - names of specific parts of the instruments (see following page for refreshed)

  • Basic tutorial on how to tune (we will delve into this more deeply next week)

  • How to hold your instrument:

    • Start with a careful set-up of playing position

    • Your back should be straight and your shoulders open but relaxed.

    • Ukulele's lower bout rests on the right leg with the neck raising up slightly toward the left shoulder.  Your right forearm rests on top of the instrument to hold it firmly against your rib cage and the neck rests on the first finger of your left hand (remember to "shake the hand" of your instrument).

  • Finger exercises for warm up. See here for a refresher:

    • Pluck the G string with your right thumb in a downward motion several times as follows: 1st finger/1st fret — 2nd finger/2nd fret — 3rd finger/3rd fret same— 4th finger 4th fret. Then go back down: 4th finger, 4th fret, 3rd finger/3rd fret same, 2nd finger/2nd fret, 1st finger/1st fret.

    • Copy this pattern on the C string, the E string, and on the A string.

  • Key of C major: These are the notes in the key of C major. We build chords off of each note in the Key of C major.

  • In our first week’s class, we learned the C Major Chord (I chord) and the F Major Chord (IV chord.)

Chord Practice # 1

After setting up your instrument with proper playing posture, fret your C chord as depicted on the next page making sure that each finger is just behind the fret and on it's finger tip.  Play each string of the chord one at a time then give it a few strums. Repeat for the F chord.

After a few days you can start to move the C chord shape to the F shape, strumming each one a few times each before repeating a few times.

How to Practice this at home:

  • Recommended practice:

    • 8 strums of C major. Stop playing, take a moment and move your fingers to the correct position for F major, then strum F major 8 times. REPEAT for a couple minutes each day.

    • The goal is that as you become more comfortable in the transitions, the time you take to reset your fingers between chords will be less and less.

  • Additional Study:

    • I like this uke video -Cynthia takes you through the F chord, C chord, and G chord (which we’ll learn next week)

See next few pages:

Charts + Sheet Music + Diagrams

Key of C Major.png

Aaand finally: be sure to buy a Snark tuner for next week’s tuning demo!

Ginger DoldenComment