A Song to Commemorate Juneteenth - Free PDF Download with Ukulele Chord Chart and Lyrics

Take This Hammer_Blog Header.png

In honor of Juneteenth (June 19th, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States), I thought I’d share one of my very favorite American folk songs. “Take This Hammer” is a song to sing when you’re feeling fed up, down and out, or ready to break free from something that’s weighing you down. Lead Belly’s recording is probably the version that’s imitated the most but, like many folk songs, “Take This Hammer” has been covered by hundreds of artists, so it’s always interesting to listen to multiple versions and hear how differently artists can interpret a song.

In the audio clip above, I’m playing “Take This Hammer” on a tenor ukulele with a low-G string in the key of A with A, A7, D, and E7 chords, paired with a strum you can learn from a YouTube video by TenThumbs Productions. How will you play it?

TTH_screen shot.png

I’m Melissa Stevenson, an 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 book! :)


Track Your Progress with My Weekly Play Log (Free PDF Download!)

Track Your Progress with My Weekly Play Log (Free PDF Download!)

Even when I’m having a good run of playing my ukulele daily, I can feel a little disorganized. I was pondering this last night, then realized I would feel so much better if I was simply tracking my playing and making notes of what I was working on. It sounds incredibly obvious to me now, but it was a big a-ha moment at the time!

I used to maintain practice logs when I took piano lessons as a kid, but haven’t used one since. And since so many uke players are learning how to play on their own, I thought creating a weekly play log might be a helpful tool for me to share here on the blog. So here it is!

I hope this Weekly Play Log helps you:

My Favorite One-Chord Song for the Ukulele

My Favorite One-Chord Song for the Ukulele

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.

Free Printable: Ukulele Binder Cover Pages

Free Printable: Ukulele Binder Cover Pages

Yesterday I suggested you put all of your song printouts and handouts into sheet protectors and stick them in a three-ring binder. Today I’m offering four free printables to help you keep your music organized and looking pretty. There’s a beach scene (for your island music), a geometric option (for your modern tastes) , a watercolor floral design (for pop music), and a beautiful meadow (for your folk tunes).

How to Play Stand By Me in Two Different Keys

In honor of #ukesnotnukes, I’m sharing a free download of the chords and lyrics for Stand By Me in two different keys. I’ve seen a lot of Youtube tutorials for this song in the key of C, but I just can’t hit those high notes! Singing this song in the key of G is much more comfortable for me, especially on days like today when I’m recovering from a cold and shouldn’t really be singing at all!

If you’re a brand new player, first try playing this song in the key of C, simply because the chords are easier. If you’re already comfortable playing the C, F, G, and Am chords, give this song a try in the key of G! Then compare the two. Which key feels better for your voice? Being able to play a song in different keys is a really valuable skill for anyone who likes to sing. So much of being able to sound good as a singer is knowing what keys are comfortable for your vocal range.

Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 11.53.55 AM.png
Screen Shot 2018-10-08 at 11.55.49 AM.png

Looking for an easy-to-read guide to the ukulele? Check out my book, Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners!

Free Printable: A New Ukulele Coloring Page for the New Year

free uke coloring page.jpg

Happy 2018!

The original ukulele coloring page has been getting a lot of traffic lately, so for my first post of the year I thought it would be fun to share a new free printable. Shawna created this super cute coloring page based on the photo used on my homepage. Just a dinosaur chilling with a ukulele, no biggie. 

My kids received some new art supplies for Christmas, and this coloring page feels like the perfect excuse to get them out. I'll be printing out at least one copy for myself, too. How many will you print? :) 

Get to Know Your Ukulele (Free Printable)

Get to Know Your Ukulele (Free Printable)

Oh, man. I love a good printable! They're great for kids (we use them on road trips all the time), and I enjoy creating free downloads to share here on the blog, though so far I've focused on creating printables for kids. But these Get to Know Your Ukulele printables are handy for all beginning ukulele players— kids and grown-ups alike.

Free Printable: Ukulele Coloring Page

Today I'm excited to be sharing a free coloring sheet. My talented friend made it just for the MM blog, and it's got me feeling like a giant heart-eyes emoji! I love the psychedelic effect of the background pattern and the hand-drawn quality of it— it feels so modern and fresh compared to the coloring pages I'm used to seeing. 

Do you have any budding artists in your family? I'd love to see what you and your kiddos create with this. Please share your works of art over on the Musical Mama Facebook page

I've printed out a few copies on cardstock so my kids can paint with watercolors on them. I think I'll have to paint one myself. :) 

Happy coloring! 

Free Song Sheet: Peace Like a River

Here's a simple, powerful song that I sing to find comfort on hard days. Peace Like a River is a sweet song with very simple lyrics that make it easy to improvise your own verses. It uses the 1, 4, and 5 chords, and in the video I play it in the key of C (with a little "help" from my daughter). 

Download a free PDF of the chord sheet so you can play along at home! Want to strum along to another version? Search Apple Music or Spotify (or wherever you stream your music) for Elizabeth Mitchell's version, which is also in the key of C. Happy strumming! 



Free Printable: A Music-Themed Word Search

word searches and uke.jpg

Do your kids love activity pages? Word searches are a big hit in my house, and I thought it would be fun to create a music-themed word puzzle to share here on the blog. I've created two versions: a simplified version for early readers and a more challenging version for school-aged children. Bonus points go to the moms and dads who play their ukuleles while their kids work on the word search! ;) 

Click on the images above to be taken to the downloadable PDF files. Enjoy! 

Easy Word Search (for early readers) 

Hard Word Search (for school-aged kids)