Chords can seem daunting and they can be tricky at first. Once you've got them under your fingers, they're lots of fun to play. The good news is that for most popular styles of music, there are only a few that you need to learn. In the early levels of Yousician, we teach you the most common chords. We introduce them one by one, so you can learn them at your own pace.
Of course, as you get better, you want to learn more chords and play more challenging shapes. The learning path introduces them in a logical step-by-step way, so you can build the required skills as you go. After a while, you start to understand how the different chord shapes work on the fretboard, and even how to build them yourself.
When learning chords, it's great to use all of your senses. Visualize a chord as a shape on the fretboard, feel what it's like to hold it, and listen carefully to the sound. Look, touch, listen. Here's an example:
Study a chord diagram. Do the dots form a line, triangle, L-shape, etc? Put your fingers on the right frets, look at them, and feel what it's like to hold that shape. Strum the chord and listen to the sound. Then take your fingers off the strings. Without checking the diagram, try to remember where each finger was. Picture the shape, place your fingers on the fretboard, and play the chord again. Does it sound the same? If not, check the diagram again.
Changing from one chord shape to another can be hard at first. You have to develop your muscle memory, so that your fingers learn what they have to do without looking at them. Looking for similarities between chords also helps.
You can sometimes use different fingerings for the same chord. This can make the change to the next chord easier.
Check the How to play ukulele chords blog post for more information. The video includes tips from the teachers about practicing chord changes.
At first, it might be challenging to get a particular chord to sound good. Plus, even if it sounds good to you, Yousician might be picking up that there are missing or incorrect notes (which can be hard to hear!). Here are a few troubleshooting tips:
- Check that your fingers are on the right frets and on the right strings. It's easy to make mistakes there, even when you're an advanced player. Start from the string closest to you, and check each string one at a time.
- Make sure you don't mute any string that should be ringing. Pick each string and listen to the sound. If you are muting a string accidentally, try to adjust your finger, wrist, or thumb position.
- For many chords, you should be playing right up on your fingertips to avoid touching other strings. You should try to have your hand arched, not lying flat on the fretboard. Tip: long fingernails on your fretting hand get in the way and stop you from holding chords properly – you should keep them nice and short.
- Make sure your ukulele is comfy to play. The strings shouldn't feel too stiff or be set too high above the frets. Most local musical instrument shops can perform a nice setup with finger-friendly strings (usually "light-gauge" or low-tension strings), set nice and close to the frets. A good setup can make a world of difference!