“Someone to Lava” (2nd song!)

I just started learning the song “Can’t Help Falling in Love” but I couldn’t resist trying this one as well. “Someone to Lava” by Misc Cartoons is one of the cutest songs I have ever heard. It’s about a lonely volcano who just needs someone to love/lava. Isn’t that adorable?! There is a beautiful animated short film that goes along with it that I highly suggest watching. Beware, you might cry. I definitely did.

The chords are simple which is great for me. It is still difficult for me to transition from chord to chord during songs. The strumming pattern is the “island strum”. Which I recently learned is the pattern down, down, up, up, down, up. I have included the link to the ukulele tab for the song at the bottom. Check it out!

Today, instead of explaining my learning process I thought I could show you. I made a short video of what I did today with my Uke. The link is below. I hope you enjoy!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/n2p5d9aw8x63kv2/Ukulele.mp4?dl=0 

 

 

Sources I used today 🙂

https://ukutabs.com/m/misc-cartoons/someone-to-lava/

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History of the Ukulele

Today I decided to do something a little different. Instead of learning about playing the ukulele I wanted to learn more about the history of the instrument. Maybe knowing the history will make me appreciate it more.

The word “Ukulele” is the Hawaiian name given to the machete, a small instrument made in the Madeira Islands of Portugal.

Image result for Madeira Islands of Portugal map

Portuguese immigrants brought the machete to Hawaii in the 1800’s. The creators of the ukulele are said to be Manuel Nunes, Augusto Dias and Jose do Espirito Santo who came to Hawaii in 1879.

Ukulele means “jumping flee” when translated to english. There are many stories of how the ukulele got its name. No one knows which one is true. One story is about an immigrant, Joao Fernandes, who arrived at the Honolulu port after traveling by boat for 4 months. The legend says Fernandes was so excited he immediately started playing his machete. The Hawaiians watching looked at his fingers moving all over the fret board and thought they looked like jumping fleas. I like this legend the best.

King David Kalakaua loved the ukulele. His love for the instrument was one of the reasons why it became so popular in Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2018-01-07 at 5.47.20 PM.png

While the Machete was introduced to many cultures along with the Portuguese settlers the Ukulele wasn’t introduced to Americans until the 1900’s. Americans became interested in the ukulele during the Panama Pacific International Exposition that took place in San Francisco in 1915. After the exposition Americans started buying and playing the ukulele. This caused manufacturers in NY to start creating the ukulele. The ukulele also became popular in Canada and Japan. In canada they even teach the instrument in their schools!

I hope you enjoyed learning some history. I sure did! It’s easy for me to understand why the ukulele became so popular in so many countries. Its an instrument that seems to invite you to play it. I hope to continue sharing my love for the ukulele.

Sources I used today 🙂

http://www.get-tuned.com/history-of-the-ukulele.php 

http://traveljunkiediary.com/madeira-island-portugal/

https://www.kzsc.org/blog/2015/11/16/the-merrie-monarch-david-kalakaua/

 

“Can’t Help Falling In Love” (1st song!)

“Like a river flows, surely to the sea

Darling, so it goes, some things are meant to be”

This is one of my favorite lines from the song “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Twenty One Pilots. I remember watching Tyler Joseph, the lead singer, perform this song on YouTube. I loved how much emotion was portrayed through the simple lyrics. The lines were short and sweet. However, I love anything Tyler Joseph sings. You can see why I picked this song. It also helps that the chords are super easy 🙂

The first step I took was to search the song on ukutabs.com. I was lucky and found it right away. The intro begins with the chords C, Em, Am, F, C, and G. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.07.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.07.42 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.07.47 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.07.52 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.07.58 PM.pngScreen Shot 2018-01-04 at 8.08.02 PM.png

These are the chords lined up with the lyrics thanks to uktabs.com.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 5.01.19 PM.png

I wasn’t sure of the strumming pattern so I watched Tyler Joseph play the song again. He seemed to be strumming down, down, up, down, up. I started playing the song using this pattern. However, I found it very difficult. Strumming with my index finger was still hard for me to do.

I decided to go back to strumming with my thumb. It was much easier! Once I was comfortable I incorporated the pattern and was very pleased. It was exciting to hear myself play an actual song. Finally, the random chords I had been playing earlier came together to make something beautiful. Keep in mind it sounded beautiful to me. I later filmed it and realized it sounded pretty bad. I wasn’t exactly strumming perfectly. I also realized how slow I was going and how many times I messed up. Nevertheless, I felt victorious. It was my first song and I would keep trying (well first introduction of a song).

I hope to improve strumming with my index finger. I have heard that is something that takes practice and I am willing to put in the time. If I feel adventurous I might even try singing the song!

Image result for twenty one pilots cant help falling in love gif

 

Sources I used today 🙂 

https://ukutabs.com/t/twenty-one-pilots/cant-help-falling-in-love/

www.tumblr.com/search/pilots%20love%20song%20gif

Chords

Time to play some chords! I have found that the most popular chords are usually the easiest to play. For example, the chords C, A, and Am.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.45.35 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.45.42 AM.pngScreen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.45.48 AM.png

(Each line represents a string. From left to right it is GCEA.)

Even the easy chords are still hard for me to play. I constantly have to remind myself to hold the ukulele properly and press down on the string in order to get the right sound. However, when I do hear the right sound I get so excited! Maybe a little to excited for playing a C chord.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/zjjr5ebkrqg4nqm/IMG_0003.mp4?dl=0

The chords that have been the hardest for me to play have been barre chords. Barre chords are when you cover two or more strings with your index finger. An example of a barre chord would be B minor.

Image result for b minor ukulele chord

From this diagram you can see that your first finger (your index finger) covers the whole second fret. While your third finger (your ring finger) covers only the fourth string fourth fret. The reason it is so hard for me to play barre chords is because of the pressure you need to put the on the strings. Your index finger needs to press down each string in order to get a clear sound. It is very hard for me to consistently get the sound I want. Thats all for now! I hope to improve playing chords as I practice. I’ll leave you with another GIF. Maybe this will become a tradition.

Related image

Sources I used today 🙂

http://musicalpros.com/best-chord-sites-ukulele/

http://ukulelego.com/articles/beating-barre-chords/

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm0zdivCvZM 

http://ukulelego.com/articles/beating-barre-chords/ 

http://www.thecipher.com/ukulele-string-numbers.html

 

SIDE NOTE: One thing that really confused me was the string order.

Continue reading “Chords”

Holding/Strumming the Ukulele

Now that my ukulele was in tune I wanted to play it! I was very excited and immediately started searching songs. I went on the website uktabs.com and was amazed by the options. There were so many fantastic songs! The song “Can’t Help Falling in love” by twenty-one pilots caught my attention. I started imagining myself walking down a quite road on a sunny day and hearing nothing but birds chirping and the hum of my ukulele. My dream shattered when I realized I had no idea how to hold or strum the ukulele! It was time to learn some more basic skills. The first thing I searched was how to hold a ukulele. I found an amazing video from the YouTube channel Bernadette Teaches Music. As I watched her video I tried to follow along. Each step was explained very clearly and I took away some key points.

Holding the ukulele

1) Rest the ukulele on your right forearm

2) Keep your wrist relaxed so its easy to strum.

3) Angel the ukulele at 10 O’clock. The neck shouldn’t be too high or too low.

4) Rest your left thumb in the center back of the fret board. This allows your hand to reach more.

5) Left thumb should be angled downwards. You shouldn’t be carrying the ukulele with your left hand.

After watching the video I felt a lot more comfortable with holding the ukulele. I understood the importance of holding it properly. The position in which you play can really impact the ease of playing and even how you sound.

My final goal of the day was to learn how to strum. Lucky for me I found another amazing source to help me with that. The video I found was from Cynthia Lin, a popular youtuber known for her ukulele tutorials. She explained that beginners usually start strumming with their thumb. However, she said you should move towards strumming with your index finger. This was consistent with the advice I received from liveukulele.com who said that strumming with your index finger gives you more options to experiment while playing with your thumb limits the sound. I decided to follow along with Cynthia Lin’s tutorial. Here are some key points I took away from her lesson.

Strumming the Ukulele

1) Start playing with your thumb to get comfortable with strumming.

2) Make sure to pluck each string down with your thumb with a lot of power. You need to be able to hear each string clearly.

3)While playing chords make sure to press down each string to get the best sound.

4)When you get comfortable playing with your thumb start playing with index finger.

5) Press thumb and index together. Stick out index finger a little farther than thumb.

5) Don’t be afraid to put pressure on the strings.

6) Make sure you have control while strumming.

7) Use the index finger for grip and thumb for power.

Finally I was done researching and I could practice the skills I learned. I was naive and thought holding the ukulele would be easy. As I stood up with the uke I found it slipping. I almost dropped my brand new instrument! Luckily I remebered Bernadette’s advice and held the uke with my forearm. After that It didn’t slip! WOOHOO! I moved on to strumming. I started off cocky thinking I could immediately strum with my index finger. I soon learned I could not and switched to my thumb. It was exciting to finally hear the calming sound of the strings and feel the vibrations on my stomach. After I got comfortable with that I tried my index finger again. It was scary, pressing down on the strings with so much force but like Cynthia Lin said you need to have a clear sound. I kept worrying that the strings would break! Playing with my index finger was definitely hard but the sound is just so much stronger. One of the most difficult things about strumming is making sure you don’t miss any strings. Each string needs to be heard but every time I seemed to miss one. I had to remind myself not to get frustrated. Practice makes perfect (I hope).

I will practice my strumming during the next couple days and hopefully improve. If you are someone who is also learning something new remember don’t give up! Today there were many times where Iwas ready to chuck my ukulele across the room. Just remeber to breath and have fun. With each failure you learn a little bit more and you are closer to your goal. Or at least thats what I keep hearing. We will see how this turns out for me. In conclusion, whatever you are doing don’t chuck it across the room.

Finally, I will leave you with this GIF.

Image result for ukulele cat meme

 

Sources I used today 🙂

https://ukutabs.com/t/twenty-one-pilots/cant-help-falling-in-love/ 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKZK8vjDx2Q

https://liveukulele.com/lessons/strums/

www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=JKtPE3HfL5c

Tuning

Today was the day I began teaching myself the ukulele. It was scarier than I thought. After unzipping my ukulele case and staring at it, for way too long, I felt myself becoming overwhelmed. Some of the questions that popped into my head were:

How do I play? What are the strings? How do I hold it? What are these weird knob things on the end? What if I break it?! WHAT AM I DOING!?

After I calmed down I decided to look on the internet for some guidance. I searched, “ukulele basics” and was immediately immersed in the wonderful world of the ukulele. The information that popped up was mostly about how to tune, basic chords, what the strings are called, how to strum, and how to hold the ukulele. This was valuable information I hadn’t even thought about. I decided it would be a good idea to tune my ukulele first. I searched, “ukulele tuner” on the app store and downloaded Tunefor Ukulele tuner.

Screen Shot 2017-12-26 at 9.02.41 AM.png

This might not be the best app out there. However, I thought the logo was adorable and couldn’t resist.  Through the app I learned that the four strings of the ukulele are GCEA. I also figured out which tuner matched which string. I started the G string. I did this by playing the G string and slowly turning the G tuner. Eventually, the app showed me that the G string was green symbolizing that it was in tune. I was relieved that the app worked and that I didn’t have to tune it by ear. That might have been the end of my ukulele journey. After successfully tuning the G string I tuned the remaining three.

(This is what my tuned ukulele sounds like)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fphxsndgtgi8uru/IMG_0001.mp4?dl=0

I have a long way to go but this was the first step. Next, I hope to learn some chords and maybe even how to strum! Thanks so much for following me on this journey. I am so excited to learn more!

Sources I used today

 http://www.get-tuned.com/parts-of-the-ukulele.php (This is a diagram that shows the parts of the ukulele and their names. This helped me a lot.)

https://appadvice.com/app/tunefor-ukulele-tuner-free-best-ukulele-tuner/1153333408