Play Ukulele Now

Learn to play ukulele, make your own music in your own way on the ukulele and have fun doing it.
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  • Lectures 76
  • Length 4.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 6/2012 English

Course Description

The diminutive ukulele, born of a marriage in Hawaii in 1879, is currently in its third wave of worldwide popularity. It's a charming, friendly instrument and ultimately easy to play. But there are treasures hidden in its depths.

If you want to learn how to play ukulele, in this course an aficionado of the ukulele for 50 years and teacher of it for 20, will hold your hand as you learn to play ukulele, learn its parts, its lore, its tuning, and show you how to steer it into the world of harmony, melody, rhythm and song.

Written lectures are often backed up with video presentations. And the instructor is available via email. This course is appropriate for absolute beginners trying to learn how to play ukulele, guitar players who wish to migrate to the ukulele, and accomplished ukulele players looking for new challenges.

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What are the requirements?

  • Software to read PDF files, view video and hear audio
  • Ukulele, tuned GCEA
  • Electronic tuner, pitchfork, piano or a good ear for pitch recommended
  • Penchant for fun

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Explore the ukulele and learn to play it
  • Identify and clarify the musical options afforded by the ukulele
  • Provide not just the basic techniques, but challenge students to develop their own styles
  • Provide encouragement throughout the entire learning process
  • Relish the history, lore and future impact of the ukulele, the music it makes and players who perform it
  • Keep it fun

What is the target audience?

  • Absolute beginners
  • Advanced beginners
  • Advanced players
  • Students of culture and music of all kinds
  • All ages: children to retirees

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: About the Ukulele
4 pages

Meet the ukulele and get to know its parts.

1 page

A brief overview of how to tune your ukulele. Even if you have a silicon ear (electronic tuner) to help you tune up it's still a good idea to know how the ukulele is tuned within itself. What's important is that YOUR ear is pleased and that you allow the ukulele to help you train your hearing ability.

4 pages

Tips on taking care of your ukulele, repairing it, traveling with it, selecting it.

Section 2: About Playing the Ukulele
14:41

Start playing right now! Introducing the 1, 2 and 3-finger chords, also known as C, F and G7, you will begin strumming and chording the uke and be making music by the end of the lecture.

13:12

In this lesson we learn two new chords, play a tune and get our feet wet with a bit of music theory. By the end you should have a pretty good idea what the job of playing the ukulele is all about. Except for providing avenues of discovery, my job is over. Now it's up to you to explore and flesh out your own playing style and techniques. That task never ends.

06:15

Jam along on this two chord song (C and G7) to practice your strums and doo-dads. Use it to give yourself the freedom to horse around while still keeping the beat. You might want to download the pdf file of the words and chords first so you have them in front of you to reinforce your efforts. The task isn't so much to learn the song but to use the song to hone your skills and build up your ukulele toolbox.

1 page
Words and chords to Buffalo Gals. Print them out and play along with the video and/or by yourself or with friends.
2 pages
Lyrics and chords diagrams for the song Ain't She Sweet? in the keys of C and F. It's an unwritten law: If you play the ukulele, you have got to play Ain't She Sweet? Work on the C version of the song first. When you've got it down, push out a little and try it in F. Give yourself permission to take liberties with the pacing and syncopation. Many other songs, especially Five Foot Two, follow the same pattern (except for the first four bars--"Ain't she sweet, walking down the street"). Play along with the video to get the hang of it. There's another version of it on YouTube at http://youtu.be/y5LtHMb1pVM
03:03

A play-along close-up video of Ain't She Sweet including a lead-in riff, vocal in the key of C, and instrumental in the key of F. This is a "gateway" tune that can lead to hundreds of other songs with a similar chord pattern and feel.

Section 3: Ukulele Harmony
1 page
Suggestions for using the chord sheets with an overview of the relative usage of certain chord groups.
3 pages

Three basic chord patterns in the key of C that can be used for practicing and that just might give you insight into how thousands of songs are constructed. This lecture will also introduce to musiican's shorthand when descibing how a song goes.

1 page
This chart will help you change a song from any key to any other key. Also good for challenging yourself to play songs in more than one key.
15 pages

Sixteen chord diagrams for all 12 keys: the root major, major 7, 7th, 6th and 9th; the root minor, minor 7th, minor 6th, suspended 4th, add 9; dimished, augmented, a 7th augmented, augmented/diminished 5th, 4/9 and 6/9 chords. Each sheet has three groups in rows that coincide with the video chord groups in this chapter. Print the last page for easy reference. These charts are as boring as a dictionary, but hopefully just as useful. In another chapter we will look at chords in a completely different context. I suggest you print these out for easy reference when not at your computer.

Each group of chords in this lecture has a corresponding video in this chapter. The aim of the videos is primarily to help you find your way to make the various chords, But some of the videos add a tidbit or two of useful information that might interest you or facilitate your voyage through the world of ukulele epressed music. If you're having trouble making a chord, visit the video and see if it helps. If that doesn't help, send me a note and I'll do what I can. (updated 6/22)

A Group 1
00:31
A Group 2
00:51
A Group 3
00:57
Bb Group 1
00:40
Bb Group 2
00:49
Bb Group 3
01:01
B Group 1
00:40
B Group 2
00:46
B Group 3
01:00
C Group 1
Preview
00:44
C Group 2
02:07
C Group 3
01:59
C# Group 1
00:47
C# Group 2
00:49
C# Group 3
01:31
D Group 1
02:28
D Group 2
00:57
D Group 3
01:38
Eb Group 1
Preview
00:54
Eb Group 2
01:06
Eb Group 3
02:14
E Group 1
00:50
E Group 2
01:36
E Group 3
00:59
F Group 1
02:10
F Group 2
01:06
F Group 3
02:02
F# Group 1
00:49
F# Group 2
01:30
F# Group 3
01:15
G Group 1
00:40
G Group 2
00:44
G Group 3
01:20
G# Group 1
00:37
G# Group 2
01:10
G# Group 3
01:12
Section 4: Ukulele Rhythm
04:08

A brief discussion to help you discover your own ukulele strums. A prelude to an upcoming series of short videos on a variety of strums and strumming considerations.

05:27

A demonstration of how to play and pulse the trill on the ukulele and a couple of tips on working it into your songs.

02:24

The roll strum is a fanning of the fingers across the strings, four fingers, one at a time in one beat. Some of the many ways to use this technique are explored.

03:45

Explore the sort of gathering pluck that is a reverse roll. Lern to sneak parts of it into your favorite strum.

04:08

This video focuses on picking and plucking individual strings as part of a strumming pattern. It is Part 1 of a lecture that leads to my own favorite strum, a movement I've come to call "plicking" since it seems to be a mixture of picking and plucking. Hopefully you will find a similar manner that suits your goals as a ukulele player. I learned this one 50 years ago from a dormmate in college. His strum was different than what I wound up doing, and yours, too, will probably be different. But, so what? It's all good.

09:00

The thumb and index finger join forces to make an energetic strum that is both a pick and a pluck with an occasional swipe and pinch added. A challenge, but worth it. We also look at the figure eight stroke and triplets.

2 pages

A double-sided single page brochure on strumming that fits in most ukulele cases, and that recaps the video strumming lesson in the previous lecture. 

14:09

A variety of techniques to add to your ukulele tool box so you can pepper your playing with injections here and there of flavor and personality.

Section 5: Ukulele Melody
1 page
The C major scale is the first full scale one can play on the ukulele, and it goes on for two octaves. This lecture can be printed out on legal size paper. If you desire to pick tunes rather than strum them, or if you wish to strum tunes and conjure the melody from time to time, give this lecture a bit of quality time. You will be amply rewarded for it.
1 page
C Minor scale and a brief discussion of the flatted third in a scale or chord;
1 page
Typical pentatonic blues scale in the key of C. If you play it often enough, you will get a feel for the "boxes" that blues players favor so much and will be able to play in any key.It's set printed out on legal size paper.
1 page
An interesting scale from the Iraqi musical tradition that is very soothing and a great tool for noodling around to gain facility at making free form music on the ukulele.
17:14
A general discussion of scales based on the previous four lessons. Best if you print out the scale diagrams from those lessons so you can refer to them during the talk. And have your tuned ukulele in your hands to follow along. Does this approach work for you? Let me know in the comments field.
Section 6: Music Theory for Ukulele Players
1 page

This diagram is a study aid to help in understanding the Circle of Fifths and is a companion to the video lecture on the same subject. Understanding the Circle is one of the best ways to help alert your music ear to a song's movement. The goal is to take some of the mystery out it and thus improve our playing by helping us to anticipate the next chord.

Circle of Fifths, Demystified, Part One
Preview
09:35
Circle of Fifths Demystified, Part Two
12:57
Section 7: Songs, Songstyling and Songwriting
1 page
A summary of good practice practices and a tip or two on learning songs. Learning songs and practicing them as well as general playing techniques is pretty much a private, individual affair, but comes a time you get to insert what you play privately into the public mix with other musicians, so there's a tiny bit about jamming, too.
7 pages
Here are simple two, three and four chord songs. Some of them have no key, but contain the relative chord position so you can select and switch keys, hopefully increasing your ability to memorize and intuit which chords go with each other. Use different strums, too, when playing these songs. By all means, have fun. Additional words are more complex chord structures can be found for some of these songs by search on the Internet.
9 pages
A few old standards and two recent tunes to learn and with which to play along. Print them out while playing the videos soon to come (they will follow this lecture). Versions of these songs can be found on the Internet, especially YouTube. Some of them, like "Ain't She Sweet?" and "Five Foot Two" are required to be in every ukulele player's repertoire, and clearly illustrate the use of the Circle of Fifths. Transpose keys, too. Good practice.
03:10
A rather rowdy version of the song by the Strum Bums of Grass Valley CA rehearsing in the local Mason's Lodge with a Jazzercise dance class going on upstairs. Recorded July 19, 2012 so students in this course can play along. Print out the words and chords and follow along. It's only ukulele; nobody gets hurt.
02:56
Two gotta' have sing-along songs paired together. Ain't She Sweet starts with a riff in C-Cº-Dm7-G7 three times then Cº-Dm7-G7-C, then start the song on C6... Play it a few times and you'll get the idea. Then play with it 'til you land on your way of doing it. Have fun.
03:14
High energy sing-a-long song, The whole song is first played as an instrumental, then sung, then instrumental again and finally sung one last time with a "three-peat" on the last phrase.. Also recorded during a Strum Bums rehearsal.
2 pages
This lecture is not a comprehensive study of the Blues, but rather a guideline for studying the blues and playing them on the ukulele. There are certain conventions in the history of blues, although they are being broken every day, and it is good to know they exist. We've visited some of them in the strumming and scales videos, but hopefully this lecture will help you understand how far reaching the blues genre is and what it takes to get there.
Section 8: The Ukulele Story
31 pages

To really learn to love the ukulele, it's best to know its history and lore. The more you know, the more you want to play, the more you want to play, the more you do, the more you do, the better you get, the better you get, the better you feel, the better you feel, the better the world is. That's how it works. Uke on, fellow pluckers!

4 pages

An observation and opinion on the future of the ukulele. Perhaps balderdash.

Section 9: A Bit More
2 pages
A quick, no-nonsense guide to the ukulele for proficient guitar players.
3 pages
This document is not a comprehensive list but points you to the types of resources available and where to find them. We take a quick peek, too, at ukulele clubs and how they started.

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Instructor Biography

Dan "Cool Hand Uke" Scanlan, Ukulele Performer and Instructor with 51 years' experience

A ukulele performer since 1961, Scanlan returned the ukulele to its ancestral home of Madeira Island, Portugal in 1998 in the historic Father and Son Reunion, a project that reunited the ukulele with the rajão and braguinha and united Madeiran and American players in performance, including a live telecast from the Lisbon World's Fair. For the past 11 years Scanlan has been teaching a weekly ukulele class that doubles as a performance group that performs at least once a week at fairs, schools, hospitals, retirement and convalescent homes. The group, the Strum Bums, received a standing ovation at the second annual New York Ukulele Festival. They performed at the Santa Cruz CA Ukulele Festival, and the Honolulu International Ukulele Festival.

Before he started the Strum Bums, Scanlan led the Vokuleles ukulele group in Chico CA, for the last seven of its 37 years. He is scheduled for a third appearance at the Honolulu festival July 2013 with the Strum Bums. 

Scanlan's ukulele workshops and performances have been highly acclaimed at festivals at the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum, Santa Cruz, Southern California, Tahoe Area, New York, Auburn CA, and the Liverpool, Nova Scotia, International Ukulele Ceilidh, where he serves as emcee. In 2008 he gave the initial ukulele workhop in Dublin, Ireland, to a group that became Ukuhooley, Ireland's largest ukulele group and presenter of the annual Ukuhooley Ukulele Festival.

Scanlan's ukulele has supported the efforts of Cindy Sheehan, Julia Butterfly Hill, U. Utah Phillips, Judi Bari, Daniel Ellsberg and other peace and justice activists. He and his ukulele have fronted several bands, including Flathead, the Self-Righteous Brothers, Jukolin, Top Quark, and Cool Hand Uke and the Enablers.

"Dan Scanlan has more talent in his little finger than he has in the wholoe rest of his body."  — Utah Phillips

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