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Thread: How many chords to learn/practice at a time?

  1. #1
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    Question How many chords to learn/practice at a time?

    I don't think there's a definitive answer to the question "how many chords should a beginner learn at a single time?" but I would like to hear from others how quickly or slowly they learn new chords. I'm trying to get a feel for the "average" pace.
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    Kala SMHCE-C | Outdoor Tenor | KA-SRT-CTG-CE

  2. #2
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    I never set out to learn chords just for the sake of learning a particular chord. I wanted to learn them in some sort of context. I would just pick songs that I knew and would enjoy playing. I started by picking songs that had simple chords and I learned those chords as I learned to play the song. As I started picking up those chords, I would pick other songs that had some new chords and I would learn those new chords while playing the new song. Before long, you'll know a whole slew of chords with this approach.
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  3. #3
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    Learning chord progressions is more important than just learning every chord.
    http://www.bytownukulele.ca/Portals/...ogressions.pdf
    Here's a great guide on different styles.

    Knowing C, F, and G can get you through a lot of songs.

    Please also learn the C, F and A chord shape in barre form (up the neck). It opens a lot of options for you.
    http://ukulelehunt.com/2011/04/06/ba...nd-inversions/


    Have fun and enjoy
    Last edited by vanflynn; 04-27-2017 at 05:35 PM.

  4. #4
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    My wife is learning to play and there are a half dozen chords that cover a lot of songs... G, C, D, Em, Am and F. My wife is playing these chords for the most part. By no means should you limit yourself to just these as you get better and the 7th version of G, C, D and F are very useful for some genres of music.

    I agree with others that playing songs is more valuable than just practice. I would think you could play those chords to some degree in a few weeks.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 04-27-2017 at 05:41 PM.

  5. #5
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    When I bought my first personal ukulele (I had already bought them for school), I wanted to be able to play every Major and Minor chord in the common positions...so I drilled those a lot. I still do that occasionally.

    That said, you only have to know the chords that you need for each song; or more accurately, to refresh your memory of chords that you may not use that often.

    I enjoyed playing all of the "Obscenely Optimistic Songs for Ukulele" as Jeremy Messersmith used a number of chords that I don't normally use (e.g. D4) and after playing those songs, those chords are now in my "chord vocabulary."

    Most ukulele lead sheets will show you a fretboard chart of the chords you need in a song (on the top of the page, like the Daily 365 Yellow, or embedded as you play along).

    My challenge right now is determining what chords are at the 2nd and 3rd position--unlike other instruments, there does not seem to be a consensus of what chords make up 2nd and 3rd position chords (just as there is no consensus of how E should be played). It will be educational to see the other comments in this thread.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

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  6. #6
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    Yah, I agree with John. Hope I didn't throw too much theory out there. There is a lot to be said about playing the songs you like and the new chords will fall into place.

    Make sure you are having fun.

  7. #7
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    Thank you everyone for your responses.

    To provide some context, I was working with Essential Elements for Ukulele - Method Book 1 which introduced the C & F chords, added the G7, then the Am, and last I worked with it, introduced the G, C7 and D7 together. Obviously it was go at my own pace which would be considered slow by most. Fast forward to a lesson and I've been given 14 chords to practice (in two songs) over the week. The good news is there is some overlap with the Hal Leonard book so I already know 5 of the chords but learning 9 in one week is…daunting…to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by vanflynn View Post
    Learning chord progressions is more important than just learning every chord.
    http://www.bytownukulele.ca/Portals/...ogressions.pdf
    Here's a great guide on different styles.

    Knowing C, F, and G can get you through a lot of songs.

    Please also learn the C, F and A chord shape in barre form (up the neck). It opens a lot of options for you.
    http://ukulelehunt.com/2011/04/06/ba...nd-inversions/
    Fantastic links, thank you!
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    Kala SMHCE-C | Outdoor Tenor | KA-SRT-CTG-CE

  8. #8
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    Hi,

    I agree that learning C, F and G/G7 is a good place to start. Then you can play some songs After that, I think it's best to introduce just one or two new chords at a time. As well as learning the shapes you also need to learn to make smooth changes - between the new chords and the ones you already know. Fourteen (or nine) seems like a lot to be trying to assimilate in one go.
    I'd like to be under the sea...

  9. #9
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    Who on earth gave you a lesson to learn 14 chords in a week!

    (To my mind, they are not a teacher. Even 3 or 4 in a week is a lot.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  10. #10
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    I have been playing since December and would recommend Uncle Rod's Ukulele Bootcamp practice sheets. He encourages learning the chords before the songs; I think you at least need to be practicing some songs otherwise your practice will get boring, but learning the chords by family as he lays it out puts you in a good place to be able to progress quickly in many simple songs. His sheets also serve as a good warmup routine.

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