Tag Archives: PLUC Weekend Workout

PLUC Weekend Workout

One of the most popular articles on this site is Chris’s Very, Very, Very Basic Understanding of Music for Absolute Beginners.

The other day he spotted an excellent YouTube covering the same topic from film, games & TV composer Guy Michelmore, who explains it whilst playing examples on a keyboard:

Join composer Guy Michelmore as he explains the essentials of music theory in just 16 minutes! What is an octave? How do you make scales? What are intervals? What’s the difference between major and minor? What is the circle of fifths?! All explained in less time that it takes to make and drink a fresh cup of tea.

A free supporting guide Music Theory In Under 30 Minutes can be downloaded from his main website too.

Guy has many interesting & informative videos on his YouTube channel including a playlist of Music Theory ones; how to write music and working with sound samples.

Here is Music Theory in 16 Minutes :


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PLUC Weekend Workout

UkeAbility -

UkeAbility – Select the chords you know & be shown tunes with just those in.

UkeAbility has a nice twist on the standard playalong site!

You’re presented with a page of chord diagrams. Click to select the chords you know & you’ll be given a list of the tunes they have containing just those ones.

It’s interesting to look through & note which chords you can play without any thought – & likely to be far more that you expected! Scan through a second time: you’ll spot chords you do actually know, either through using them in context in a song you perform regularly or just ones you use occasionally & might need a little memory jog to recall.

Also, most of the moveable chords aren’t on there so, once you’re able to use those, that increases your repertoire up the fretboard giving you new voicings for familiar chords. Thus, if you know three ways to play C that gives you an even larger number of chords at your fingertips.

UkeAbility -

UkeAbility – If you select 3 chords, they have 72 songs you can play


Posted by on September 12, 2020 in Playing Help – Sites & Resources


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Phil Doleman, familiar to many as a mainstay of nearly every uke festival, has been busy during lockdown recording a pile of new tutorial videos. 

In addition to his playlists of handy Two Minute Tips and growing selection of Ukulele Lessons, there are now a number of Intros, Vamps & Endings videos. There is a pile of free resources to accompany these on his website, along with his clearly-written books, CDs and Patreon pages, all especially useful while you can’t catch him performing or teaching in person. 

The mini workshop here shows you how to play all over the ukulele neck with just four shapes. Phil explains how to use this knowledge to be able to create a couple of hundred different chords! As always, he’s very practical and describes how to incorporate these into your regular playing, rather than just trying to learn everything he’s told you by rote – which isn’t the way to learn musically:


To supplement this, you might also like to view Phil’s YouTube of Learning The Fretboard Notes Quickly & Easily or how to combine the two to make your moveable chords using a fretboard diagram.


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PLUC Weekend Workout

If you’ve been playing your uke for too long in one sitting during lockdown or are just new to the instrument, you might find yourself with some unexpected aches & pains. Or, if you have short fingers like me, you may be keen to find ways of improving your reach for those long stretches!

Bree, from You And Bree Music Tutorials, has carefully produced a video of useful and gentle stretches and massage for your fingers, hands, wrists & forearm based on her experience of playing with injury and conditions such as tendonitis & carpel tunnel. It’s well worth you watching and using a selection as part of your warm-up before playing (Chapters: 0:00 – Intro / Disclaimer 1:28 – Stretches 8:55 – Massage):

Once you’ve viewed this, you might fancy checking out Rob MacKillop’s finger independence exercises. By regularly incorporating techniques from these two videos you should find your hands are more relaxed and fingers gain strength & dexterity, making it more comfortable to play.


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Kev has found an interesting rhythm practice YouTube from musicwithnopain. It’s about five minutes long, has ten levels of difficulty and will also help you understand the musical notation too.

They reckon you should play this every day for a week to improve your sense of rhythm:


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PLUC Weekend Workout

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - Whole Wheel

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – Whole Wheel

Christopher Davis-Shannon, aka the Tinman, has a website with playalongs of old-time tunes as well as various tutorials and Uke Minutes with different tips and techniques, including singing whilst playing, practice exercises, strumming methods, picking patterns, chord melody, using a metronome and showboating tricks:.

His latest YouTube series 12 Keys In 12 Weeks (#12Keys12weeks) gets you playing a different scale each week. He provides a number of exercises, including a little melody up the scale for each one using broken – arpeggiated – chords that ‘fit’ within that key by containing just notes from that specific scale (known as a chord family).

In the first video, below, he is demonstrating C major – check the original YouTube page for links in the description for his free worksheets (and more detailed lessons on scales and chords within them). As he progresses, he’s starting to add in different chord voicings to get you to follow the melody notes and play further up the neck. By the end of the series you should be more confident at playing in any key.

Should you want to understand a little more how he arrives at the chords for each scale, have a quick look at a Circle of Fifths.

If you’re playing in the key of C major, take all the chords nearest C on the wheel in a little ‘L’ shape. These chords are made up from the same notes that you’ll find in that specific scale. Go through the letters alphabetically from C right round to C again to get the whole scale.

PLUC - Circle of Fifths - C Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – C Major Chord Family


When playing chords in this key, the letters on the outside are major chords, the ones on the inside are minor ones and the one out on the leg of the ‘L’ is a diminished chord (dim7 or sometimes written as °):

C major – D minor – E minor – F major – G major – A minor – B dim – C major


PLUC - Circle of Fifths - G Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – G Major Chord Family




For G major, you’ll get: G major – A minor – B minor – C major – D major – E minor – F# dim – G major


PLUC - Circle of Fifths - D Major Chord Family

PLUC – Circle of Fifths – D Major Chord Family





For D major, you’ll get: D major – E minor – F# minor – G major – A major – B minor – C# dim – D major


And so on, round the wheel in the same way for each different key.



See more of our posts covering improving your chord playing; musical keys, the PLUC Transposing Tool and other PLUC Weekend Workouts. Original Circle of Fifths diagram from Wikipedia’s public domain images.

Here’s Christopher, with the first video in the series – C major:


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Musical-U Genre Quiz

Musical-U Genre Quiz

How much attention do you pay to the different styles and genres of music when you are listening to tunes? Can you identify what’s jazz or soul? Do you know your arias from your Elbow?

This week’s fun quiz from Musical-U has fourteen short clips for you to match up with the descriptions of various genres ranging from alternative to world, blues to rap & country to ska. Bonus points if you can also identify the artists!

More Musical-U articles & podcasts

More PLUC Weekend Workouts


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PLUC Weekend Workout

There are a growing number of podcasts out there, including some specific to ukuleles and others covering all types of music theory.  The twice-weekly Musicality Podcast (brought to you by the people who run the Musical-U community music training website) is having a Beatles Month for April.

Through a series of interviews they will be talking to different people and analysing how & why the songs worked;  the relationship between music & lyrics; production techniques; how a tribute act goes about reproducing those Beatles sounds and much more.

On the practical side, people are asked to remind themselves of the active listening techniques covered in a previous podcast – which is a great way of encouraging you to pay more attention to the music around you each day and put your musician skills to use in actually noting the instruments being played in a tune, song structures, rhythms, chord progressions etc – and pick three Beatles songs to consider in detail. There will be a live chat session later in the month.

Another exercise suggested on the forums are to make yourself a song interval chart (ie a way to help you recognise the gaps between two notes) consisting purely of Beatle numbers.

Linking nicely with this is Cynthia Lin’s annual Beatles Uke Jam. For 2019, it’s on Sun 14 April and streamed live so folk can join in worldwide. Get the 2019 songbook for free (or make a donation); play along with a recording of the 2018 Livestream & watch some of Cynthia’s lessons on the Fab Four and others.


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Sometimes people get a bit daunted at looking at sheet music or playing along to it. The fun TED-Ed animation below from Tim Hansen is a good way to see the basics without having to delve into too much detail.

After watching through, you could initially practice using a few tunes you know well. Try concentrating on the rhythm first and think about the pitch (ie the notes on the fretboard) later.

If you pick a simple familiar piece and look at the music whilst listening to it, you can follow the notes before even trying to keep up playing.  YouTube handily lets you slow the speed right down in the settings feature.

We have links to other quizzes and different ways of learning more about reading music and the basics of music theory in other articles to help you widen your skills. Plus more PLUC Weekend Workouts.


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PLUC Weekend Workout

Why not try livening up your playing by using a few different chord voicings?

Most regular ukulele songsheets often only give the basic open or first position chords but it’s possible to play each chord in numerous ways just by finding the same selection of notes elsewhere on your fretboard. By experimenting and trying a few of these out you can add texture and interest to even basic songs. is a handy website that gives you chord shapes for a number of stringed instruments, including three tunings of ukulele, banjos, guitars, mandolins and more. In addition to showing fingering alternatives for a good selection of chord types, there are nice advanced features where you can customise it to show left-handed chords; open strings or not; rootless voicings; maximum stretch (good if you have short fingers); whether to include muted strings; and a ‘how many fingers’ options (approximating how you might play the chord).

Here’s the standard layout for a regular gCEA tuned uke for C major:

Chords CC ( - C Major voicings for a gCEA uke

Chords CC ( – C major voicings for a gCEA uke

Other options are being added by user request, including the ability to zoom in on the chords to see more detail if you’re on a mobile device and to generate PDFs.

More PLUC Weekend Workouts.


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