In this video, I share one of my very favorite folk songs, Li’l Liza Jane. It can be played as a one-chord song, and its beautiful melody and playful lyrics make it a really fun one to play and sing. One-chord songs are great for beginning ukulele players who are still getting comfortable making chord shapes, strumming, and singing at the same time, but they're also great if you're working on a new skill such as a more complex strumming pattern, fingerpicking pattern, or riff.
As I was compiling a list of some of my favorite guilty pleasure songs, I realized that “Baby” by Justin Bieber and “YMCA” by the Village People have the exact same chord progressions. So I made a mashup video because why not? Here’s how you can play along with me. . .
My new ukulele starter guide includes a free digital download and eleven videos designed for brand new players (or anyone who needs a refresher)! Learn how to play two strums, three chords, and three songs. Ukulele Basics covers all the essentials of getting started, including:
• How to play chords
• How to strum
• How to play Frère Jacques with the C chord
• How to play Shoo, Fly! Don't Bother Me with the F and C chords
• How to play You are My Sunshine with the C, F, and G7 chord
A note about the songs: I love sharing folk songs with my students, and I’ve specifically chosen these three well-known songs because they have easy-to-memorize lyrics, common chord arrangements, and singable melodies. All of these qualities make them great songs for new musicians and help make your learning curve a little bit gentler.
Are you ready to start strumming? Download the PDF and let's play!
Please note: you will have to go through some of the checkout process in order to receive the download link, but you will not need to enter any credit card data. The PDF is free!
Ukuleles purchased online usually arrive with the strings really loose and very out of tune. And if you're a brand-new player, just getting your strings in tune can feel like a challenge!
In my latest video I tune up a very affordable and adorable Diamond Head ukulele, which I purchased from Amazon for about $24. The tuner I use in the video the Snark SN5X. There are so many flashy and fancy tuners out there, but I like this one for its simple design and bright display.
How do you tune up your instrument? I love seeing the tuners my students bring to lessons. Two recent standouts were the Hello Kitty tuner and a flashy contraption that lights up like a pinball machine each time you play a string!
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Learn to pLay the Ukulele
Let's Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners is now available in paperback and as a digital download!
My new how-to guide is perfect for anyone who wants to learn to play the ukulele. Created for absolute beginners, this book was designed to make learning to play the ukulele simple and fun. It’s beautifully organized with easy-to-follow diagrams and is accompanied by dozens of instructional videos to guide you along the way.
Watch More Video Tutorials:
Beginning musicians don't always think about what key a song is in, but it's a valuable piece of information. In this video, I share a really simple way to figure out the key of a song, plus I explain why it's an important thing to know:
One of my goals as a teacher is to de-mystify music for my students and break down concepts so that they're really easy to understand. I plan to make more videos along this vein, so if you have any topics you'd like me to cover, please let me know in the comments!
Have you heard of the Island Strum? It's a popular and versatile ukulele strum, but it can be a bit of a challenge for beginners. I've created a short video tutorial to help break it down and make it a bit easier to master:
Do you have a favorite strum pattern, or a strum you find yourself defaulting to over and over again? I'd love to hear about it!
Learn to Play Ukulele with
Let's Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners
The Essential How-to Guide for Beginning Ukulele Players
Let’s Play! makes learning to play the ukulele simple and fun. It’s written in a friendly, straightforward style and is full of uncomplicated instructions and easy-to-understand diagrams. When you purchase Let’s Play!, you’ll also receive access to dozens of videos to guide you through each new concept, song, and skill so you can see and hear exactly how things should look and sound. With Let’s Play!, you will learn:
The basics: how to tune, hold, and play your uke
How to strum several fun folk songs: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Oh, Susanna; Frère Jacques; Down by the Bay; and more!
Popular chords and strum patterns
Fundamentals of rhythm and time signatures
How to transpose songs into different keys
How to play melodies
I’m Melissa Stevenson, a music-maker, ukulele teacher, and author of Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners. On the Musical Mama blog, I post practical and inspiring tips for beginning ukulele players, free music-themed downloads, and video tutorials to make learning to play the ukulele as straightforward and fun as possible. Let’s play!
A NOTE ABOUT MY BLOG
The content I post is free and available to all, without advertising or paywalls. If you’d like to show your support for what I do, please buy my ukulele handbook! :)