View Full Version : Ukulele and piano?

06-16-2009, 08:40 AM
Hi all!

My girlfriend plays the piano, and I'm a guitar-to-ukulele switcher (props to her for the nice four-string birthday gift :o )
Now: besides the obvious need of amplifying my uke, what kind of songs could we play together? Ukulele+piano duos seem not so common. We started with "Dream a little dream of me": she plays the melody, and I just strum and sing. I was also thinking about playing some kind of solo having her just play the bass line.

But now... what? Give us some nice ideas :D
I may also add that we have nearly zero experience of improvisation...

Ukulele JJ
06-16-2009, 09:01 AM
There are all sorts of combos you could try:

She plays bass, melody, and some chord harmonies, while you strum along with chords. (If you buy sheet music, this is often how it's set up. The entire arrangement is for piano, but they include guitar chords along the top. You can play those guitar chords on the uke, of course--just ignore the fretboard diagrams and just read the chord letter names.)
You play melody, she plays bass and chords
You play chords, she plays bass and melody
You play chords, she plays bass and more chords, while one or both of you sing
You both play a melody in a round (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Round_(music)) ("Row, Row, Row Your Boat", "Frere Jacques", Pachelbel's Canon)
You each take turns playing the melody at different points in the song, with the other person playing chords. She plays bass always.
Feeling adventurous? You could both try to tackle a two or three-part Bach invention (like this one (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_56mNaj63iQ)), with you taking one of the parts and her taking the other one or two. If you're not good at reading traditional music notation, but she is, then she could teach you the part to play.


Ukulele JJ
06-16-2009, 09:11 AM
Oh, and if your girlfriend plays quietly and/or keeps the soft pedal down (the pedal on the left), you might not need an amp after all.

If she's playing a grand or baby grand piano (i.e., not an upright), then make sure the lid is completely shut too.


06-16-2009, 09:18 AM
Suggest you go busking with her... while she drags the piano along the street, you will skip and dance around her with your lovely, light, very portable ukulele. Pretty soon she will see the advantage of learning to play this little four-stringed instrument. Most likely the piano will be abandoned within a few blocks. The you march her to a music store and buy her a uke. She'll be too tired to resist. You won't have to fret about what to play together afterwards.

06-16-2009, 09:26 AM
My neighbor and I used to jam uke and electric piano all the time. It works great as long as you don't get too drowned out by the keys. We used to play a lot of Jack Johnson songs and reggae songs. He would play mostly bass and melody and I would play rhythm chords or arpeggiated chords fingerstyle.

06-16-2009, 04:56 PM
I don't know how pop you want to go (only because you experimented with some jazz standards), but I found they go well together when the artist is primarily a pianist. Here are a few songs I did both the piano and the uke for (I really feel as though the uke fills out the piano sound - it was so much fun to do!)




I would search for the piano sheet music first (you can usually find the first page for free - and it will most likely just repeat...your girlfriend will be able to figure it out!), then I base my uke chords off of that.

It's nothing serious, but like I said, it was fun! :)

06-16-2009, 06:31 PM
I have a Yamaha Keyboard (electric) and enjoy messing around with the piano/uke combo. With the Yamaha I can hit a button and record the piano music. Then pick up the uke and hit the playback button and strum along with my recorded piano music. I'm not all that great, but it is fun to improvise.
Most of the sheet music or books I use for the piano have the printed chords which makes it relatively easy to play the ukulele with it.

06-17-2009, 06:04 AM
Whoa, thank you all for your suggestions!

It seems that the preferred way is having the piano play bass and melody while the uke can fill the sound by strumming the chords. This way it should be fairly simple to use the Real Book! The Bach idea is nice too :)

Thank you for now!