By Marylou Stout Dempler

Now that you have your ukulele, you can learn to play it in just two minutes without reading music or tablature. Just follow these easy steps:

Berry Bernson of Fox 41 TV gets a Ukulele Lesson from Marylou

Hold Your Ukulele

Hold the neck of the soprano, concert, tenor or banjo ukulele in the left hand. If you are left handed the ukulele must be restrung and the steps reversed.

Cuddle the ukulele like a little puppy in your arms resting it upon your chest.


Tune Your Ukulele

I recommend an electronic tuner like the Intellitouch © professional tuner with a backlight or the Intelliouch © PT-2 Tuner “Bare-Bone” which has no backlight. Lanikia also sells a programmed electronic tuner. Find the one that works best for you and fits your budget.

The strings are tuned G C E A.

The First String A, is the string facing the floor.

The Second String E, is above the A.

The Third String C (Middle C on the piano), is below the top string.

The Fourth String G, is the top string.


Finger Positions

The left hand index finger is #1. The second finger is #2. The middle finger is #3. The pinky finger is #4. Do not count the thumb.

Rest the thumb behind and in the middle of the instrument’s neck.

The right hand index finger is in a pointing position (all other fingers closed) and pointing to the strings over the sound hold.

I use a pick and I prefer that my students use one. There are several different brands, shapes and sizes for different effects. Many ukulele players use the felt pick, which produces a flat, dull, soft sound. As a guitarist, I changed that immediately. I wanted my strings to be heard. Take your uke and go to your local music store. Try out several different brands and thickness of picks. Find the sound you like when you strum your ukulele.


Fret Board

The ukulele has frets on the neck.

The first fret is from the nut right below the tuning pegs to the first fret wire.

The second fret follows and continues down the fret board.

Fret markers (dots or symbols) are placed at intervals on the fret board to help locate frets quickly. The markers usually begin at the third fret, fifth fret and so on.


Finger Positions On The Fret board

Each finger corresponds with each fret. Finger #1 is played on the first fret. Finger #2 is played at the second fret. Finger #3 is played at the third fret. Finger #4 is played at the fourth fret. Now you are thinking WHOA! I’ve run out of fingers on my left hand. You are right but don’t panic! The #4 finger is used on the fourth and fifth frets. When you play notes or chords through the fifth fret, you are playing in the first position on the ukulele fret board.


NOW START YOUR STOPWATCH. You are going to play the ukulele in 2 minutes or less.


Step 1 Place your #3 (ring) finger on the third fret. You have just made a C chord.

Step 2 Strum the strings down over the sound hole while holding the C chord formation.

Step 3 Keeping Strumming and sing. This symbol / means down strum.


/ / / / /


Row Row, Row, Your Boat


/ / / / / /


Gently Down The Stream


/ / / / / / / / / / / /


Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily


/ / / / /


Life Is But A Dream!



You just played your first song on the ukulele!





If you have a baritone ukulele follow the directions and steps above however the tuning will be E B G D.

The chord formation is a G Chord. You can also play this on a guitar but do not strum the fifth and sixth strings. You need to form other notes on the guitar for a full G Chord.


That was EASY and now you are playing music on your ukulele!


If you have musical questions, email me at Play Ukulele In Two Minutes (c) 1998 by: MaryLou Stout Dempler All rights reserved.

ABOUT Marylou Stout Dempler