Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ukulele Week #4: The C chord

We've learned

  • how to carry the ukulele, 
  • how to hold it over our hearts, 
  • how to strum it with our thumb. 


What about that left hand on the fretboard?

That's the hand with that inspired the ukulele's Hawaiian name: Uku — lele. Uku means "flea" and lele means "dancing" so ukulele means "dancing flea" which is what the fingers on the fretboard looked like the Hawiian who gave this wonderful instrument its name.

To start with in kindergarten, our fingers are not going to do much dancing, not even walking. Pretty much we're just going to plant one of the fingers of the left hand (the ring finger is best) on the first string. And not just anywhere on that first string. We're going to put it on the third fret. And keep it there.

Now, for some that's easier than others. Five year olds tend to move that finger up and down the fretboard with dissonant results. So put a little piece of masking tape where you want that finger to be pressed.

On the third fret. With that finger pressed down firmly enough, the ukulele will sing a nice C chord.

One chord is all we need attempt at first. It sounds good, like a drone, all the way through a song sung in the key of C.  Songs that can be sun in rounds, like "Row Your Boat" Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" and "Down by the Station" sound really good accompanied by just one chord. So that's where to start.

Oh, and find a chair. You can stand when playing ukulele, but sitting is better to begin with.

Here's Mollie showing good technique and playing a C chord with both hands working just the way we wish:

Tomorrow: playing together.

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