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A Swashbuckling Ukulele Community

Become a musician dedicated to making and teaching music "the hard ways" with an orchestra you can join right now, a complete education program in music, and more than 500 tunes expertly arranged by our merry band of pirates.


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** Ukrainian National Anthem for Ukulele PDF **

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Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra: September 18, 2023: Monday Night Rehearsal

Link to join https://youtube.com/live/dL5D7naqTyI?feature=share

  • Above the Northern Lights
  • Christmas is Coming
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (John's version)
  • Merry Christmas Polka



Jolly Roger Ukulele
TuffUke for Ukulele and Baritone
Soothe Your Inner Soloist with These

August 17, 2023: Barbie Girl by Aqua is in the member's section.


There's probably no point in starting this song unless you've heard the original on YouTube. Go search Aqua Barbie Girl over there first. There is a different version with Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, but that's even more crass. Astonishingly, they used this song in the recent Barbie movie as an instrumental. When you're ready to tackle this thing so go listen to the MP3 in the widget while you look over the sheet music. The lyrics here are a level of annoying you see too frequently in pop songs and they're rather judgmental, so don't think too long about it. You'll git dumber. From an ukulele perspective, it's more challenging that you'd think being in D minor (A minor on baritone) with all open positions. Getting the rhythm correct is quite difficult . Ideally, you should play this super fast, but it's actually funnier if you play it with a slow melancholy. Look out for slurs in the standard notation because those will make nice pull-offs, notice the staccatos in measures 14 and 16. Also, the three dotted eighth notes in measure 17 give you that nice disco punch you've been dying to do on ukulele. I tacked a high F major chord onto the end to give it a more joyful wrap up.

August 17, 2023: Nothing Compares to You made famous by Sinéad O'Connor and written by Prince is in the member's section.


Here's another tune you have to listen to YouTube first to get the cadence of her voice before you try to tackle it on ukulele, so go search for Sinéad O'Connor Nothing Compares 2U. Back in the flip phone days we spelled "to you" as "2U" because it took a half hour to type a one sentence text, but I'm making the bold move to spell it like a civilized person on my sheets here. I find it interesting that Prince wrote this song and recorded it first, but Sinéad turned this into a big deal. Some of you will remember she appeared on Saturday Night Live in the early 90s and ripped up a photo of the pope. She was treated angrily afterward, but as it turns out, the problem she protested has turned out to be a gazillion times worse than most of use could have imagined. She passed away a few weeks ago and they held a huge funeral for her in Ireland, so I figured it was time to arrange her most famous song. To make this work, you'll have to follow her vocal cadence and plan to play incredibly slow the first few times, but the arrangement on the fretboard is all the stuff you've seen elsewhere. I've added a duet part which is very easy if you have a friend. (You should make a friend, 'cuz you know, nothing compares 2 them.)

MackTheKnifeAugust 4, 2023: Mack the Knife made famous by Bobby Darin is in the member's section.

This is a lot of work, but it'll be a great test of your ukulele skills, and if you search YouTube for the Bobby Darin version from 1959 you'll understand why you want to have this one in your rotation. It was written for a 1928 German play "Three Penny Opera" so it's public domain in America now, and when else will you have the opportunity to celebrate cement galoshes and blood on the sidewalk? The key changes a half step up between each page and makes for some really ugly standard notation. Don't freak out and rage. On the piano, this would be a nightmare, but with our lovely bar chords and tablature, we just move up a fret, ignore all the mess, and plink away. And, you can tell your friends you're playing in seven sharps and they'll think you're a wiz. As always, play slow and let the tones develop those pretty old-school jazz tones. There's a huge and unfortunate stretch in measures 27 and 45, but it's the best voicing for the chords. Believe me I tried to find a better way out, and it's just not there. I used the advanced chord shapes, so it might be a more work to sing and strum or play as a duet than you might like.


August 3, 2023: Morning Has Broken made famous by Cat Stevens is in the member's section.

Here's a delightful tune that turns out to be way harder to play than you wish it was. Soloists, prepare for bar chords, or make a friend and do this as a duet and you'll be glad you did. The song was made super famous by Cat Stevens in the 70s, but the tune is probably from the late 19th century somewhere in Ireland. In 1931, the lyrics we use today were added. I've added an arpeggiated intro and outro and then the melody is super simple. Pay attention to the few measures with dotted quarter notes up against eighth notes. For the TuffUke, you're mostly playing on the 5th fret as it is in the key of F major before shooting off to D major. Baritones, that's C to A for you. At measure 18, you'll need to do the F-shape bar chord on 5 and also add your pinky onto the 8th fret. We've seen this in lots of the pieces on this site, so you're probably getting good at it.

TimeInABottleAugust 1, 2023: Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce is in the member's section.

A new arrangement after way too long working on the back side of this website. This is a beautiful piece that oughta get played more outside of weddings and funerals. Jim died in a plane crash just as his career was taking off. Go listen to this on YouTube and then the MP3 on this website. It's definitely a tough one. The baritone version is in the original key if you plan on singing and strumming. I can imagine this being a dynamite duet. The TuffUke version will challenge you as it is all over the fretboard, but don't rush and let the tones develop based on your skills and I think you'll be really happy with what is here.


July 6, 2023: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot in the member's section.

This will take you five minutes to learn it, but with 28 verses it'll take a week to play it. I set the MP3 to play only one of the repeats. Go listen to this on YouTube first and then after it's finally done six hours later, listen to the MP3 here on the site. Here's a chance to try bending notes and making them wiggly on the intro and outro. Don't be in a rush to play this at tempo. Make the sounds clean and weird. It's basically in D minor (G minor for baritone), but it's presented here in C major (or G major for baritone) to help you focus on the exotic sounds just as good ole Gordy did. There's a funny scene in Seinfeld when Elaine can't keep Edmund straight from Gordon. Jerry helps her out.

AmericaTheBeautifulJuly 4, 2023: Updated America the Beautiful is in the holiday section.

According to legend, this tune was inspired by a visit to Pike's Peak in Colorado. As a kid growing up in the suburbs of Denver, I was taught (or perhaps just assumed) America was the best, Colorado was the best, Pikes Peak was a super important mountain, and life is beautiful. I'd have to say all of those assumptions have been challenged of late, but the song itself is pretty dang good and it fits onto the ukulele in the Book 2 tradition. In measure 7, you'll be sliding back and forth while keeping open strings and that'll sound amazing, you have solid work to do in measures 10 and 11 with bar chords, and the best moment in the song happens when you nail the diminished chord in measure 13. If you do a great job playing the tune, you won't care if the lyrics are true or not.

AmericaGodSaveTheQueenJuly 4, 2023: Updated America and God Save the Queen is in the holiday section.

The queen's no longer with us and depending on who you ask that's a mixed blessing or curse. The biggest problem is the red haired kid and his mouthy girlfriend moved to Hollywood and are doing whatever it takes to stay on TV and at some point you're like, look, we get it, being royal isn't all it's cracked up to be, but honestly, we're moving on to whomever they've cast in the Bachelorette this season so maybe you could just go back to merry ole England and patch things up with your peeps. This song is written on a Book 1 level difficulty, but we already have a patriotic song there and this is just more of the same. It would make a nice little show for the kids you supervise sometime around July 4th.

July 4, 2023: Updated Yankee Doodle is Lesson #16

Can you find the moment when I lost track of where I was on the sheet music? Spend a minute watching this video and then send me an email. Better yet, you play your version of it, record it on your phone, upload it to DropBox or YouTube (unlisted setting), and then send me the link. I bet you can do way better than I did. As an on-going reminder, lots of the songs we play may not be something you're excited to tackle, but it makes no sense to skip the foundational stuff hoping to chase down a "cool" song. You want to be able to play everything and the fastest way to do it is to conquer the basics. Most musicians will tell you they are continuously returning to where they began to maintain and extend their mastery. This might not be a song you love, but the skills inside it are meaningful for you down the road.



In-Person Classes in Lakewood, Colorado this Fall

Main topics: Reading standard notation and tablature, chords, finger picking, playing melodies, music theory (a tiny bit), solo and ensemble skills. No prior experience (or talent) necessary for the Intro class. You must take the Intro class prior to joining the Continuing class. In addition to the class fee, the textbook is $10 payable directly to the teacher. You must bring a playable ukulele. Fall classes are posted, so go HERE and search keyword “ukulele” to register.

  • Session 1: Thursdays: September 7 to October 12, 2023. No class Sept. 21, Oct. 19.
    • 4 pm (Intro)
    • 6 pm (Continuing)
  • Session 2: Thursdays: October 26 to December 7, 2023. No class Nov. 16 & 23.
    • 4 pm (Intro)
    • 6 pm (Continuing)

For other events and classes I'm aware of, please visit the RMUO Calendar.

Original pirate image above by Dmitry: creozavr@gmail.com