Ukulele: Starting with 3 chords


HAVE you ever wanted to play a stringed instrument, like the ukulele?
Well, I have good news for you.
I am providing your first few lessons on learning to play the ukulele right here, in this article.
I will also inform you about a social media account that you can visit to view videos that follow this article and the lessons discussed here.

Why learn to play an instrument?

As I was starting on this article, I thought about the importance of learning to play a musical instrument.
Firstly, it will keep you (or the kids) occupied on free days or holidays.
Boredom is something that is rarely talked about among people who are creative on a musical instrument.
Whenever they are free, they like to pick up their guitar or ukulele and strum something, or just go over routines, or just experimenting with new chord transitions.
Secondly, it can help you be creative and compose your own songs or tunes. You can also later sell your creativity, the songs and tunes that you compose.
Even today, musicians are selling their music online without signing up with a major recording company.
Thirdly, it is the cheapest way of keeping oneself entertained.
You don’t need to pay for credits to play a game online or pay the gate fee to enter a sports venue to watch a game.
The only cost for you will be the K90 for the ukulele that you pay the music shop for, or K300 for the guitar. And, if you take good care of those instruments you would still be playing them three years later, without the need to top up credits as you would with online or paid entertainment.
Fourthly, playing a musical instrument helps you become a better student. It takes discipline to learn a musical instrument and students who do well as performers should generally be better students in other fields too.
Fifthly, creativity with a musical instrument can stimulate creativity in other fields. Well-known scientists and inventors are known to relax by playing a musical instrument.
The time spent on the musical instruments also helps them synthesise their thoughts or ideas in their profession. It makes them think better.
The social media account
To view the videos related to the tips or lessons given below, go to “Tauna Twin”, the Facebook account.
My group and I will be posting videos and other information related to ukulele playing as well as other stuff related to music.
We hope that that will help you on your journey as a student of music.
We may also create a YouTube account in the future.
Such information can be obtained from the Facebook account given.
Now let’s get to the first lessons.
Open strings: Tuning the ukulele
One of the first things you should know about the ukulele is to properly tune it. To get help with the notes, you can use a piano or some other device to tune it.
However, we have provided the video titled “Tuning the ukulele” to help you.
(Have a look at the video on the Facebook account stated. Some YouTuber channels have also created similar videos to help you tune the instrument. The notes given will be standard.)
When the strings are tuned, keep them open, do not place any finger on the fingerboard. Note that we call the bottom string “String 1” and work our way up to “String 4” at the top.
So, String 1 is A, the musical note, String 2 is E, String 3 is C and String 4 is G. (That is, A, E, C and G, from the bottom string to the top.)

The first three chords
The first three chords that you should learn to play are C, F and G.
See that your playing fingers (left fingers for right-handed people) are numbered 1-4, as seen in the first photo 1. Your index finger is numbered 1, the middle is 2, ring finger is 3 and pinkie is 4.
As seen in photo 2, chord C is created by placing finger 3 on fret 3 of String 1.
Similarly, to get chord F, you place finger 1 on fret 1 of String 2 and finger 2 on fret 2 of String 4.
(Check the videos to see how the person playing is positioning his fingers as well.)

First song: Mary had a little lamb
The first song on the social media page is called Mary had a little lamb, a popular children’s song.
Here are the lyrics of the song:
Mary had a little lamb
Little lamb, little lamb
Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white as snow
Everywhere that Mary went
Mary went, Mary went
Everywhere that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go
(Only two chords, C and G are used to play this song. Watch the video to see when you make the transitions while playing.)
A song to use: Three chords
This is a song that I created to help people who are just starting to play the ukulele. Watch the video (named Three chords) to see how the song is played and when to make the chord transitions.
You will be using just three chords (C, F and G) to play this song.
Here are the lyrics of the song:
You can play the ukulele
With just three chords
As you will see
This is one – playing in the sun
This is two – you can play this two
And this is three – think about being free
And back to one, and yet more fun

Other points about the videos and lessons
The strumming technique used in the two songs above is very simple, as can be seen in the videos.
The aim is to get you to work on finger-positioning correctly, hence things are hopefully simple and easy for you to follow and do. If you have queries about anything related to ukulele playing, just post them on the wall of that account and we will try to assist you in your journey in learning to play the ukulele. It must be stressed that what is presented here are the very basics.
You have to get tips from here or elsewhere and make time available to sit with your instrument and practice.
Practice in learning to play musical instruments is vital.
That cannot be stressed enough.
Maybe spend one hour a day to go over the basics.
And keep on that for some time (for three months, if you can) until you master the basic skills of strumming and changing finger positions.
If you want, find a music book that you can also learn songs and techniques from. With that, I wish you all the best in your quest.

  • Thomas Hukahu is an Australia Awards students in Adelaide, South Australia.