Note: Today I introduce you to our guest Neil from Sublimelody who brings us a simple and clear visual guide to understanding the relationship between the notes of the music staff, ukulele fretboard and piano keys.
Is it easier for a ukulele player to learn piano notes or a pianist to learn ukulele notes?
And how are the notes of the ukulele fretboard related to the notes of the piano?
In this lesson, you discover:
The relationship between musical notes and the notes of the ukulele fretboard
The relationship between musical notes and the notes of the piano
The relationship between the notes of the ukulele fretboard and the notes of the piano
Let’s dive in.
1. Musical Notes and the Notes of the Ukulele Fretboard
The chart below shows you the connections between the musical notes and their corresponding strings and frets on a soprano ukulele.
We use the treble clef in ukulele sheet music known as the music staff. Each note on the music staff usually has two or more corresponding string/frets on the ukulele fretboard.
Let’s look at three examples of how to use the diagram above to identify a music note and its corresponding string/fret:
1. Where is this note (C4) on the fretboard?
According to the diagram above, there is only one position: the open 3rd string – the C-string.
2. Where is this note (G4) on the fretboard?
This time we can find the note G4 in three different places on the ukulele fretboard:
Open 4th string – the top g-string
3rd fret of the 2nd string
7th fret of the 3rd string
3. Where is this note (C5) on the fretboard?
Look at the diagram above and you’ll see there are four places on the ukulele fretboard!
3rd fret of the 1st string
8th fret of the 2nd string
12th fret of the 3rd string
5th fret of the 4th string
From a piano learner’s point of view, this may seem complex because to play C5 alone we have four positions to choose from.
It may be helpful to think of each string as a mini keyboard. This means there four keyboards on the ukulele!
Now, let’s see how musical notes and piano keys are connected.
2. Musical Notes and the Notes of the Piano Keyboard
The diagram above shows you the musical notes on both the bass and treble clefs of the music staff as well as their corresponding keys on the piano keyboard.
You’re overwhelmed by so many notes, aren’t you?
Don’t worry, let’s take a closer look.
As opposed to the ukulele, each note on the sheet music has one corresponding key. If I want to play the C5 note, I just find the only one C5 key and press it.
From a ukulele player’s point of view, the piano keyboard is just like one string. Each key is similar to a ukulele fret.
However, this “string” is much longer and has a wider pitch range than a ukulele.
While I don’t encourage you to memorize all the notes and positions of the diagram above, you can see that with a little effort it would be possible for a ukulele player to learn piano notes.
If you want to learn more about how to read piano notes and keys, click here to visit the original guide with many illustrations and the interesting “metal flip strategy” to help learn how to read music.
Now, let’s move to the final section.
3. Connecting the Notes of the Ukulele Fretboard and Notes of the Piano Keyboard
Combining the two diagrams above we have the following chart:
I will leave this chart here alone for your exploration.
I’m sure that you now know how musical notes, ukulele frets, and piano keys are connected.
If you have any question about this guide, just leave me a comment below.
Note: Click any of the links above to skip to that section. For example, if you already know how to tune your ukulele you might skip to “How to play your first ukulele chord with ease”.
With seven bite-sized video lessons, you have everything you need to learn how to play ukulele right now. And at the end of the lesson, I’ll show you how you can continue and learn three more songs on ukulele with me.
1. Buy a Ukulele Right For You
The first and most important step to playing ukulele is to get a ukulele.
It doesn’t matter if you borrow a friends, go to the music store, or buy a ukulele online. Don’t overthink it. Just get a ukulele!
If you’re not sure what ukulele to buy, feel free to reference my handy ukulele buying guide where I provide tips and insight into the best ukuleles for beginners and how to choose a ukulele that is right for you.
2. Get in the Right Mindset to Play
If you’ve never made music before, put aside your fears and doubts about playing.
You can do this!
Watch the video where I introduce myself and offer specific encouragement to new ukulele players.
My name is Brett McQueen and I’m a lifelong ukulele player and author of Ukulele Exercises For Dummies and the founder of this website and I’m excited to teach you to play ukulele.
Why You Can Learn to Play Ukulele Today Even If You Have No “Natural” Musical Talent
A lot of beginner ukulele players fail before they even pick up the instrument.
You say to yourself:
“I wasn’t born with natural musical talent.”
“I’ve failed at playing an instrument before and I’m probably going to fail again.”
Whenever you tackle a new challenge like learning ukulele, it’s a big deal! It’s normal to face your own self doubt or fear. Don’t be hard on yourself and go into it with an open mind.
Remember playing ukulele is about having fun!
At first, the ukulele might feel like a holding a foreign alien object. How is this little instrument capable of making such a beautiful sound? In fact, a beautiful sound you create!
For what it’s worth, I’ve taught students in my online courses who are over the age of 90. If they can do it, you can do it too.
Now that we’ve gotten introductions out of the way let’s get your ukulele tuned and ready to play.
3. Tune Your Ukulele
Tune your ukulele to standard reentrant tuning where the strings are tuned to g-C-E-A from top to bottom.
In this video, discover how to tune your ukulele quickly and easily.
This tuning method works for almost any ukulele including soprano, concert and tenor ukuleles.
One of the most underestimated secrets to making your ukulele sound amazing is to tune it!
You don’t want to skip this step.
When it comes to stringed instruments like the ukulele, it’s important to check the tuning every 10 to 15 minutes of playing. Small errors in tuning can create quite a dreadful sound for you and your listeners. You always set yourself up for success with an in-tune ukulele.
Fortunately, it’s easy to keep the ukulele in tune. For the fastest tuning, I always recommend using a chromatic tuner like the Snark SN-6 ukulele tuner I use in the video.
To hold the ukulele, cradle the body of the ukulele in your right arm, while the part of your forearm, closest to the elbow, applies a little pressure to the top of the ukulele, so it is held snug against your body. Then, support the neck of the ukulele in the crevice of your left hand where your thumb meets your index finger.
Watch this video to learn how to hold the ukulele in the most comfortable playing position.
You’ll soon see how holding the ukulele in a comfortable position allows you to change chords smoothly and to keep the strumming going steadily.
5. Play Your First Ukulele Chord
Learn to play a C chord where you place the ring finger of your fretting hand on the 3rd fret of the bottom A-string and let the top three strings ring open.
In this video, I show you how to play the C chord cleanly and clearly without buzzing.
The first most important chord you must know on the ukulele is the C chord.
This is where it all begins!
To play a C chord, place the ring finger of your fretting hand on the 3rd fret of the bottom A-string. Let the top three strings ring open.
Once your fingers are in position, go ahead and strum down across the strings. Don’t worry about the exact strumming technique for now. We look at that together in the next step. At this point, make sure every string rings out nice and clear.
Keep in mind you might experience some soreness of the fingertips in the first weeks of playing ukulele. To remedy this, give yourself adequate breaks for your fingers to heal up between practice sessions. Eventually the tips of your fingers will build calluses making chords easier to fret.
6. Strum Your Ukulele With This Important Strumming Pattern
To play this essential and important strumming pattern, strum down strums while counting out loud to a count of four.
If there is one strumming pattern to rule them all, it’s this one.
Watch the video and strum the C chord to a count of four with all down strums.
Note: The above notation indicates to strum down to a count of four. The numbers “4/4” at the very left of the music staff indicate the pattern is played to a count of four. The letter “d” below the notation indicates to strum down. The letter “C” above the first beat indicates to strum a C chord.
Repeat this strumming pattern as you count out loud. Keep the strumming and counting as consistent and even as possible.
Give that some practice.
Believe it or not, you’re ready to play your first song on ukulele!
7. Play Your First Easy One-Chord Song on Ukulele
Take the C chord and the simple down strumming pattern rhythm to play this simple, familiar song on the ukulele.
Watch the video and take a listen to Are You Sleeping now.
When it comes to learning a new song on the ukulele, I like to break things into small easy steps. Watch the following video to learn how to play this song.
The first step to learn this song is to review the chords in the song. For this song, a quick glance at the sheet music and ukulele tab shows there is a C chord.
Make sure you’ve practiced the C chord.
The second step is to review the strumming pattern in the song.
Again, make sure you’ve practiced this strumming pattern.
The third and final step to learning a new song is to play through the song’s chord progression without singing. This means you follow along in the music for Are You Sleeping and play and count out loud as I show in the video.
Once you can do this, then, it’s just a matter of humming or singing out the melody to this song!
You’re Building a Solid Foundation
Now you might not win a Grammy with your performance of Are You Sleeping just yet but that’s okay!
Just in this lesson you’re already building a foundation that puts you far ahead of most students.
How to tune the ukulele accurately to produce the best sound
How to hold the ukulele comfortably in a supportive, relaxed playing posture
How to position your fingers to play your first chord
How to strum and count a steady, consistent strumming pattern rhythm
How to play your first song
You’ve already tackled a lot! Give yourself a pat on the back for all your fantastic effort.
8. Take Your Skills and Learn Three More Easy Ukulele Songs
You did it! You’re playing ukulele. Now, take your knowledge and learn three more easy ukulele songs.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve completed the first lesson in the four-lesson Learn to Play Ukulele Today video lesson course.
There’s still three more lessons where I teach you more things like:
How to learn more ukulele chords
How to change chords smoothly
How to vary a strumming pattern
How to play three more memorable ukulele songs (including a beautiful Hawaiian ukulele song)
To get the three additional lessons delivered to your inbox, just enter your email below:
Yes! I want the second lesson in the free Learn To Play Ukulele Today video lesson course.
After doing so, you will receive a confirmation email. Click the link in this email to get the lesson book delivered directly to your inbox. If you don’t see this email, please check your spam or junk mail filter and ensure that “UkuleleTricks.com” is whitelisted.
Please note: I take your privacy very seriously. I promise never to spam you or distribute your email to a third party.
Take time to learn the chords used to play this song.
In this arrangement of Danny Boy, use a pinch picking pattern played to a count of four. A pinch happens when you simultaneously pluck two strings at the same time–in this case, the top and bottom strings on the first and third beats of the measure.
After practicing the chords and picking pattern, practice picking through the song’s chord progression without singing to ensure you can switch between chords and maintain the picking without stopping.
Once you can do that, begin to hum and sing out the melody of this beautiful and lovely song!
Learn to Fingerpick with Fingerpicking Tricks
If this pattern is too difficult for you to play, or if you’re new to fingerpicking, then, I’m here to help.
In the Fingerpicking Tricks online video lesson course I teach you pattern-based fingerpicking on the ukulele which allows you to pick complex pinch picking patterns like this one.
With small, easy steps you have what you need to learn how to fingerpick the ukulele in multiple styles including pattern-based picking, arpeggio-based picking, melodic-based picking, and chord melody.
Why don’t you join me?
Learn to fingerpick. Take your fingerpicking skills to the next level on the ukulele, learning fingerpicking pieces in four distinct styles.
If you’re the kind of person to learn ukulele to impress that special someone, then Let Me Call You Sweetheart is a song you need to have in your repertoire (skip ahead to the chords). It’s a guaranteed heart-melter.
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart" Ukulele Chord Play-Along - YouTube
Let Me Call You Sweetheart was originally published in 1910 with music by Leo Friedman and words by Beth Slater Whitson. Since then, it’s been performed and recorded by artists like Bing Crosby, Joni James, Patti Page, Slim Whitman, and more. The song is also notable amongst Barbershop-style a cappella groups.
In a waltz-y, light rhythm, this song is a sweet-sounding piece with frequent chord changes throughout.
To play this song, spend adequate time practicing the chords – there’s some challenging ones here. Use a simple down strum rhythm played to a count of three or a variation based on this rhythm to perform this song.
Let Me Call You Sweetheart Ukulele Chord Diagrams
Note: The chords with a circle like C°7 is equivalent to Cdim7.
Let Me Call You Sweetheart Ukulele Chord Chart
A D A
Let me call you sweetheart,
Bm7 A D F#7 B7
I'm in love with you
E7 Bm7 E7
Let me hear you whisper
A Edim E7
That you love me, too
A D A
Keep the lovelight glowing
Bm7 A D F#7 B7
In your eyes so true;
D Cdim7 A
Let me call you 'Sweetheart',
Bm7 D E7 A
I'm in love with you.
If 15 minutes is all you have, then, I recommend making the most of it and breaking it up into three 5-minute parts.
First 5 Minutes – Pick a Familiar Song
Don’t start off your practice session by taking on the latest Jake Shimabukuro arrangement!
For the first five minutes, take the first minute to stretch the wrists, hands, and fingers by opening and closing the hands and fingers. While doing this, focus on your breathing.
After that first minute, start with a familiar song you already know how to play and that you love to play. If you’re brand new, start with the most basic chord and strumming you can muster.
This gets the fingers and mind ready to go!
Next 5 Minutes – Pick One Exercise
Next, select one new exercise or one you’ve already been working on perfecting.
Just pick one!
The biggest mistake new ukulele players make is trying to focus on too many different things at once. Don’t try to do it all at one time! You will get there.
To be effective at practice in a short amount of time, just focus on one thing.
This could be a scale, strumming pattern, fingerpicking pattern, chord change exercise, metronome exercise, music-reading exercise, rhythm exercise, memorization exercise, etc.
If you’re scratching head wondering how to come up with these exercises, then, I’d recommend having a teacher give you exercises to practice based on your current skill level and interests. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to tackle an exercise that is outside the scope of your own capabilities.
Where in the last step, you warmed up the fingers and mind, the goal for this part is to challenge and stretch your fingers and your mind.
Last 5 Minutes – Pick a New Song
Lastly, pick a new song to learn.
Ideally, this song should be one that uses the new skill or technique you’ve been practicing in the last 5 minutes. Again, it’s important to learn a new song that is challenging but isn’t too far out of reach based on your current skill level. This is where a good ukulele teacher can help you.
With Club Ukulele, courses build gradually, so I provide these songs for you to learn that fit the skills and techniques you’re learning.
As you practice this new, more difficult song, you might break up the song into micro-goals, such as:
“I’m going to learn all the chords positions for this song,”
“I’m going to learn the first four measures of this song.”
The goal isn’t to be able to play the song perfectly in one practice session but to chip away at in small chunks.
Learning harder songs like this is ultimately what helps you improve your skills as a ukulele player. Plus, playing songs and making music what it’s all about!
It’s Your Turn to Make Sweet-Sounding Music
Practicing ukulele isn’t rocket science, but it helps to have a plan.
By practicing this way, you avoid getting caught up in playing difficult, unfamiliar material, but you also find new ways to challenge yourself to help you play the songs you love on ukulele.
Remember it’s better to play for a little bit of time each day rather than doing a marathon practice session once in a blue moon.
Don’t try to learn it all at once. Learning to play ukulele is a journey.
Embrace and accept where you’re at and know that you are improving each day!
Why not join me in Club Ukulele online ukulele lessons now? You have the exact steps, exercises, and songs leading the way.
Focus your practice. Over a hundred easy-to-follow, step-by-step video lessons. Fresh lessons added monthly for you to go at your own pace.