Alfred's Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, C-tuning: Everything You Need to Know to Start Playing Now! (Alfred's Teach Yourself Series) by Morton & Manu Manus (2011-01-06) Hardcover – January 1, 1887
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Top reviews from the United States
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*Plus: Has a good 5-page introductory section that gives you a short history of the ukulele, an ukulele diagram, how to hold the instrument (falls short here by only illustrating standing position) & a felt pick, covers tuning and basic music theory.
*Neutral: It may be a little overkill to show four diagrams, one for each of the strings, and then a fifth chord diagram to show the final construction of the chord each time a new chord is introduced, but it certainly leaves no room for doubt.
*Plus: This method starts you off in the Key of F, which is a much better choice for easing into chord playing than the Key of C. The first chords introduced are C7 and F, requiring only 1 and 2 fingers respectively. I like this more gradual approach for the beginner.
*Shortfall: This book never introduces tablature, which is a common and seriously important teaching tool.
*Neutral: Like many of the methods I've looked at, this book uses common, public domain songs like Down in the Valley, Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Cockles and Mussels & Clementine (the first four tunes of the book), all notated in Treble Clef (some books just give you the words and chords with no melodic indication).
*Shortfall: Unfortunately, the book offers no instruction on how to pluck these melodies out, so if you don't know the tunes, good luck to you.
*Plus: Continues to offer pertinent bits of theory that are introduced in the songs it uses: Time Signatures, Pickup Measures, Triplets, etc.
*Shortfall: Quite a few of the tunes are pitched so low that they are not practical to be sung (Careless Love, Lolly-Too-Dum, When the Saints Go Marching In, Hava Nagila & Alexander's Ragtime Band). This is just carelessness on the part of the authors, there are plenty of tunes out there to choose from to demonstrate the keys they are teaching without needing to pitch things in keys only suitable for a Bass Profundo.
*Plus: Introduces the basic waltz strum (Streets of Laredo), the blues shuffle (Frankie and Johnny), the bluegrass strum (Lolly-Too-Dum), a calypso style strum (Mary Ann), and a march strum (Yankee Doodle Boy).
*Plus: It also includes a chart of 15 basic strum types at the back of the book; though these are not reinforced with songs to use them on, this is a valuable quick-reference guide.
*Plus: The back of the book offers a number of other mini-tutorials and guides that are a nice bonus; How to Play by Ear using Three Magic Chords, How to Determine the Key of a Song, How to Transpose (use this info to move up the keys that were too low in this book - would be good practice), a Ukulele Fingerboard Chart, and a 7-page Chord Dictionary (much larger than many books of this type).
This book does offer a more gradual approach to chord playing that will give your fingers a little more time to aclimate and develop callouses naturally - though like most slim volumes, it tends to rush it a bit. The guides at the back of the book are a great bonus to the other instruction - very cool. Unfortunately, this method offers no instruction in melodic picking and does not introduce tablature - I consider these major setbacks. If, however, you are only interested in singing and strumming, this may be a good method for you.
M Ryan Taylor
For example,you start out by learning two simple chords: F and C7--very easy to play on the ukulele--and then already you will be able to play four songs: "Down in the Valley", "Go Tell Aunt Rhody", "Cockles and Mussels", and "Clementine". Add the C chord and you can strum and sing "Tom Dooley". Then you learn a common chord called G7 and you've got "Love Somebody", "The Streets of Laredo", "Michael Row the Boat Ashore", "Frankie and Johnny", "Careless Love". Eventually, you will know quite a few chords (though I did not see any barre chords, curiously), learn how to play in various time signatures (beats), and be able to play and sing "Greensleeves", "Yankee Doodle Boy", "Scarborough Fair", "Aura Lee", "Amazing Grace", and "Saint Louis Blues", among others.
Some information about strum patterns is sprinkled throughout the book, thankfully, since it can get pretty boring just "straight" strumming. Learning to do these while singing takes some concentration, and I recommend supplementation by listening to someone demonstrate it in person or on a CD or youtube tutorials. As far as finger-picking or playing individual notes, it doesn't go there. I ended up buying a book specifically on fingerpicking (Mel Bay's <Fingerstyle Solos>), and, when that didn't have everything I was looking for, I also bought <Ukulele Fretboard Roadmaps> by Sokolow and Beloff. (Reviews to follow)
Despite it's limitations, this "Teach Yourself Ukulele" book is pretty useful, especially if you like to sing. The chord diagrams as well as the photos of chord positions are very clear. No tabs here, in case you are wondering. There's a strum chart at the end and a very nice chord glossary. Another thing I like is the two page section with ideas about "How to Play by Ear" (using three magic chords), something I've not tried very much before. For many people this book may be enough, but I find it deficient for my needs and have supplemented it with two others. Each has it's own strengths, and I will continue to use this one, incorporating interesting strumming and picking out melody solos in them.
Top reviews from other countries
This item appeared as a hardback book when I searched on Amazon. It is in fact a DVD, The dimensions of the book should have been a bit of a clue, as should the DVD logo on the cover. Needless to say I was disappointed to find a DVD when I opened the packet.
That having been said, it is a good DVD.