Learning The Ukulele - A Stepping Stone to Reading MusicJuly 24th, 2019 by Cassidy Welling
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, British primary schools focused music teaching on singing, percussion and the one instrument that parents dreaded hearing - the descant recorder. They were cheap to buy and practically indestructible. Although the sound of London's Burning being played on a recorder was an acquired taste, the instrument helped with one thing - it could be used to teach children to read music. THE UKULELE GOES ONE STEP FURTHER than this - not only can it be played as a melodic instrument, but you can play chords too and even singalong. It's a very versatile instrument and easy to learn no matter what age you are.
The basic patterns of music
Learning the basic patterns of music is SIMILAR TO LEARNING A FORM OF MATHS. The notes on the score are laid out in a logical pattern, each note having a specific place that it sits on the group of five lines, known as the stave. The low notes are at the bottom of the stave, and the higher ones at the top. The notes are placed alternately, one on a line, and one on a space. On the ukulele pushing down a string against each fret will play a different note, the sound becoming higher, the further up the finger board you go. The pattern is logical, allowing you to easily work out what the notes are. This is a concept that even very young children can understand.
Playing chords from tablature
Tablature on the ukulele is easier than the guitar, because there are only four strings. The small square represents the strings of your instrument, played in a right-handed way, i.e. you strum with your right hand and hold the strings down with your left. LEARNING TO READ BASIC TABLATURE will allow you to play songs purely with chords. The basic ones of C, G, F and D major along with A and E minor will allow you to play a wide variety of rock and pop music. Consider the fact that a number of HITS FROM BILLIE EILISH AND KATY PERRY only have 2 chords in them. Good, catchy songwriting doesn't have to be complex. Fortunately it also makes it accessible for everyone to play.
Expanding your musical knowledge
The humble ukulele is an ideal instrument to start your musical journey. When you learn to read music and understand the patterns, you can transfer this knowledge directly to any instrument, from the saxophone to the violoncello. The patterns never change - it is always one note on a line, one on a space. There is also a natural progression from the ukulele to the guitar. The principles of reading tablature are just the same, there are just more strings. You can also play your ukulele with others. This year you might be having ago at some of the play along videos on YouTube and next year you might want to join the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain!
The ukulele is a great, first instrument to learn, no matter what age you are. They are inexpensive to buy and from here you can enjoy making some beautiful music.