This week I had four main focuses:
- Practice smooth chord changes (between C, F, G, and A)
- Learn strumming patterns
- Learn a new simple chord song (similar to “You are my Sunshine” from week 1 update)
- Find a different resource online (other than YouTube or an App)
The first thing that I focused on this week was practicing smooth chord changes between the chords of C, F, G, and A. I found some short videos on YouTube to help me with this.
The first video that I watched was “How to Practice Chord Changes on the Ukulele” by Elise Euckland. In this video we mostly practiced moving from A minor to G to C. This video was extremely encouraging, reiterating that it doesn’t matter where you are starting from, if it takes you 10 seconds to switch chords or 30 seconds, you just have to keep practicing over and over and with consistent repitition, your fingers will get more used to moving in these different ways. She mentioned to start practicing chord changes with only single down strums to keep it slow and simple. Overall, I would definitely recommend this video for learning chord changes as she went really in depth showing exactly how to move your fingers one by one to change between the chords.
The second video that I watched was “How to Practice Chord Changes” by Cynthia Lin Music. In this video we first practiced moving back and forth from G to C and then from G to F. This video was even more in depth, slow paced and step by step than the one above. It was an amazing tutorial to show exactly how to move your fingers one by one from one chord to the other. She emphasized to practice very, very slowly and focus on improving finger strength, finger flexibility, and finger independence. I did not understand what she meant by finger independence until she was trying to get me to move my middle finger while holding my ring finger down and it seemed nearly impossible. She talked about your fingers wanting to fly away in between chords and during different chords even without you noticing. I found that this was definitely an issue for me in my Week 1 Update Video as I had very little control of my fingers that weren’t being used in the chord in the beginning (still working on this). She demonstrated a good chord switching method of focusing on moving your finger for the next chord, then lifting the fingers from the previous chord, just a little so they are still hovering over the fret board. She explained how there should never be a time when you have no fingers on the fret board as you should not have lifted all of your fingers from the last chord until at least one of your fingers (depending on the chord and number of fingers in it) are moved into position for the next chord. It sounds really confusing in words, but in this video she explained it really well, demonstrating exactly how to go finger by finger then finally lifting fingers you aren’t using before strumming for these chords specifically. She also mentioned how you can apply this process to any chord changes by moving one finger at a time, leaving leftover fingers in place until last minute, then slightly lifting, and strumming. You do not just take your entire hand off then place them down into the net chord. Once I started practicing these movements I found myself improving even in a short period of time. When I was very first trying to use her method of moving one finger at a time it seemed literally impossible like I would never be able to do that. But with a lot of practice, repetition and concentration, you can train your fingers to do exactly what you want them to when you improve their strength, flexibility, and independence.
The next thing that I focused on this week was practicing some next strumming patterns. I found one video on YouTube that taught me a lot all about doing this. It also taught me aspects of strumming that I didn’t even know that I needed to know such as exactly how to strum to the beat and stay in rhythm. This video also directed me towards a website that I will mention later in this post that had a lot of great information as well.
The video that I watched to learn strumming patterns was “5 Effective Strumming Patterns for Beginners” by Ukulele Tricks. The 5 strumming patters mentioned in this video can be used to play thousands of different songs on the Ukulele. He gave a great background all about strumming. He mentioned that strumming is a form of rhythm and that rhythm is all about keeping a steady beat/count that listeners can follow along with. So he said that when practicing these strumming patterns, it is important to count out loud to a beat of four. He demonstrated exactly what this should sound and look like very well. As far as a video to learn some different basic strumming patterns, and how to strum to the beat, this video was fantastic! I would highly, highly recommend.
The 5 strumming patterns are as follows:
- down, down, down, down (“1, 2, 3, 4”)
2. down up, down up, down up, down up (“1 and, 2 and, 3 and, 4 and”)
3. down, down up, down, down up (“1, 2 and, 3, 4 and”)
4. down up, down, down up, down (“1 and, 2, 3 and, 4)
5. down, down up, up, down up (“1, 2 and, and, 4 and”)
I decided to hold off on learning a new easy song until next week. Between practicing smooth chord changes and these 5 strumming patterns to the beat, I had enough on my plate this week. The website that was linked in the strumming pattern video was also extremely useful and expanded on this video a little bit with pictures and examples of how to take your practicing of this a little further. In the video we stuck to a simple C chord the whole time, but the website mentions practicing moving between different chords as well, while practicing the strumming patterns. I am going to continue with this website next week and read his next section on “Knowing when to Change Chord when Strumming a Song”. There were also a few easy songs mentioned on this website, that I want to try out next week to utilize this different resource some more. I am really glad I found such a useful website as my last focus this week was to find a resource other than YouTube or an App, and I was successful!
Here is a little bonus of some progress on the song “Riptide”, as well as my final remarks about this week!
I also continued Andy Guitar’s “FREE 10 day ukulele starter course” and Bernadette Teaches Music’s “30 Day Ukulele Challenge on YouTube, and the app Youcisian’s daily Ukulele course as well. I have not been as consistent with these course type of resources as I want to be but I have been continuing them slowly as I find the time to, and I know that these online resources are something that I will definitely get more into once I have more time and am not taking 3 Spring Courses online which require a lot of time and effort. Course type of resources are super handy for beginners because they often take you from a very beginner level of just learning basic chords and strumming and then keep building slowly each lesson until you are much more advanced than you once were, without even realizing it along the way! I would highly recommend all of the courses mentioned above, as well as the resources for learning smooth chord changes and strumming patters that I mentioned this week! There are so many amazing resources to be found online, to learn just about anything! If anyone has any suggestions for other resources to use or ways that I can improve my chord changes and strumming (in videos above), please let me know below! Thanks!