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Ukejenny
05-28-2016, 08:52 AM
So, I was reminiscing about my starting out with this wonderful instrument. And, I tried to recall the first song I ever learned - I mean really learned, words, chords, top to bottom. Took me a few minutes, but it came back.

My first was If We Were Words We Would Rhyme, by Gruff Rhys. What was your very first and what's the story behind it?

I was trying to remember what turned me onto that song, and then Sophie Madeleine popped into my head! I looked at her YouTube page and saw that she hadn't shared a video since 2014. So, I looked on the Internet and learned that she has retired, and moved on to a new career. Hasn't even picked up an instrument in over a year, according to her blog. But, she is happy, and doing well, and has a job she really likes. What a loss for us! l wish her well. So, thank you, Sophie Madeleine and Gruff Rhys, and to the Universe, for bringing this song to me.

Nickie
05-28-2016, 12:07 PM
That's neat Jenny. After messing around learning little instrumental strumming things for what seemed like forever, I finally learned to play the chords and sing Jambalaya by Hank Williams. I was elated!
It also bore out the idea that I'm a hopeless hillbilly redneck.

DownUpDave
05-28-2016, 12:57 PM
Great idea for a thread Jenny, thanks:shaka:

My first song and maybe a number of other players as well was "You are my Sunshine". In Toronto there is a large uke jam called Corktown Uke Jam, this is where I started and learned to play. Every so often they have "Newbie Night" which is an open mic for people that have never performed before.

I had three other people approach me about forming a 4 piece emsemble to get up and perform. I figured there was safety in numbers so I did it. We picked You are my Sunshine because it was so simple. I worked really hard to memorize that, we nailed it and left the stage feeling like superstars.

janeray1940
05-28-2016, 01:17 PM
I have zero recollection of the first song I learned to strum - there were too many. But I do know the first song I was able to strum and sing simultaneously was "This Land is Your Land" - it took me three months to be able to make my hands *and* my voice work together at the same time! The first song I learned to fingerpick was Bach's Minuet in G.

DownUpDave
05-28-2016, 01:48 PM
I have zero recollection of the first song I learned to strum - there were too many. But I do know the first song I was able to strum and sing simultaneously was "This Land is Your Land" - it took me three months to be able to make my hands *and* my voice work together at the same time! The first song I learned to fingerpick was Bach's Minuet in G.

Thanks for sharing about how long it took to learn to play and sing at the same time. Most newcomers will be grateful to find out they are not the only ones who can't do it the first time they try. It's all of us, but it does get easier

2manistrings
05-28-2016, 03:45 PM
I don't know if it was my first, but I remember "Silent Night" as a very early fingerpicking/singing song. Still one of my favorite arrangements, especially as an instrumental, that has evolved a lot over the years. Still, when I do carols, I always bring the uke and always end with "Silent Night." :)

kohanmike
05-28-2016, 08:59 PM
My first turned out to be a negative memory (sorry if I put a damper on this really good idea thread). It was Iz's version of "Over the Rainbow" because when I first started playing uke a little over three years ago, my sister-in-law (married to my identical twin brother and live two floors below in our family owned apartment building) said she loved that version. So I learned it (correcting the lyrics) in the next few weeks (at first had a lot of trouble with the strum pattern, but finally got it).

Then my cousin from Toronto visited, which he does regularly, and we all gathered in my place. He and my sister-in-law insisted I play them something on the uke. I know I don't sing well at all, but I figured why not, it will be a nice surprise for my sister-in-law (after hearing myself on the recordings I make of our uke group rehearsing, I stopped singing, I lip sync). Sitting on the couch next to the two of them, I started the intro and she got a big smile on her face, then I started singing and suddenly the two of them looked at each and started laughing and laughing. I immediately stopped and put away my uke, and never have or ever will play for them again.

consitter
05-28-2016, 11:34 PM
My first turned out to be a negative memory (sorry if I put a damper on this really good idea thread). It was Iz's version of "Over the Rainbow" because when I first started playing uke a little over three years ago, my sister-in-law (married to my identical twin brother and live two floors below in our family owned apartment building) said she loved that version. So I learned it (correcting the lyrics) in the next few weeks (at first had a lot of trouble with the strum pattern, but finally got it).

Then my cousin from Toronto visited, which he does regularly, and we all gathered in my place. He and my sister-in-law insisted I play them something on the uke. I know I don't sing well at all, but I figured why not, it will be a nice surprise for my sister-in-law (after hearing myself on the recordings I make of our uke group rehearsing, I stopped singing, I lip sync). Sitting on the couch next to the two of them, I started the intro and she got a big smile on her face, then I started singing and suddenly the two of them looked at each and started laughing and laughing. I immediately stopped and put away my uke, and never have or ever will play for them again.

Wow. That's terrible.

If my uke hadn't been a very valuable one, I probably wouldn't started swinging it back and forth in the general direction of their heads.

SteveZ
05-29-2016, 02:29 AM
.......I started the intro and she got a big smile on her face, then I started singing and suddenly the two of them looked at each and started laughing and laughing. I immediately stopped and put away my uke, and never have or ever will play for them again.

I play for my enjoyment, not for others' pleasure or critique. Whan asked to "perform" for family or friends I usually say something like "my agent won't allow it." It saves aggravation. Jamming is different, as it is a mutual experience, shared good times, and a lot of smiles and satisfaction.

First song....After a half century of guitar before ukulele, it probably was the Jimmy Buffett tune "Come Monday." It's been a long-time favorite and I play it a lot.

greenie44
05-29-2016, 07:10 AM
Good thread - the first song I played was the song that made me think the uke was for me. I was just messing around with a 6 string tenor at the swap meet at Aloha Stadium and I hit a few notes. Gee, I thought, that sounds like the beginning of Born On The Bayou. A fuller version came within a minute. I thought "if I can play music like this on uke, it's the one for me!" So far, so good.

Steedy
05-29-2016, 08:01 AM
First song I learned on ukulele was "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" (Cm & G7) simply because it was the first song on the How to Play Ukulele DVD that came with my first cheap uke. :cool:

UkerDanno
05-30-2016, 04:13 AM
So, I was reminiscing about my starting out with this wonderful instrument. And, I tried to recall the first song I ever learned - I mean really learned, words, chords, top to bottom.

HA! still "working" on that! I know parts of a few songs, but not the whole thing. Never have been good at memorizing song words, let alone words and chords. On the other hand, the former leader of our group said at one time, he knew, like 400 songs. Always admired performers who could stand up there and play whole sets of songs without a hitch.

Barrytone
05-30-2016, 04:48 AM
Ain't She Sweet. It is still one of my favourite tunes.

Rllink
05-30-2016, 05:45 AM
I don't remember my first song, but I'm sure that it had C, F, and G7, because those were the first chords that I learned, and I played the heck out of them for about an hour, and got them down pretty good, forwards, backwards, and inbetween. Then I got on the internet looking for songs that had C, F, and G7 in them, and I found a bunch. Most of them were pretty simple songs too. So all of a sudden I was a ukulele player. I don't want to sound smug, but I remember that I had printed out a half dozen songs with those three chords in them the first week that I played the ukulele, and I was sitting out on the front porch with a rum and coke, and playing them in the afternoons. A routine I still enjoy.

Edit; My wife said that it was Oh Susanna. She said that I played it and sang it for an hour straight the first day that I learned it. She said that I thought that I was quite the ukulele player. :D

Rllink
05-30-2016, 06:02 AM
My first turned out to be a negative memory (sorry if I put a damper on this really good idea thread). It was Iz's version of "Over the Rainbow" because when I first started playing uke a little over three years ago, my sister-in-law (married to my identical twin brother and live two floors below in our family owned apartment building) said she loved that version. So I learned it (correcting the lyrics) in the next few weeks (at first had a lot of trouble with the strum pattern, but finally got it).

Then my cousin from Toronto visited, which he does regularly, and we all gathered in my place. He and my sister-in-law insisted I play them something on the uke. I know I don't sing well at all, but I figured why not, it will be a nice surprise for my sister-in-law (after hearing myself on the recordings I make of our uke group rehearsing, I stopped singing, I lip sync). Sitting on the couch next to the two of them, I started the intro and she got a big smile on her face, then I started singing and suddenly the two of them looked at each and started laughing and laughing. I immediately stopped and put away my uke, and never have or ever will play for them again.That is too bad. I can see how that would really discourage you. It is pretty rude as well. But you don't need to quit singing, you just need a better audience.

rappsy
05-30-2016, 06:31 AM
Superb thread.

The first song I learned to play fully through was a shortened version of Spanish Melody, which is in 3/4 timing. I have since used this melody to create all kinds of variations, including 4/4 strumming and finger picking with different timings and styles and also it's a good way to practice 2 finger, 3 finger and 4 finger picking.

I find that when you know a song, it is the perfect song to practice all the variations, including making it so that it's hardly recognizable anymore. To me, that's fun.

Ukejenny
05-30-2016, 04:05 PM
I'm loving the replies - wonderful stories and great song ideas! kohanmike, you get a big hug from me. I'm so glad you didn't let them stop you.

Nickie
05-30-2016, 04:22 PM
kohanamike, People laugh at me all the time. It just eggs me on. Keep on ukein' buddy!

WCBarnes
05-30-2016, 05:26 PM
The first fingerpicking song I memorized was White Sandy Beaches. I couldn't find a tab/musical arrangement for it (admittedly I didn't try very hard) instead I found the chords and began fingerpicking the melody from there. After that I added the harmony. I think it came as an easier memorization since I listened and played each segment over and over until it sounded right.

As for strumming & singing a song, that would be Toes. I cannot help but smile when I listen to that song, so it goes great with the instrument that is impossible to unhappy while playing.

Twibbly
06-02-2016, 06:05 AM
As for strumming & singing a song, that would be Toes. I cannot help but smile when I listen to that song, so it goes great with the instrument that is impossible to unhappy while playing.

Any useful links for that song?

My husband and I both learned Twinkle Twinkle Little Star pretty quickly.

After that, he decided to learn the beginning of Dueling Banjos and I started (and failed) to learn Margaritaville. My fingers aren't flexible enough!

johnson430
06-02-2016, 11:21 AM
Not only did I not forget it but I learned to vary the tempo and delivery so that I can play it in several styles.
The first song I learned was "Fur Elise". I have since learned to play Fur Elise in a Spanish-style version, a swing version, and the traditional way with a modified intro.
My favorite is the Spanish version because I can clearly hear the "heart of the song" regardless of the changes and it sounds fun with a Flamenco-esque strum.

johnson430
06-02-2016, 11:27 AM
My fingers aren't flexible enough!

Buy a racquetball and squeeze and release it constantly when you are watching a show or reading something online. I switch hands every minute or two.
My finger strength improved dramatically in about a week or 2. Don't over-do it. About 5 minutes per hand at first. And then 10 after a few days. I never work out my fingers over 20 minutes per hand every three days.
Your fret stretches should increase too.

good_uke_boy
06-02-2016, 11:33 AM
Edelweiss from the Beloff's Daily Ukulele songbook. I remember because my daughter secretly made a video recording using her iPhone, and when I noticed I yelled, "oh, s#!t!" (Boy was it bad...)

Twibbly
06-02-2016, 12:04 PM
Buy a racquetball and squeeze and release it constantly when you are watching a show or reading something online. I switch hands every minute or two.
My finger strength improved dramatically in about a week or 2. Don't over-do it. About 5 minutes per hand at first. And then 10 after a few days. I never work out my fingers over 20 minutes per hand every three days.
Your fret stretches should increase too.

Hadn't thought about using a racquetball. Will try that one out!

Pueo
06-02-2016, 01:58 PM
The first song I could sing and play at the same time on Ukulele was "Imagine" by John Lennon.
I had learned how to play guitar when I was a kid, but I was never able to sing and play at the same time. It had frustrated me for many many years.
When I started playing ukulele, I decided that I MUST be able to sing and play at the same time, so I chose a song I knew well and just worked at it brute force.
Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, I was able to do it!
What's more, it was like a light switch had been flipped on, and I could suddenly sing and play pretty much every song I knew how to play.
Really cool, but Imagine will always have that special little place in my heart.

WCBarnes
06-02-2016, 03:17 PM
Any useful links for that song?

I find Chordie.com is a pretty good place to find chords to modern songs.

http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/www.roughstock.com/cowpie/songs/z/zac-brown-band/toes

1931jim
06-02-2016, 03:35 PM
Buy a racquetball and squeeze and release it constantly when you are watching a show or reading something online. I switch hands every minute or two.
My finger strength improved dramatically in about a week or 2. Don't over-do it. About 5 minutes per hand at first. And then 10 after a few days. I never work out my fingers over 20 minutes per hand every three days.
Your fret stretches should increase too.

I use a thingy ( my educated description ) called "Isoflex". I got it at the drug store, it is the same idea as the racquetball. It is like a heavy duty small balloon filled with a play dough or putty like material. Really relaxes and strengthens the fingers and palms.

Twibbly
06-02-2016, 04:33 PM
I find Chordie.com is a pretty good place to find chords to modern songs.

http://www.chordie.com/chord.pere/www.roughstock.com/cowpie/songs/z/zac-brown-band/toes

Spiffy, hadn't seen that one. Thanks!

PTOEguy
06-03-2016, 05:27 AM
probably the first song was Amazing Grace, but the first song that really turned out well was 5 foot 2, from Ukulele Mike's tutorial on youtube, followed by the same song in the Marcy Marxer version.

Tootler
06-04-2016, 01:35 PM
The first song I sang with ukulele for an audience was Woody Guthrie's Deportee.

Cassie
06-04-2016, 05:07 PM
My first song was Happy birthday because the day that I received little Kalea, It was actually my cousin's birthday. I wanted to play it for her but My sister didn't want me to carry Kalea with me.

Ukejenny
06-06-2016, 09:32 AM
If those early songs haven't been visited for a while, I encourage you to go back and give them a try. It is amazing how much my playing has changed since I first tried to learn my beginning songs.

Tootler
06-06-2016, 01:10 PM
I still sing some of my early songs. Maybe not so often now but I get them out and give them an airing from time to time.