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 arranged for fingerstyle, chord-melody play.
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** Ukrainian National Anthem for Ukulele PDF **
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Rocky Mountain Ukulele Orchestra: December 4, 2023: Tech Night Rehearsal Link to join https://youtube.com/live/A2RNStt8CHU?feature=share
- Above the Northern Lights arranged by Christie Lyons
- Believe from Polar Express arranged by Dave Warrick
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen arranged by Mike McAteer
- God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Mashup by John Greiman
- Holly Jolly Christmas arranged by Michele Alberts
- Merry Christmas Polka arranged by Jerome Elisha
- Mister Grinch arranged by Michele Alberts
- Santa Tell Me arranged by Gary Jugert
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas arranged by Gary Jugert
Jolly Roger Ukulele
TuffUke for Ukulele and Baritone
Solo Fingerstyle Chord-Melodies
October 6, 2023: What Was I Made For? by Billie Eilish is posted in the member's section.
This may very well be my new favorite song written in the 21st century. I don't know why, but I love it. It was written for the Barbie movie and has plenty of Barbie-ness to it, but it's also a lovely melody. Like every pop song, they're hoping you get the tune stuck in your head so you'll buy a concert ticket, so it's a wee bit repetitive. It's sounds amazing on baritone ukulele and I needed to fix only one note in the whole thing to fit it on ukulele, so we can live with that I suppose. Go to YouTube and watch the What Was I Made For video first, and then come back. You don't want to play this fast. Listen to the MP3, get a sense of how things go in the song, and then take it at your pace. Throw the metronome away on this one. Probably the slower the better and make sure each sound rings awhile by not rushing to move your left hand until absolutely necessary. Measure 31 has a great moment to practice hammer-ons and pull-offs if you're working on those.
October 6, 2023: Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet is posted in the member's section.
It's been awhile since I've hated arranging a song as much as I hated this experience. Now, I know a lot of you love this song, after all, when it's playing in a bar, particularly a resort bar, you get to sing loudly the never ending insipidly uninspired and horrendously trite chorus over and over and over four freaking times. AND, since you know it's not like me to make fun of things in music 🙄, I do need to warn you. It's possible this may be the single dumbest song ever. It might be the best example of a reason to beat somebody (namely the "composer") with their own guitar. Maybe not to death, but definitely until the guitar is broken beyond repair. It's probably justification for getting rid of all guitars, as if we didn't have plenty of reasons already. It's so busy oozing privilege, I kinda hope the narrator gets MRSA from that pop top tragedy. Should you undertake the study of this song, I suggest you go old-school ukulele and just strum and sing this one. The ukulele version is in the original key and will require you to use a ghastly total of three chords ... the three beginner chords we teach guitarists ... way to go Jimmy. He died with one BILLION dollars in his bank account thanks to three chords. Should you decide to spend time on the instrumental side here, I found a place to change the meter for one measure to at least have one moment of something interesting. Yay 7/4, but please know that single change would have sent Mister I-Like-Margaritas to a sanitarium. OK, there's all the nice stuff I can say about this one. Please pick a better song to work on.
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.)
August 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.
August 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.
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. Spring 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: email@example.com