‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is a classic song that has been revered by millions of music lovers over the years, and is still one of the most respected songs for musicians to learn how to play.
Lauded ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (also known as ‘Iz’) gave the song a popular resurgence when he recorded his iconic rendition in 1993, which went on to sell millions of copies worldwide, and making it one of the most sought-after songs for ukulele players to learn.
In this article, we will focus on Iz’s rendition and strumming method for ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ as well as giving you some useful tips on how to play it. As beautiful and iconic as it is, it’s not a very complicated to song to learn, and there are not that many chords to figure out. So, let’s get started!
Learning the Strumming Technique
This strum pattern is based on 16th notes and, it may seem a little busy and hectic if you’ve never played it before, but it’s easy to master with a little practice. Also, learning this song and using this strumming method can be done with any ukulele – soprano, concert, tenor, as well as with high G or low G tuning.
To start, place your fingering hand into a C chord position, and use the first finger on your strumming hand to begin playing. In the first beat (or measure) strum two down strokes followed by one up stroke.
Then, on the second beat, strum downward while simultaneously muting the strings with the side of your palm right before you strum. Keep in mind that you should strum slowly at first, and then gradually increase your speed once you get the hang of it.
Sign up for our song library for access to the best and original music sheets, backing tracks and tutorials of your favorite songs!
Learning the Chords
As mentioned, there aren’t many chords to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and it can be a very easy song to master with a little practice. The basic chords with Iz’s version are C, G, A minor, and F, in that order.
So, start with the C chord and work on your strumming technique at first. Once you feel confident with your strumming (slowly at first), gradually move onto the next chords. Again, it’s OK to slow things down and play the song slowly until you find your own comfort zone.
Your strumming and chord changing may take a little practice before you can do it without too much effort, but after a while it will become more about muscle memory as opposed to something that you have to concentrate on – and the more you play and practice, the faster you will get.
Practicing and Mastering the Song
‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ is a beautiful song that has touched many lives over the years, and if you can learn to play it confidently, you can definitely touch the lives of the people who you play it for.
So, while you are learning how to play it, be sure to take your time, focus on your strumming and, above all, make sure that you are enjoying your learning experience.