View Full Version : "new" way to learn to play the ukulele

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-08-2009, 05:01 AM
I just put this together as a FREE giveaway. It's a FREE Songbook with a little basic instruction. Unfortunately it exceeds the limits for posting. If you want a copy (about 6 printed sheets), check out Posts # 5, 7, 9, and 27 for download links and more info. I also explain how to use the Transposing Chart in another Post, page 3, #28. You'll find this link there: http://www.4shared.com/file/126325725/6ef2d760/Uncle_Rod's_Lament.html

NOTE: After clicking the link and getting to my "4shared.com" page, click on my email address next to my picture to access all my shared files including the FREE Song/Instruction Book, my MP3s, and some individual, chorded-song files. Also NOTE that you may need to readjust the margins of the chorded-song sheets to spread out the lyrics so that the chords settle over the proper word or syllable.

I believe beginners need a strategy to divide and conquer the skills needed to learn to play the ukulele. (see last page of Booklet)

I recommend that beginners 'prepare themselves' to play the uke by focusing FIRST on learning chords and practicing chord changes to a uniform rhythm. After all, playing the uke, to accompany singing, is really just a matter of playing the chords of a song in the proper sequence without interrupting your strumming (by looking up unfamiliar chords or looking at your chord-forming fingers).

The "divide and conquer strategy" may seem a bit more tedious at first, since most of us are impatient to start playing songs even before we know how to make musical sounds with the ukulele. It's like trying to play golf without first learning how to use the various clubs to hit the ball. It makes sense to me to spend a day at the practice range to get the feel of a new set of golf clubs BEFORE going out the NEXT day and using those clubs to actually play a game. So my suggestion is this: Learn to make 'musical sounds' (chords) with your ukulele FIRST (and practice making smooth chord changes as you strum each chord 4 times, then 3, then 2), then use your ukulele to play 'songs' (made up of those sounds).

If beginners will learn to create and master a few Practice Sheets, like the example on page 3 for "Blowin in the Wind", BEFORE they actually try to play the song, I believe they'd make a lot more progress and more quickly as well.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. It's FREE, so please feel free to print it out and pass it along.

8/19/09 - Mahalo Everyone. The response has been overwhelming with over 150 downloads to date.

If you want to see anything else added to the FREE Booklet (other than chords, since I don't have a program to do that, and there are other very good threads - see 'pocket chord chart' under Tabs and Chords) please let me know and I will try to incorporate them into the booklet, or do another one.

08-08-2009, 06:29 AM
Ooo i'm definitely interested
*sending PM*

08-08-2009, 07:09 AM
Very interested PM sent

Ukulele JJ
08-08-2009, 07:27 AM
Hey Uncle Rod, have you thought about putting the file up on something like MediaFire (http://www.mediafire.com/)? Then you can just post the link here, and people can download it without having to e-mail or PM you.

Just a thought!


Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-08-2009, 03:35 PM
Good thought. I am registered in 4shared.com, maybe I could post it there. I'm new to all of this so I hope I'll be able to do it in a timely way.

I've already sent email replies to about 13 of you with the following message:

"I hope it makes sense to you.

"I truly feel that we make many beginners bite off much more than they can chew. They need to understand the difference between an ukulele as a simple instrument and the fact that "simple to learn" is NOT the same as "easy to play".

"As with any instrument, one must first learn how to make use of it before actually using it to accomplish a result. In the case of the ukulele, I like to introduce it as an instrument which makes musical sounds (via chords) which must be learned BEFORE actually trying to play a song/melody.

"As you know, the most frustrating thing for beginners is eye-hand coordination (seeing G7 but NOT being able to form it instantly). Then there's finger strength (no calluses yet) and cramping after playing constantly for just a few minutes. Muscle memory comes after much repeated practice sessions.

"That's why I like to have people "play" through a practice sheet of chords at a regular tempo, slow to start with, then picking up the speed as well as moving from 4 strums each chord to eventually just 2 or 1 strum per chord. When beginners can play through a practice sheet at 2 strums per chord at a moderate tempo, they can play the song the practice sheet is based on."

If any of you don't want to wait until I figure out how to post the .doc to 4 shared, go ahead and email me at ( rohiguchi@gmail.com ) and I'll email the booklet to you in the reply.

Mahalo and Malama Pono, (Thanks and Take Care),

08-08-2009, 03:46 PM
Wow, thank you for putting something like this together! I sent you an email as I'm interested in getting a copy as well. :) I'm looking forward to it.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-08-2009, 03:54 PM
OK here's my attempt to post a link to my 4shared account and the "Uncle Rod's Disosable Method for learning to play the ukulele" FREE booklet.


I hope this works. If not, email me at ( rohiguchi@gmail.com ) and I'll send it to you in the reply.

08-08-2009, 03:59 PM
Works for me, thanks! :D

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-08-2009, 04:04 PM
OK, looks like the link is working OK.

If you look under my profile picture, you'll be able to also access the MP3 files I have on 4shared.com. They should match the song sheets so you can listen to my rendition of the songs on the song sheets.


08-08-2009, 04:05 PM
Thanks Rod,:shaka:

08-08-2009, 07:35 PM
You, sir, are made of win.

08-08-2009, 08:16 PM
Nice little book, will come in very handy for beginners, thanks for your time and effort.

Phos Ellipsis
08-08-2009, 08:29 PM
thanks so much for the book :)
I'm finding it very helpful indeed

08-09-2009, 01:37 AM
Thank you, downloading it now

08-09-2009, 03:00 AM
:) Would you mind if i put it up as a pdf file?

08-09-2009, 03:37 AM
Mahalo Rod

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 03:48 AM
Not at all.

I would appreciate it if you would.

Could you enlighten me as to the benefit of doing so? This way, in the future,
if my computer skills allow, I may be able to do so on my own.


PS, in the future, if I post anything you think would benefit from being re-posted
in .pdf format, please feel free to do so.

08-09-2009, 04:28 AM
Mahalo for sharing Rod. :shaka:

08-09-2009, 06:46 AM
I put it up here, on rapidshare, hope thats ok for you guys to dl it (http://rapidshare.com/files/265505995/Uncle_Rod_s_Disposable_Method.pdf.html)

I prefer pdf files, i dunno it loads fast in my viewer (Sumatra pdf, free, fast, no nonsense) you can print it easily and its widely accepted. I took the liberty and put it all in the same font and added a small click able index, so one can access the songs faster. Its just convenient i guess. word takes more time and resources when i open it up.

I did that with open office, quite a nice programm if you need a office suit like word/excel. and its free... Thanks for taking the time and making the whole thing!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 06:52 AM
Thanks Mario.

Please note that now the chording is over the wrong syllables and it could confuse some of the beginners.

I'll try to create more uniform files in the future.

Are you able to modify the .pdf so the chords show over the proper syllables?

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 06:59 AM
Thanks Mario,

However, until the adjusting of the placement of the chords is corrected, I'm inclined to direct people to post # 7 in this thread, page 1, for the original download link.

Please advise me as to the best way to create .pdf files for sharing, since they may be more convenient for more people to download.


08-09-2009, 07:08 AM
Thanks for pointing that out, I also like PDF files. But after looking it over will stay with post #7.

08-09-2009, 08:19 AM
Mahalo Uncle Rod. That was a nice thing you did by sharing this with us UUer's. :cool:


08-09-2009, 08:34 AM
Thank you very much, since my practice method is mostly brute force this guide should build some structure to my practice sessions :D

I propose this should be stickied. Would help out a lot of beginners.

08-09-2009, 08:37 AM
What's the story behind SUPA?

08-09-2009, 09:04 AM
This is lovely, thank you. Would you be able to tell me how to use the transposing chart? (Im a bit slow at this type of thing!)

08-09-2009, 09:44 AM
Thanks Mario,

However, until the adjusting of the placement of the chords is corrected, I'm inclined to direct people to post # 7 in this thread, page 1, for the original download link.

Please advise me as to the best way to create .pdf files for sharing, since they may be more convenient for more people to download.


Sorry i missed that, i will leave the original formatting intact and redo it.

heres the original formatting. (http://rapidshare.com/files/265558128/Uncle_Rod_s_Disposable_Method.pdf.html)

Doing a pdf from a word file in open office is really easy, you can just instead of saving it the usual way export it as pdf with an options dialog popping up.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 03:24 PM
The concept of the transposing chart can be very easy to understand, hopefully.

since each of the note/chord names in each vertical column (not that there are horizontal columns, I just wanted to be unambiguous), is the same musical distance apart (namely one half-step), when transposing from, let's say the key of A to the key of C, just look across the "rows" and wherever you see the chord A in the original song sheet, substitute it with the chord C in your transposed target song sheet. Where you find the chord D in the A column, substitute an F which should be on the same row (horizontally) in the C column.

In the end the A chord sequence ( A, D, E7) will be transposed to (C, F, G7) in the target key of C.

Basically you're placing the A column next to the C column and switching out chords from the A column to the C column.

I hope this is not too confusing. I'm explaining this without resorting to Music Theory (not that I'm conversant in Music Theory - in fact I wrote a song about my aversion to Music Theory called "Uncle Rod's Lament". Here's the link.


It's merely a mechanical "trade the chords in the same row from the original key column to the target key column".

If you're successful, when you play the song in the new key (C in this example) all the new chords will "fit" and you will be able to play and recognize the song in the key of C.

Also, please note that I only created the Transposing Chart to work among the keys of A, C, D, F, and G since many beginners and even advanced ukulele players seem to have an aversion to playing in the keys of B, Bb, and E.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 03:39 PM
SUPA, the Seattle Ukulele Players Association, was formed in 2003 and has been going strong ever since. SUPA averages about 40-60 attendees per montly meeting, and there always seems to be new "members". (You become a "member" simply by attending one of the monthly song circles!)

Check us out at ( seattleukulele.org ). We are a registered non-profit corporation in the State of Washington so we have to be careful about how we handle the music we use. Read our newsletters and they will direct you to our "/members" page where you will find .pdf and MP3 files of many of the songs we sing at our song circles. Only, please do NOT post or broadcast a link to our members site. Mahalo.

If any UUers happen to be in Seattle on a SUPA Sunday, please feel free to come and join us. Check our website for the location, times, and any special events.

If you have any more questions, please let me know.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 03:47 PM
Thanks Mario, the original formatting looks great!

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-09-2009, 04:06 PM
Sorry, I don't mean to monopolize the thread but I've got to share this story.

As I was leaving the Aloha Stadium Swapmeet this morning, I saw a couple of kids, High Schoolers I think, who were playing around with a couple of really cheap ukes, toys really. Anyway, I had my FREE booklet and asked if they knew how to play the uke. They didn't, and they weren't brothers, so I gave a copy to each of them and explained a little of how they might go about learning to play the ukulele. They seemed to appreciate the gesture.

I also "tuned" their ukes. That's how I know they were really cheap. I wish I could have been with them before they spent their money. Even at $10-$20, there are some fair ukes they might have gotten instead.

Hope you enjoyed the story.

08-09-2009, 07:15 PM
Downloaded the guide.

Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting it!

08-10-2009, 04:41 AM
Thank you Uncle Rod
This looks like a fun and effective way to learn new tunes!

08-10-2009, 07:26 AM
Just downloaded and looks real good. I do like your way of approach and am going to try it out!!

08-10-2009, 10:10 AM
aha! I understand now, thanks very much!

08-15-2009, 10:16 PM
thanks for helping a newbie out :)

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-16-2009, 07:49 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I do believe that if you will follow the general guidelines I set forth, that you will make more progress in less time than if you just tried to learn songs on your own.

08-16-2009, 11:45 AM
This a cool, very structured way to approach song learning as opposed to how I do it which is to keep rewinding youtube clips.

Thank you, Uncle Rod Higuchi, for your time and effort.

08-16-2009, 01:33 PM
Thankyou, I've also downloaded this :)

Uncle Rod Higuchi
08-17-2009, 06:33 PM
I just uploaded a bunch more "oldies" into my 'song file' for your enjoyment.

These aren't the 'oldies', except for the melodies, but I "re-lyricized"(?) them just for you!