Writing More Readable Ukulele Tab: Evolution of Sakura Chord Melody

by | Oct 18, 2019 | Creativity with Ukulele, Ukulele Beginners, Ukulele Concerts | 3 comments

I really enjoy (and so do many of our fans) playing both the melody and the chords of a song on the ukulele AT THE SAME TIME. This process is called “chord melody.”

When you first start learning chord melody, it seems almost impossible. And, when you go looking for ukulele chord melody arrangements, many of them are difficult. As a ukulele teacher, I enjoy both playing and teaching chord melody arrangements that are accessible.

By accessible, I mean arrangements that use lots of open strings, stay fairly low on the fretboard, and don’t use many barre chords. I love creating such arrangements, because they sound so cool!

The challenge comes in notating the arrangements.

Recently I posted my arrangement of “Sakura” on FaceBook. One eagle-eyed reader pointed out:

“The tab doesn’t match the staff notation and doesn’t have the rhythm.”

I was thrilled to get a response from someone who could challenge me to create something even better. He and I went back and forth about the best way to write out my arrangement of “Sakura”. He went so far as to even create an arrangement with his own software that used the notes I had written, but made everything easier to read.

Let me show you this evolution.

Here’s my first version:

Jenny Peters during RAGBRAI 2019

As you can see, there is no rhythm indicated with the tab notation.

Here is Version 2, inspired by the person who commented on my Facebook post. By researching my music notation software, I was able to add rhythmic notation to the tab staff. The top staff of music remains as a sing-and-strum version of the song.

Version 3 has both musical staves with the same notes, but there are no more lyrics. It is an instrumental version only. The notes shown on the music staff are the same as the notes shown in the tab. 

Jenny Peters making music on RAGRBRAI 2019

Version 4 has the lyrics, but the top line is not a sing and strum line. The notes on the staff are the same as the notes in the tab. 

So, now my question for you is: which version do you like best, and why? I’d love it if you let me know in the comments below. 

We are always looking for ways to make our products better, to help you to have fun learning ukulele YOUR way.  The more we know about what you like the better!

Thanks so much!


  1. My comment is more of a question. I know you are going to have
    “What a Friend we have in Jesus” in you new book. I am curious
    on the strum pattern you will be using for this song.

    • what strum pattern are you using for What a friend we have in jesus?

    • Jenny Peters

      I am using down, down-up, down, down-up for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” It works well for this song and makes it feel really upbeat.


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