ukulele tabs

A Beginner’s Guide to Ukulele Tabs: How to Read Them and Where to Find Them

ukulele tabs

Want to learn some cool riffs on your ukulele? In this lesson, ukulele teacher Willy M. shares how you can read ukulele tabs and find them for your favorite songs…

Hello, ukephiles! Ukephile (pronounced “you-keh-file”) is a new word I just invented deriving from “uke” for “ukelele” and “philo,” Greek for “to love;” so it means “lovers of the ukulele!” Anyway, I digress. One of the hardest things for ukephiles is finding tabs for songs that you want to play.

Most of the time, we can find guitar chord charts and strum along with ukulele chords; but every once in a while, we want to be more daring and venture out into uncharted territory on the uke – by fingerpicking, or lead playing, or playing arpeggios, or any number of other cool things we can do on the ukulele. When we want to do those things, we naturally are going to need some tab, unless we want to figure it all out by ear.

Tab, or tablature, as it is commonly called among string players, is a very old method of notation for stringed instruments. It actually predates modern sheet music by several hundred years, and most scholars believe it dates back to the development of the lute and early guitar music.

How to Read Ukulele Tabs

The wonderful thing about tab is that it is incredibly easy to learn to read. Tab for the ukulele will look like four lines. Most of the tab you will find on the internet is for a ukulele tuned to G-C-E-A tuning. If the ukulele is tuned to another tuning, the tab will usually indicate this, as you’ll see that the pitch that each string is tuned to sits directly to the left of the tab.

The four lines of the tab represent the four strings, as mentioned, and they are represented from the G string, being the bottom line of the tab, to the A string, being the top line of the tab. So, from bottom to top: the bottom line is G, the second from the bottom line is C, the third line of the tab is E, and the top line of the tab is the top highest string of the ukulele, A.

When you see a number written on the tab, it refers to the fret that you are supposed to hold down when you pluck a note. Sometimes, you will see examples that are typed out like this:

ukulele tabs

In this example, you would play the open C and E string, followed by playing the fifth, then the third, then the open C string. You would then play the third, then second fret of the G string, followed by the open G and C strings. The rest of the example is pretty self-explanatory.

Reading tab is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. Sometimes, you’ll find tab written along with the sheet music, and that gives you a good idea of how to play the rhythm, if you understand how to read rhythm on sheet music. And sometimes, you might find tab written with the rhythmic stems of the traditional sheet music notes written above the tab, without the accompanying sheet music. Either way, they are simple ways of helping you understand the rhythm of what you are looking at.

You might run into some symbols that represent hammer-ons, pull-offs, string bends, slides and the like, but they are more common to guitar tab, rather than ukulele tab. Keep in mind, though, that they might be there.

It’s usually pretty easy to figure out what these symbols mean. A bend looks like an curved arrow pointing up, a hammer-on has a little “h” in the symbol, whereas a pull-off has a little “p” in the symbol! Slides are lines from one fret to another, and vibrato is typically a zigzag line after a note.

Where to Find Ukulele Tabs

Now, where are you going to find these tabs? Well, I’ve done a lot of research for you and found 10 places where you can find ukulele tabs.

1. is a site that hosts tabs and chord charts. They are much heavier on the chord-chart side of things, but you might find a few tabs there. They do, however, include a lot of chord diagrams with their charts.

2. is a site for beginners with few tabs, but lots of chord charts and videos for beginning ukulele players.

3. is a great site for finding tabs and chord charts for the ukulele. It has a great deal of the popular ukulele songs out there that everyone wants to learn how to play. It also has a neat feature that lets you transpose the song into a key you want to play in.

4. has a lot of tabs and chord charts for older songs. Some of the songs go way back to the 20s and 30s, and some of the classic rock songs from the 70s and 80s also make an appearance.

5. is another chord-heavy site, but the chord charts are partially tabs as well, because they give you the strums written out between the chords (diagrams with little “x’s” for the strums).

6. is the best ukulele tab site that I’ve found with actual tabs. They have chord charts, as well, but they have tabs for popular songs. I was able to find a tab for “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream. They have Eric Clapton’s guitar part tabbed out properly! Pretty cool site.

7. is another interesting site. It typically provides its readers with the tab and chord chart in one printable sheet.

8. is one more chord-heavy site, but it also has a lot of the really popular songs, so if you have trouble finding a song on one of the other sites, check this site.

9. has a lot of ukulele tabs, as well. I love this site. It has about every song imaginable out there for tabs and chord charts, you can transpose it to whatever key you want, and you can usually find tabs for every member of your band. Really cool site.

10. Finally, one last place to find tabs is your local music shop! If you’re looking for tabs to a particular song but can’t find them anywhere else, go talk to the people at your local music shop, and they can probably order it for you!

So, there is an introduction to ukulele tabs – where you can find them and how to use them. Hope this helps. Keep practicing, and good luck in your ukulele lessons!

Willy M

Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age, from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy.


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Michael

how to hold a violin

How to Hold a Violin Properly: 7 Expert Tips and Tricks [Infographic]

How you hold your violin makes a huge difference in the way you sound. Below, violin teacher Julie P. shares some helpful tips on how to hold a violin properly…

As a beginner violin student, you know that posture is very important when playing the violin. Since there aren’t any keys to push, every sound is created by forming precise angles with the violin and bow. Below are some tips on how to hold a violin properly and how to find the best posture to support your playing.

how to hold a violin

1. Sit or Stand Up Straight

Why it’s important: Maintaining an upright playing posture is not only good for your body, it also helps create enough space between the violin and your body to allow for excellent bow and arm movements.

Slouching will make it more difficult to play and can even lead to long-term injuries.

2. Hold Violin Between Chin and Left Shoulder

Why it’s important: The left hand needs a lot of flexibility. Not only do the fingers need to be able to move quickly, when you get into more advanced music, the left hand will have to shift up the fingerboard to higher positions.

Even if you’re just a beginner and are not yet shifting to new positions, it’s best to adopt this good habit from the very start.

3. Keep Left Shoulder Relaxed

Why it’s important: The left arm is supported by the left side of the torso. If the left shoulder is tense, the left arm loses support from the torso. Not only that, tension from the shoulder will creep down the arm and cause other problems.

If you feel your left shoulder tensing up, your shoulder rest may not be placed high enough. Look for a shoulder rest that can be adjusted higher, so that it spans the distance between your chin and your shoulder.

4. Relax Left Arm Away From Body

Why it’s important: The left arm needs space to move, as well as flexibility. Holding the arm in against the body, or out in a “winged” position, adds tension to the posture and reduces flexibility. Therefore, make sure you’re relaxing your left arm away from your body.

5. Keep a Straight Line From Left Elbow Through Left Wrist

Why it’s important: It’s common for beginners to hold the palm up against the neck of the violin to support it. This puts a lot of strain on the wrist, in addition to reducing the movement range of the left hand.

Maintaining a naturally straight extension from your arm through your wrist helps to eliminate tension and reduce strain on your inner wrist.

6. Put Your Left Thumb in the Same Spot Every Time You Play

Why it’s important: Playing in tune on the violin requires exact finger placement for each note. Even more, that exact placement needs to be replicated consistently over and over again as you play through music.

The left hand is anchored by the left thumb, so find the best place for your thumb, and practice putting it there every time you play. Usually it’s on the side of the neck, near the nut.

7. Pretend to be the Best Violinist in the World

Why it’s important: You probably already have a picture in your mind of what it looks like to play the violin. Chances are, that picture is the result of seeing professional violinists in action.

These players all hold the violin properly, and if you imitate them, you’ll automatically sit up straighter, relax your arms wider, and play with less tension. Plus, pretending you are the best violinist in the world is fun!

As you can see, there are some common themes when it comes to how to hold a violin – eliminating tension and creating flexibility being key. Following the tips above will make a positive impact on your playing and reduce your chances of having an injury.

Your violin teacher can also give you individualized attention to help you improve your posture.

JuliePJulie P. teaches flute, clarinet, music theory, and saxophone lessons in Brooklyn, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ithaca College and her Masters in Music Performance from New Jersey City University. Learn more about Julie here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

How Learning Spanish Can Help You Save Money on Your Trip to Spain

The Best Tip for Traveling to Spain Isn’t What You’d Expect

Planning a trip to Spain? There’s so much to explore and see! And if you’re on a budget, you can still have an amazing experience. Learn more in this guest post by Carmichael, CA Spanish tutor Joan B...


Are you planning a trip to Spain? Whether you want to cross the must-see destinations off your bucket list, or get off the beaten path and check out some of the hidden gems in Spain, there is so much to explore. Moreover, there are tons of websites out there devoted to offering tips, hacks, and recommendations for making the most of your trip and sticking to your budget.

But outside of doing your due diligence to find the cheapest (yet still reputable) hotels, do you know the simplest travel hack of all? This one thing can help you save money in Spain, while helping you have the best experience possible.

That trick? Actually learning Spanish! While you can certainly get by finding tour guides and translators who speak English, a lot can be said for learning the language of the locals. Keep reading to learn all the ways that Spanish will enhance your experience and help you save money in Spain.

spain on a budget

1. Impress the Locals

Spaniards are fiercely proud of their language, and showing them that you have an appreciation for the Spanish language and have worked to communicate with them in their mother tongue can make a huge difference. Whether it’s the local shopkeeper who throws in some extra goodies, the owner of a bed and breakfast who gives you a discount, or any other local merchant, you will find that simply by speaking Spanish, others are more likely to be helpful and give you a better deal.

2. Make New Friends

When you can converse socially and make someone feel comfortable speaking to you in their language, you can develop long-lasting and meaningful friendships. Building friendships with locals is one of the best travel tips for Spain, because it will allow you to experience a side of the country you might not otherwise see. They can recommend local places, set you up to stay with friends, and more. With this unparalleled cultural experience, you can save money at the same time!

3. Avoid Confusion at the Register

When you’re traveling, lots of transactions are made, big and small. Speaking Spanish is very useful in this case because not every clerk and merchant you encounter will speak English. And even if they do, confusion can still occur. Speaking Spanish will save you money because in addition to giving you the ability to read sign descriptions and prices, it will allow you to clear up potential confusion and make sure you’re paying the actual price instead of an inflated one for tourists.

A common place where this is useful is at the train station. Not every clerk speaks English, so speaking Spanish will ensure that you buy a ticket at the correct price, with the correct departure time and destination. An incorrect ticket can result in lost time and additional fees.

4. Stay on the Right Path

Another thing that happens often when traveling is that you may rely on the advice and suggestions of people in the street, whether it’s asking for directions or a suggestion for a cafe or restaurant. Whom you meet often determines where you go, and subsequently, how much you pay. Speaking Spanish ensures that locals can lead you away from overpriced tourist traps, and instead point you in the direction of cafes and restaurants that are frequented by locals. In addition, the act of conversing in Spanish instead of English means that the locals you encounter might be less likely to think of you as a typical tourist and recommend more authentic (and probably better-priced) options.

5. Bargain for a Great Price

Bargaining is another area where speaking the native language will come in handy if you’re visiting Spain on a budget. If you want to go to places like El Rastro in Madrid (a giant flea market) to pick up souvenirs and gifts, speaking Spanish will allow you to be a more compelling and effective bargainer. You will be taken more seriously and the merchants are more likely to give you the price you want!

Lodging is another point in traveling where cost matters. A common choice in Spain is a pension, a type of local and independent bed and breakfast. Because these are often run by a single person or a couple, you have a chance to interact with the owner. Speaking Spanish will quite possibly net you a lower price in addition to creating a stronger relationship with the person, which could lead to more individualized and customized recommendations for things to do and places to go.

Additional Travel Tips for Spain

Looking for more travel tips? We recommend checking out these guides:

It’s clear that there are endless ways to save money in Spain by learning Spanish. Many of the problems that come along with being a tourist, such as price inflation, occur because of a lack of savviness. Speaking Spanish will make you a more informed and capable traveler, and it will be obvious to those with whom you interact, as well. So get started today! As you plan your trip to Spain, incorporate some Spanish lessons to make sure you’ve covered all the basics!

Ready to brush up your Spanish? Find a tutor near you!


Joan BannaJoan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Photo by Clark & Kim Kays

What is Flamenco Guitar Techniques and Terms You Need to Know

What is Flamenco Guitar? Terms and Techniques You Need to Know

What is Flamenco Guitar Techniques and Terms You Need to Know

Falling in love with the sounds of flamenco guitar is easy, and this music is fun to learn to play too. Guitar teacher David W. is here to help you learn the basic terms and techniques you’ll learn…

Some folks get interested in flamenco through its virtuosic guitar playing, rhythmic dancing and colorful dresses, or the expressive nature of Gypsy singing. For guitarists of other styles, playing flamenco is among the most respected styles in the world thanks to its sound, tonality, and technique.

Since flamenco guitar has shared roots with classical guitar technique, it will help if you are at least familiar with a bit about the classical guitar. If you are a complete beginner to guitar, no problem!

Understanding Flamenco Guitar

Want to learn flamenco guitar? As you may know, it’s traditionally played on a nylon-string (classical) style guitar, using not a pick but the fingers and nails of the right hand to drive the sound. The left hand is used much the same as in other styles, with some tonal and positional particularities. The right hand is related to classical technique in some regards, but as we’ll see there are some big differences.

First, an analogy: Imagine that the guitar is a car, driving you down some Andalusian country road. Your right hand works the gas and brakes, and the left hand is the steering wheel. There are foundational rhythms that you can play with the right hand that can be applied to any chord or melody, given the technique you are using.

What are these right hand techniques? We will cover each of the foundational right hand techniques for flamenco guitar later on in this article. But let’s start with some basic terminology relating to the art.

Spanish Terminology for Classical and Flamenco Guitar

Terminology is important to learning flamenco guitar, partly because flamenco comes from Spain. Here we’ll cover terms used to describe musical elements, parts of the guitar, guitar technique in general, as well as those particular to flamenco that are an integral part of the journey. Just as you have learned to say “pizza” and “sushi”, these words are easy to learn and will enrich your life by connecting you to a colorful world and its unique art.

Flamenco Music

Here are some basic terms describing some fundamental parts of a flamenco performance:

palo = song style (eg; Solea, Tangos, Bulerias, Alegrias, etc.)

cante = flamenco singing

toque = flamenco guitar playing

baile = flamenco dance

palmas = rhythmic hand claps that accompany a performance

falseta = a prepared or improvised guitar-focused interlude between sung verses or dance sections, or as a compositional development in its own right

The Guitar

This is terminology that relates to the guitar itself, and accessories used in flamenco:

guitarra = guitar

cejilla = capo

golpeador = tap plate

cuerdas = strings

acordes = chords

The Fingers

When notating the music played on classical and flamenco guitar, we use the following terms and abbreviations for right hand technique:

pulgar = thumb (notated as “p”)

indice = index finger (notated as “i”)

medio = middle finger (notated as “m”)

anular = ring finger (notated as “a”)

rosado = pinky (not used as a term, notated as “x”)

Guitar Technique

These are the techniques used in flamenco guitar, with a focus on the right hand in this article. With the exception of arpeggio, they are more specific to flamenco than to classical music:

arpeggio = plucking individual notes of a chord, e.g: p, i, m, a, m, i.

picado = playing single note melodies using i, m.

rasgueo = raking across the strings using x, a, m, i, and sometimes including p.

abanico = a sub-category of rasgueo, using either p, i, and m, or p and ma.

alzapua = using the thumb (p) to articulate a combination of single notes and parts of chords.

arrastre = raking backwards (high to low) over the strings using the ring (anular, a) finger.

golpe = tapping the body of the guitar, on the tap plate (golpeador) using ma (middle and ring fingers together), or just the ring finger (a).

Right Hand Flamenco Guitar Techniques

These techniques can be dizzying to watch live up close and in person, but I hope to demystify them a bit here:

arpeggio and picado

As mentioned earlier, right hand technique for flamenco guitar is to a degree built on classical technique, with some additions. The classical component consists of arpeggios, and the use of alternating index and middle (i, m) for melodies. The arpeggiated figures in flamenco are particular, but you can use exercises from classical repertoire to build the needed dexterity.

Picado is one technique used to play single note melodies in flamenco, and is played with a short, percussive stroke that is muted immediately after playing each note. To build your picado, just apply an alternating i, m sequence to any of the scales that you’ve learned; while keeping the notes short and “punchy”.

pulgar – the thumb: melody and alzapua

The right hand thumb warrants special study, as it is used in arpeggio and alzapua, as well as in melodies. A major difference with classical technique is that the thumb is almost exclusively played with a rest-stroke (apoyando). This means that when you strike the string, your thumb pushes down through the active string, coming to a brief resting position on the adjacent string below.

This gives a more penetrating action that is louder, more percussive; and also unique in tone. Alzapua is a highly specialized technique that gives a unique effect. The thumb performs up and down strokes through both single and multiple strings, striking both through parts of chords and single notes on the bass strings.

The thumb is used also used in an approach alternating with the index finger, for a unique effect. Start with the following sequence on the open E strings (index on high E, and thumb on low E): p i, p i, p i, p i.

Then, begin changing the notes of the bass using the left hand, one for every 2 or 4 thumb strokes. You’ll find that the open high E string provides a nice pedal-like accompaniment to your bass melody. Alternately, leave the low E open, and change notes on the high E string (right hand is still playing with the index finger), for a brighter sound accompanied by the droning low E played with the thumb.


Perhaps the most renowned of flamenco guitar techniques is the rasgueo (aka “rasgueado”). This technique is unique to flamenco, and doesn’t find a truly comparable counterpart in classical guitar technique.

If you’ve played some rasgueo in a classical piece, it was likely borrowed from flamenco in some fashion. The first one you should try is just stroking up and down through all strings with the index finger, while making a chord with the left hand: up i, down i.

If you’re using fingers and no thumb, the only finger that makes an up stroke is the index. All others (middle, ring and pinky; m, a, x) only make down strokes. Try these basic right hand sequences to get yourself started:

-down x, down a, down m, down i, up i. -up i, down m, down i.

Repeat these patterns to increase your sense of relaxed control, changing chords as you’re comfortable.

These exercises really do take some time to develop so that they sound authentic and feel natural, so don’t give up. Spending a little time (5-20 minutes) every day is better than sitting for an hour or more at a time once a week or less.

Of course, lessons do help! If you can find a guitar teacher in your area, or one that is available through skype, do so to help you get on the right track. In general, try alternating between loud and soft dynamics. This way, you give your muscles a bit of a break, as well as build relaxed control, which is both sustainable and eventually will sound better than playing with too much tension.

The payoff is immense when you can play this music, even a little bit! And getting the basics down opens up the potential to play with others, which magnifies your enjoyment and propels you even further on your musical journey. Good luck and happy strumming.

David W.

David W. is a guitar teacher in Berkeley, CA. An instructor for more than fifteen years, David can also help students focus on classical, flamenco, or bass guitar. Learn more about David here!




Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by waferboard

How Your Guilty Pleasures Can Help You Learn Spanish

How 4 Guilty Pleasures Can Actually Help You Learn Spanish

Stuck in another Netflix binge? Instead of feeling guilty, put your time to good use by learning Spanish as you watch! Here are some ideas to try from Carmichael, CA Spanish tutor Joan B...


Do you love to sit on the couch and zone out staring at the television? Or sneak a glance at Twitter in your spare moments? If so, read on to discover how these guilty pleasures are actually the easiest way to learn Spanish. The time that you used to think was wasted can now double as Spanish language practice!

Break Out the Popcorn and Watch a Movie

watching movies

If you binge on Netflix regularly and feel tons of guilt, try watching Spanish language films. Not only are they just as entertaining as other films, you will be greatly improving your Spanish by listening to the Spanish spoken in the film and simultaneously reading the subtitles in English. Some suggestions for films to try include Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries), Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon),  and Maria, Llena Eres de Gracia (Maria Full of Grace). If you have Amazon Prime, you might not have realized that it also comes with a great library of films that you can watch for free; try browsing the foreign section to find some thrilling Spanish films.

How to Find Spanish Shows on Netflix

For Spanish shows and movies on Netflix in particular, here’s a great post with tips from There are also a lot of sites that publish lists of new content added to Netflix each month, including The Next Web and CNET.


Get Social


If social media is more your thing, try using it as an opportunity to practice your Spanish skills! Since immersion is the easiest way to learn Spanish, cure your boredom, chat with friends, and catch up on the hottest news of the day — all in Spanish.

On Twitter, you can follow all sorts of influential Spanish speakers to get news and other tidbits in Spanish. On Facebook, you can join groups about Spanish topics or countries, follow famous Spanish-speaking musicians like Shakira, The Gipsy Kings, Enrique Iglesias, Juanes, and Jennifer Lopez, and connect with Spanish speakers as friends. When your newsfeed is full of Spanish, you’ll start to think more naturally and comfortably in Spanish, in addition to expanding your vocabulary.

(For even more social media ideas, check out this post by Will over at My Spanish Adventure!)

Turn on the Radio

listening to music

Do you also love to sing along to the greats – or the opposite – in pop? Bad pop music is actually great for your Spanish! The cheesy lyrics are often sung clearly, and the songs that lament lost love, summer romances, and other topics use a simple vocabulary. By listening and even singing along as you get to know the songs, you will refine your accent and imprint the rhythm and syntax of Spanish more deeply in your consciousness.

Try a Telenovela

watching tv

The last (and my favorite) way to use your guilty pleasures to learn Spanish is by watching Spanish-language soap operas! The overdone acting and extreme drama will entertain you greatly, and also help your Spanish. You can use the clear facial expressions and tone of speech to gain comprehension; another option is to turn on the closed captioning, so you can view the written Spanish as you listen. With the occasional use of slang, you can also increase your knowledge of casual speech in Spanish. The best part is, once you watch one episode, you’ll be hooked, which means your Spanish language time is now guaranteed on a weekly basis!


So put your guilty pleasures to good use and try out the easiest way to learn Spanish! Opportunities abound to have fun and learn Spanish at the same time, so don’t wait to start your Netflix subscription, log into Facebook more often, or sing along to your new favorite Spanish music.

Want even more ideas? We love this post from Spanish Obsessed blog, with a whopping 37 ideas for activities to practice your Spanish! 


Joan BannaJoan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Photos by Andrés Nieto PorrasBrian WilkinsGarry

Majoring and Minoring in Spanish

What Can You Do With a Degree in Spanish? | The Lowdown

Majoring and Minoring in SpanishHaving trouble deciding on your major for college? If studying Spanish further interests you, you might be wondering, “What can I do with a Spanish degree?” Check out your options — and the benefits of a degree in Spanish — in this guest post by Carmichael, CA Spanish tutor Joan B...


Spanish is a field in bloom, as the number of Spanish speakers in the United States continues to grow. Getting a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish can open up a wide variety of career paths, and a Spanish minor is another valuable option to consider if you have other fields you wish to major in. As you continue reading, you will discover several in-demand fields for those with a degree in Spanish, as well as the benefits of obtaining a minor.

What Can You Do With a Spanish Degree?

Translation or Interpreting

Perhaps the most obvious job for someone majoring in Spanish is as a translator or interpreter. However, even this job contains numerous, varied opportunities. Joining the field of translation and/or interpretation means that you could act as a court interpreter, or a medical or legal translator, among other positions. These positions are in great demand and are satisfying since you are using Spanish to help others.


Another interesting career option for Spanish majors is teaching. The possibilities are endless. You could obtain your K-12 teaching credential and then teach in a bilingual school, or you could tutor Spanish privately. You could also teach the language to businesspeople in corporations. A variation on teaching would be to work as a tour guide with a travel company. By using your Spanish as a tour guide, you are educating, entertaining, and perhaps even visiting Spain or Latin America.

Other Career Opportunities

In addition to the above Spanish-focused careers, Spanish can also be used in many professions where being bilingual is either a plus or is required: international finance, non-profit organizations, international organizations, and nursing are all examples of this. If these types of careers interest you, you might consider double-majoring in Spanish and another discipline of your choice. Alternatively, you could also consider graduate work as a way to expand and supplement your knowledge.

Should You Major or Minor in Spanish?

Speaking of multidisciplinary study, if you love the Spanish language and culture, but also have other educational interests, you might consider a minor in Spanish. While some might wonder if minoring in Spanish is worth it, a minor can not only give you a good foundation of knowledge in Spanish, it can also be the nudge that pushes you to the top of an interview list or rounds out your resume.

A minor is also a great option if you want to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. Once you have completed the initial prerequisite language classes, a minor can be accomplished quickly in an immersion setting as you take classes. Often, some classes can even go toward both major and minor requirements. For example, as a Spanish minor and an art history major, a class on Spanish art might serve both. A minor is also a smart option if you’re not certain how you want to incorporate Spanish into your career. In this case, the knowledge and the pleasure of learning the language will be there for you, but you will still have plenty of time to explore other interests during your time in college.

As you explore your options, don’t hesitate to speak with the graduate students and professors in your school’s Spanish department. In addition to your academic advisor, they can be valuable sources for advice and suggestions.

Joan BannaJoan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian, and spent time living in Spain. Joan aims to help students improve on tests and increase their conversational ability when traveling to Spanish-speaking countries. Learn more about Joan here!


Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Photo by uoeducation

Conjugation Guide with Graphic

Intro to Spanish Verb Conjugation | Tips, Charts, & More

How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs A big part of learning to speak Spanish is an understanding of basic grammar rules — and one of the first things you’ll need to know is Spanish verb conjugation. Here, Jason N. breaks down the basics…


Let’s start with the most important question: why is it important to learn conjugation? Conjugation enables us to use verbs to describe real live situations and events. Without knowing how to conjugate verbs we would not be able to form coherent sentences. Just like English, conjugating verbs (along with other Spanish grammar basics) is essential to learning the language.

Even though most native English-speakers don’t know this, we conjugate verbs all the time in English. Let’s use the example of the verb to watch in English. To conjugate it, we say:

To watch:                              
I watch

You watch
He/she watches
We watch
They watch

As you can see, verb conjugation in English is quite simple. Almost all English verbs only have two variants when conjugating (i.e. watch vs. watches), with the exception of the verb to be which has three variants:

To be:
I am
You are
He is
We are
They are

How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs

Spanish, on the other hand, always conjugates verbs into five variants. Let’s use the same example of the verb to watch in Spanish, which is mirar.

Yo miro

Tú miras
Él/Ella/Usted mira
Nosotros miramos
Ellas/Ellos/Ustedes miran

Again, as you can see, Spanish breaks down verbs into five different ending variants, which can feel overwhelming and confusing. Learning how it works can appear complicated at first, but luckily you can use the formula below that makes it so easy, it will become second nature.

Start with the following three steps:

How to Conjugate Spanish Verbs

How to Conjugate -AR Verbs in Spanish

Let’s take mirar (to watch), for example:

- If you are referring to ‘Yo’ or ‘I,’ add the letter ‘o’ to end the conjugated verb, forming miro.
- If you are referring to ‘Tú’ or ‘you,’ use the ending ‘as,’ to form miras.
- If you are referring to ‘él’ or ‘ella” or ‘he or she,’ use the ending ‘a,’ to form mira.
- If you are referring to ‘nosotros’ or ‘we,’ use the ending ‘amos’ to form miramos.
- If you are referring to ‘ellos’ or ‘they,’ use the ending ‘an,’ to form miran.

How to Conjugate -IR Verbs in Spanish

Let’s take comer (to eat), for example:

-‘Yo’ stays the same here, with the ‘o’ ending, just like AR verbs, to form como.
-If you are referring to ‘Tú’ or ‘you,’ use the ending ‘es,’ to form comes.
-If you are referring to ‘él’ or ‘ella” or ‘he or she,’ use the ending ‘e,’ to form come.
-If you are referring to ‘nosotros’ or ‘we,’ use the ending ‘emos,’ to form comemos.
-If you are referring to ‘ellos’ or ‘they,’ use the ending ‘en,’ to form comen.

How to Conjugate -ER Verbs in Spanish

- Same rules as with -IR verbs

Here’s a great Spanish verb conjugation chart from that summarizes these rules:

spanish verb conjugation chart

Ready for Some Spanish Conjugation Practice?

Use a simple chart like the one below, and practice conjugating each of the verbs.

Spanish conjugation chart

It seems easy, right? The formula is straightforward but it does get a little tricky when the verbs are “stem-changers” or irregular, which your Spanish tutor can help you understand in more detail. Additionally, conjugation in Spanish varies significantly when the tense changes to past or future (we’ll review these in upcoming articles!).

What About Vosotros?

As you’re working on your Spanish conjugation practice, you may notice that some charts have a space for vosotros conjugation, while others don’t. Spain is the only Spanish-speaking country that actually breaks down verbs into six variants, not five, which commonly isn’t taught in Spanish classes in the United States. Here, Spain makes a distinction between “they” and “you all,” which is used interchangeably in all other Spanish-speaking countries, as speakers use contextual cues to decipher the difference.

Want Extra Spanish Conjugation Practice?

We love the Verb Conjugation Trainer over at Qué Onda Spanish (they have an app, too!). Of course, your Spanish tutor will also have recommendations for exercises and activities to try. This article will get you started, but a tutor will be able to really help you conjugate with mastery!


Ready to find a Spanish tutor near you? Start your search here!

JasonNJason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here! 



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by The LEAF Project

5 Common Fears of New Spanish Learners - And How to Overcome Them

5 Common Fears Of New Spanish Learners (And How To Overcome Them)

5 Common Fears of New Spanish Learners - And How to Overcome ThemThinking about learning Spanish, but terrified of feeling (or sounding) silly as a new learner? Don’t fret — everyone goes through the beginner stages! Here, online Spanish tutor Emmanuel M. shares his helpful tips…


Learning a new language can be difficult, but just like with anything else, all it takes is practice, confidence, and helpful tools. Common fears that new Spanish learners have tend to center around pronouncing words, understanding others, having a conversation, forgetting words or phrases, and the overall stress of learning a new language. However, here are some tips and tricks to overcome those common fears that will help you on your way to becoming a fluent and confident Spanish speaker!

1. Trouble Pronouncing Spanish Words

New Spanish learners may fear mispronouncing words. Like any language, Spanish relies heavily on pronunciation, and since accent marks change the pronunciation within a single word, reading and speaking these words correctly is important. Even words without accent marks need to be pronounced correctly if you want to be understood. When learning Spanish, it’s very understandable to be afraid of mispronouncing words; however, as long as you try to pronounce them like Spanish speakers do, you’ll be fine.

To improve your pronunciation and build your confidence when speaking Spanish, I suggest you learn from Spanish speakers. If you are afraid of mispronouncing words, listen to people who speak Spanish well, and try your best to imitate their speech. Listen to Spanish songs (repeatedly) and try to sing along, pronouncing every word the way the singer does. Watch novellas (Spanish soap operas) and movies in Spanish, and imitate the characters’ speech. Lastly, you can ask your Spanish-speaking friends (or a Spanish tutor) to help you pronounce words.

2. Difficulty Understanding Others

Another fear new Spanish learners might have is not understanding others when they’re speaking Spanish. Learning Spanish can be hard as it is, but trying to understand people who already speak the language can seem like a whole other daunting task! When you’re struggling to learn Spanish, you might feel embarrassed or anxious when you have to speak with someone who is fluent. Spanish speakers tend to speak the language quickly, and you might have trouble keeping up, let alone understanding what they’re saying.

However, there are some ways to combat this fear and overcome the language barrier. One way is to practice with your friends who speak Spanish. Tell them to speak slower than usual to give you time to understand each word. Another way is to listen to Spanish songs with the translated English lyrics in front of you, so that you can understand each phrase. Also, watching Spanish movies, shows, and novellas with the English subtitles on can help you understand what the characters are saying.

3. Anxiety When Having a Conversation

Spanish learners may also feel anxious when they have to speak in Spanish. When you’re just starting off learning Spanish, you may feel confident when reading or writing, but can still feel anxious when having conversations with actual Spanish speakers. Conversational Spanish can be very different because of the slang, phrases, and dialects involved. Also, as stated above, Spanish speakers tend to speak quickly!

Regardless of all this, you can still overcome this anxiety. I would suggest speaking to friends who know Spanish. The key to overcoming this fear is to practice your conversational skills. Perhaps start off by speaking a mixture of English and Spanish, or using English words or phrases when you don’t know how to say something in Spanish. Then, continue to limit your English usage with each conversation you have.

4. Forgetting Key Words, Phrases, and Conjugations

A very common fear new Spanish learners may have is the fear of forgetting how to say things in Spanish, saying the wrong word, messing up the phrase, or conjugating Spanish verbs incorrectly. This fear can exist for a long time, even for experienced Spanish speakers. Being fluent in Spanish takes years, and in that time, you are bound to forget things here and there. Just remember – this is OK!

My advice for overcoming this fear is simple: Use flashcards! Whenever you’re learning new words, phrases, or conjugations, write them down on flashcards, and study them for just 10 minutes each day. This simple trick will help the words “stick,” so that you’re less likely to forget them.

5. Stress Involved In Learning A New Language

Finally, you might experience stress when facing the task of learning a new language in general. You might get frustrated easily, or feel as though you don’t have enough time for it. Fortunately, there are many (fun) ways to study even when you’re short on time. It can also help to remind yourself of why you’re learning in the first place, whether it’s because you’re traveling to a Spanish-speaking country soon, or you want an advantage in the job market.

How a Spanish Tutor Can Help As You’re Learning Spanish

A tutor can be very beneficial for all students, novice and advanced. If you mess up, nobody is around but your tutor – and he or she will never insult you. A tutor is there to reassure you and give you the confidence boost you need to try again (even if you do mess up several times in a row). A tutor can take away some of the stress, make learning fun by coming up with interesting activities, and help ease your tension when it comes to having a conversation in Spanish.

My last piece of advice would be to take your time. As long as you take out 30 minutes every day to practice Spanish you will be fine. It might take a little longer, but as long as you keep at it, it will be worth it.

Emmanuel Noriega

Emmanuel M. teaches Spanish online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and singing. Learn more about Emmanuel here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Newsletter Sign Up

Photo by Ana C.

10 Things Every Great Jazz Guitarist Knows

10 Things Every Great Jazz Guitarist Knows

10 Things Every Great Jazz Guitarist Knows

Be the next great jazz guitarist with these tips from guitar teacher Zachary A.

To quote the late Frank Zappa, “Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny”. Jazz may not be as big and popular as it once was but if you learn how to play jazz you will be set up to successfully play any genre of music. The great jazz musicians all have numerous things in common, things that set them apart from the crowd and make them legendary.

In this article, I will be going over ten of those most important things that anyone playing jazz guitar must know. Remember that as a jazz musician, and really any type of musician, you should be listening to as much music as possible. Listening to great performances really is vital for becoming a great performer yourself.

1. Timing is everything

Timing in music is imperative, and especially in jazz. Music itself is the manipulation of time. When you play music with people and you don’t have a good sense for time, the music you create will most likely be a jagged, clustered mess. The people you play with will not know what to play or when to play. Timing is everything.

2. Practice with an external time source

A good tip to obtain a little bit more of a jazzier feel to your music is to use a metronome or even a drum sequencer.  If  if the time signature fits, practice playing on the 2nd and 4th of the beat. The more you play with a metronome the better your time will be. It is that simple.

3. All jazz musicians have a great ear

The most common trait in every jazz musician is that they have an impeccable ear for music. Developing a musician’s ear, as it is referred to, takes time and lots of practice.

To help build a better ear for music there are numerous exercises that you can do. Training your ear can involve hearing intervals, lines, chord qualities and chord progressions, and learning all of this in every key, with the ability to decipher what change, what interval, what progression is in what key.

Jazz guitarists should also have a great ear while on the bandstand. It is imperative to listen to your band mates while on stage. The better your ear is on stage, the more people will want to play with you.

4. Take every opportunity for a session or gig

Take every opportunity for a session or a gig. Every time you play a session or gig it is a learning experience. Through these experiences be sure to take the opportunity to learn from other successful musicians. Always keep an open mind; I am sure that there is something you can learn from just about every musician out there.

At times it is easy to get stuck in a narcissistic mind set, trying to find your own solutions to your own problems. Having a handful of trustworthy musicians to go to when you get stuck can be very helpful when you’re studying music.

Another reason that it is important to take every session or gig you can is because you never know who you will run into at these events. It has been said that music is about being in the right place at the right time. For that luck to strike, you actually have to be out playing and engaging with other musicians. You never know which gig or session will be the one that could change your career.

5. Practice everyday

This is pretty self-explanatory. To be a great jazz guitarist, it takes practice – and lots of it. Practicing daily, even if it is just for an hour, is way more beneficial than practicing for 8 hours one day and not at all for the rest of the week.

6. Have an extensive amount of heads and changes memorized

All great jazz musicians have a back log of themes and heads memorized with the ability to recall them at any time. This knowledge of heads will be extremely beneficial when playing at a jam session or playing a gig.

When deciding on what to learn, I recommend start off by learning some of the more well known jazz standards. For example, “Autumn Leaves” is a well-known song which is played in the key of g minor.

Another well-known jazz standard that is essential to have in your repertoire is the song “Summertime”. A George Gershwin classic, the jazz version was made famous by John Coltrane and has since been covered by many other legendary musicians. Summertime utilizes the major and minor pentatonic scales. Learning this song will help you be a master at these scales.

A few more common jazz standards you should learn include “Cherokee“, “All the Things“, and “Stella by Starlight“. When learning these songs transpose them for all 12 keys for complete mastery.

7. Always go back to the fundamentals

Jazz is a complex genre, and it is always important to revert back to the fundamentals when learning jazz guitar.This means spending time reviewing the major and minor scales and practicing the pentatonic scales before breaking out in Frank Zappa’s solo in “Black Napkins“.

It is important to know a multitude of chord progressions and phrasings as well as the different forms these phrases can be arranged. Again, it is important to know all these phrases and chord progressions in all of the 12 keys. Another helpful way to learn and master the fundamentals for anyone playing jazz guitar is by learning and getting a general sense of the piano.

8. Talent is great but determination and perseverance win every time

Talent is great but perseverance and determination will triumph every time. Being naturally talented at anything is always a nice thing. The one thing that every jazz musician has in common is that they have spent many dedicated hours in the shed practicing and perfecting their trade. Remember the path to learning one hundred songs begins with learning one.

9. There is no set formula for becoming a jazz musician

There truly is no set formula for becoming a jazz guitarist and musician, but there are many different formulas out there that you can pick and choose from. In the end, use what works best for you.

With jazz there really is so much information out there. There is always room for improvement. You could always be brushing up on changes, learning old jazz standards, or perhaps learning new scales.

It is important to steer clear of the mind set of being overly confident in your abilities. This bottomless pit of a mindset can cause you to become complacent and lose that drive every dedicated jazz musician has. One common thing in jazz is that it will take you years to learn, a challenge that I just love.

10. Set goals and stick with them until completion

To avoid getting stuck in a rut, it helps to set goals. Both short and long term goals will help you grow as a musician. Your goal could be as simple as learning one new song a week.

There is something though, that is even more important than setting the goals, because in reality setting the goals is the easy part. The hard part, and the most important, is to finish the goals you set. Working with a guitar teacher is the best way to meet your goals and achieve your dreams!


Zachary AZachary A. is a guitar instructor in Katy, TX specializing in beginning and intermediate students. He is currently earning a degree in music theory. Learn more about Zachary here!




Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by Antonio Thomás Koenigkam Oliveira

vocal fry example

The Surprising Truth About the Vocal Fry “Epidemic”

vocal fry exampleHow bad is “vocal fry,” anyway? As a singer, should you be concerned about this new vocal trend, heard in artists such as Britney Spears? In this guest post by Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R., listen to a vocal fry example and learn the truth behind the fuss…


I was recently listening to This American Life (a popular radio show and podcast), and the hosts started talking about vocal fry. As a voice professional, I immediately started paying rapt attention. Within a few minutes, I could tell that there is a serious societal problem surrounding this tiny vocal fault.

As it turns out, the media has been complaining about the glottal fry “epidemic” for years, claiming that young women use too much of it in their speech (check out this ridiculous article). Is vocal fry really a speech trend? Is it really limited to young women? What is vocal fry, anyway? Get the truth – and throw out the lies – here.

What Is Vocal Fry?

Vocal fry happens when someone doesn’t use enough breath to speak. The lack of breath causes a creaky sound as the vocal cords come into close contact. It usually happens at the ends of phrases, as the pitch of the sentence goes down and tapers off. Listen to some of the reporters for a vocal fry example on the aforementioned This American Life segment.

Vocal Fry Misconceptions

There is an astonishing amount of misinformation in the media about vocal fry. Here are the misconceptions I find most alarming:

Myth: Vocal fry happens because “that’s the way your voice is.”
Truth: Vocal fry happens because you’re using a very small amount of air to speak. That’s why lots of people talk with vocal fry in the morning, as their bodies are still getting warmed up.

Myth: Only young women speak with vocal fry.
Truth: Anyone can speak with vocal fry, and almost everyone speaks with vocal fry occasionally. In the segment, Ira Glass correctly points out that he, in fact, speaks with vocal fry. In this video examining vocal fry, the vocal coach exhibits a vocal fry example at the end of his very first sentence, probably by accident:

Myth: Vocal fry is a new trend.
Truth: Vocal fry is not new. It has been happening for as long as humans have been phonating.

Myth: You can’t get rid of vocal fry.
Truth: Vocal fry is very easy to get rid of.

Is Vocal Fry Bad?

Vocal fry is not an efficient way to speak. Not using adequate air to speak puts unnecessary stress on your vocal cords. It is also impossible to project when using vocal fry, so unless you are speaking to someone right next to you, it won’t serve you well.

From a societal perspective, there is evidence that the older generations (people 40 and up) have negative attitudes toward vocal fry in young women. As the earlier podcast and article attest, middle-aged to older folks perceive young women who speak with vocal fry as unintelligent and insecure. This is just plain sexist, since the same views don’t seem to apply to men. However, if you are a young woman who speaks with vocal fry, it’s important to know what others may think when you speak.

How to Speak Without Vocal Fry

To speak without vocal fry, simply speak with breath support. Try this:

  • Take the time to breathe before you speak.
  • As you speak, think about projecting your sound to someone across the room.
  • Do not allow the end of your sentence to nosedive into vocal fry.

If you have a voice teacher, she or he will be happy to help you master this. The more you work supported speaking into your daily life, the easier it will get.

No Epidemic Here

It isn’t fair that some people have such strong preconceived notions about vocal fry. However, the truth remains that those notions exist (and that vocal fry is not healthy in the first place). I also find that learning to speak well positively affects your singing. Speak well, sing well, and spread the word: vocal fry is no epidemic. It’s just part of life.

Elaina RElaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!



Interested in Private Lessons?

Search thousands of teachers for local and live, online lessons. Sign up for convenient, affordable private lessons today!

Free TakeLessons Resource

Photo by hnkkk