7 Reasons You Should Buy a Ukulele for Your Kid

7 Reasons You Should Buy a Ukulele for Your Kid

cute-kid listening to music

Music plays an important role in our culture. It is an essential part of every child’s development.Parents instinctively know this. From birth, they use music to soothe their kids, to engage with them and to express their love for them. That’s why we’ll be discussing 7 reasons you should buy a ukulele for your kid in this post. 

Here are 7 beneficial effects of music on a child’s development:

Facilitates Learning Other Subjects

There is strong research to suggest that studying music makes learning other subjects like math and science easier.

Making music involves more than the using the voice to sing or the fingers to play an instrument. That’s because a child learning about music has to tap into multiple skill sets, often at the same time. Learning this ‘brain coordination’ helps them make faster progress when learning other skills.

Improves Social Skills

When kids are learning music in a group setting, they get to interact with each other, help each other, and work together. This greatly improves their social skills.

Inspires Creativity

Music can inspire creativity. A lot of the activity needed to sing or play an instrument such as the ukulele requires some form of creativity or even improvisation. Children learn to tap into their inner creative spirit which can help them be creative in other areas of their lives.

Boosts Confidence

A lot of times kids will perform what they learned in front of their parents, teachers or classmates. Performing helps them develop confidence in front of others. And it’s also a great way to encourage kids to express themselves.

Also, learning music is hard.  When a child masters something that used to be difficult for them they feel more confident tackling a new challenge.

photo showing the words be smartBoosts Their IQ

Studies show that music study can boost a child’s IQ. Kids who took piano lessons consistently for one year saw an IQ bump as high as 3 points- this is according to Jessica Grahn, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Western Ontario.

Improves Memory

When your child plays the ukulele, they learn how to create, store and retrieve memories more efficiently. This is the equivalent of giving their memory a workout. And who couldn’t use a better memory?

Teaches perseverance

No one can become a good musician in a day. At first the new skills your child needs to play ukulele will seem hard. But over time with regular practice they will become easy

The process of learning an instrument teaches kids to persevere and be patient. For many music students, especially those who are quick in school,  playing an instrument is the hardest thing they have ever tried. Through music study they learn the importance of daily effort and also how to manage frustration.

After they achieve their goal, say strumming to their favorite tune on the ukulele, they’ll feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement that will ripple through to their other activities.

Why Learn Ukulele?

So out of all the instruments, why the ukulele? There are numerous reasons why the ukulele is a perfect instrument for all ages and you can read our blog here to know all about that.

Today, we are interested in three characteristics that make it perfect for kids.

1. The ukulele is small and portable. A six-year-old child can easily hold a soprano ukulele without straining his or her hands. Kids can easily carry it on school trips and play it for their friends. Kids love the ‘baby guitar’.

2. Another thing that makes the ukulele perfect for your kid is that is easy to learn. The learning curve is not as steep as for the guitar or the piano

It is surprising how fast someone can move from “just starting”  to “sounding pretty good” with regular daily practice. This ensures that kids can quickly begin playing their favorite songs without needing to learn a lot of chords.

3. The ukulele is very affordable, especially compared to a piano.

How to Shop for a Ukulele

So you might be wondering how to go about shopping for the ukulele. No worries, we made a couple of videos just for that purpose.

 

How to Choose What Songs your Kid Should Play

A lot of the time, kids will begin ukulele lessons by learning to play a song. In order to help your child stay focused on learning an instrument, you need to help them pick the right songs to practice.

Here there are 3 general guidelines you can follow:

1. Choose a song that kids know and like

You need to capture your child’s interest.  If they are playing a song they know and like, they are more likely to be willing to work hard to learn it. They will definitely practice more because playing songs they like is exciting, satisfying and fun.

2. Start with songs that have few chords

If the learning curve if too steep, kids tend to back away from a challenge and label the activity as “too hard”.  It is therefore important at first that they stick to songs with only one or two chords. A harder song can always be modified to use fewer chords.

As their skills grow, they can start to play songs with more chords. Everyone learns faster by playing a greater number of easier songs building up gradually to more difficult ones.  Starting with too hard of a song can lead to an abrupt end to music learning!

3. Choose a meaningful song

Select a song that has a meaning and teaches something. Songs are part of our culture. Most songs communicate ideas and messages, some of which may not be beneficial to your child. Learn to listen carefully to the song lyrics.

Choose a song that teaches your kid about history, science, your values or faith or the like. This type of song will not only grow the child’s musical skills, it will also ensure that they learn something beyond music.

In case you didn’t know, we have a great collection of YouTube video tutorials covering popular hits. Your kid could easily follow along. To show you what we mean, below is a video tutorial for Country Roads by John Denver. 

  

Click the button below to subscribe to our YouTube channel and learn many more songs and great ukulele skills.

Let music help your kids’ brains!

Music is a wonderful way for kids to have fun, learn, grow, and develop as human beings. Through music study, your kids will become faster learners, grow their social skills and be inspired to be creative. Studying music can also boost a child’s confidence, memory and patience.

The ukulele is a perfect instrument for children to learn music. Its small size and ease of learning make it an instant hit with the kids.

Carefully choose the songs your kids study. Look for songs your kids like that also communicate a beneficial message.

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the nearest store and buy your kid a ukulele. You can have fun watching them grow as they learn.

Happy Strumming!

How Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

How Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

How the Ukulele Can Help Engage Developmentally Disabled Kids

developmentally disabled kidsMusic is a proven way to help developmentally disabled children function better in a school environment. And the ukulele can really help engage developmentally disabled kids.

Our society is becoming preoccupied with tests and achievements to ‘rate’ individuals in school. We are more interested in what our kids get on a test than if they really learned anything. Consequently, school can very well end up being a competition rather than a source of knowledge. Kids may feel the pressure of having to be the best.

Developmentally disabled kids can particularly feel  this pressure. Music helps open a  child to new concepts and experiences unlike other subjects such as math and science.

Music can help with:

  • attention
  • social interaction
  • communication
  • self-discovery
  • improvement of speech and motor functions
  • recognition and
  • stress relief and enjoyment

So how do you design a music program to cater to developmentally disabled kids so that they find something that they can relate to? Jenny shares her experience with teaching developmentally disabled students. Keep reading to find out how she built a program to cater specifically to their needs. Again, we recommend ukulele as the instrument of choice. You can read more about why here.

Ukulele, the perfect musical instrument for the developmentally disabled kid

I found that these children were more frustrated with the recorder, an instrument where you blow and cover holes with your fingers, than with the ukulele. In addition, the fine muscle coordination required by the recorder was quite frustrating.  These special children are sensitive to sound. Often the sounds they produced were high screeches, and they would often shut down in response.
 
On the other hand, the ukulele was soothing. All of the children could strum down strokes on the open strings with a steady beat. With a simple re-tuning of the A string down to the note G, the open strings of the ukulele create a C chord. Students can strum the open strings without having to put any left hand  fingers down. An F chord and a G chord can be created by barring one finger at the 5th and 7th frets respectively. The same effect can be created by sliding a plastic slide to stop the strings at that fret. That way students with limited finger strength and muscle tone can be successful strumming and singing.
 

How to teach ukulele to developmentally disabled kids

Each week, during the special education music class, I would pre-teach the material we were going to learn in the regular music class. The special needs children were able to sing and strum with the beat and to hold simple chord shapes with their left hands. If the child had fine motor issues in their hands, the child could strum the open strings of the ukulele. The open strings of the ukulele create a beautiful consonant chord without a left hand chord, so simply strumming the strings allows the children to participate with age-group peers.

One of the beautiful things about working with these children was that most of them loved music. With a few modifications, these children were able to perform as well or better as some of their peers, probably one of the few places where this could happen during their school day. Because the songs were simple and international, these children could relate to them and feel proud of what they could add to the class. One child even gave me the words of Frere Jacques in Assyrian.

Wrap Up: Ukulele is the perfect instrument for a developmentally disabled kid

Music is a perfect way for special needs children to grow in class. It is not based on tests and abstract ideas but on activity that actually relaxes the mind and gives enjoyment. Through it, developmentally disabled kids are able to discover new and exciting experiences. They are able to develop social and communication skills through music. Other benefits include improvement of motor and speech function as well as a sense of recognition.

The ukulele is a tested instrument to be used for any classroom, special needs or otherwise. The kids can easily get proficient at it, achieving something that they can be proud of. This boosts their confidence to learn even more. Structuring the program for the special needs kids is an important piece of the puzzle. Jenny pre-taught the developmentally disabled kids the material they were to learn with their peers. Ukulele for All is a perfect guide to developing a suitable pedagogy for teaching ukulele in the classroom setting. Moreover, pedagogy may be adapted to cater to kids with developmental disabilities.

We hope this post helps teachers and parents to expose developmentally disabled kids to the wonderful benefits of music through the ukulele.

Happy Strumming.

The Path of Stroke Recovery Through Ukulele

The Path of Stroke Recovery Through Ukulele

 Stroke Recovery Through the Ukulele

 The ukulele can play a vital role in stroke recovery. Read what one reader had to say about stroke recovery through the ukulele: 

 

“Thanks, girls! This is wonderful.

I had a stroke that weakened my left side. I have been trying to learn guitar but without much success. I have two guitars and a guitarlele, which is getting more airtime lately. Your approach to the ukulele and your enthusiasm has improved my life and my activity somewhat.

You have also sparked some enthusiasm in my fiancée. We will marry next year and move to a place near where she lives (about 2000 miles from where I am now) so at that time we will join a ukulele orchestra and we are hoping that all this left-hand exercise will help to rehabilitate my left arm. 

Thanks, heaps!”

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke is a sort of ‘brain attack’ that occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is cut off. When this happens, the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and consequently begin to die.

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time. This makes it the fifth leading cause of death in the US.

Stroke Recovery

After the unfortunate event of a stroke comes a painful journey of recovery and rehabilitation.This process will involve making changes in physical, social and emotional aspects of the victim. It is normal for survivors to feel anxious, discouraged, depressed or even angry.

Enter Music.

Re-activates the Brain

Music, in general, extensively activates the human brain. For stroke survivors, this excitement causes increased blood flow to the brain, helping it recover by restoring blood vessels and synaptic connections damaged by the stroke. Experiencing music requires a large portion of the brain, scientists, therefore, believe that music is able to bypass the damaged area of the brain and form new neural pathways.

Improvement of Speech and Motor Functions

Perhaps the immediate evidence of a re-activated brain is the improvement of speech and motor functions.

A strange thing happened in Sweden in 1763. A young man with brain-damage was unable to speak but astounded townspeople when he was able to sing hymns in church. When music therapy is used,  it has been observed that the speech of some patients with expressive aphasia — the significantly decreased ability to use language, often because of a stroke — had noticeably improved, both in the clarity of words and also the increased ability to get the words out.

Music also goes a long way to help regain motor functions of stroke survivors. This is due to changes in the sensorimotor cortex. Musical activities require patients to coordinate their movement in terms of temporal and spatial organization, which stimulates greater change in the brain than rehabilitation alone.

Boosts Mood and Motivation

Uplifting music is a source of pleasure. When we focus on a favorite song, we combat de-motivating brain signals associated with fatigue and boredom. When you feel good and motivated, you are more inclined to continue rehabilitation.

A study done in 2008 in Finland found that if stroke patients listened to music for a couple of hours a day, their verbal memory and focused attention recovered better and they had a more positive mood than patients who did not listen to anything.

Music Relieves Stress

As said earlier, stroke survivors tend to be worried about a lot of things. They are thinking about work, their relationships and are anxious to get better sooner. This anxiety ultimately leads to stress. Music helps to reduce stress by increasing sense of enjoyment and relaxation.In addition, calming music has been found to steady emotions of stroke survivors.

Why the Ukulele?

So we see music, in general, is a great way to help stroke survivors rehabilitate. There are hundreds of instruments to choose from, so why is ukulele a special one for this particular job?

It is Easy to Learn

One of the biggest sell points of the ukulele is that it is easy to learn. It is completely unintimidating. Anyone, old or young, can take it up and before long is able to play some tunes with it. It is important that in the rehabilitation phase, you don’t take up activities that will frustrate you more. Having an instrument that you can quickly learn and master in your music therapy is important. The ukulele, while being a serious musical instrument is extremely easy for beginners to learn. This makes it the perfect instrument for stroke survivors to try out.

It is portable

The ukulele is a relatively small instrument. Furthermore, it is light and can be carried around easily. Stroke survivors will be comfortable lifting it and walking about with it. This provides adequate motor functions stimulation without being too much of an exertion. They can also carry it to places where other instruments like the piano would present a challenge.

It Sounds Majestic

Those four strings of this little instrument produce a gentle, calming and majestic sound that cannot be matched. This helps to relax and calm the nerves.

How to Start

21 Songs in 6 DaysSo how exactly do you kick-off a stroke recovery program through the ukulele? Start out slow, and don’t be too hard to yourself if you can’t play something on your first try. Our book, 21 Songs in 6 Days, offers a beginner-friendly introduction to playing the ukulele. It starts with one chord songs and the simplest possible strumming patterns. New chords are introduced one at a time to make learning very gradual and easy.

Consequently, 21 Songs in 6 Days can be a comfortable guide in the rehabilitation process. Jenny even has colleagues who have had tremendous success teaching developmentally disabled students using the 21 Songs pedagogy.

Conclusion

Recovering from a stroke is a painful and tasking experience. It requires physical, mental and emotional exertions on the victims part in order to be successful. Any assistance towards this goal is invaluable. Music, as we have seen, is a perfect help for stroke survivors’ rehabilitation. The ukulele, in particular, is an ideal instrument to help with stroke recovery. 

If you are recovering from a stroke or know someone who is, encourage them to take up playing the ukulele and singing along as they play.

Happy Strumming!

The Story of the Ukulele: Ukulele History in a Nutshell

The Story of the Ukulele: Ukulele History in a Nutshell

The ukulele is fast becoming a mainstream instrument. It’s not quite up to the status of the piano or the guitar, but it’s getting there.  Things have not always been as optimistic for this diminutive instrument. So how did we get here? We take you on a brief trip through ukulele history. 

In the Beginning

The Story of the Ukulele-Arrival at HawaiiThe uke has been with us for more than 127 years. Its origin traces back to as early as 1889 when it made its entry in Hawaii. It is a Hawaiian adaptation of the Portuguese braguinha (sometimes called the machete). The machete is a small guitar-like instrument introduced in Honolulu, Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. These immigrants had come to work in the sugarcane fields.

One of the immigrants named Joao Fernandez was so happy to have finally reached Honolulu after a 4-month journey that he jumped out of the boat and started to strum and sing with his braguinha. The crowd of witnessing Hawaiians was so impressed by his finger boarding technique that they baptized the instrument ‘ukulele’ which translates to ‘jumping flea’.

Fernandez became somewhat of a local sensation after this dramatic beginning. He spent a great deal of his time in Hawaii playing and giving lessons on the ukulele. The Hawaiians so fell in love with the instrument that even the local monarch Kalakaua learned how to play the ukulele.  Later, in fact, Kalakaua designed his own ukulele. By the close of the 19th century, almost all music lovers in Hawaii knew how to play the ukulele.

The Rise to Stardom

By the start of the 20th century, the ukulele had become a fully established instrument in Hawaii. It was, however, still relatively unknown in the US mainland. In 1915, the ukulele’s big break finally came. The Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco lured over 17 million to the Hawaiian Pavilion with hula dance and song. Featured performers included George E. K. Awai and his Royal Hawaiian Quartet along with ukulele maker and player Jonah Kumalae. America’s mainland began buzzing with enthusiasm for this instrument.

It was not long before the uke became an icon of the Jazz Age. In the 1920’s it was especially popular with amateur players because it was fairly easy to learn, highly portable and inexpensive. Sheet music publishers added ukulele chord tablature into sheet music for popular songs. To take advantage of demand a number of mainland-based stringed-instrument manufacturers including Regal, Harmony, and especially Martin began producing ukuleles. Department stores across the country offered ukuleles for only a few dollars and sometimes even for free with the purchase of lessons.

The Great Depression was another factor that helped promote the ukulele in the 1930s. As prices of mainstream instruments such as pianos and accordions soared through the roof, the ukulele offered a cheap musical alternative.

Post World War II

The ukulele’s popularity continued to increase in the post World War II era all the way through the 1960’s.

Plastic ukuleles as cheap as $6 filled the American market. Plastics manufacturer Mario Maccaferri turned out about 9 million inexpensive ukuleles. Popular jazz songs also featured the ukulele.

The television was the main media for the spread of ukulele. Arthur Godfrey cultivated much of the instrument’s fame through his show which offered viewers ukulele lessons right in their living rooms! In addition, popular movie stars such as Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe also played and popularized the ukulele.

The Ukulele Dark Ages

Things were going well for the ukulele well into the middle of the 20th century. The story of the ukulele, however, developed an unpleasant plot twist. The ukulele’s popularity begun to drastically decline at the beginning of the 70s. Well, what happened? The guitar.

The general public started to perceive the uke as more of a toy for kids than a serious musical instrument. Due to its small size, it did not match the loud and more complex sound of the guitar. This was the main factor that condemned the ukulele to two decades of irrelevance.

Sales of ukuleles began to drop as ukulele players moved to the more advanced instrument, the guitar. The ukulele had acted sort of a “gateway instrument”. Many people were now confident that having been able to play the ukulele, they were ready for a more challenging instrument.

The Comeback

The ukulele made a comeback in the 90s-Yeah! At the beginning of the decade, new manufacturers started to produce the instrument and a new generation of musicians took it up.

Perhaps the most important was Jim Beloff. Jim set out to promote the instrument and made several books full of popular songs for people to practice. Folks loved that they could play their favorite songs through the lessons taught in the book. Jim’s books would lay down the foundation for greater ukulele popularity.

Another important artist in the 90’s was Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. His beautiful ukulele rendition of the classic Somewhere Over the Rainbow mashed with What a Wonderful World was featured in several films, television shows, and commercials.

The Beatles (particularly George and Paul) were also pretty decent uke players. The three surviving Beatles (Ringo, George, and Paul) got together in 1994 to remember the old times and play a little. George and Paul strum away their ukuleles to a handful of tunes. This excursion was featured as part of a TV miniseries on the Beatles. Paul McCartney also strummed a ukulele on his 2002 tour as a tribute to fellow Beatle George Harrison, a serious ukulele player and a devotee of the British music hall ukulele tradition.

Popular music artists made a real contribution towards the rebirth of the uke in the 90’s. They were however limited in the number of people they could reach because folks had to buy books or wait for a particular time to watch a lesson on television.

YouTube

What really sealed the deal for ukulele popularity was the fast growth of the Internet, in particular, the invention of YouTube. In the early stages of YouTube’s launch, one of the first videos to go viral was Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele rendition of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on YouTube. The video quickly went viral, and as of August 2017, had received over 15 million views.

Shortly after this, many people started to take videos of themselves playing popular songs on the ukulele. All one needs to access the videos is an internet connection since they are absolutely free. This provided a perfect platform for the integration of the ukulele into mainstream culture.

Numerous tutorials on playing the ukulele started to become available through YouTube. People who could not afford to buy books to teach themselves how to play could now access free tutorials.  Ukulele enthusiasts were able to learn more easily and conveniently than from printed books. They could easily improve their playing because video lessons showed left-hand chord shapes and right-hand strumming and plucking patterns.

Speaking of tutorials on Youtube, please click on the link below to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. You’ll find plenty of tutorials on popular songs and tips to improve your ukulele skills.

Pop Culture

Fast forward to today! The ukulele has taken its rightful place as one of the best-loved instruments. While remaining a serious instrument still being explored by professional musicians, it also plays the role of every man’s instrument.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain has never been more famous although the group was actually formed in 1985.  Many popular entertainers and celebrities play the ukulele including Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Gosling, Bruno Mars, Cyndi Lauper, Taylor Swift and even Warren Buffet (yes, him too!).

The ukulele is frequently featured in movies and television.For example,  Orange is the New Black Season 5 episode 7 features the inmates creating a coffee bar with a talent show. One of the neo-Nazis sings ‘Time of Your Life’ while playing the ukulele.In Boston Legal Season 3 episode 8, a kidnapper ties Candice Bergen to a chair in a basement as he plays his uke as if this was just a sleepover! In Get Out, one of the bad guys is shown playing the ukulele on the front porch (kind of before we know he’s a bad guy). Blue Valentine features Ryan Gosling playing the ukulele as Michelle Williams dances. Joaquin Phoenix also strums away at the uke in the movie Her. In 50 First Dates, Adma Sandler sings to Drew Barrymore while playing the ukulele. They are in a boat in Hawaii! The list goes on and on.

Now and Beyond

The story of the ukulele is still being written. YouTube remains the most powerful platform for the spread of ukulele popularity. You can find a ukulele tutorial on almost any popular song there. As an example, take a look at this tutorial Jenny made of popular 4 chord songs.

Any new popular song released will almost always have a ukulele cover up on Youtube in a matter of days. You can also find the tablature of just about any song free on the internet. Learning ukulele has never been easier.

This tiny instrument has very bright prospects.  It’s hard to imagine its popularity ever diminishing again. With its cheap price, readily available ukulele tutorials, and its adoption and promotion by prominent folks from all kinds of industries and genres, the ukulele community will continue to grow and we are glad you are a part of it.

Happy Strumming!

Ukulele Capos

Ukulele Capos

What is a capo?

ukulele caposIt’s a rubber-covered bar that clamps to your ukulele’s neck and holds down the strings. The capo shortens the strings’ playable length which means their pitches sound higher. Ukulele capos are especially suited to be used with the ukulele.

Use a capo (short for capotasto, which means ‘head of the fretboard’) when you want an easy way to play a piece you already know in a different key. It’s much easier to clip a capo on the fretboard than it is to re-learn your song in a new key.

Different stringed instruments have different capos.

Why use a capo? 

Some people think using a capo is lazy. Others think it is cheating. These folks would advise you to invest the time to learn your song in the new key. While this view makes sense, don’t throw away your capo yet!Let’s say your favorite singer asks you to play with her in a different key at the very last minute….say just before you are about to go out on stage in front of hundreds of people. At that moment you will be very grateful to your trusty capo.

For beginners, using the capo now and then to transpose is fine. But as you improve, learn to play in different keys without using the capo.  Learning to transpose a song will develop your musical ear, understanding and chops!

Barre chords and capos

Using a finger to stop all four of the ukulele’s strings is called a barre chord.  Using your first finger as a barre across the strings has the same effect on string’s pitches as using a capo.

ukulele capos

Barre chords are easier to learn on ukulele than they are on guitar because the ukulele’s neck is smaller than the guitar’s. But simply clamping a capo across the strings is even easier than teaching your finger to stop all four strings.

Using a capo can also help when you are playing a song that is in a ukulele unfriendly key. James Hill uses a capo when he accompanies Anne Janelle on the song “A Good Lover”. That’s because the song is in A Major which is a comfortable key for the cello, but an uncomfortable key for the ukulele.

How to Use a Ukulele Capo

First, the music alphabet

Using the capo is as simple as learning the music alphabet. The notes in the music alphabet go in this order.

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A#….

Each letter in the music alphabet is a half step or semitone from the one before or after.  Each ukulele fret is also a half step or semitone. Notice that there are no notes between B and C or between E and F.  Sad but true.

One other thing to know about the music alphabet is that on the ukulele, any sharp could also be spelled as a flat of the next music letter. So,

A# = Bb

C# = Db

D# = Eb

F# = Gb

G# = Ab

Next, figure out where to put the capo

Standard ukulele tuning is called ‘C tuning’. Clamp the capo on the fret that matches the tuning (or key signature) you would like to play in. Then just play the chords or pitches from the key you know.

Below is a simple illustration of the tone (whole step) and semitone (half step) pattern in the key of C major in case anyone is wondering what is going on.

ukulele capos- major scale

ukulele caposPlacing the capo on the first fret of the ukulele moves all the strings a half step (semitone) higher. If the capo is placed on the second fret, the strings move a whole step (tone) higher. And when you place the capo on the third fret, the strings move one and a half steps (tones) higher and so on.

Blow by blow

Here’s a blow by blow:

1st fret – changes your uke to C# tuning. C becomes C#, D becomes D#, E becomes F etc.

2nd fret – changes your uke to D tuning. C becomes D, D becomes E, E becomes F# etc.

3rd fret – changes your uke to Eb or D# tuning. C becomes Eb , D becomes F, E becomes G etc.

4th fret – changes your uke to E tuning. C becomes E, D becomes F#, E becomes G# etc.

5th fret – changes your uke to F tuning. C becomes F, D becomes G, E becomes A etc.

The ukulele is a small instrument so going higher than the 5th fret is not advisable.

Let’s say someone is singing a song in E and you need to accompany them on the ukulele but you know the song in C. Simple, just put the capo on the 4th fret and strum away, the same way you would if you were playing it open.

How do you know what key your song is in?  Usually the first and last chords of a song will be the same as the key the song is in.  Not always, but usually.  When in doubt, experiment!

Other ways to use a capo

ukulele caposConvert guitar chords to ukulele chords

Another great use of the capo is to convert guitar chords to ukulele chords. You can do this by putting a capo on the fifth fret of the guitar. Now you can play your friend’s guitar using ukulele chords you know. Simply strum or pick the first four strings, which will be tuned to the same intervals as the ukulele. You can read more about this here.

Convert bari uke to standard tuning

A ukulele capo can also be used to convert a baritone ukulele to the standard ukulele tuning used for soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles.

Simply place the capo on the 5th fret of your bari ukulele to get the strings to match the tuning of a soprano ukulele.  Since there is a lot more music available for standard (soprano) tuned ukuleles this is a useful trick.

Here is a video of Jenny explaining how to do this.

Play along with a favorite recording

Finally you can use your capo is to help you play along with a favorite recording.

Let’s say the song is being played in E flat major but you only know the song in C.  Put your capo on the third fret and now you can play along without having to play a B flat chord!

(Buy 21 More Songs in 6 Days: Learn Intermediate Ukulele the Easy Way  to find out why songs in E flat have lots of B flat chords in them….) Unfortunately, it may take some trial and error to figure out what key the artist is using on the recording.

Final Thoughts

A ukulele capo is a very handy tool, especially for newbies. It can come to the rescue when you need to change the key of a piece and don’t have time to learn the song in a new key. And using a capo can help you to understand the relationship between chords and keys.

As you advance you may not need to use a capo as often to play in more difficult keys.  Try to learn as many chords as possible, so you can play in lots of different keys.  You’ll be a better ukulele player as a result.

Happy Strumming.

Why Everyone Loves the Ukulele

Why Everyone Loves the Ukulele

why everyone loves the ukulele

It’s no surprise that the popularity of the ukulele is growing rapidly. It is now ‘cool’ to play the ukulele. But what’s interesting that the ukulele is that it is popular for all ages. Seems it’s never too early or too late to start playing the uke. These and many other reasons would explain why everyone loves the ukulele.

Children

Kids instantly fall in love with this tiny instrument. A seven-year-old child can easily hold a soprano ukulele without straining his or her hands. It is easy to carry anywhere.

The ukulele is also an ideal instrument for kids to start to develop their music skills and learn music theory. If you haven’t already, think about buying a ukulele for your child. Check out some recommended models in our store. You won’t regret it.

Teens

Teenagers are also embracing the ukulele. I think one main reason is that it makes them look ‘cool.’ Ukuleles come in some sleek designs that appeal to teens. And besides making them look good, the ukulele offers teens a quick way to learn a musical instrument.

Everything about learning the ukulele is easy – from tuning to playing. The ukulele’s friendly nature ensures that teens’ interest is maintained long enough for them to learn how to play it well. By then it is so fun they can’t get enough of it.  The ukulele, and music in general, helps develop teen minds. It’s a worthwhile change of pace from activities like television and video games.

Adults

Many of adults in my school are trying to learn along with the students. One of our teacher’s aides has helped students for many years with the recorder. However, she still can’t read music. Now she is learning ukulele along with the students, and she is doing quite well with it.

Our custodians like the ukuleles in the music room. After cleaning the school they come down to play them. Our third-grade teaching team posed as rock stars for a school picture. They are wearing sunglasses and playing the ukulele!

The  Elderly

The final group of the ukulele fan-base is the elderly. For many old age is about calm and serenity. It’s about taking life easy, and learning at a comfortable relaxed pace. The ukulele provides an excellent chance to learn a new musical instrument with very little effort.

The sweet, calming and beautiful music produced by those four strings have a very relaxing effect on the mind. You could even form a ukulele band to get together and play some familiar songs while discussing the good old days. Speaking of those good times, you can enjoy learning Take Me Home, Country Roads with Jenny’s video below.

Why not subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch more amazing ukulele videos?

Conclusion

The ukulele is a fantastic instrument for all ages. It is an easy to play, inexpensive, ‘take anywhere’ instrument. It offers an excellent way to have fun with family and friends. No matter how old you are, this is an instrument you will enjoy. No wonder everyone loves the ukulele.

Happy Strumming!