1st Session: What is an Ukulele?
The parts that we will discuss the most are the frets, strings, tuning pegs, and sound hole!
Next I will show you the tuning pegs and what strings they tune.
Tuning your Ukulele!! Click on this link: Ukulele Tuner Once you tune your ukulele to GCEA come back for more of the lesson!
Here is a chart that shows the number of the string at the top and the letter or musical note of the string when played open at the bottom. The top represents the Nut! Can you point to the NUT on the 1st
diagram? Now point to it on the 2nd diagram. Now point to that same spot on your own Ukulele.
Great. The space between the Nut and the next line represents a Fret! The Fret is the little metal bar that repeats all the way down the fret board until the neck meets the body. So, when I refer to the 1st Fret, I am telling you to move to the space between the Nut and the first metal fret. Do not put your finger ON the metal fret, but just behind the fret.
If I tell you to put a finger on the 1st string, 1st Fret, I am saying to put your finger Between the Nut and the First Fret on the First String!
Shown above, in Diagram 3, there are three frets showing. Point to the first fret touching the 3rd string. Now point to the 3rd fret touching the 1st string. Ahhh! See, there is a method to my madness! I am helping you understand the difference between the number on the Strings with the number on the Frets! OK, so to make you roll your eyes even more, your Fingers have numbers too!
This is important to get familiar with, because I am always referring to the number of the finger, the number of the fret, and the number of the string in our sessions while explaining how to make a chord! The fingers are easy to learn and remember.
T stands for Thumb. (duh, right?, wrong!, some might not know that, lol). The number 1 finger is also called the Pointing finger. I just found out from a Young person that the number 2 finger is politely known as the, ahem, Social finger. Or, some call it the middle finger. We won't go there, stop it!!! The third finger is also known as the Ring finger. And the 4th finger is know as the Pinky or Etiquette finger, (as in the holding of the teacup with the pinky UP!)
So, now, if I tell you to place the 3rd finger on the 2nd fret on the 4th string, can you find it in the diagram 3 which I placed below for easy ref again.
Now lets try to make our first chord. Let's make a C chord. Yippee! Make sure you are tuned up with the tuner from Uke Buddy!!! It is under Diagram 2.
So, you can see on the C chord, you will place your 3rd Finger on the 3rd Fret on the 1st String. Strum using a down stroke. The next chord is the Am (m means minor) and you will use your 2nd Finger on the 2nd Fret, on the 4th string. Strum using a down stroke. The next chord is the F and you place your 1st Finger on the 1st Fret on the 2nd String, AND your 2nd Finger on the 2nd Fret on the 4th string (notice that you have only added the 1st Finger to the 2nd which was used for the Am!) Now, moving to the G Chord, you move your 1st Finger to the 2nd Fret on the 1st String, your 2nd Finger to the 2nd Fret on the 3rd String, and the 3rd Finger to the 3rd Fret on the 2nd String.
For videos of these basic steps, please go over to the Absolute Beginners Page on this blog. This page is for all the pictures and charts. Chili Monster does a great job of showing you how to play this first pattern of the C Am F and G. As you strum this pattern you will notice that it is the basis of all the oldie rock n roll songs.
During Session One, we also went over Alexander's Rag Time Band and then we transposed it. Here is the link to that song on Dr Ukes Site and then I follow with a chart for you to see transposing.
Alexanders Rag Time Band This was played in C. During our Session, we transposed it to A.
How do you do that and WHY?
The reason that we transpose is so that we can do two things. One being that you can change the Key of the song so that you can sing it easier, or sometimes even play it easier, and Two being that you may have learned it in one key, and now the group you are in wants you to do it in another key.
Sometimes you can use a Capo to raise the key up if it is a few steps too low. But in Session One, we did a full on Transposing of the song to teach the ease of it.
The NUMBER SYSTEM. The Number System and Transposing go Hand in Hand! Each note is a number, (arghhhhhh, more numbers, lol) and they run from 1 to 7, next note being 8 which is the 1 an octave higher. Octave stands for 8! Below is a chart for you to use to begin and understanding of the number system.
Let us start with C. C being the ROOT note/chord. The next note/chord is a Half Step up or also known as a Semitone. Semi being Half of a Whole Tone! So, in the example above, C is the Root or 1, then the half tone up is C# (sharp) and that makes D a Whole Tone up from C. D is assigned the number 2. Look at the chart above and note that is goes Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half.
A Whole step = 2 half steps A Half step = 1 Half step.
Root/1 Whole/2 Whole/3 Half/4 Whole/5 Whole/6 Whole/7 Half/8
(C) D E (F) (G) A B C
(1) 2 3 (4) (5) 6 7 8
No matter where we start, when we start, it is on the 1 or the Root chord. So the Root Chord is assigned the number 1. Using the Diatonic Scale, W W H W W W H you will be able to assign numbers to any scale. Try it now. Start in G.
Root/1 Whole/2 Whole/3 Half/4 Whole/5 Whole/6 Whole/7 Half/8
G A B C D E F G
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Now that you see it in two scales, lets look at it all together for all the scales. (note, I haven't put in the sharps and flats or minors or 7ths yet. Keeping it simple then we will go the next step!)
What I am trying to show you first is what we call the 145. Most songs are a combination of 1 4 and 5. They are also marked in gray all across the chart making it easy to find them.
You can play Jambalaya in G and easily transpose it to any other Key using the Chart above. It is two chords, and those chords are the 1 and the 5. Look across the top row and find the G. That is your 1. Now go straight down from that G to the D. The D is in the Gray Row marked with the 5. Let's try singing along with Jambalaya in G. Don't worry about the words, just hum the song. Odd key for most! So, Now, move the scale left one whole step on the top row. That means, you are moving from the G on the top row going left to the F. Notice there is a half step in between. For me, I sing this song better one Whole step Down from G meaning I sing this song in F. F being the 1 move down to the 5 and tell me what is the 5 chord if you are in the Key of F?
If you picked C you are correct. Now, strum Jambalaya using F to C. Ahh, a little better???
So, now I want you to go back to the song, Alexanders Rag Time Band, using the link above, and I want you to print it out. It is in C. I want you to assign a number to each chord using the chart above. Just go to the C on the top row in the diagram above, and look down at the Chords vertically below it. . Use wwhwwwh to assign the numbers to the chart above, and then using those numbered chords, assign them to the chords on the song. Once you have the numbers on the print out sheet, look again at the chart above and change the Chords to the Key of A! Remember, just go to the top row, which is all the 1 chords and then look down below that root chord vertically to get all your chords from the numbers.
No peeking but I will Give you the scale here to check your work. Don't look at it though until you are done trying your hand at transposing it yourself!!!
Root/1 Whole/2 Whole/3 Half/4 Whole/5 Whole/6 Whole/7 Half 8
A Bm C#m D E F#m G# A
Here is another chart to show it another way!
As we advance into more types of transposing, You will use several other of these charts. I am placing them in this first section so that you can refer to them.
The beauty of the wheel above in Diagram 9 is that it not only shows the 145 combination on the outside chords, but then it shows the 7's and the Min's. It also shows you what they LOOK LIKE on your Ukulele!!! Ask me about the Sharps and Flats on the far outside! There is a secret code that only the Coolest Musicians know! I will teach you that at the Session live. A Girl has to keep SOME secrets. LOL
Lastly, I've informed all my Session Buddies to purchase a banjo/mandolin capo. We don't have the time to transpose every song, and sometimes, the original chords are easier to play. A capo allows you to raise the key up by half steps to make it easier to sing. But, the Capo substitutes for the original NUT at the top of the Fret Board. A Capo also substitutes for you Finger Bar Chording. When placed properly, you can continue to play the chords exactly as you see them in your books or sheet music, only you will be playing in a higher key. If you like where you are playing it, it would be good to know What Key you are now in, Right??? So, yay, here is another chart for that!!! Ok, I am the Chart Queen. More like, the Chart Guru Detective for going out on the net and finding all these charts just for little ole you!!! LoL.
Here is the capo chart, and now I have to go to sleep so I can run the South Tampa Jam in 12 hours from now. Yikes. Happy Strumming. Check out this chart!!
Next lesson! Strumming, Coming soon!!!! You can use a site called Uke Buddy to locate chords and view scales as well as tuning. I love that it shows all the different ways to make a chord. As you become more advanced in your playing, I think you will find that site very valuable!!!