Turkey in the Straw Beginner Ukulele Tutorial

by | Nov 19, 2018 | Video lessons | 2 comments

This week, let’s learn a fun, old bluegrass number with this Turkey in the Straw beginner ukulele tutorial. Turkey in the Straw is an easy ukulele song that’s great for Thanksgiving. Also, it has an upbeat tune that’s perfect for square and line dancing during gatherings. If you’re looking for a religious thanksgiving song, check out our ukulele tutorial for the Prayer of Thanksgiving (We Gather Together)


For this song, you’ll only need three easy chords: G, D7 and C. First of all, you can strum and sing along the lyrics. In addition, you can fingerpick the chord melody. In the video, Jenny fingerpicks the melody using a standard ukulele and a ukulele bass. Finally, Jenny also plays part of the song using a fiddle as Turkey in the Straw is a fun old bluegrass number that’s usually played on the fiddle.

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Turkey in the Straw is a very old American folk song that’s been primarily played as a dance tune. Musicians often performed the song in a medley with other fiddle tunes for square dances and the like. The origins of the song date back to the early 19th century. As with very old songs, there’s some uncertainty to the composers of the song. But historians believe Turkey in the Straw is based from a British tune called The Rose Tree. The Rose Tree was also a dance tune. And many other songs have been based on it such as My Grandmother Lived on Yonder Little Green.


Many other songs in that era including Zip Coon, The Jolly Old Miller, Natchez Under the Hill and Sugar in the Gourd used the tune for Turkey in the Straw. It’s possible that when the melody came to America, several performers have developed their own variations and gave them their own titles. Of course, many modern variations of the song have also cropped up with their own changes in the lyrics.

Although some historians considered racist undertones on the early versions of the song, they also noted that the melody was actually used in many other variations that do not relate to racism. Indeed, the melody has been known mostly as a fiddle tune, a dance music and a nonsense song.

In conclusion, we hope we brought you a fun Thanksgiving ukulele song to play along during this festive holiday.

Turkey in the Straw is one of the songs in our book, 21 Easy Ukulele Folk Songs!

Do you want to sound convincing on folk songs? You know basic chords and strumming patterns. And you’re interested in folk music. You’d like to take it to the next level.

Get your copy now!


  1. ava

    My Dad used to sing this little ditty. He met my mom at a “Folk Game” what some call a square dance, sponsored by Cumberland College in KY. Nice touch that fiddle (with split screen)! Just wonderful fun & nostalgia

    • Rebecca Bogart

      Hi Ava,

      Glad you like the split screen video! Our dad used to always sing “The Rose of Tralee” another oldie but goodie. Thanks for leaving a comment.


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