View Full Version : Free Technique and Theory Lessons

06-09-2015, 05:56 AM
Hey guys,

I have launched a new series on my site: Rock Class 101, called Technique & Theory 101 (http://rockclass101.com/technique-theory-101/).

So far we have lessons on:

Technique 101

Getting Started: Take your first 25 minute lesson on guitar
How to fingerpick on the ukulele
How to add a backbeat (slap) to your rhythm playing
How to do hammer-ons & pull-offs
How to do right hand tapping
How to Travis pick

Theory 101

How to play a C major scale on the ukulele
How to write arrangements and songs on the ukulele
Gain a complete understanding of music theory and how it is applied to guitar
How to read tabs, chord graphs, and chart symbols (Coming Soon!)
How to practice the correct way to get results

I'll update this thread as I continue to add new lessons! You will need to sign up for Basic Membership (free) to gain access to the tabs that accompany the lessons.

Hope you enjoy the lessons and let me know if you have an idea for a lesson I can add!



07-04-2015, 12:23 PM
New lesson is up: How to Read Tabs, Chord Graphs, and Chart Symbols (http://rockclass101.com/how-to-read-tabs-chord-graphs-and-chart-symbols/)

Lots of great info in this one!

07-15-2015, 12:52 PM
New lesson is Up: How to Play with Feeling (rockclass101.com/how-to-play-with-feeling/)

Contains an example tune, so you can apply the concepts!

07-16-2015, 02:28 AM
Are you catering for low-g players - or just for "standard" tuning.

cheers, Shawn

07-16-2015, 05:07 PM
Are you catering for low-g players - or just for "standard" tuning.

cheers, Shawn

Hey Shawn,

The majority of the arrangements on the site are for high G tuning. A few have altered tunings, such as: The Irish Washerwoman (http://rockclass101.com/the-irish-washerwoman/). This doesn't mean that a low G wouldn't work though. It should sound fine in most cases. :D

08-28-2015, 03:34 PM
New lesson up! Understanding and applying the CAGED Method on ukulele (http://rockclass101.com/understanding-and-applying-the-caged-method-on-ukulele/)

Break out of the 'basic chord' rut!

08-29-2015, 07:04 AM
Plus one on the CAGED Method, I use it all the time. I think it's better known in Guitar circles than it is among Uke players. But, it works just as well for both. Interestingly, I was taking part in a UU+ session on movable chords and keys and sent Aldrine a question about the CAGED Method. He responded that he'd never heard of it. So, I emailed him some info on it. I only bring this up to illustrate how relatively unknown it is. Thanks for putting it front of us on your website, and I'm sure it's going to help a lot of players out there.

08-30-2015, 07:27 AM
Plus one on the CAGED Method, I use it all the time. I think it's better known in Guitar circles than it is among Uke players. But, it works just as well for both. Interestingly, I was taking part in a UU+ session on movable chords and keys and sent Aldrine a question about the CAGED Method. He responded that he'd never heard of it. So, I emailed him some info on it. I only bring this up to illustrate how relatively unknown it is. Thanks for putting it front of us on your website, and I'm sure it's going to help a lot of players out there.

My pleasure! It's important to realize that the ukulele has the same 4 strings as the guitar (strings 1-4), but up a fourth. In other words, if you put a capo on the fifth fret of a guitar, you have a uke. The only other difference is that the fourth string is an octave higher on a uke. So, we can borrow a lot of useful guitar tricks and apply them to the uke, as in CAGED. The theory and application are the same.

09-15-2015, 01:49 PM
New lesson up: Understanding the 12 Bar Blues Form (https://rockclass101.com/understanding-the-12-bar-blues-form/). This lesson takes an in-depth look at harmonizing the major scale chords, altering them to dominate, and applying the results to get our standard 12 Bar Blues.

11-17-2015, 08:39 AM
New lesson up! Right Hand Fingerpicking Technique (https://rockclass101.com/right-hand-fingerpicking-technique/)

In this lesson, we will be learning two approaches for right hand fingerpicking. The first approach utilizes a four finger picking technique, while the second approach simplifies it to three fingers.

12-21-2015, 07:50 AM
New Lesson! This written article features a 'Live Lessons' video too! Proper Left Hand Form (https://rockclass101.com/proper-left-hand-ukulele-form/)

In our second episode of 'Live Lessons', we will be discussing proper left hand form when forming chord shapes and playing single notes.

02-10-2016, 08:43 AM
New Lesson! Learn 3 steps needed to help conquer your stage fright and become an incredible performing musician! Overcoming Stage Fright (https://rockclass101.com/overcoming-stage-fright/)

02-13-2016, 12:15 PM
Thanks Andrew! No matter how well I know a song, I go brain dead in front of a mic....

05-27-2016, 03:56 AM
New lesson! Learn how to add a "tapping" backbeat while playing a note simultaneously. Playing a Backbeat Plus Melody Together (https://rockclass101.com/tapping-backbeat-plus-playing-melody-ukulele/)

07-29-2016, 04:49 AM
New Lesson! Here is an article (https://rockclass101.com/increasing-left-hand-reach-ukulele/) I wrote this week to help you increase the reach (or stretch) of your left hand. There are 3 exercises in this article and I included guidelines for practicing. Hope you find it helpful :)

09-02-2016, 05:26 AM
New Lesson! Gain an understanding of rhythmic notation (https://rockclass101.com/understanding-rhythmic-notation-ukulele/) to aide you in reading and playing ukulele tablature better! 11 exercises are included in this lesson!

09-09-2016, 06:16 AM
I'm excited to launch a new series today: Concept Lessons. This series provides lessons with a focus on fingerpicking, soloing, and strumming that will help you in real-life experiences, such as jamming with other musicians. In our first lesson (https://rockclass101.com/solo-g-major-fast-slow-rhythm-ep001/), you will learn a solo in G Major that works over fast and slow chord progressions.


09-23-2016, 05:02 AM
New Concept Lesson! In this lesson (https://rockclass101.com/harmonizing-c-major-ep002/), we will learn how to play higher voiced chord harmonies and a melodic solo over one of the most popular chord progressions in C Major. This lesson is intended to help you break away from playing the basic chord shapes while also helping you learn how to incorporate melody into your rhythm playing.


10-07-2016, 07:39 AM
New Live Lesson! All about Practicing! Ideas for writing a practice guide and how to apply the 3 steps (repetition, reinforcement, evaluation) for successful practice when learning songs! Read the complete article! (https://rockclass101.com/practicing-the-correct-way/)


10-28-2016, 06:10 AM

I am beyond excited to introduce courses to Rock Class 101! Our first course will be making our eBook and video lessons on How to Write a Song on the Ukulele: A Beginner’s Guide to Chord Melody available to all premium members! There is so much great content in this course! If you’ve ever wanted to write your own chord melodies and/or learn the theory behind how to arrange your favorite songs, then this is a must read!

This course includes:
1) 10 Page PDF eBook: Analyses our demo song, 'DayDreaming', in detail and explains how the Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm were written.
2) Full Tab / Notation of 'DayDreaming'.
3) Lead Sheet: Tab / Notation that shows the Melody separate form the Chords.
4) Video Performance and Lesson of 'DayDreaming': Learn how to play the song note for note.

View this course: Ukulele Songwriting Course (https://rockclass101.com/ukulele-songwriting-course/)

11-18-2016, 08:08 AM
I had a chance to visit Uke Republic (http://www.ukerepublic.com/) a few weeks ago and shoot a couple videos to help guide you on your next ukulele purchase. Our first video features 3 ukuleles that are perfect for the beginner!


Click HERE (https://rockclass101.com/buying-first-ukulele/) to Read the Beginner Ukulele Buyers Guide!

Our second video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjd0cqWPwhY) highlights 5 ukuleles to consider if you are looking to upgrade or add to your collection.

Click HERE (https://rockclass101.com/upgrading-your-ukulele/) to Read the Advanced Ukulele Buyers Guide!

11-28-2016, 01:57 PM
Here is a quick review on my first ukulele, the Makala MK-S. It's an awesome uke for the beginner and is only $50!


Read my complete review HERE (https://rockclass101.com/makala-mk-s-ukulele-review-demo/).

12-16-2016, 05:20 AM
The Definitive Beginner's Guide to Ukulele (https://rockclass101.com/definitive-beginners-guide-ukulele/)

After months of hard work, I'm happy to say that The Definitive Beginner's Guide to Ukulele launches today! This is a comprehensive course featuring over 25+ lessons covering everything from learning to hold the ukulele to playing your first songs!

This course was written with two people in mind:

1) The Absolute Beginner - Someone who just purchased an ukulele and is beginning their uke playing journey!
2) The Intermediate Player - Someone who has played for awhile, but wants a recap of the fundamentals to make sure they haven’t missed anything critical that could slow down their development.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Beginner's Course!


12-23-2016, 06:08 AM
Strumming Etude (https://rockclass101.com/strumming-etude-no-2/) - Beginner ukulele strumming lesson using unique chords to help break away from the generic sounding “G, C, F” strumming tunes.


12-23-2016, 06:09 AM
Fingerpicking Etude (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-etude-no-3/) - Beginner ukulele fingerstyle lesson that teaches a 4 finger approach for fingerpicking.


12-30-2016, 06:35 AM
12 Bar Blues Ukulele (https://rockclass101.com/beginner-blues-strumming/) - Easy Beginner Strumming Lesson. This lesson goes 2 times through the form (12 bars). The first time is basic strumming, while the second adds a slap (backbeat) (https://rockclass101.com/add-a-backbeat-to-your-rhythm-playing/).


12-30-2016, 06:40 AM
Fingerpicking & Strumming (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-strumming-intermediate-ukulele-song/) - This is an intermediate level tune that utilizes many of the concepts and techniques learned in our Definitive Beginner's Guide to Ukulele Course (https://rockclass101.com/definitive-beginners-guide-ukulele/) (over 25+ lessons).


02-03-2017, 07:49 AM
Fingerpicking Etude no. 4 (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-etude-no-4/) - This etude is a great study for understanding dynamics and breaking out of the “comfort zone” (frets 1-5) by utilizing the entire neck for fingerpicking chords.


02-10-2017, 06:13 AM
2 Chord Jam (https://rockclass101.com/2-chord-jam-ep004/) - Learn how to make your rhythm playing more interesting by adding a backbeat, fill licks, and melody to a 2 chord progression.


02-24-2017, 06:36 AM
Fingerpicking Etude no. 5 (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-etude-no-5/) - Deep dive into Travis Picking with this etude.


03-03-2017, 06:29 AM
Thumb Etude (https://rockclass101.com/thumb-etude/) - In our very first Thumb Etude, we will be combining interesting rhythms with a touch of Eastern music to create a unique sounding piece.


03-10-2017, 07:27 AM
Fingerpicking Concepts: An Intro to Fingerstyle (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-concepts-intro-fingerstyle/) - A comprehensive course featuring 19 lessons that are solely dedicated to helping you develop your right hand fingerpicking technique and dexterity.

I'm happy to say that this course, titled "Fingerpicking Concepts: An Intro to Fingerstyle", launches today! In the course, you will learn 3 approaches for fingerpicking: Thumb Approach, 3 Finger Approach, and a 4 Finger Approach.

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

1) Break out of the 1 finger rut! A.k.a: only using your index finger (or thumb) for fingerpicking and strumming.
2) Determine (on your own) which of the 3 approaches to use depending on the content of the material you are playing.
3) Begin to develop your own style for fingerpicking.

Watch the video below to learn more!


04-21-2017, 06:11 AM
Proper Right Hand Form (https://rockclass101.com/proper-right-hand-ukulele-form/) - In this article & video lesson, we will be discussing a handful of ways to improve your right hand technique including hand position, strumming, and fingerpicking approaches.


05-19-2017, 05:50 AM
1 Tip That Can TRANSFORM Your Ukulele Playing (https://rockclass101.com/copying-good-thing/) - In this article, I share one of the best pieces of advice I learned as a student in Music College.


07-07-2017, 07:18 AM
An Introduction to Music Theory & Jamming (https://rockclass101.com/introduction-music-theory-jamming/) – A comprehensive course featuring 16 lessons that will provide a fundamental understanding of the basics of Music Theory and most importantly, learning how to apply it to your playing.

A goal for many of us is to have the ability to sit in with other musicians and be able to play without limits. But, often times in Jams, we find ourselves playing the same parts as others (i.e. strumming basic chords).

This course deep dives into teaching you how to add to the music. We’re going to examine two playing approaches in this course: Rhythm and Lead. The rhythm section will teach you methods for creating harmony. You will learn how to play chords in different positions and how to alter them to create a colorful sound. The lead section will teach you two approaches for soloing over rhythm. Approach one will be scale based, while approach two will cover playing changes.


Chopped Liver
07-08-2017, 01:11 PM
New Live Lesson! All about Practicing! Ideas for writing a practice guide and how to apply the 3 steps (repetition, reinforcement, evaluation) for successful practice when learning songs! Read the complete article! (https://rockclass101.com/practicing-the-correct-way/)


This was VERY helpful! Very! I am motivated to get busy and practice now that I finally have some concrete guidelines. Thank you!

08-04-2017, 07:43 AM
My pleasure! That info transformed my playing :)

08-04-2017, 07:46 AM
Lightning Round #1 (https://rockclass101.com/forums/topic/25-question-lightning-round-1-ukulele-extravaganza/) - I answered 25 Ukulele questions with Mike from Uke Republic (http://www.ukerepublic.com/). Everything from triplet strum to music theory!


10-06-2017, 06:54 AM
Learning Paths (https://rockclass101.com/learning-paths/) - Find out why having a plan is vital to your success in learning ukulele. In this lesson, you will learn how to create a step by step plan that takes you from the beginner to advanced level.


01-05-2018, 05:55 AM
Add a Drum-Like Percussive Rhythm to Strumming (https://rockclass101.com/add-drum-like-percussive-rhythm-strumming/) - Move beyond chucking with this unique and creative way to add a drum inspired percussive rhythm to your ukulele playing.


02-02-2018, 07:07 AM
Understanding & Applying Vibrato on Ukulele (https://rockclass101.com/understanding-applying-vibrato-ukulele/) - Vibrato is a technique that tends to have a bit of mystery surrounding it... Not anymore, because we're breaking it down and taking an in-depth analysis to answer 3 big questions:

1) What is vibrato?
2) How do we do it?
3) Why and how do we use it?


07-27-2018, 07:30 AM
Swung vs. Straight Rhythm (https://rockclass101.com/swung-vs-straight-rhythm/) – A common stylistic approach used in Jazz and Blues Shuffles is to play with a swung rhythm. But, what exactly does it mean to “swing the rhythm”? That’s what we’ll be answering in this lesson.


09-14-2018, 05:20 AM
3 Exercises for Warming Up (https://rockclass101.com/3-exercises-for-warming-up/) - Learn 3 exercises that can be used for warming up. These exercises were specifically written with the intermediate player in mind.

Exercise 1 focuses on building left hand dexterity by running sequences (repetitive patterns) up the neck. While exercise 2, helps to develop rhythm in the right hand via strumming. Finally, exercise 3 centers around advancing dexterity in both hands, while throwing technique (such as, hammer-ons and pull-offs) into the mix.


02-08-2019, 06:12 AM
7 Rhythm Playing Ideas you can use INSTEAD OF Island Strum (https://rockclass101.com/spice-up-your-rhythm-playing-ep010/) - Ever been to a jam and EVERYONE is playing the exact same strum pattern, you know, D DU UDU - the Island Strum? That ends today, because this lesson will teach you 7 different rhythms you can use IN PLACE OF the Island Strum.

The rhythm ideas taught in this lesson can be applied to ANY song, allowing you to stand out from the crowd by adding intricate layers to the harmony (chords).


03-13-2019, 01:53 PM
Hi guys! Here's an awesome beginner-friendly lesson (https://rockclass101.com/live-lessons/) from Matt Dahlberg on figuring out how to determine the best fingering to use when switching from chord to chord. Here's an example of what this lesson will help with:

We are usually taught to play the C chord (0003) with the ring finger; but depending on the context of the music, this isn’t always the most efficient fingering to use. Sometimes when we transition from one chord to the next, it may make more sense to use the middle finger to fret this chord. But how and when do we know to use the middle or the ring finger? That’s what we’ll be answering in this lesson.


04-19-2019, 06:36 AM
Here's another great lesson (https://rockclass101.com/mastering-hammer-ons-pull-offs/) from Matt Dahlberg on tackling Hammer-Ons & Pull-Offs. Deep dive into the mechanics behind this technique, learning 5 examples along the way.


04-19-2019, 06:38 AM
Fingerpicking Etude no. 18 (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-etude-no-18/) - This cute sounding etude will help you develop these two concepts: playing with a swung rhythm and playing eighth note triplets.


05-10-2019, 06:52 AM
Fingerpicking Etude no. 19 (https://rockclass101.com/fingerpicking-etude-no-19/) - This etude will help you conquer two types of chords that are difficult to play: barre chords and stretch chords.


05-13-2019, 06:10 PM
Would LOVE some lessons on Cuban and African music. Some Bossa Nova for Ukes would be great too. I know you have Bossa Nova for UBass. LOVE your "Spanish Ukelele". Your site and Daniel Ward Arpeggio book have been the most help to me.

05-17-2019, 05:25 AM
We did the uke (https://rockclass101.com/bossa-nova-ep008/) and bass lesson (https://rockclass101.com/bossa-nova-ep008-u-bass-lesson/) on this one, which was an original.

Cuban music would be so fun! I'll keep that in mind :) Glad to hear you enjoy the lessons!


05-17-2019, 05:29 AM
In-Depth Barre Chord Tutorial for the Intermediate Ukulele Player (https://rockclass101.com/ukulele-barre-chord-tutorial/) - In this session, you’ll learn how to properly fret full and partial barre chords. We’ll also cover the main reasons why barre chords do not ring clear, AND, how to overcome these obstacles.

This lesson will move beyond ONLY barring with the index finger; as we’ll also be tackling chords that require barring with the middle and ring finger.


06-11-2019, 10:55 AM
Here's an awesome lesson (https://rockclass101.com/playing-with-finesse/) from Matt Dahlberg that talks about how we can get different timbres (textures of sound) out of our playing. This lesson is great for those who play fingerstyle, as it focuses on that style of playing. :D


07-12-2019, 05:57 AM
Practicing with a Metronome (https://rockclass101.com/practicing-with-a-metronome/) - Have you ever felt lost or confused when trying to practice with a metronome? Worry not, as this month’s live lesson will lay down a clear path to help you see how rhythm fits within the walls of the “click”.

You’ll also learn why using a metronome is an incredibly valuable tool for practicing.


08-16-2019, 05:41 AM
A Beginner’s Guide to Dynamics! (https://rockclass101.com/understanding-using-dynamics/) - Dynamics breathe life into our performance. But what exactly is it? And how do we incorporate it into our playing? Grab your uke and get ready to make it sing as we dive into the world of dynamics!


08-23-2019, 04:55 AM
Strumming Techniques: Beyond the Island Strum (https://rockclass101.com/strumming-techniques-beyond-the-island-strum/) - For most of us, our ukulele journey begins by learning to strum a few chords. We dive into strumming patterns, such as the ever-popular “Island Strum” (D DU UDU), before progressing to “Chucking”; which is a percussive technique that creates a backbeat on beats 2 and 4. But then something happens, we hit a wall, we plateau.

This course will help you break through that wall by introducing you to four strumming techniques that will make your rhythm playing POP! These techniques not only add pizzazz to your right hand, but will change the tonal landscape, as you learn how to:

1) Accent beats to create a more dynamic feel to your playing.
2) Alter rhythms – say goodbye to only strumming quarter and eighth note rhythms.

Upon completing this course, you’ll walk away with the ability to spice up any simple strum pattern; creating a rhythmic sound that is unique to you!


09-20-2019, 05:37 AM
Tips for Memorizing Music (https://rockclass101.com/tips-for-memorizing-music/) - Do you struggle with memorizing music? In this session, we’ll cover the do’s and don’ts when it comes to learning and memorizing new music.