What Are The Best Songs For Learning Ukulele?

by zelda

As A Ukulele Teacher One Of The Most Asked Questions By People Wanting Ukulele Lessons Is “What Are The Best Songs For Ukulele Lessons?”

This is a great question. I hope the answer I give will help ukulele beginners find some inspiration – not only for helping make their ukulele lessons more exciting but also for their private practice time, and even more importantly – having fun as they learn to play ukulele.

One of my favorite ukulele tips is to start with simple and popular songs consisting of 2, 3 and at the most 5 beginner chords in the key of C. The idea is to find songs which the student knows and enjoys, and also provides just enough challenge to match their current level of ukulele playing. Songs with too much challenge can sabotage the learner attempted too soon.

I find it’s always way more effective when ukulele learners start with ukulele songs in an era or a genre they actually like as opposed to easy songs they have zero feeling about. And this is a very important and widely overlooked aspect of ukulele lessons and actually – across the wider music education landscape.

Ukulele Teachers who insist on giving students material that doesn’t resonate at all with the student are ultimately making a big mistake. This is because when people are at the start of any learning ‘motivation is the key ingredient’. When a teacher helps a student find songs that ‘float their boats’ so to speak, they are igniting the student’s enthusiasm, which will carry the student past the drudgery of the learning a new skill like learning to play ukulele.

For example you may like pop or country or rock or doo-wop. In every era there are usually quite a lot of songs you could choose which use the simple 1,4,5 and even 1,4,5,6 chord pattern.

Without getting overly technical these numbers ‘1, 4, 5’ refer to intervals on a scale. So in the key of C major, C=1, F=4, G=5 and Am=6. You can count these on your fingers C=1; D=2; E=3; F=4; G=5; A=6, B=7; C=1 again. Now knowing that ‘1,4,5’ in the key of C is C, F and G chords has now unlocked hundreds of songs. Choosing songs you enjoy playing and that use these simple chords makes it fun while learning – and that is a the strategy for success.

Here’s a bunch of songs in rock, pop, punk, country, ‘old-skool’ rock & roll, doo-wop and blues. All these songs have chord progressions that use the beginners’ chords for ukulele players – C, F, G and Am – in all or part of the song. Look up these on an online chord chart website including Chordie and Ultimate Guitar and use these in your ukulele lessons.

 

2-Chord Songs – using C and Fukulele lessons

Jambalaya – Hank Williams

That will be the Day (simplified) – Buddy Holly

Achy Breaky Heart

 

3-Chords Songs – using C, F, Gukulele lessons

500 Miles – The Proclaimers

Angel – Shaggy

Another Saturday Night – Sam Cooke

Bad Moon Rising – Credence Clearwater Revival

Blue Bayou (simplified)

Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Bye Bye Love – Everly Brothers

Dancing with Myself – Billy Idol

Down on the Corner

Hang on Sloopy – The McCoys

Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley

I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash

I’m On My Way – The Proclaimers

Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry

King of the Road

La Bamba – Ritchie Vallens

Looking out My Back Door

Maybelline – - Chuck Berry

Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley and the Comets

Roll Over Beethoven – Chuck Berry

Song Sung Blue – Neil Diamond

Summer Lovin – Grease

The Joker – Steve Miller

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Why don’t You Get a Job – OffSpring

 

4-Chord Songs – using Chords C, F, G Am – Play in the key of C.ukulele lessons

There is a funny video on YouTube by the comedy act Axis of Awesome which demonstrates the way pop songs use the same 4 chord progression which is known as the 1,5, 6, 4 chord progression over and over again. This list below includes some of the songs they mention and more.

Africa – Toto

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Amazing – Alex Lloyd

Ain’t even done with the night (chorus) – John Mellencamp

Beast of Burden

Beyond the Sea – 1946 song – including Bobby Darin

Blue Moon

Can You Feel The Love Tonight – Elton John

Country Roads (chorus) – John Denver-

Crying (chorus) – Aerosmith

Don’t Be So Reckless

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey

Down Under – Men At Work

Fall At Your Feet – Crowded House

Fall For You (chorus) – Second Hand Serenade

Forever Young – Alphaville

Glycerine – Bush

Goin’ Down – Bruce Springsteen

Happy Ending – Mika

Heard it Through the Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

Heart And Soul

Hey Soul Sister – Train

I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

I Would Do Anything for Love (chorus) – Meatloaf

If I Were A Boy – Beyoncé

I’m yours – Jason Mraz

Last Kiss – Pearl Jam

Let It Be – The Beatles

Love Will Keep us Alive – Eagles

Midnight Train – Journey

No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles

Please Mr. Postman – The Beatles

Octopus’ Garden – The Beatles

Paparazzi – Lady Gaga

Pictures Of You – The Last Goodnight

Pretty Enough? – Kasey Chambers

Poker Face – Lady Ga Ga

Ruby SOHO – Rancid

Save Tonight – Eagle-Eye Cherry

She Will Be Loved – Maroon 5

So Lonely – The Police

Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne

Take On Me – A-ha

The Horses – Darryl Braithwaite

This Boy – The Beatles 1963

This Magic Moment – Jay and The Americans

Tuesdays Gone – Lynard Skynard

Umberella – Rihanna

Under The Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

When I Come Around – Green Day

Wherever You Will Go – The Calling

With Or Without You – U2

Waltzing Matilda – Banjo Patterson

Where’d Ya Go – Fort Miner

You Really Got a Hold on Me -Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Beatles

You’re Beautiful – James Blunt

 

So Many Old 50’s and 60’s Doo Wop Songsukulele lessons

All I Have To Do Is Dream – Everly Brothers

Angel Baby – Rosie and the Originals

Baby Talk – Jan and Dean

Big Girls Don’t Cry

Come Go With Me – The Dell Vikings

Dream Lover – Bobby Darrin 1959

Duke of Earl – Gene Chandler

Earth Angel – The Penguins

In the Still of the Night – Doo Wop song by the Five Satins 1956

Johnny Get Angry – Joannie Summers

Keep On Dancin’ – The Gentrys

Little Star – the Elegants

My True Story – Jive Five

One Summer Night 1950s

Rinky Dink – Johnny Howard Band an instrumental from 1965

Runaround Sue – Dion and the Belmonts

Stand by Me – Ben E King

Stay – Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs

Unchained Melody – Righteous brothers

Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters, The Rolling Stones

What a Wonderful World This would be – Same Cooke

Why Do Fools Fall In Love? – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

Wild Weekend the Rockin’ Rebels – instrumental 1963

 

This is just a small sample of the simple three and four chord songs – there are hundreds of three and four chord songs which are easy to play on ukulele. Use the online chord chart resources as a way of finding great 2,3 and 4 chord songs for your ukulele lessons.

Would you like to learn to play ukulele like a pro?

If you are looking for a ukulele teacher I offer ukulele lessons online via Skype anywhere around the world – which my students say is a brilliant way to learn!

And by popular demand I have created my beginners ukulele lessons as an e-book giving ukulele students everything needed to learn to play four basic chords on ukulele to unlock thousands of songs.

Ukulele Lessons Today e-book is available for purchase for under $10 Amazon Kindle. It’s your super convenient ukulele lessons in your pocket.

About The Author:

Zelda Sheldon is an author, educator, performer and award winning commercial broadcast songwriter whose works continue to be performed around the world. She helped establish the first Australian chapter of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) in Sydney and is a passionate advocate for building dynamic, creative communities, lifelong learning and bringing the magic of music and songs into more lives for holistic health.

Along with her songwriting Zelda is a popular ukulele performer and music educator offering world-class Ukulele Lessons Sydney, Nashville and Online via Skype for beginners of all ages, along with singing, songwriting and creative life coaching.

Zelda Sheldonukulele lessons

Ukulele Lessons Today

ukulele lessons

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