Just when it was getting fun…


Ukulele seems to be a bit of a repeat of piano (albeit a less fun . Right as I got to the last hour or two, it finally started getting more fun, and my ability seemed significantly higher than ever before. My ability to smoothly & quickly switch between chords is hugely improved over where I was when I began, and even where I was at my last post. Different rhythms, strumming patterns, and picking methods have allowed much more fun & interesting playing as well! All told, I’ve played for 20½ hours.

During the last six hours of playing, I went beyond just playing the seven pieces I had chosen to learn, and tried my hand at playing along with recordings of various songs. I’ve got the keys of C, G, and F covered fairly well, and can play the 4-chord pop song progression (I, V, vi, IV) in all three. I can play all of the songs I’d chosen, but memorization is weak at best, and none are performance-worthy.

To demonstrate my progress (to some degree), I recorded JJ Heller’s Boat Song:

Getting to the point where ukulele is kind of fun to play was excellent. But with that said, I’m ready to move on to a new month, and a new skill.

Can’t Help Falling In Love

Elvis with an ukulele

Despite your first thought, the title of this post is not describing my feelings toward the ukulele. Yes, it’s kind of fun, and it’s fairly easy to learn & play, but I don’t find it nearly as enjoyable as piano was. I rarely have an urge to play it, which has caused me to fall behind a little in my playing, with only ten hours of practice in so far. It’s definitely fun if I’m in the right mood though, and I have gotten one song fairly well memorized!

Here is my meager performance of the song with the same title as this blog post’s title:

I still have ten days left in the month, and ten hours left of practice. I’ll have to step up my game. Hopefully I’ll soon hit the point where everything becomes easier, more fluid, and more enjoyable, as happened with piano near the end of last month. To make my playing more interesting, I believe I’ll also have to add some variety—learning some picking methods, perhaps. Working on being able to do a traditional, brisk ukulele strumming rhythm would also be good for some of my songs.

Ukulele Time!

Martin Ukulele
In February I’m going to learn to play the ukulele. At the end of 2012 I purchased an antique Martin Ukulele made somewhere around 1930. It’s small, but it has great tone and volume. In the time since then I’ve dabbled a little bit, but nothing very substantial. I know many of the basic chords, but can’t switch between most of them very quickly or smoothly.

Target Performance Level:

This is a little harder to define that it was for piano by ear. Learning the “Four Chord Song”, like Josh Kaufman did, would be cool, but perhaps a bit of a low goal. Josh did his performance at the World Domination Summit after only ten hours of practice, and I’m going for 20-30 hours this month. So instead I think I’ll make it a goal to memorize (and perfect?) seven songs:

  • Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Judy Garland (rather obligatory, if I’m learning ukulele)
  • What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
  • La Vie En Rose (In French!) by Edith Piaf
  • Boat Song by JJ Heller
  • Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley
  • Moon River by Audrey Hepburn
  • If by Bread

This will give me about three hours per song. Which should be fine, since most are fairly simple, except for La Vie En Rose (not to mention that it’s in French. But the lyrics will be memorized outside of the 20 hours).

Skill Breakdown:

General ukulele has three main facets:

  1. Knowing the chords
  2. Switching chords smoothly
  3. Rhythm/strumming/picking

I have the first part down fairly well already,  but I will have to learn a few more chords for all of those songs, depending on what keys I play them in. The other two will come as I learn the songs.


UkuTabs.com has a ton of chord sheets from hundreds of different artists, and I’ve managed to find nearly half of what I need there. Google will help with the rest.

My favorite source for learning chords is Ukulele-Chords.com. They have every kind of chord imaginable, from an A to an G#7sus4. The best part is that they tell you where each finger should go, and even have multiple chord fingering structures!


I’m already three days into the month, with 2 hours and 25 minutes of practice down. It’s a much simpler skill than piano, but so far, it still looks like it’s going to be pretty fun.