Why is it necessary to learn and memorize chords? How can you grow as a musician through community? These are some of the first questions that face you as you embark on your musical journey with your trusty ukulele. From experience, I can genuinely say that one of the first things you need to do is learn as many of the chords as you can.
Aside from strumming correctly and holding the ukulele properly, learning the chords is the most important thing that you can do to grow as a musician. I can also give you some ideas on how to grow as a musician through community because I am a part of one, the Uke Like the Pros (ULTP) Nation. Read on, and see how you can develop as fast as possible while thoroughly enjoying yourself in the process!
Tips to Learn and Memorize Chords?
The Four Most Important Chords to Know
Looking back on my journey, I cannot imagine what my ukulele experience would have been like had I not been a part of ULTP Nation. I started a premium membership, so that I would have access to the extensive library of courses led by our very own Terry Carter. There are many videos online that you can catch with Carter if you want a taste of his teaching style. By systematically going through progressive courses, I was able to learn the fundamentals.
In this video, Terry Carter goes through the four most important chords to know. View the video, and see how much you can learn in such a short time!
The C, Amin, F, and G7 Chord
By being a member of ULTP Nation, education streamlines what is important to learn, and rids you of the guesswork. These are the most important first chords you will learn – the C chord, the Amin chord, the F chord, and the G7 chord. Once you know these chords, you will be able to play countless songs that use these very chords! Memorizing these chords will help you play music without having to dig for chord chart,s although you can get free pocket chord charts from ULTP.
Playing the ukulele will be so much easier and pleasant when you can sit on the couch and just play a tune without looking at anything. You will likely pick up your ukulele more as well if you have chords memorized along with songs.
How to Play Chords Correctly
There are many bad habits that can stunt your growth as a musician, and they are hard to break once ingrained in muscle memory. It took me quite some time to break the habit of using my elbow and arm to strum instead of a relaxed wrist. I did eventually break free from this habit after taking some lessons on the ULTP course website, which is accessible to all premium members. What broke that habit was strumming with my thumb oddly enough.
I watched the videos over and over to understand how to stop using that elbow. If you take the time to learn the fundamentals, you will learn the correct way to play the ukulele which will increase your motivation to keep learning and playing.
Read more: How To Play Stand By Me On The Ukulele
Tips to Help You Play the Basic Chords
In the following video, Terry walks you through some important methods of playing chords. And if you are a beginner, it is a great place to start. We are all guilty of not following these guidelines at first because it is so awkward to play in the beginning. Do not give up! Once you master chord shapes, holding the ukulele comfortably, and strumming, you will be well on your way.
You can do this. First, play on your fingertips and not on the pads of your fingers. You will eventually grow calluses there, and it is critical that you follow this tip. Use rounded knuckles. I probably had the flatest fingers ever when I started, but keep them rounded. And a relaxed wrist! Very key! It will work, I promise you. Memorize the chords. This will help you with quicker chord transitions. Finally, form your fingers over chord shapes before pushing down to anticipate the next chord. You will do this naturally once you have played for a while.
This is where I came to a grinding halt. Bar chords… For those of you who have passed these other stages, the bar chords are the next step that can be frustrating. I am still trying to play my bar chords seamlessly, and I keep practicing because I know the only way to master bar chords is by not avoiding them. A bar chord is when you must place your finger over two or more strings. In the following video, Carter breaks down the process for you. It will take time, but once you master this, it is smooth sailing until you have to learn the next thing! Some tips are to keep that bar finger parallel to the fret. You will want to do many different contortions – some of which are more than likely unnatural, but try to follow Carter’s advice. Place your finger next to the fret. You need to do this with regular chords anyway, but make sure you are not passing on this because you are having a hard time.
Do not stick your elbow out. Place your thumb between the middle and the top of the ukulele neck, and do not have a death grip on that neck. Put a nice, comfortable pressure there. Even with these guidelines, it will take practice which is the final discussion of this article.
How to Practice the Ukulele
Besides learning ukulele fundamentals, ULTP covers so many topics that are relevant and helpful for you as a member of the ULTP Nation. You will have access to all the courses, and you will be a part of a community that helps you and encourages you. Step into a Q & A live session led by Carter, and talk with other members who are learning along with you. In this next video, Carter covers the best way to practice the ukulele so that it is enjoyable and beneficial to your growth as a musician. Along with learning chords or bar chords, you need to get in some practice time to master all these chord shapes!
Rules for Practicing the Ukulele
- Rule #1, play music. That may seem like a mundane tip, but it is so true. We all live busy lives, and it is hard to pick up the ukulele sometimes. If you are constantly playing scales and using skill builders to develop your technique, it gets more difficult to pick up the ukulele. The number one reason why you started is likely to play is music, so… play music!
- Rule #2, consider what you need to practice. Maybe you are practicing a piece that you will record and upload for your fellow ULTP Nation members. Well, you might put that first in your practicing regimen. Maybe you are performing sometime soon. That may also be an important thing to practice for.
- Rule #3, perform. You can perform for yourself, family members, and an imaginary audience. Music is largely about performance. Sharing music with others is so important.
- Rule #4, play for people. This is very in line with rule #3. Getting feedback is what will help you develop as a musician. People can help you see what work needs to be done and what work has paid off.
I hope that you can see how important knowing the chords is and how vital it is to memorize them. I have seen many musicians jam by themselves for countless hours, just enjoying the songs they are playing. The first thing I do when I get out my ukulele is play a few songs I have memorized and sing along with it. I also hope you see the value of joining ULTP Nation. It really can help you grow as a musician, and it is fun to do as you move through the process of learning about yourself and others. Being a musician is about sharing music with others, but you need a community to do that. Consider joining ULTP Nation. I promise you that you will not look back once you have joined!