Sessions 4: He Aloha No'o Honolulu

Shot on location at Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai.

Big mahalo to all those that took the time to share a little bit of their knowledge and passion for ukulele during my time in Hawaii. Thanks to Kimo Hussey. Thanks to Joe Souza at Kanile'a 'Ukulele. Andrew Kitakis and Corey Fujimoto, at Hawaii Music Supply. And Aldrine Guerrero, Aaron Nakamura, Ryan Esaki and Kahai at Ukulele Underground.

Insight 4: Melody and Major Scales

Today I want to discuss melody and give you a quick way of finding notes within a Major Scale.  In our first video we defined melody as being a series of individual notes that are grouped together to form phrases.  The notes that we use to form melodies are chosen from a group of 7 specific notes that belong to the key of whatever song we are playing.  Let’s use the the song Brown Eyed Girl that we used last week to examine melody.  That first vocal melody is a certain combination of notes from the key of the song, the key of C Major.  If we assign each note in the Major scale with a number than the melody looks something like this:

5 4 3 4 5    3 2 1 2 3

Every vocal line in the song uses some combination of the 7 notes from the key to form different phrases that make up the melody throughout the song.  As a matter of fact, everything that happens within that song, chords and melodies, is made from different combinations of those 7 different notes.  We refer to this set of notes as a scale and practicing our scales is really important for knowing where these notes are found on our fretboard.  As we move through the scale each note has a specific distance, or interval, between them.  This pattern of intervals is the formula that we use to create a Major scale.  Let’s think of these of these intervals in terms of whole steps and half steps and on the ukulele one 1/2 step is equal to 1 fret. Now the distances are as follows:

w w h w w w h

We show each note in the scale with a number so our formula looks like this:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  1 w w h w w w h

Let’s learn a quick hand shape that we can use to find a M scale starting from any note on the fretboard. Start with your pointer finger on any note than make the whole step to your middle finger, whole step to your ring finger, then a half-step to your pinkie.  Now we slide the pointer finger a whole step above our pinkie than repeat the whole pattern.  Easy right?  Now you can move this pattern to any position on the fretboard and what you will end up with is a Major scale of whatever note we started with.

Insight 3: Harmony and Chord Progressions

Today let’s dig a little deeper into the second important element of music, HARMONY.  We can define harmony as being more than one note being played simultaneously.  On the ukulele we are usually talking about four notes right?  One on each string to form a chord.  I like to use the metaphor of music as a language where we combine each of the pitches into a chord like letters making up a word.  We can extend this metaphor to start to view groups of chords the same way we view sentences as a combination of words to form a statement.

I have a little bit of a love hate relationship with the song sheets that I’ve been creating for our songbook.  I think that song sheets are a great tool to be able to learn a song quickly, but all too often they can become a crutch where people begin to need and rely on them to be able to play a song.  We need to be able to memorize a song as quickly as possible and learning the musical sentences, or progressions, in a song is a lot more realistic then memorizing every single chord change in a song.  Many people don’t notice that songs are usually comprised of a couple of 3 or 4 chord progressions that repeat a number of times throughout the song.  Lets take the song Brown Eyed Girl from our song book, and try to find our musical sentences or progressions.  If we look closely we see that there is a repeating set of chords that make up that first verse:  C  F  C  G.  Now we want to look further down to the 5th line to find where our progression changes to:  F  G  C  am  F  G  G  C.  We can simplify this into two of the SAME four measure progressions with a C replacing the am on the second line.  If we examine it some more we see that the chorus is the same as the verse.  The only other thing we need to know is G for 3 measure before each chorus.  So now memorizing this song becomes a little more simple if we can focus on each of these progressions:

Verse:    C F C G

Bridge:  F G C am (C 2nd ending)

Chorus: same as verse preceded by G for 3 measures.

Easy right?  Give it a try and see if you can condense a song sheet you have into a few different progressions and see if you can commit it to memory.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to connect with us on social media in the sidebar and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and

send me

some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Sessions 3: Europa

My rendition of a classic by Carlos Santana. Thanks to Brittni Paiva who's instrumental version of this song was a big inspiration.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to connect with us on social media in the sidebar and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Insight 2: Rhythm

In our last Insight video we talked about 3 fundamental elements of music:  rhythm, harmony, and melody.  Today we go a little more in depth into the first of these, rhythm.  Let's explain some foundational concepts and give you an exercise to help develop and strengthen your sense of rhythm.

Remember, when music is playing there is a natural pulse or beat that occurs and how we create rhythm on the ukulele is by playing a pattern of strums or sounds against that pulse.  The strum pattern that you hear me play is a certain ordering of down and up strums, this is the pattern:

D, D, U, U, D, U

But more specifically this pattern occurs in relation to that natural pulse in the music. When I play the first down strum my hand needs to travel back up to the top of the strings in order to play the next down strum.  The same thing happens when I play the next set of 2 up strums but in the opposite direction.  When you watch my hand play the strum my hand will be moving in a constant down and up motion and only playing the strums when they occur in the pattern, IN RELATION TO the natural pulse of the music.

So our foundation with our strum below it looks like this:


D     D U    U D U

So this strum pattern is created from an alternating pattern of down and up strums played in 1/8th notes,  so what are 1/8th notes?

That natural pulse in music usually occurs in cycles of four.  There are four beats then it repeats.  These four beats are called 1/4 notes because there are four of them in one cycle or measure.  Now if we divide each one of the these beats into two parts we end with 8 parts per measure or 1/8th notes.  So we can count it like this:

1/4 notes:     1  2  3  4

1/8th notes: 1+2+3+4+

So we connect it to our foundational pattern and our strum pattern it looks like this:


1  + 2  + 3  + 4  +

D    D  U    U D U

If we want the opportunity for more complexity in our strum patterns then we can divide each quarter note into four different parts to get 1/16th notes that we can count like this:


Learning how these different notes sound and how they feel to play is really important because they are the foundation for creating different strum patterns.  Try out this exercise of alternating between playing 1/4, 1/8th, and 1/16th notes.

D     U     D      U

1      2      3      4


1  +  2  + 3  + 4  +

D U D U   D U D U  D U D U  D U D U

1  e  +  a  2  e  +  a  3  e  +  a  4  e  +  a

Remember the pulse remains constant just how you divide it changes ;)

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to connect with us on social media in the sidebar and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and

send me

some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Insight 1: Elements of Music


Welcome to our first installment of our new Insight video series where I’ll share a little knowledge about music and ukulele and hopefully help you to become a better player.  Today I want to talk about 3 fundamental elements of music and how they apply to ukulele: RHYTHM, HARMONY, MELODY.

We can think of RHYTHM as the interaction between music and time.  When we hear music there is a natural and constant pulse or beat within that music.  We create rhythm by playing the strings in different patterns against this constant pulse with our right hand by strumming.

HARMONY can be defined as multiple notes or pitches happening simultaneously.  We quickly learn how to do this on the ukulele with our left hand by learning our first chords.  These two things rhythm, our strumming, and harmony, our chords, are usually what we learn to do first and we spend most of our time developing.  I think this is a great thing to get us playing very quickly but all too often people don’t put enough emphasis on developing the third element, melody!

Where harmony is multiple notes happening simultaneously, MELODY is a set of individual notes that are strung together to create a musical phrase.  These melodic phrases are really what define a song, it’s the part of the music that you remember when you think of a song.  Go ahead think of any song…what you're probably recalling is the melody…

So how do we incorporate melody with the ukulele?  We either do it with our voice, or we do it with the instrument.  Both of these things take a little time and effort to develop so you should start incorporating one or both of these into your practice right away.  The great part about this instrument is that, unlike a trumpet or a violin, you can actually accomplish all 3 of these elements at the same time while you are playing.  Check out our last Sessions Video for an example of this.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Artist Spotlight: Craig Chee


craigcheefullBig thanks to Craig Chee, our most recent artist spotlight here at Ukulele Inspired, for taking the time to answer a few questions for us.  Craig has been gaining lots of visibility in the past few years and is creating quite a name for himself as an artist and teacher.  His name has become a common sight on international ukulele festival lineups,  most recently as one of the headliners at the Ukulele Festival of Great Britain.  I had the pleasure of getting to meet Craig and his constant companion, Sarah Maisel at a workshop/concert last year.  Read more about it here.  Be sure to get his latest album release, Life in the Key of Chee, and don't miss an opportunity to see him teach and perform if he is in your area! UI: How did you first start playing ukulele?

Craig: Learned a few songs growing up in Hawaii but because the cello was my main instrument I didn't really dive into the ukulele until college.

UI: How long have you been playing?

Craig: Started playing a ton in 1999 getting ready for college at the university of Oregon.

UI: Best part about playing the ukulele (or being a ukulele player)?

Craig: Best part of playing- you can take it pretty much everywhere. And it's also such an addicting and fun instrument!

Best part of being a player- getting to travel and meet some of the most amazing people around the world...

UI: Where do you find inspiration?

Craig: Everyday life. Watching people do what they need to do to pay rent and then finding other ways to express their creativity. I have a young student who mowed yards all summer just to take a few lessons from me... It was so inspiring. I am absolutely so fortunate to be doing what I'm doing.

LINKS: Website: Bandcamp: Facebook: YouTube:

"The Following"


"The Following" is the latest single from the new album "Moment". Huge thanks to Aaron Almquist for such beautiful work and a fantastic concept. Shot on location at:my room, Ukulele Inspired Studios, Actual Cafe, MacArthur BART Station, Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, CA and at the Ferry Building, Sue Beirman Park, Ferry Plaza, and BART car #3 from the back in San Francisco, CA.

This video has been a labor of love for both Aaron and I and it is incredible the amount of work that it takes to create something like this and share it with all of you.  If you connect with this in any way please stop by my Patreon page:

The newest release from the new album "Moment", get a copy at: Itunes: Bandcamp: CD Baby: Soundcloud:

Workshop with Aldrine Guerrero


I've been waiting awhile for the Ukulele Underground to make it to the bay.  I headed over to San Francisco last Tuesday for a workshop/concert by the world famous Aldrine Guerrero and Aaron Nakamura.  Unfortunately I had students until late that day and of course hit rush hour traffic on the bridge so I unfortunately missed the workshop section of the event.  The event was organized by  Edgar Dang of Aloha Warehouse.  If you haven't got a chance to check out his shop yet, do yourself a favor and stop by to talk ukes and drool over his incredible inventory.  Although I missed the workshop, the concert was well worth the trip over.  Aldrine and Aaron put on such a memorable performance and I haven't seen a crowd have a better time at any other ukulele event I've ever been to.  Aldrine was really funny and genuine and I loved how much he interacted with everyone in the audience. They played a good mix of stellar covers and some of my favorite originals all while keeping a very funny and informal vibe to their set. Check out all of us chanting for Aaron "The Voice" Nakamura to sing us another song.

Workshop with Kimo Hussey and Kalei Gamiao


Last Saturday I made the trek up north to visit The Strum Shop in Roseville for a workshop/concert with two of my favorite ukulele artists playing today, Kimo Hussey and Kalei Gamiao.  I have been hearing and seeing a lot about the Strum Shop over the past year as they have had some great artists and teachers come through their doors as of late.  It was great to finally meet local ukulele guru and Strum Shop owner, Stu Herreid.  He has created a really great community up in the Sacramento area through teaching, different events, and organizing the local ukulele club, Uke University. SShopWorkshopSShopWorkshop2

Kimo taught a fantastic workshop covering some basic chord movement and chord replacement.  He also discussed training your ear to learn when to hear when chord changes should happen.  He had such a great energy and was really good at connecting with all of the participants.  Kalei's workshop covered some of the basic ideas behind his right hand techniques, from strumming to lead picking.  It was interesting to hear about some of his creative process and how he discovers and executes some of his incredibly intricate rhythms.


The concert portion of the event was one of my favorites by far.  Kimo's solo set was so intimate, he is such a great musician and story teller and his ability to evoke different feelings and emotions in his playing is unparalleled.  I have been waiting to hear Kalei play live for quite some time now, as he was one of my first inspirations when I started playing ukulele.  His technique is breathtaking to watch, and their were several wow's from the audience at the end of a few of his more intense pieces.  After both solo sets they played a short set together which was the highlight of the night for me.  It was really special and I feel lucky to have been there to enjoy it.

Both of these guys are real busy the next couple of months with teaching and performing at different events around the world so be sure to check them both out if you have a chance.  Also if you are in the northern California area keep an eye out on the Strum Shop's calendar where there are always some great ukulele events happening!

Kimo Hussey:

Kalei Gamiao:

Strum Shop:


Thank you to Derek Gamiao for use of his pictures and thanks to all you for all of your support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

"The Following" Video Shoot


FSactual FSactual2 Just finished mastering the new album and I thought what better way to celebrate then to shoot some video for one of the songs. I was lucky enough to meet a talented videographer by the the name of Aaron Almquist who was inspired by the music and was interested in collaborating on a video. First shoot day was a lot of fun and we went to a number of different locations around Oakland, including my house and local uke friendly spot Actual Cafe. Big thanks to those guys for letting us come in and do a quick take inside their busy spot.

FSjm2 FSjm3

Also got to get out into nature in the east Oakland hills and shoot at some of my favorite spots up in Joaquin Miller Park. Hopefully after a few more days of shooting we will have enough footage to go to post and come up with something awesome to share with you all! Look for the full length album to be on sale soon.

Thanks again for all the support, if you want to stay connected be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with songbook updates and everything else new with Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Artist Spotlight: Sarah Maisel


sarahmaiselbanner sarahfront Check out our newest featured artist here at Ukulele Inspired, Sarah Maisel.  If you are paying any attention to the ukulele scene then you may have heard of this very gifted lady.  I did a quick write up about a workshop and concert she did awhile back with Craig Chee at DaSilva Ukulele Co.  You can read more about it here.  With a very smooth and distinctive style of playing and an incredible voice, Sarah is getting a lot of deserved attention.  With all of her traveling, performing, and teaching, Sarah still found the time to answer a few questions for us.  Thanks Sarah!

UI: How did you first start playing ukulele? Sarah:  Being from Birmingham, AL, I had never seen a ukulele. When I moved out to San Diego, CA in 2004, I had my first experiences with the uke. BUT it wasn't until 2006, when my friend took me to a pizza place in Encinitas, CA to check out "Hawaii Night". It was AMAZING- 40 or more ukulele players (and several hula dancers) enjoying and playing Hawaiian music. I had never seen anything like it and was hooked instantly.

UI: How long have you been playing? Sarah:  I have been playing ukulele since October 2006.

UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele? Sarah:  I'd say the best part about being an ukulele player are all the awesome friends that you make. Uke people are the friendliest and kindest people I have ever met. The friendships you make with the uke are life time ones.

UI: Where do you find inspiration? Sarah:  I find inspiration everywhere. I know that can sound cliche, but it is true. I always get re-inspired when I am teaching. I love seeing someone enjoying music made with their own hands; it's a wonderful feeling to be a part of that. It fuels my fire for teaching. I also get inspiration from driving and listening to the radio... Or even going to the beach and relaxing. There is so much in life that can inspire you, you just have to be open to it.

LINKS: Website: Facebook: YouTube:

Artist Spotlight: Ukulenny


ulfullbanneruljump I had the opportunity to meet our newest featured artist at one of his local Bay Area uke jams, and he was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about the uke and where he gets inspiration.  Ukulenny is an amazing performer, educator, and youtube sensation.  Be sure to check him out, subscribe to his channel, and attend one of his events or performances if you get a chance!

UI: How did you first start playing ukulele? Ukulenny:  The seed was planted on a family trip to Hawaii when I was 10 years old, I picked up a cheap ukulele and some books and started strumming some chords (I had a little experience with guitar so it made sense to me).  The uke was too cheap to stay in tune, however, and I lost touch.  It wasn't until after college that I picked up the instrument again, and rejuvenated with Jake Shimabukuro as inspiration, I decided to buy a real ukulele and began taking it more seriously.  In 2010, the magic happened.  I was playing bass for a musical in SF, which meant commuting every weekend from the East Bay.  I decided to bring my ukulele each way, practicing during each trip, and eventually found myself playing and singing my heart out to the BART crowd.  It was then I started going by the name Ukulenny, and found my new favorite instrument, the uke.

UI: How long have you been playing? Ukulenny:  I've been playing music my whole life, started on piano at age 5 and moved on to the guitar through my middle school and high school years, picked up the saxophone in the Cal Marching Band, and everything in between - bass, cello, flute, clarinet, drums, among other things.  Officially I've been playing uke since 2008, so 6 years, but I've been able to apply all my love of music to this awesome little instrument.

UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele? Ukulenny:  My favorite part about playing the ukulele is that I can play it anywhere.  Being the music addict that I am, the thought of making music at any given moment with the uke on my back brings me joy.  Its portability also means that you can practice virtually anywhere at anytime, which is great for any traveling musician who might not normally be able to find time to practice.  That I can play it on BART quietly enough to go unnoticed, yet loud enough to entertain a crowd, is a huge plus.  But perhaps even better than that is the fact that the uke is so accessible - it's an instrument for all ages and skill levels, which makes it such an exciting instrument to teach.  I enjoy teaching, and the uke is an incredible instrument for building community and gathering a whole bunch of people together to make music.

UI: Where do you find inspiration? Ukulenny:  The uke community is full of happy, joyful people.  How could one be sad with an instrument like this?  So I definitely find my inspiration from all those wonderful people out there who play the ukulele and make it such a pleasure to be a part of the uke world.  I have to give special shoutouts to my Uke Idols, Jake Shimabukuro, Troy Fernandez, Aldrine Guerrero, Kalei Gamiao, and the many others who have done so much for the ukulele.  But all of my friends who are making incredible music now with the ukulele continue to inspire me to do the same - folks like Ben Ahn, Melvin Gutierrez, Cynthia Lin, Craig Chee, Sarah Maisel, Robbie Lee, and Jion Jugo.  These musicians make me proud to play the uke and keep me going.  Finally, I draw much inspiration from the people I teach, whether it's folks at ukulele nights and workshops, students in my Ukulele Club at Oakland School for the Arts, or those watching my videos on YouTube.  Whenever I'm having a tough day I stop and read nice messages from uke players all over the world, some people that successfully played their first song or something or other from one of my videos.  It might seem cheesy but it really means a lot to me to know that people are learning to play the uke through me, and are thus inducted into our amazing community.  I'm just so happy to know that because of my work, somebody else is making music and gets to share in the joy I feel every day as an ukulele player.


Artist Spotlight: Scott Stahlecker


scottstahleckerAUFI For our next Artist Spotlight we are featuring talented multi-instrumentalist Scott Stahlecker who hails from my own home state of Alaska.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the ukulele and where he gets inspiration.

UI:  How did you first start playing ukulele? Scott:   I grew up on Oahu and at that time the schools didn't have much of a band program. Instead, they had ukulele programs. I remember getting my first ukulele. My dad had driven me to a music store in Honolulu and bought me a Kamaka. On the drive home he wouldn't let me play it in the car because I might make too much noise, so I remember holding it backwards and strumming the back of the neck instead. Hawaii 5-0 was the first song I learned.

UI: How long have you been playing? Scott:   I started playing the ukulele around age five, and played it through my elementary school years into Jr. high school. When I moved away from the islands I stopped playing ukulele, and switched to the drums. I really didn't play the ukulele again until I took a trip back to the islands in 2005 and bought a 6 string tenor ukulele. So, I've been playing about 16 years. In my home studio I have 4 tenor ukuleles, and a Kala U-Bass. I put out my first CD Rainforest Dance in 2012, and I'm currently recording a second CD, along with my newly formed band.

UI: What is the best part about playing the ukulele (or being a ukulele player)? Scott:   Although I grew up in the islands and have a genuine love for the traditional Hawaiian ukulele style, I think it's great that the ukulele has gone mainstream. People from all over the world who play in many different kinds of genres are incorporating the ukulele into their own brand of music. What I like about the ukulele is its tonal qualities. It also has a distinct sound that blends well with other instruments. It's great for playing rock, pop, jazz, the blues, and what I play, ukulele fusion. Most of the songs I'm recording now are a blend of ukulele with acoustic and electric guitars, piano, flute, keyboards, bass, and strings such as the cello and violin. The ukulele  blends great with these instruments. It's extremely versatile.

UI: Where do you find inspiration? Scott:   I enjoy listening to many of the up and coming ukulele instrumentalists, because they push the boundaries of just how well this instrument can be played. But my interest in playing the ukulele extends beyond mastering it like an instrumentalist might want to master it. I've played drums for a number of bands through the years, and dabbled in other instruments as well. Great guitar players like Al Di Meola, Satriani, and Jeff Beck, or drummers like Neil Pert of Rush, still inspire me. I also get inspiration from listening to music from many different genres. My musical roots are from playing in a band. So, my focus these days is in taking the ukulele even more mainstream, by composing songs based in the ukulele that also work with a band.

Big thanks to Scott for taking the time to answer a few questions, be sure to check out his music and videos and stay tuned for more from Ukulele Inspired.

LINKS: [sixcol_one]website: youtube: facebook: soundcloud:[/sixcol_one] [sixcol_five_last] [/sixcol_five_last]

"Spiral Staircase"


Big thanks to Seth Martinez and MVMNT Studios for filming and use of their beautiful space in Berkeley, CA.  Check them out at:


Thanks again for all of the support and be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" showfaces="false" width="450" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and feel free to email me any links or files for your own performance videos or videos that inspire you and maybe we will feature them!  Also click on the youtube link in the sidebar and subscribe to our channel to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired.

Beginner Questions 7-10

7.  WHERE CAN I FIND ONLINE RESOURCES?Some of the best online resources out there and what they offer:

Ukulele Underground The underground is a great place to improve your ukulele playing. They offer the highest quality instructional videos, and are consistently adding to there enormous amount of content.

Ukulele Hunt UkeHuntUke Hunt is one of the longest running blogs about the ukulele and offers such a wide variety of content. You can find almost everything uke related on this blog, from funny and informative articles to a wide variety of instructional and inspirational videos. They offer a large selection of ebooks, both free and for sale, that can be a good resource for introducing you to the ukulele.

Dominator Ukulele Tabs  got_tabs_1 Dom has created a great resource that is more geared towards the intermediate and advance ukulele player. His tabs are some of the only ones available that are specific for the ukulele and he has some great performance and instructional videos.

uke_inspired_small_logoUkulele Inspired A little biased, but want to list it as a resource for getting inspiration and information. We want to offer high quality video and written content for all aspiring ukulele players out there.


15mins8. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I BE PRACTICING? The best way I’ve found to practice is for short periods of time as often as possible. Since learning an instrument involves a lot of muscle memory, the more often you do it the better. Practicing for 15 minutes every day is going to produce results much faster than an hour of practice once a week. Finding a qualified teacher for private lessons can be great in providing personalized instruction as well as accountability for your practice every week.


searchbarThere are a lot of resources out there for learning new songs. If you are starting to become familiar with your ukulele chord shapes, then searching the name of the song and “chords” should get youyoutube to some links with lyrics and chords. You can also type the name of the song and “ukulele tutorial”. There are many videos on YouTube and other places of varying quality and helpfulness, but in general you are looking for a more detailed description of the chords and strumming pattern. There are a few ukulele specific tab sites out there as well:

10. HOW DO I STAY INSPIRED? ukulelecommunityLast and definitely not least, inspiration is something that I feel is so important when learning anything new. Inspiration can help you get excited about playing the ukulele, it will encourage you to practice and get better, and when you are ready can help to cultivate your creativity should you begin to write your own music. Inspiration is something we take very seriously here at Ukulele Inspired, whether it is our own video content, links to other videos, articles or interviews, we try to provide as much as we can for all aspiring players out there.  I encourage you to find and interact with your local ukulele community as well. There are so many local and regional ukulele clubs around the country there is sure to be a group that meets nearby. If there isn’t, maybe you can start one up! Stay on the lookout for performances by ukulele artists in your area, and start to listen to as many players as you can. Inspiration is out there, you just have to find it!

Click here to see the full list of beginner questions answered.

Thanks again for all the support, if you found this or any of our resources helpful be sure to [fblike url="" style="button_count" float="none" showfaces="false" width="200" verb="like" font="arial"] us on facebook and sign up for our email list under SUBSCRIBE in the sidebar to keep up with everything new at Ukulele Inspired. I want this to be interactive so don't be shy and send me some requests for the songbook and other content that you would like to see!

Beginner Questions 4-7


Here is the next installment of our beginner questions series, please comment and leave me suggestions for future questions you want answered!  Click here to see all of the 10 questions that we are answering in this first series. 4. HOW DO I TUNE THE UKULELE? ukulele-tuningStandard ukulele tuning is from the top string down: G C E A By far the easiest way to tune is to use a digital tuner. This is device that clips onto the headstock of your uke and reads the vibrations of the string and tells you if you are lower or higher than the desired note. Simply turn the tuning peg until the display reads the appropriate note for that string. I strongly encourage everyone starting out to make the small investment ($15 to $25) in an electronic tuner.

5. WHAT ARE THE FIRST CHORDS I SHOULD LEARN? The best chords to learn first are the ones that are the easiest to play. There are two chords that require you to use only one finger, those are C Major and a minor. Learning these two chords should be fairly quick.  When reading the charts the left string represents the top G string and goes down to the bottom A string from left to right.  Push down the appropriate string on the fret where the dot is shown.

CMajorchord                    aminorchord

The next chord you should learn should be F Major which is made with an a minor chord shape with your first finger added on the first fret of the E string.


The next chord is a G Major which is a bit more of a challenge but will help us to make a complete song. Sometimes it helps to visualize this chord as a triangle with your ring finger on the point closest to you.


If we put these chords in this order: C G am F, then we get the basic chord progression for a number of songs. No Woman No Cry, I’m Yours, With or Without You, Country Roads and so many others.

CMajorchord               GMajorChord               aminorchord               FMajorChord

6. HOW DO I STRUM? strumimageWe use the fretting hand to create chords and we use our other hand to strum and create rhythm. Most music is in what is called 4/4 time, which means that a natural pulse within that music can be counted out in 4 separate divisions, or beats, before repeating another 4. Learning to develop an internal clock that can keep you playing in time is paramount for any one learning music. The first strum that you should learn is to play is all down strums while counting out 1,2,3,4 in an even and slow pace. Getting this down will provide a solid foundation for learning more intricate strums later.

D     D     D     D
1      2      3     4

Next will be to further divide the beats by adding one between each of the four that we have. You can count this out as 1 AND 2 AND 3 AND 4 AND. Keep playing down strums on numbers 1,2,3,4 and saying AND between each.

D          D           D            D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Now add up-strums on every and, and practice counting while strumming. This down and up pattern will serve as the basis for learning a variety of strums.

D    U    D    U    D    U    D    U
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Most strums you will learn in the beginning are created from taking away certain parts of this basic structure.  Try this simple pattern and practice it slowly gradually building speed.  Keep in mind that your hand should still be moving in the same up and down pattern, just don't touch the strings on the up-strums that are removed.

D           D           D    U    D
1     +     2     +     3     +     4     +

Artist Spotlight: Madeline Tasquin


madelinebannermadelineukelarge We are really excited to have our first artist spotlight here at Ukulele Inspired, and even more stoked that it is the Bay Area's own Madeline Tasquin!  She is currently on tour in Europe, but before she left we were lucky enough to get a few questions answered about the ukulele and where she gets inspiration:

UI:  How did you first start playing ukulele? Maddy:  I was backstage at my friend's birthday party/show in San Francisco and this friend had been gifted a nice little Lanikai concert uke for his birthday. As soon as I started playing it I knew I needed to have one for my own. I went to my local music store in Berkeley the following week and scoped them out until I found one I fell in love with -- also a Lanikai concert.

UI:  How long have you been playing the uke? Maddy:  By my count, I first started in December 2010. So that makes it about 2 and a half years... a quarter of a decade. Wow it doesn't seem like it's been that long.

UI:  Best part about playing the ukulele? Maddy:  It's portability! My main instrument is the piano, which I find isn't all that easy to sling over my back to take with me on a hike or the subway or on my bicycle. The only thing more portable than my ukulele is my voice... my other main instrument. So together uke + voice is a perfect way for me to compose songs in places where I can't drag my piano.

UI:  Where do you find inspiration? For songwriting, in nature. I write the most when I'm far away from my computer and my mind isn't crowded.   As far as ukulele inspiration goes... all the guest performers, guest teachers, and participants at the monthly Ukulele Love-In gathering I put on at the Actual Cafe have inspired me to push my playing further.  Organizing that event really flung me into ukulele land, something I didn't expect or even know existed. For that I'm grateful.

Thanks again to Maddy for taking the time to talk with us.  If you want to stay up to date with her follow the links below and remember to mark your calendars for September 8th, when her Ukulele Love in makes it's return to Actual Cafe!