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Ukulele Exercises for Dummies


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Table of Contents

Introduction 1 About This Book 1 Conventions Used in This Book 2 What You're Not to Read 2 Foolish Assumptions 3 How This Book Is Organised 3 Part I: Getting Started with Ukulele Exercises 3 Part II: Becoming a Better Strummer 3 Part III: Becoming a Better Fingerpicker 4 Part IV: Mastering the Ukulele Fretboard 4 Part V: The Part of Tens 4 Accessing the Audio Tracks 4 Icons Used in This Book 5 Where to Go from Here 5 Part I: Getting Started with Ukulele Exercises 7 Chapter 1: Preparing to Practise 9 Equipping Yourself with the Right Practice Tools 9 Tuning up with a chromatic tuner 9 Keeping time with a metronome 10 Tracking your progress with a practice journal 10 Reviewing Ukulele Notation 11 Deciphering tablature 11 Understanding chord diagrams 12 Comprehending neck diagrams 13 Reading rhythm charts 13 Chapter 2: Warming Up for Practice 15 Limbering Up Your Body to Play Ukulele 15 Loosening up with stretches 15 Relaxing with breathing exercises 16 Strengthening your hands with exercises 16 Brushing Up on Perfect Playing Posture 17 Looking at Some Warm-Up Exercises on the Ukulele 17 Practising single-note exercises 17 Practising chord exercises 19 Part II: Becoming a Better Strummer 23 Chapter 3: Foundations For Strumming 25 Working Out Your Strumming Technique 25 Choosing the right strumming technique 26 Strumming with your index finger 26 Strumming with your thumb 27 Strumming with four fingers 27 Getting Acquainted With the Golden Rules of Strumming 28 Rule #1: Strumming is consistent 28 Rule #2: Strumming is relaxed 29 Rule #3: Strumming is intentional 30 Finding the Right Strumming Pattern for Any Song 30 Building a strumming repertoire 30 Listening to the song 31 Counting the song 31 Starting with down strums 31 Knowing when to change chords 32 Singing and Strumming at the Same Time 32 Playing the song through without singing 32 Humming first, singing later 32 Simplifying isn't a bad thing 32 Chapter 4: Building a Repertoire of Strumming Patterns 33 Discovering How to Use These Exercises to Become a Better Strummer 33 Mastering the Universal Strumming Pattern 34 Counting along with down strums 34 Keeping the beat with up strums 35 Combining down and up strums 35 Application song: 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' 36 Tackling Common Time Strumming Patterns 37 Developing eighth note strums 37 Building a multi-purpose strumming pattern 38 Practising chord changes on different beats 39 Application song: 'Jingle Bells' 40 Making Common Time Strumming Patterns More Interesting 41 Accenting the beat 42 Using syncopation in three different ways 43 Rearranging up strums to create different feels 45 Application song: 'I've Been Working On the Railroad' 47 Waltzing Along With 3/4 Time Signature Strumming Patterns 48 Practising versatile 3/4 strumming patterns 48 Application song: 'Oh My Darling, Clementine' 49 Getting More Advanced With 6/8 Time Signature Strumming Patterns 50 Developing delightful 6/8 strumming patterns 51 Application song: 'O Holy Night' 52 Chapter 5: Taking Strumming Patterns to a Higher Level 55 Getting Groovy With Shuffle Rhythms 55 Finding the pocket with shuffle rhythm exercises 56 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' 57 Strumming Faster Without Getting Sloppier 58 Working on relaxing strumming movements 58 Minimizing wasted strumming motion 59 Drawing up a plan to improve strumming speed 59 'Hello! Ma Baby' 60 Showing Off Subdivided Strumming Patterns 61 Souping up your strumming with sixteenth notes 62 Trying out triplet strums 63 Putting the pedal down with speed rhythm exercises 64 Making Your Strumming Dynamic 66 Playing loudly and softly 66 Varying rhythmic complexity 67 'Oh! Susanna' 67 Recognising Offbeat Chord Changes 68 Switching to chords on offbeats 69 Variation on the 12 bar blues 69 Switching Chords Without Interrupting Your Strumming 70 Setting up a chord change 70 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' 71 Chapter 6: Refining Advanced Strumming Techniques 73 Playing Percussively With Two Muting Techniques 73 Developing your 'chnking' technique 74 Figuring out fret hand muting 75 ' Michael, Row the Boat Ashore' 77 Perfecting Alternative Strumming Techniques 77 Taking on the touch strum 77 'Billy Boy' 79 Improving the thumb 'n strum 80 Application song: 'Rock a Bye Baby' 82 Wrapping Your Mind Around Rolling Finger Strums 83 Four finger roll 84 Five finger roll 84 Eight Finger Roll 84 Ten Finger Roll 85 Practising finger roll strumming pattern exercises 85 Application song: 'Sweet Lei Lehua' 86 Part III: Becoming a Better Fingerpicker 89 Chapter 7: Examining Fingerpicking Technique 91 Practising Two Different Fingerpicking Techniques 91 Polishing the four-finger technique 92 Perfecting the alternating thumb technique 93 Looking at the Golden Rules of Fingerpicking 94 Rule #1: Stay loose 94 Rule #2: Slow and steady wins the race 95 Rule #3: Repeat, repeat, repeat 95 Chapter 8: Developing Rhythmic Fingerpicking Patterns 97 Practising the Four-Finger Picking Technique 97 'Inside-out' pattern 98 'Outside-in' pattern 99 Simultaneous pinched patterns 101 Patterns in varied rhythms 104 'The Water Is Wide' 107 Practising the Alternating Picking Technique 109 'Inside-out' pattern 109 'Outside-in' pattern 110 Simultaneous pinched patterns 110 Patterns in varied rhythms 112 Application song: 'I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger' 114 Chapter 9: Improving Your Solo Fingerpicking Skills 117 Tackling Solo Fingerstyle Pieces 117 Learning two pieces of music 118 Playing Carcassi's 'Andantino' 119 Strengthening Your Fingerpicking with Arpeggio Exercises 120 Trying your hand at 'p i m' arpeggios 121 Playing Tarrega's 'Etude in E minor' 125 Working through more advanced arpeggios 127 Playing Aguado's '25 Pieces Pour Guitare, no 17' 130 Developing Lightning-Fast Tremolo Technique 132 Tackling three-finger tremolo 132 Playing 'Etude in C major' 133 Figuring out four-finger tremolo 133 Chapter 10: Taking a Deeper Look at Single-Note Fingerpicking Techniques 135 Speeding up Single-Note Passages 135 Practising four alternation techniques 136 Applying alternation techniques to pieces of music 137 Articulating Single-Note Passages 140 Hammer-on exercises 141 Pull-off exercises 142 Slide exercises 143 Bend exercises 144 Strumming and Fingerpicking for Melody 145 Playing 'Silent Night' 146 Playing 'Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)' 147 Part IV: Mastering the Ukulele Fretboard 151 Chapter 11: Learning the Fretboard with Major Scales 153 Taking a Quick Look at the Chromatic Scale 154 Building a Major Scale 155 Learning the major scale interval pattern 155 Creating a major scale in any key 156 Practising Major Scale Patterns in Three Different Keys 158 Learning natural notes with C major 158 Seeing how sharps work with G major 161 Figuring out flats with F major 164 Getting Your Fingers Moving with Major Scale Sequences 167 Faking Fretboard Knowledge 170 Recognising fretboard landmarks 170 Locating the same note on different strings 171 Finding octave notes 172 Using Major Scales to Play Actual Songs 173 Playing 'Angels We Have Heard On High' 173 Playing 'When the Saints Go Marching In' 174 Chapter 12: Taking On Three Minor Scales 177 Building a Natural Minor Scale 177 Discovering the natural minor scale interval pattern 178 Relating natural minor to major 179 Playing the Natural Minor scale 180 Homing In On Harmonic Minor 184 Mixing It Up With Melodic Minor 187 Practising Five Different Minor Scale Sequences 190 Playing Songs Using All Three Minor Scales 193 Playing 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' 193 Playing 'Coventry Carol' 194 Playing 'Greensleeves' 195 Chapter 13: Commanding the Fretboard with Chords 197 Building Major and Minor Triads 197 Constructing major triads 198 Putting together minor triads 199 Practising Triads Up and Down the Fretboard 200 Major triad exercises 201 Minor triad exercises 202 Combined triad exercises 203 Taking Triads and Playing Actual Songs 204 Playing 'Red River Valley' 205 Playing 'Joy to the World' 206 Turning Triads Into Moveable Chord Positions 207 Making moveable major chords 207 Assembling moveable minor chords 208 Practising moveable chord progressions 208 Getting Jazzy with Moveable Seventh Chords 209 Figuring out dominant seventh chords 209 Mastering major seventh chords 210 Tackling minor seventh chords 211 Practising jazz chord progressions 211 Chapter 14: Using Scales to Solo and Improvise 213 Rocking Out with Pentatonic Scales 213 Learning the minor pentatonic scale 213 Constructing the major pentatonic scale 214 Practising pentatonic scale licks and exercises 215 Playing a rock solo 217 Expressing Soul with the Blues Scale 218 Building the blues scale 218 Practising blues scale licks and exercises 219 Playing a blues solo 221 Sounding Jazzy with the Bebop Scale 221 Discovering the dominant bebop scale 222 Mastering the major bebop scale 223 Practising bebop scale licks and exercises 224 Playing a jazz solo 226 Part V: The Part of Tens 229 Chapter 15: Ten Ways to Improve Your Practice Times 231 Setting a Location 231 Scheduling a Time 231 Creating Time Limits 232 Keeping a Practice Journal 232 Trying Out Different Musical Styles 232 Practising with Other People 232 Writing a Song 233 Working on Active Listening 233 Leaving Your Ukulele Out On a Stand 233 Taking a Break 234 Chapter 16: Ten Tips for Every Performing Ukulele Player 235 Becoming a Better Performer 235 Getting Involved in the Local Music Scene 236 Finding a Place to Perform 236 Building a Set List of Songs 236 Preparing to Play Before an Audience 237 Handling Nerves Right Before the Show 237 Mastering the Art of Focus 238 Remembering to Breathe 238 Engaging With Your Audience 238 Being Confident in Yourself 239

About the Author

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter and the founder of, one of the most popular ukulele sites in the world, where he provides audio, video, and written instructional material (along with personalised feedback) to freshly minted ukulele fans everywhere. Alistair Wood is the man (the myth and the legend) behind and the author of Ukulele For Dummies.

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