In our current internet age, finding information is as easy an activity second only to breathing. But with this flash of convenience also comes the problem of what information is worth our while in seeking out. In this article, I will first help you to navigate the vast ocean of ukulele knowledge to find the simplest and easiest sources of correct information. Then, you’ll learn to use this information to learn songs quickly.
Without a clear focus or goal in mind, a simple search can turn into hours of distraction which may lead to us feeling like we haven’t got what it takes to succeed at our instrument. But, with the following, clear path to the best there is, we can create a game plan to help stay on track.
Before we begin, we need to choose our song. We only need two pieces of information to succeed in finding the music for it, and that is the title and the artist who performs it. For this search I am going to use the song Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley.
Some of the most popular songs out there have been performed by multiple artists. In this instance, Hallelujah was originally performed by Leonard Cohen, then performed by Jeff Buckley, then by the cast of the show GLEE, and the list goes on. For now, we’ll choose Jeff Buckley because his version is one of the most popular.
Step 1: Search The Right Way
In order to cut down on the noise of the internet, we will search for this song in a very particular way. We will start off with our search engine of choice and type in “Hallelujah Jeff Buckley Chords”, putting the song title, artist, and the word “chords” at the end.
This will bring up thousands of results, including videos, articles, websites, etc. We want to always go to the top link that takes us to the Ultimate Guitar website. This site is dedicated to giving you the best results on the web for chords to songs, with many thousands of musicians vetting each song to make sure it’s the most useful one. Other sites that will pop up will pale in comparison, so let’s only use Ultimate Guitar for now.
Step 2: Check To See That We Have The Best Version
Now that we have clicked the Ultimate Guitar link, we have two more jobs to complete before we get into learning the song: check to see that we are using the best version and click on the “Ukulele” option under the chord section of the webpage.
On the left hand side, there will be multiple versions of the song, all made by different musicians on the internet. They will have a 1 to 5 star rating and an amount of ratings per version. Make sure that you’re on the best one. As of this writing, Version 2 of Hallelujah has 5 stars and over 41,000 reviews. Perfect.
Step 3: Learn The Chords For The First Section Of The Song
The webpage will be broken down into multiple sections: the title and general information section, the chords section, the strumming section, and then the bulk of the song which features the lyrics with the chords overlaid on top of them. Every song is broken down into multiple sections usually referred to as Intros, Verses, Choruses, Bridges, and Outros.
In Hallelujah, the first section of the piece is the Intro, which includes the C major chord and the A minor chord. So before moving on learn just those two chords. Use the charts included in the chord section if this is your first time learning these chords, and be particular about which finger is placed on which fret.
Step 5: Learn The Strumming Pattern To The First Section Of The Song
Once you feel comfortable with the chords, it’s time to learn the strumming pattern to the first section of the song. This will be listed right below the chord section, and will show you using up and down arrows which way to strum chords.
In some cases, there will be multiple options (Hallelujah has three) and so you should experiment with which one(s) you like the best. Practice this just on one chord to start, then moving it back and forth between the different chords of the section. Then play the whole section on its own before moving onto step 6.
Step 6: Repeat For The Next Sections Of The Song
With the first section under our belt we can move onto the next section and follow the same process: learn the chords (three new ones for Hallelujah show up in the Verse), learn to play them with the strum, and then try to play the whole section on its own. You should then put the first two sections together before moving on to the third section if there is one for the song you are playing. In the case of Hallelujah, you will do this one more time with the Chorus.
Step 7: Play The Entire Song Along With A Recording
Now you’ve got the whole song down! The next step is to play this song along with a recording, so you can see how it all unfolds. Typically, in the bottom right corner of the webpage there will be a video you can play of the song, which will follow along with the lyrics and chords on the webpage.
Learn New Music in Small, Bite-Sized Chunks
So the biggest take away here should be that learning a song is best done in small bite-sized chunks. Learn the chords, then learning the strum pattern, and moving through the song in incremental steps. This will be much more productive than trying to “play the song” right off the bat. This can be done in multiple sittings, so take your time through it and enjoy the process of learning a song that you love!