Have I mentioned how much I love Hawaii?...Yes, it seems I have. Well, as far as lovely places go, I'd put it at the top of the list. And there's nothing that conjures up the laid-back luau vibe of Hawaii quite like the strums of a ukulele. Marisa and I share a desire to master the adorable instrument...a hobby that's been met by less-than-enthusiastic responses from our loved ones. That's me, below left, with my vacation souvenir. The man in the ukulele shop in Hanalei Bay, Kauai showed me three chords, which when played in succession sounded to me like the song "Sweat (alalalalalong)," by Inner Circle...not exactly a classic...but I must've played it 700 times in a row as we bounced around in our rental Jeep that week. My very patient husband never complained. But when we returned home, it wasn't long before I was banned from ukulele playing by all the friends we shared a beach house with that summer. And below right, you can see the response by Marisa's adorable nephew when she played him the ukulele during a Skype call recently...
I think it goes without saying that we could both afford to fine tune our skills and broaden our set lists. So here's this week's project - 6 basic ukulele chords to get us all strumming in time for some summer BBQs. I like to think of myself like this hula girl, but evidently ukuleles aren't just for the beach - check out this Ukulele Orchestra!
Think of chord tabs like a map - they're telling you where on the uke to put your fingers while you strum. To get your bearings: the wide band at the top of each grid represents the end of the neck where the tuning nobs are; Left is the top string, right is the bottom. Put a finger on each string and fret where there's a dot, and strum away. Different combinations of these 6 chords can get you through a ton of songs. The chord progression of D, C, and G alone is all you need to play many popular songs, including, just to name a few: "Knocking on Heaven's Door," by Bob Dylan; "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynard Skynard; "You Can't Always Get What You Want," by the Rolling Stones; "Ring of Fire," by Johnny Cash; "Sweet Child O Mine," by Guns N Roses; "Leaving on a Jet Plane," by John Denver; and folk classics like "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "This Land is Your Land," and "Amazing Grace." Phew - that should get us all through quite a few bonfires. And just might impress Marisa's nephew.
Below is a song I've been singing a lot in the last year, since my daughter Vivi was born. It uses three of the basic chords from above. Finally a new set of songs I can move onto! Hope it inspires you to pick up a uke of your own.