‘Ukulele Chord Shapes eBook
“If you have questions about ukulele chords, Chord Shapes has the answers.” ~ James Hill

Things to Practice

Sometimes as musicians we run into a period of time where practicing can seem sort of unhelpful. Nothing seems to be interesting and it’s hard to find new things to work on. It happens. The good news is that the phase soon passes and you realize that there are thousands more things to work on than you previously thought. Here’s a list for those tough times or when you just feel like practicing ‘ukulele for 8 hours and run out of ideas for what to do.

Scales:

  1. To a metronome
  2. Straight up and down
  3. In 3rds (C to E, D to F, etc…)
  4. In 4ths (C to F, D to G, etc…)
  5. In 5ths (C to G, D to A, etc…)
  6. In 6ths (C to A, D to B, etc…)
  7. In 7ths (C to B, D to C, etc…)
  8. Up or down in groups of 4s (C D E F, D E F G, etc…)
  9. Up or down in groups of 5s (C D E F G, D E F G A, etc…)
  10. Groups of 6s
  11. Slow
  12. Fast (notice the order there?)
  13. Play two notes, skip a string, play one note – up and down
  14. Play one note, skip a string, play two notes – up and down
  15. Play any number of notes on any number of different strings in a pattern
  16. Using 3rd intervals (played together)
  17. Using 6th intervals
  18. Using all other intervals
  19. Any of the above in a different position
  20. Any of the above in a different octave
  21. In a musical fashion (practice is just preparation for real music)

Chords:

  1. With a metronome
  2. A different way to play all chords
  3. Replacing one note with a 4th, 2nd, etc… to get a suspended sound
  4. Omitting a note from a chord shape (removing the 3rd, 5th, root)
  5. A new chord (you’ll never find them all)
  6. That one chord you struggle with
  7. Substituting chords
  8. Chord Melody
  9. Soloing with chords
  10. Soloing around chords

Rhythm:

  1. Straight note durations (quarter note, 8h note, etc…)
  2. Triplets (1 2 3 1 2 3…)
  3. Playing any number of notes in the space of one beat (start with two, then three, four, five, etc…)
  4. Playing with a metronome
  5. Playing with a drummer (it’s harder than it looks after playing by yourself all the time)
  6. Tap on things (just play a beat – your body is a drum set: left leg = high-hat, right leg = snare, right foot = bass drum)

Techniques:

  1. Sliding into a note
  2. Sliding out of a note
  3. Sliding from one note to another
  4. Sliding one fret up or down and then back rapidly over and over again (trill)
  5. Bending up a half step
  6. Bending up a whole step
  7. Bending up a step and a half (oww!)
  8. Pre-bend and release the above
  9. Bending and releasing
  10. Bending and releasing a whole step, stopping at the in between note on the way down (C to D bend: stop on C#)
  11. Tremolo picking 1 string
  12. Tremolo picking 2 strings
  13. Tremolo picking 3 strings
  14. Hammer-ons
  15. Pull-offs
  16. Hammer-on to pull-off
  17. Pull-off to hammer-on
  18. Double hammer-on
  19. Double pull-off
  20. Everything in between
  21. Natural harmonics
  22. Artificial harmonics
  23. Harp harmonics
  24. Octaves on the C and A strings
  25. Octaves on the G and E strings
  26. Octaves on the G and A strings
  27. Palm muting
  28. Attack (picking hard or soft)
  29. Classical vibrato
  30. Normal vibrato (Clapton style)
  31. Wide vibrato
  32. Piano style (picking the strings simultaneously with one finger to each string)

Strumming:

  1. Fan strumming (tremolo 4 strings)
  2. Mono strum (strumming all strings, but only sounding one note)
  3. Mute strum (chunk)
  4. Strum patterns
  5. Strumming and then picking in between
  6. Hammering on new notes to a chord (Hendrix style)
  7. Triplet strum
  8. Fast
  9. Slow
  10. And changing chords (the strum doesn’t count if you can’t use your fretting hand)

Songs:

  1. Dynamics (one part loud, one part soft, vice versa)
  2. Arranging (a new intro, what parts where, etc…)
  3. Learning to play a song all the way through with no mistakes (none)
  4. Timing (a metronome might help)
  5. Learning all the parts (chords, melody, other instruments – on ‘ukulele still)

Ear Training:

  1. Tuning your ‘ukulele by ear (double check yourself with a tuner and remember if you were sharp or flat)
  2. Picking out simple songs like “Twinkle, Twinkle”
  3. Learn how different chord types sound (major, minor, 7th, etc…)
  4. Figuring out chord progressions
  5. Hearing different intervals (notes played separately or together)
  6. Putting it all together and learning a whole song – all parts (by ear!)

Performance:

  1. Playing to the crowd
  2. Playing with a looper
  3. Playing through a set list (talk to the “audience” too!)
  4. Your smile
  5. Playing from the heart
  6. Working through mistakes
  7. Making eye contact with the audience
  8. Using your amps, PA, effects
  9. Singing
  10. Soloing
  11. Changing things up
  12. Being entertaining
  13. Making a set-list
  14. Setting up your gear
  15. Playing with a band
  16. Starting a with a bang
  17. Ending with a bang

Theory:

  1. Reading music
  2. Reading tab
  3. Understanding the modes
  4. Building scales
  5. Building chords
  6. Key signatures
  7. Time signatures

Odd-ball:

  1. Playing cleanly (nobody cares if they can’t hear the notes)
  2. Teaching
  3. Living (music is life on a small scale, life is music on a big scale)
  4. Transcribing (putting music to hard media – sheet music, tab)
  5. Writing a long post on things to practice (and sharing your ideas with me because I’m out!)