Seeing as many of us are going to be spending a bit more time at home at the moment, we thought we would try and beat the boredom a bit with a new series of short videos with tips to help when learning the ukulele at home.
The first in the series shows you how to look up a song you’ve been wanting to learn and how to decipher a chord and lyric sheet (as well as some tips on what to do with a chord you don’t know!!).
The first video can be found on our youtube channel here.
We hope to have more activities and songs you can try at home up very soon so don’t forget to subscribe for updates and share so that we can get the word out.
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First Unit Now Free!
Due to the ongoing global crisis shutting many schools worldwide, we have decided to make the first unit of ukulele school absolutely free to all users. All you need is access to ukuleles and the internet and you have six simple lessons to get you playing.
In this unit you cover the basic chords C and F and learn how to change between the two, as well as covering some basic music theory and techniques.
We’re also updating regularly with short lessons and some hints and tips for anyone trying to learn the ukulele at home, check the first of these out on our youtube channel here.
*Edit: The Ukulele school is originally designed as a resource for schools, as such it is not currently optimised for mobile use, the resources are all great for solo learners but we advise using desktop or tablet. We hope to have it working better on mobile soon.
(The following button takes you to lesson one. Use the menu tab in the top corner to navigate the first six lessons).
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The Ukulele School
A Quick Note On Chord Diagrams
What is the best way to draw a chord?
When learning a new chord on the Ukulele, it can often be helpful to see a picture showing you where to put your fingers. These pictures are known as chord diagrams.
Here at The Ukulele School we choose to draw our chord diagrams a little differently from the standard approach.
Recently I was teaching some students how to look up and learn some more advanced chords for themselves, using a simple google search. There was some obvious confusion as they discovered that the images of chords they were finding didn’t match those they had been using previously.
Whilst we don’t want to cause unnecessary confusion I am going to try and explain our approach to diagrams and the reasons why we draw them this way.
Here we have an F Major chord written in the standard way (as you might find with a simple google search). The thick black bar at the top represents the nut of the ukulele (the raised area that separates the head from the neck). The strings are shown going downwards with G on the left working across to A on the right.
The two dots show where to place your fingers. The small Os above the diagram mean that those two strings are left open.
Whilst this isn’t too difficult to understand for most pupils, it doesn’t help that the ukulele is orientated in a way that we would never actually play it.
When we take into account pupils who may be struggling to hold a ukulele the right way round, or have difficulty telling left from right, we have found that drawing the ukulele this way can be really quite disorientating.
For this reason we have chosen to draw our diagrams side on, so that the ukulele is held in the same position that you would normally hold it to play. We also add some additional details such as parts of the head of the ukulele in order to further show which way we are holding it.
There are still some issues with showing chords like this and here at The Ukulele School we have had lengthy (and honestly quite dull and geeky) discussions around whether we should use a face-on perspective or a mirror perspective. Eventually we settled on showing the neck as if you are looking at a teachers ukulele being played, rather than a mirror image of the pupil’s ukulele. Inevitably we have found that some of our pupils would rather a mirror image and some would even prefer the more traditional upright diagrams. When learning an instrument no one method will work for everyone, but this is the system we have found works for the largest number of pupils.
In your lessons you could try experimenting with using different diagrams and you may find that you disagree with our method. As always we would much rather you used what works best for you and your class.
Do you disagree with us or have an even better way of drawing chords for your pupils to learn, please let us know and join in the discussion on the forums, or on Facebook, we are always open to hearing new ideas.