Why 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns?

Why 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns?

21 Easy Ukulele Hymns available April 2020!

Finally! After much delay we are getting ready to launch our new book 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns in April 2020. This book will have songs ranging from 2 to 7 chords and will include many of your favorites. Each hymn will have a suggested strumming pattern with melody tab underneath. The book also comes with a FREE video course.

Many of the hymns are presented in two keys, so you can more easily play with musicians on other instruments or with a pianist in your congregation.

What are the 21 Ukulele Hymns?

Simple Gifts
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Church in the Wildwood
Shall We Gather at the River?
Fairest Lord Jesus
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
Nearer My God to Thee
Jesus Loves Me
This Little Light of Mine
Give Me That Old Time Religion
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
How Great Thou Art
Rock of Ages
I Come to the Garden Alone
For the Beauty of the Earth
Be Thou My Vision
The Doxology
Amazing Grace (extra value song because it is in other books)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
All Things Bright and Beautiful
Be Still My Soul-Finlandia
A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Three Versions Available:

1. Ebook: You’ll get

  • the ebook in three formats ((ePub, pdf and .mobi file)
  • chord melody versions of 10 hymns not in the Amazon version.

2. Paperback book from Amazon

3. The Hymn Kit which includes:

  • eBook in three formats (ePub, pdf and .mobi file)
  • Digital Book which you can print. Includes chord melody versions of 10 hymns not in the Amazon version.
  • Bonus pdf with 12 bonus songs
    • Wayfarin’ Stranger
    • He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
    • When the Saints Go Marching In
    • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
    • Michael Row the Boat Ashore
    • Chatter With the Angels
    • We Shall Overcome
    • Kumbaya
    • In My Heart There Rings a Melody
    • Wondrous Love
    • Eternal Father Strong to Save
    • Beautiful Robe So White

Why 21 Ukulele Hymns?

I’ve thought a lot about this question. What are some of the uses of a book of hymns for ukulele? Who will enjoy this music?

What comes to mind, is that many churches close as older members die off and newer, younger people do not join congregations. To counteract this trend, there is a need for music that will unite and excite people.  Ukulele music will bring people to church buildings to sing and to play with a joyful noise. What better than a group of hymns for the ukulele?  This music builds community by bringing together people of all ages. Churches can have ukulele choirs combining children and adults.

Folks can also use the ukulele to sing to the youngest children or to visit the elderly. Familiar hymns can make people feel connected with their community. 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns can also be used at summer music festivals and camps as a source of traditional music reimagined for the ukulele.

Do you enjoy playing and singing hymns? If so, what are some of your favorites? Do you play ukulele in your church or in a ukulele choir? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll enjoy these related posts:

These posts will show you how to play other hymns on the ukulele.

Music and the Church: A Wonderful New Podcast

Music and the Church: A Wonderful New Podcast

My Research Uncovers a Treasure

I recently found a wonderful podcast called “Music and the Church.” The host Sarah Bereza presents many thoughtful ideas about music and worship.

I discovered the podcast as I researched ideas for our new book, 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns. I was looking for ways to meet church musicians. Church musicians will be interested in using our book to promote community in their churches. A ukulele choir or people playing ukulele will bring together people of different ages.

The Role of the Hymnal

One of my favorite episodes talks about the role of the hymnal. Sarah has served as a church musician in many denominations. She grew up in a Conservative Protestant tradition but has served in liberal churches as well. I found it very refreshing to hear that concerns about the role of music in worship exist among all faiths and are similar across denominational lines.

What is the role of music in worship? Is it simply textual, or are there emotionally deeper roles as well? What role does the hymnal serve? As the times change, do we “modernize” lyrics to represent our currently more sensitive use of language? When we modernize a lyric, do we destroy its poetry? What is the role of the choir in worship? What is the role of a praise band?

Co-host Crawford Wiley Brings a Fresh Perspective

Dr. Sarah Bereza addresses all of these questions and more as she discusses her favorite hymnals with her co-host Crawford Wiley. He has served in the Catholic Church, so he brings a fresh pair of eyes to this topic. Together they delve into the choice of music, lyrics, indexes and how a church musician or congregation uses a hymnal to plan congregational worship.

I was so excited to learn more about music, text, and worship as Rebecca and I get ready to add our contribution to this genre with the publication of 21 Easy Ukulele Hymns. I fervently hope our book will bring together communities of young and old to build connections and to serve communities. After all, together we spread love and joy with each other by raising our voices in songs of praise.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll enjoy these related posts:

These posts will show you how to play other hymns on the ukulele.

Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!

How to Play Silent Night Ukulele Chord Melody

How to Play Silent Night Ukulele Chord Melody

Learn how to play the chord melody of another Christmas song with our Silent Night ukulele chord melody tutorial. If you’re bored with the sing and strum method of playing the ukulele, trying the chord melody method is a great challenge to take.

Have you watched someone play a ukulele and convey both the melody and accompaniment of a song without actually singing and thinking it was really cool? You can learn to do that too. Or if you simply don’t want to sing and want to play the ukulele to do the singing for you, then playing the chord melody is the best option for you.

What is chord melody?  A chord melody combines both the melody and the accompaniment such as strummed chords into a single arrangement that one person can play. The following video tutorial shows Jenny teach how to play Silent Night ukulele chord melody.

If you’ve missed the videos on Jingle Bells ukulele chord melody, check them out here. You can also subscribe here to receive sheet music and get notifications of new ukulele lessons.

Silent Night Ukulele Chord Melody

To play the Silent Night ukulele chord melody, Jenny demonstrates how to use three techniques – pinch style, single pluck method and standard strum. Learn them all in this ukulele tutorial.


Chord Melody for the Rest of Us

You’ve probably watched and admired videos of the ukulele greats playing chord melodies.

And you thought, “Wow, that is really cool! I wish I could do that but it’s probably too hard for me.” Well, weep no more.

We’ve created a brand new course to give you everything you need to know to get started playing chord melody at an easy level. If you can play the songs in our books, you can learn easy ukulele chord melody with our new course.

Wow, chord melody sounds rich and full, with melody and chords at the same time!

But it’s probably too hard for me. Not true!
In this course you’ll learn easy full-sounding music using techniques you know.

Get your course now

Silent Night – Three Interesting Trivia

Here are three interesting trivia about the song Silent Night. We think these are also great reasons why you should learn how to play Silent Night ukulele chord melody.

  • most popular Christmas song

In an article published December 2014, Time declared Silent Night to be the most popular Christmas song ever. According to records from the U.S. Copyright Office from 1978 to 2014, Silent Night has more than 700 copyrighted recordings. In comparison, Joy to the World, which was the next song on the list had nearly 400 recorded versions.

  • fourth best-selling single of all time

As previously mentioned, Silent Night has over 700 recorded versions. Bing Crosby recorded this very popular Christmas carol in 1935. Crosby’s version is ranked the fourth best-selling single of all time with an estimated sales of 30 million copies.

  • message still resonates two centuries after it was written

In 1816, an Austrian priest named Joseph Mohr wrote a poem about peace, hope and Christ’s birth. It was written in German and entitled Stille Nachte. Two years later, Franz Xaver Gruber set this poem to music. Silent Night was first sung on Christmas Eve of 1818. More than two centuries later, people all around the world still sing and perform this famous Christmas song. Its simple message resonates to this day and transcends culture and religion.

Check out these other popular easy ukulele tutorial videos…

Give Me That Old Time Religion Easy Ukulele Tutorial with Melody Tabs

Give Me That Old Time Religion Easy Ukulele Tutorial with Melody Tabs

Learn how to play a gospel song  with this week’s Give Me That Old Time Religion easy ukulele tutorial!

In this video, you will see lyrics, chords, strumming pattern and melody tab on the screen. 

If you visit our blog page, you will see our other videos and tutorials of easy ukulele songs. These contain the same information to help you easily learn how to play different easy songs on ukulele!

Sign up here to receive free sheet music and video lessons in your inbox every week.


In this tutorial, you will be using 3-9 chords. That’s because normally, as Jenny mentions, this song has 3 chords. But it really depends on what key(s) you use and whether you play the “turnaround”. 

In this video, Jenny sings and plays in 2 keys to give you a choice of which one to use. And she’s also used a technique called a “turnaround” to connect these 2 keys. Finally, she also plays solo ukulele with such a beautiful melody!

For this song, here are the chords that you will use, depending on which key you choose. Ukulele chords for Give Me That Old Time Religion easy ukulele tutorial in the key of C are: C, F and G7.

You will notice that after singing the song in C, Jenny uses a “turnaround” which uses the chords Dm, C7 and F.  In the video, you will notice that the “turnaround” gives her a way to change to the other key.

In the Key of F, you will then use these chords: F, C7 and Bb.  This second option is a bit tricky and you will find out why when you watch the video (specifically at 0:54). All in all, remember that these are both good keys to sing in!



If you want the sheet music for the song, contact us and we’ll email it to you. Or subscribe here and receive weekly newsletters with our featured song video for the week. Most importantly, you’ll also get free downloadable sheet music in your inbox to go with the ukulele video tutorial.

Lastly, Jenny conducts ukulele lessons on Facebook Live every week and later this week, she will teach more on Give Me That Old Time Religion easy ukulele tutorial. So if you haven’t yet, follow us on Facebook. Schedule for the Facebook Live lesson and the sheet music for the song will be posted on the page as well.


Although this song has been sung with different melodies by various groups and artists, it originated as a traditional gospel song in the late 1800’s.

Charles Davis Tillman helped to make this song famous by jotting down the melody and lyrics when he heard the song being sung by field workers in 1873. 

In the same year, the song then appeared in a list, together with other Jubilee songs. A Jubilee song is a religious song of African Americans usually referring to a time of future happiness. Give Me That Old Time Religion continues to be a well known and favorite hymn among Protestant churches and gospel singers 

Various singers performed different and popular versions of this song including Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, The Caravans, Gary Cooper & Walter Brennan and Gospel Rev. James Cleveland.

Due to the song’s versatility, many films have included it. For instance, “Inherit the World” used it as an opening song while the film “Sergeant York” had it as a background song.  The movie “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens” has also featured this song as well as HBO’s “Carnivàle”.

Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!

Shall We Gather at the River Ukulele Tutorial

Shall We Gather at the River Ukulele Tutorial

Learn how to play a beautiful Christian hymn with this “Shall We Gather at the River” ukulele tutorial! As with the previous videos, it includes lyrics, chords, strumming pattern and melody tab on screen.


To follow and play along to this easy ukulele tutorial, you’ll need just three chords. However, Jenny plays the song in two keys – key of C and key of G. So you’ll actually see six different chords on the video tutorial. Firstly, for the key of C – the chords are C, F and G7. Then, we have the key of G and the chords are G, C and D7. Finally, for the turnaround to shift from one key to the other, you’ll need Am, D7 and G. Strumming pattern is easy with the D-DU-D-DU repetition (D-down, U-up). Of course, Jenny also does solo ukulele in both keys for those who love playing melody tabs. 

Subscribe here ~ https://ukulele.io/get-free-ukulele-sheet-music/ to receive sheet music of our weekly ukulele tutorials. If you want sheet music for the previous videos, contact us at https://ukulele.io/contact-us/. And let us know which song or video you’d like sheet music for.

Lastly, Jenny conducts ukulele lessons on Facebook Live every other week. So if you haven’t yet, follow us on Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/UkuleleSisters. Schedule for the Facebook Live lesson and the sheet music for the song will be posted on the page as well.


Robert Lowry, an American poet and hymn composer, wrote the lyrics and music of Shall We Gather at the River in 1864. He entitled it Hanson Place in reference to a Baptist church located at 88 Hanson Place in Brooklyn. Lowry was a Baptist minister and sometimes preached in this church. Nowadays, however, the song is more commonly known as Shall We Gather at the River or At the River. Moreover, a different Christian denomination now runs 88 Hanson Place. Seventh-day Adventists acquired the building in 1863. The building has since been known as the Hanson Place Seventh-day Adventist Church.


Do you want to play hymns with confidence?

In our Hymn Kits you'll find something for varied learners, from beginners to a little more advanced.

Get your Hymn Kit today!

Beginning Ukulele Book Reviews

Beginning Ukulele Book Reviews

Beginning Ukulele Books Reviews for 7 Popular Books

7 Beginner Ukulele BooksSo, you want to learn how to play the ukulele. Where do you start? How do you get the basics under your belt so you can choose the music you want to play and eventually teach yourself? If you are wondering about these questions then collection of beginning ukulele book reviews is for you.

We take a close look at 7 popular ways to begin your ukulele journey. We’ll give you a lot of information about what’s in each book and explain who each of these methods is best for.

There is a lot to learn in music. In some ways learning music is like learning a language with a whole new alphabet, grammar, vocabulary and sounds. You also need to know what skills you must master in order to progress in music such as how to practice. Finally, you also have to learn how to tune your instrument and take care of it.

What to Expect in a Beginning Ukulele Book

Each author of a “how to play ukulele” book writes with a certain type of beginner in mind. The pace of the book and what comes first depends on the type of beginner the author is imagining. Authors might be writing for a person with little or no music background. Or they might imagine a person who already plays several instruments and is adding ukulele to their bag of tricks. They might write their book for someone who reads music well or for someone who does not. They might also question if a beginning player wants to learn to read music or whether this skill is really necessary for a ukulele player.

You, the learner, want to find a book that fits your learning style and background, and teaches you the ukulele skills you would like to know, such as singing and strumming chords, fingerpicking melodies, reading ukulele tablature, and/or standard music notation. You also want to find an approach that you will enjoy with music that you want to play and/or sing.

In these beginning ukulele book reviews I’ll describe how various method books approach the best way to learn all of this material.

Music Basics When Beginning Ukulele

Learning tends to progress faster if you master one small thing at a time. But even the simplest music contains three main elements, which are

  1. melody (the tune, what someone would sing)
  2. harmony (the chords)
  3. rhythm (the beat)

For the best results, it seems as if the author of a beginning music book would need to decide which of the three to focus on first. However, the choice ends up being pretty straight forward.  All music has some sort of rhythm, otherwise, it sounds random. Therefore our hypothetical author needs to cover rhythm first.

In terms of ukulele music, strumming chords cover two elements – harmony and rhythm. Fingerpicking melodies one note at a time also covers two elements – melody and rhythm.

What Criteria Did We Use in These 7 Beginning Ukulele Book Reviews?

We will answer the following questions for each book in our beginning ukulele book reviews: 

  • How does it teach chords?
  • How does it teach reading melodies?
  • Are there a lot of pictures that help the learner?
  • How quickly does the book progress?
  • Are there online lessons or a video course? Are there audio tracks?
  • Who is this book best suited for?

How Do We Write Down Music in a Beginning Ukulele Book?

In order to communicate how a song goes in a book, there needs to be some way of writing down sounds.

With that being said, on ukulele and other fretted stringed instruments such as guitar, there are shortcuts that are unique to these instruments. For example, songwriters will often write only lyrics and chord letter symbols to express a song. In fact, John Lennon and Paul McCartney worked this way. They felt that if they could not remember the melody the next day, then it must not have been a very good melody and did not deserve to be a song.

However, most of us are not as talented as they were. So we use a variety of symbols to write down the details of how a song goes.

Different Symbols to Write Down Music

  • Chord stamps (symbols) to show where to put our fingers on the ukulele to create the desired chord. Examples of chord stamps are shown below. chord symbols
  • Standard 5 line music staff to show the rise and fall of the melody. The standard music staff is a widely accepted way of showing pitch in music. It can take quite a lot of time to master.example of music notation
  • Ukulele tablature is sometimes used instead of or in addition to the standard music staff to show the melody. Tab can be helpful for beginners because it shows you where to put your left-hand fingers on your ukulele in order to play the pitches of the song. Tab is a lot simpler to learn to read than standard music notation, and once you get the idea of it you can improve quickly. example of ukulele tab staff
  • Standard rhythmic notation to show how fast or slow notes or strums should be in relation to each other. music notes no staff
  • Tempo markings to show how fast the song should go. Sometimes the speed of the music is described with a word (“Moderate”) and sometimes it is shown with a number which is called the metronome marking. The metronome marking below is saying there should be 158 beats per minute.

And here they are! The 7 Beginning Ukulele Book Reviews

The authors intended each of these books for a different type of ukulele beginner. We have ordered our beginning ukulele book reviews from easiest to hardest.

  1. 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way
  2. Ukulele For All
  3. Alfred’s Basic Ukulele Method
  4. Hal Leonard-Ukulele Book 1
  5. Essential Elements for Ukulele
  6. Ukulele Primer by Bert Casey
  7. Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Tips and Tunes

1. 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way

This method has a lot of written introductory material and is encouraging to the learner. There are online videos to teach the songs and all the concepts presented.

This method begins with one-chord songs and simple strumming patterns. The authors delay the changing of chords until students can sing and strum a steady beat at the same time. When two-chord songs are introduced, there are thirteen two-chord songs, so students can really get the hang of the change from F to C7.

The authors teach the reading of melodies using ukulele tablature alongside the singing and strumming of songs for some (but not all) of the songs. There are visuals that show how the alignment of the ukulele strings relates to the horizontal alignment of the lines on the tab staff.

Chords presented in this method are C, A Minor, F, C7 and G7. 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way is the first book of a series which includes: Easy Ukulele Songs: Five with Five Chords, 21 Easy Ukulele Songs for Christmas, 21 MORE Easy Ukulele Songs: Learn Intermediate Ukulele the Easy Way, and 21 Easy Ukulele Folk Songs.

What to Look Out For:

These books teach the chords with both an upright and sideways presentation of the chord symbol. This visualization of the chord stamps is unique to this method.

While the upright presentation is the standard way for showing chord stamps, the sideways presentation is how the strings and fingers look when you are actually holding your ukulele. There is also a picture of a hand making the chord shape for each chord taught.

There is both a musical terms glossary and a chord glossary in each book. Strumming patterns remain simple with only four basic strums covered.

This book is best for someone who is new to playing an instrument, and who does not read music. Its progression is slow and steady. There are online video lessons for each song and for the concepts (including tuning) presented in the book.

There is also a YouTube channel that teaches a lot of the information in the books.

Are you struggling with strumming?

With our book and course, you’ll become a fluent 3-chord strummer.

Get your copy now!

2. Ukulele For All

This book starts with singing and strumming each song. There are four introductory pages that present how to hold the ukulele, how to put fingers on the strings to make chords, how to strum and how to read tab.

Ukulele for All also teaches chord stamps by presenting the diagram sideways and with a picture of a person’s hand.

The teaching of tab reading is also unique in that it shows how the horizontal strings of the ukulele relate to the lines of the tab staff. Students are easily able to visualize where to put their fingers on the strings of the ukulele.

The book starts with one-chord songs and has a chapter for each of three beginning chords (C, A Minor, and F.) Songs that change chords are delayed until the fourth chapter.

What to Look Out For:

The authors teach tab notation alongside the singing of melodies and strumming of chords. They also keep the strumming patterns simple throughout the book. Finger-picking of accompaniments is presented in Chapter 8. Students are also encouraged to sing rounds to create harmonies within a one chord song.

There is also a chapter on the 12-bar blues where students are encouraged to improvise their own solos over a bass line.

The book comes with proprietary software that includes video lessons for each song and for the concepts (including tuning) presented in the book. The software also includes audio for the songs that can be slowed down for practicing. Students can also record themselves and submit recordings to their teacher.

The book is intended for either classroom use or for private instruction. If a student prefers melodies, the student can work on that. If a student likes to sing and strum chords, the student can work on that, since both versions are presented with each song. There is a Teachers’ Edition of the book available with detailed suggestions on how to work with groups of students at different levels.

Chords presented in this method are C, A minor, F, C7 and G7.

This book is best for someone who is new to playing an instrument, and who does not read music. Its progression is slow and steady. It includes video lessons.

3.  Alfred’s Basic Ukulele Method

This method book claims to be the most popular standard ukulele method and upon looking through it, I can see why. There are 8 introductory pages showing the parts of the ukulele, how to hold the ukulele, how to strum and how to place your left-hand fingers on the strings to make chords.

Strumming and singing songs is delayed 16 pages until the basic reading of single notes on the tab staff is solid for the student. There is a tab staff underneath the standard musical notation to help you find the melody notes more easily.

The pictures are large and well-spaced. The presentation on tab reading has good visuals.

What to Look Out For:

The first song with chord changes is “Good Night Ladies.” This song uses two chords F and C7 which is an easy 2 chord pattern. The book progresses slowly and steadily, eventually teaching the student seven chords (C, F, C7, G, D7, and G7.)

The author introduced strumming patterns independently of reading melodies and progress from basic to more complicated. The strumming patterns remain pretty simple.

The book ends with “Over the Rainbow” in a slightly simplified version using the chords that have been taught in this book.

This book is best for someone who is new to playing an instrument, and who does not read music. Its progression is slow and steady, and it includes both a DVD and online video lessons.

4. Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book 1

This book by Lil’ Rev is a solid beginning ukulele method. It starts with reading tab melodies. When chords are introduced, several pages in, the student learns C, F, and G7 all at once. There is a little bit of time to learn basic strumming patterns before applying chords to a song, but the first song uses all three chords. From there, new chords are introduced fairly quickly.

Chords taught in this book are: C, F, G7, E Minor, D7, G, Bb, A Minor, B7, D Minor,  A7 and A.

What to Look Out For:

There are lots of wonderful pictures on how to hold the ukulele and how to strum. Lil’ Rev teaches some really cool strumming techniques, such as tremolo, single roll stroke, finger and thumb strum and the index finger strum. He explains these techniques well with pictures, arrows and counting.

The book is nicely laid out and there is a basic chord glossary at the end. There are no audio or video lessons that I could find, but Lil’ Rev has a website and YouTube channel where he teaches a lot of the strumming techniques he uses in this book. He has workshops and YouTube videos and is a great teacher! (I’m planning on learning some of these techniques now that I’ve been playing for many years.)

When I was first learning ukulele I worked through this book. I didn’t have trouble with the left-hand chord changes, but found the many different strumming patterns difficult. This book might be best for someone with fretted instrument background such as the guitar or mandolin.

5. Essential Elements for the Ukulele

Marty Gross does a great job of teaching the ukulele in this book. Students learn to read music well. They learn the following chords: C, G7, F, Am, D7 (Hawaiian style) C7, Bb, Dm, F7, A7, Em, E7 and G#+. There is even a section on movable barre chords!

From my point of view, this book progresses quickly. Students are expected to read notes rather than the tab staff. Also, the first two chord song uses C to G7. G7 is a three finger chord and is hard for a lot of beginning players to master.

What to Look Out For:

The songs in this book are pretty awesome, for example: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Octopus’s Garden, La Bamba, The Rainbow Connection and Marianne. There are audio demonstration tracks on an audio CD, which is probably helpful because not all the songs have suggested strumming patterns printed. There is a strumming chart and a chord glossary at the end of the book

This book would work well in a private lesson setting or with older students in a small group setting. It would also work well with someone who has played many other instruments before.

The book comes with an audio CD.

6. Ukulele Primer For Beginners: Book and DVD

Bert Casey does a great job at teaching singing and strumming the ukulele. The book is nicely laid out. There are great pictures showing how to hold your ukulele, how to strum and how to place your left-hand fingers on the strings. He has a unique way of showing the songs by having two staves: one for the melody line and one for the strumming pattern. This is really helpful when the strumming patterns get more complicated and don’t easily match up with the rhythm of the  melody.

The book comes with a DVD. There is also access to online video lessons.

This book assumes you will either know the songs, watch the videos to learn them or that you can read music so you can “hear” the songs in your head before you add the strumming pattern. There is no tab for the melodies.

What to Look Out For:

The author presents many strumming patterns which move sequentially from easier to more complicated. The patterns are easy to read and understand. When the book gets to more complicated patterns, there is a good base upon which to build. Bert shows the student a lot of muted strums, a technique called “chunking.” His presentation is clear, so it is easy to figure out how to go about learning this technique. In my experience, a student can sound quite polished when they learn these kinds of strumming patterns. I will probably go back and practice all of these and the patterns in Lil’ Rev’s book to add to my own repertoire of strumming techniques.

Finally, there is great information in the appendix on how the guitar relates to the ukulele, some music theory, a chord library and a strumming pattern library.

This book is probably best for someone who has background on other fretted string instruments such as guitar. The opening material is going to be difficult if you are a complete ukulele beginner. The strumming patterns, while cool, are going to be difficult to coordinate with the songs until you have more experience singing and strumming.

The book does come with both a DVD and online videos. The online videos are good with close-ups on the player’s hands so you can see and hear what to do.

7. Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Tips and Tunes

This was the book I used to teach myself the ukulele. It is recommended by Dr. Uke. The book is nicely laid out and is small, so it can easily fit into a ukulele case. It has a folksy feeling.

As with all of Jim Beloff’s materials, it gets right into playing the songs after only a couple of pages of introductory material. He covers a lot of music theory in two pages, which a beginner might or might not understand depending on their background.

The first song uses a C to the G7 chord progression, which can be a difficult one for many beginners. There is no tab for the songs, so the author assumes you can read music to figure out how the melodies sound. Tab can be helpful for beginners because it shows you where to put your left-hand fingers on your ukulele in order to get the pitch of the song. The author presents the strumming patterns above the notes, so it is not too difficult to figure out how to do them.

What to Look Out For:

The book progresses through many key signatures and teaches you the following chords: C, G7,Cmaj7, C6, C7, Am, F, G#7, D7, Gdim, Gmaj7, Em7, A7, Edim, Em, etc. (This book had more chords than any of the others I reviewed.) Jim does give you the option of leaving chords out by putting them in parentheses. This was helpful because I found keeping the flow of the singing, strumming and so many chord changes difficult as a beginner. Also, there are no video lessons.

I was able to learn a lot with this book, but I did not become a fluent strummer until I worked with simpler material. This book is probably best for someone with a lot of music background, but not necessarily fretted string instruments.

I have played piano and violin most of my life, so I found the left-hand coordination and music theory in this book straight-forward. At first, I found the right hand strumming more difficult. I play about 10 stringed instruments in my job as an orchestra teacher and I find that the right hand’s job (bowing, strumming, picking) differs more from instrument to instrument than the left hand’s does.

To become fluent with my ukulele skills, I needed to work more with the kinds of things Bert Casey and Lil’ Rev teach. I also knew that my students who are new to instruments generally would need a slower and more gradual approach which is why I wrote my books the way I did.

Summing Up the 7 Beginning Ukulele Book Reviews

All of these ukulele books have their strengths. They are all well thought out and sequential. The best course of action for you, the ukulele beginner, is to discover what kind of learner you are. Then choose the beginning ukulele book that suit you best after reading our beginning ukulele book reviews.

Of course I am biased, but I think if you are a complete beginner with music your best bet would be to buy one of my books, either 21 Songs in 6 Days: Learn Ukulele the Easy Way or Ukulele for All.  Alfred’s Basic Ukulele Method would also work well for you.

If you have experience with guitar, you might prefer one of the more difficult books such as Essential Elements, Bert Casey’s Ukulele Primer, or Jumpin’ Jim’s Ukulele Tips and Tunes.

In my own musical journey, I have often worked through several books at once to work on different kinds of skills. I hope after reading these beginning ukulele book reviews that you will be able to find the book or books that work best for you!

Here are links to purchase each of the books on Amazon. (full disclosure: I’m paid a small commission when you click these links  but it does not affect the price you pay.)