Category Archives: Ukulele

Three Christmas Songs to Suit Any Level – Piano-Guitar-Ukulele

That seems like a bit of a boast, doesn’t it! Three songs to suit players of any level on piano, guitar or ukulele… and I probably need to qualify this claim.

Firstly, if you are playing guitar or ukulele, you’ll need to know either the first ten guitar chords (C, D, Dm, E, Em, F, G, G7, A & Am) or first position treble clef notes. If you’re on the piano, you’ll need to know at least how to read treble clef notes.

Beyond that, the music is your plaything – play chord accompaniment on the piano below the melody, fingerstyle guitar and ukulele… whatever you fancy.

The three songs in question are:

  1. Away In A Manger
  2. We Three King
  3. We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Click on the link above to download the free PDF of the song in question – and have a great Christmas!

Taking suggestions for next year’s three songs

ABRSM and RGT Exam Dates for 2017

Somehow it’s almost April already and the Spring terms is nearly at an end… and I’ve not yet posted the dates for the ABRSM and RGT exams. There are two dates you need to know if you’re looking to enter an exam.

The first is the closing date, which is – surprise, surprise! – the last date you can apply to enter an exam in the current term. The closing dates below are for online entries.

The second is the exams date range. This will let you know the window of dates when the exam is likely to be scheduled for. There are options to request specific weeks and these are usually taken into account.

ABRSM Exam Dates

Closing Date Exam Dates
Spring Term 20 January 6 March – 8 April
Summer Term 12 May 12 June – 15 July
Winter Term 29 September 6 Nov – 9 Dec

ABRSM Exam fees are here

RGT Exam Dates

Closing Date Exam Dates
Spring Term 1 February March / April
Summer Term 1 May June / July
Winter Term 1 October Nov / Dec

RGT Exam fees are here

A Brief Guide to the Ukulele for Guitarists

how-to-hold-a-ukuleleSo you play the guitar and fancy having a shot at the ukulele? Of course you do! Who wouldn’t? Ukuleles are great. Not only that, but if you’re a guitarist, the transition is fairly straightforward. In fact, the most tricky crossover is learning to hold the ukulele.

Unlike the guitar, the ukulele doesn’t rest on your knee or hang on a strap. Instead it is held in place by the inside of your right forearm, supported at the other end by your left hand. As you can see in the photo above, the uke is held parallel to the ground with its body tucked into the crook of the right arm, leaving the hand free to strum around the point where the instrument’s body and neck join – known as the ‘sweet spot’. The left hand works in much the same way as with the guitar.

The standard ukulele tuning is G C E A, with the G-string being a fifth higher than the C-string. At first this may seem completely alien, but it’s actually very similar to the tuning of the top four strings on the guitar (D G B E). If you work up the musical alphabet from D, G is three letters higher. The same is true of the distances G > C, B > E and E > A. What this means is that the ukulele is tuned a perfect fourth higher than the top four strings of the guitar (or an octave and a fourth in the case of the G-string).

ukulue-vs-guitar-tuning

This being the case, you can make the same chord shapes on the ukulele as you would on the top four strings of your guitar, with the result that the chords will sound a 4th higher.

For example, if you use the guitar’s D major chord shape on the ukulele, it will sound a G major chord as shown below:

guitar-vs-ukuele-chord

It’ll take a few days practice to get the hang of this transition, but you will quickly start to think of this chord as G on the ukulele and find your way around many other familiar chords. As I said at the start, it’s a fairly straight forward transition for guitarists. You’ll be strumming your favourite songs on this lovely little instrument in no time!