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How to Play the Ukulele

Small Instrument, Big Impact: Discover the Ukulele.
How to Play the Ukulele is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 58.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course is appropriate for this one This was a very well done course. It filled in the gaps for me learning on my own, with sus chords and some percussion styles. Bar chords were stressed, but since I have a small hand, I found a couple of them impossible for me to do and get a good sound consistently. If there's an easier way to get the same chord and sound, I'll do that.
Date published: 2024-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great, but captions This is a great course indeed, only one thing to review, the caption sometimes really break.
Date published: 2024-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Uke So happy to have bought this. Thank you so much for the easy to learn Uke.
Date published: 2024-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great for beginner as well as intermediate players Highly recommended!! I have noodled around with the ukulele off and on for several years, and am familiar with a couple dozen chords and several strum patterns-- so probably an "advanced beginner" player. I worked through all of Mr. Poupko's lessons, that are helpful and entertaining. The lessons are well calibrated as you advance, and you pick up a lot of useful techniques in finger picking, barring, percussing, etc. Plus you learn some music theory... I really enjoyed the Instructor's pedagogical style-- he is very "cool": highly encourgaging, "the journey is the destination", "don't worry, just keep practicing", etc. I intend to go back through all the Lessons again, as one-time through was not sufficient to gain mastery. I WISH THAT GREAT COURSES WOULD ENLIST MR. POUPKO TO DO AN "INTERMEDIATE UKULELE" COURSE THAT FOCUSED MORE ON LEARNING SEVERAL SONGS THAT MIX CHORDING WITH FINGER-PICKING, and EXPANDED ON MUSICAL THEORY.
Date published: 2023-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoying this fun instrument! I already play the acoustic guitar, but I still have much to learn when it comes to practicing scales and such. The uke has been easier to learn since I have string experience, but this course has been very useful nonetheless. I bought a ukulele a few years ago and have a chord chart to practice with, but this course has helped me progress in ways I haven't before. I'm only on lesson five, but I think I'm going to show a lot of improvement if I stick with the whole thing.
Date published: 2023-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible, and It is working for me! Self directed, other courses, lessons have just left me frustrated. But now I’m involved, thinking about the latest lesson through the day when at work or cooking dinner, searching out extra practice times, learning, finally. Michael Poupko is an organized, calm, friendly fellow who knows what he is doing, and I suddenly realized the set is not artificial - makes me feel I’m in that space, and comfortable. Folks, when I’m finally willing to keep my nails properly short in order to play, that tells you how effective these lessons are!
Date published: 2023-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Course Great, Guidebook Needs Work I am half-way through this course and am extremely frustrated. The instructor, Michael, is excellent. His pacing is spot-on, his explanations are very clear. However, the guidebook print is too faint, too small, and unwieldy to scroll through. As a result, practicing outside of the course is not fun unless I were to memorize everything.
Date published: 2023-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought this course last year and an instrument today. Listened and practiced with the first two lessons of this course as soon as I got home. Instructor easy to follow as he gives instructions- verbal and visual. I am excited! Thank you Mr. Poupko!
Date published: 2023-01-25
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Dive into the magical world of this traditional Hawaiian instrument with Michael Poupko, professional musician and instructor. Let Michael’s 20-plus years of playing and teaching music take you from musical novice to master the uke in the 24 easy lessons of How to Play the Ukulele. Come along as he shares with you the skills you need to explore the voice of the ukulele for years to come.


Michael Poupko

If you stick with me throughout this course, you will have the skills and tools to learn countless songs on the ukulele. I don't know about you, but I find that pretty exciting.


Our Music Institute

Michael Poupko is a professional musician, teacher, producer, composer, and recording engineer. He is the director and owner of Our Music Institute in Northfield, Illinois. He plays dozens of instruments but is most proficient in ukulele, guitar, and electric bass. He received his BA in Jazz Guitar Performance from Roosevelt University and then began his teaching career in 2001. He served as the director of North Shore Music Institute from 2010 to 2019.

Michael’s original music and collaborations have been heard worldwide on NBC, FOX, BBC, Discovery, Travel Channel, Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV, DIY Network, and more. Notable programs and movies include Dateline NBC, Design on a Dime, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Made in America, Rehab Addict, So You Think You Can Dance, and New in Town.

Michael has performed professionally in North America, Europe, and Africa with such artists as Frankie Avalon, Jeff Mauro, and Jim Peterik. Along with bandmates and other collaborators, he has shared bills with Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, the Wailers, Soul Asylum, Cracker, Fishbone, Blind Melon, and Victor Wooten. He has also performed in theatrical productions of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, Hair, and Footloose. In 2004, Michael’s band, Punsapaya, received an award for Best Rock Album at the Chicago Music Awards. The band was also nominated three times for Best Rock Performer.

By This Expert

How to Play the Ukulele
How to Play the Ukulele


The Musical World of Ukulele

01: The Musical World of Ukulele

Master musician and teacher Michael Poupko advises that this course does not require any musical experience, just a desire to play the ukulele. Learn general navigation of the uke, tablature, and tuning, all in this first video lesson. Your journey to the music of the islands begins right here.

21 min
Learning Your Way around Your Ukulele

02: Learning Your Way around Your Ukulele

After a thorough review of the material from Lesson 1, expand your understanding of tablature and add frets and finger placement to your complement of skills. Michael will take you through several short exercises with clear graphics and patient repetition before sending you off to practice your new skills with the course companion workbook.

12 min
Six Starter Chords for Ukulele

03: Six Starter Chords for Ukulele

Play along as your personal instructor guides you through fingering charts and six starter chords on your uke. Add a metronome to keep the beat, and this lesson will have you practicing the chords and chord progressions necessary to access hundreds of easy songs on your ukulele.

21 min
Strumming Techniques for Ukulele

04: Strumming Techniques for Ukulele

With several basic chords under your belt, it is time to turn to strum patterns to bring it together. Practice several chord progressions, then a variety of strum combinations. Finally, play along as you master “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “One, Five or Six to Four.”

17 min
C Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

05: C Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

Following some independent practice time, return to your lessons to learn about major scales and a little more music theory. He supports you through your next assignment—playing the C Major scale—and translating your knowledge into picking notes in the melody for two songs, including “Ode to Joy.”

20 min
Playing a Ukulele Melody with Chords

06: Playing a Ukulele Melody with Chords

The more you practice, the faster you will improve. If you put in the time this week, you will be ready to move on to this 6th lesson. Combine what you learned in Lessons 1–5 to play a chord melody for both the songs you have been learning. This lesson represents a real jump in your musical skills, so take the time you need to bring it all together.

19 min
Ukulele Chords in the Key of G Major

07: Ukulele Chords in the Key of G Major

Practice, practice, practice. Repeat. With graceful attention to the specific details of his craft, your master musician takes you into the key of G Major, opening up the world of traditional Hawaiian music, including your first song in G, “Aloha Oe.” Revisiting several earlier strum patterns, you now apply them to the new chords you have added for G.

16 min
G Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

08: G Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

With Michael’s patient support and your emerging skills, you will learn the G Major scale, allowing you finally to play the melodies for “Aloha Oe” and “Drifting.” Use your metronome to help you keep the beat and take all the time you need to practice before moving on from here.

17 min
Playing with Suspended Chords for Ukulele

09: Playing with Suspended Chords for Ukulele

Although the material is increasingly complex, the individual skills you need to work on remain clear and straightforward. In this lesson, you will learn suspended cords in both G and C major and make both a little more fun with melodic embellishments. Follow along in your workbook to practice the novel composition “In the Air.”

18 min
Starting to Fingerpick Your Ukulele

10: Starting to Fingerpick Your Ukulele

After several lessons that focused on the left hand—chords and chord progressions—turn back now to work with the right hand, developing your skills at fingerpicking. This will allow you to play individual notes in a sequence rather than only chords, lending depth and character to your musical presentation.

16 min
More Ukulele Fingerpicking Patterns

11: More Ukulele Fingerpicking Patterns

The real measure of a lesson is in its application. Can you take the fingerpicking skills you learned in Lesson 10 and apply them with greater verve and increased complexity to new chord progressions and even a song? Yes! Let Michael show you how it is done.

15 min
Ukulele Chords in the Key of D Major

12: Ukulele Chords in the Key of D Major

Although you do not need to understand music theory to play the ukulele, Michael shares a little bit about the circle of fifths in this lesson as he teaches you chords in the key of D major. Practice the D, G, G7, A, and A7 chords, then wrap up with chord progressions and a fun rhythm - the Bo Diddley Beat.

15 min
D Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

13: D Major Scale and Melodies for Ukulele

Develop facility with the D major scale, both forward and backward, and then practice the scale pattern exercise in your workbook until you have it mastered. Finally, conquer the original “D Ditty” song melody as Michael accompanies you with the chords. Remember to listen to what you are playing—music is, after all, about the sound!

14 min
The Feel of Time Signatures on Ukulele

14: The Feel of Time Signatures on Ukulele

After 13 lessons focused on chords and scales, we now turn to another essential component of music—rhythm. Most of what you have tried so far has been in the 4/4 time signature. Today, step up and learn two new time signatures, 3/4 and 6/8, and practice the songs “Amazing Grace” and “Moonset” in your workbook.

18 min
Introduction to Minor Keys on Ukulele

15: Introduction to Minor Keys on Ukulele

With two new time signatures and two new songs under your belt, now we consider the minor keys. If you have some musical background, Michael’s explanation of the uses of chromatic and diatonic scales will resonate with you. If not, you will still enjoy learning about minor scales and two new songs using them.

14 min
Twelve-Bar Blues on Ukulele

16: Twelve-Bar Blues on Ukulele

Perhaps you have heard it called a 1/4/5 progression or the 12-bar blues progression. That is on tap for today in the keys of C, G, and D Major. Wrap up the lesson with a darker A minor 1/4/5 blues progression and a new strum pattern.

15 min
Blues on Ukulele with Pentatonic Scales

17: Blues on Ukulele with Pentatonic Scales

After some practice with the 12-bar blues chord progression, discover the C minor pentatonic scale and use it to add a melody or riff to the mix. With patience and time, Michael supports you one measure at a time until you are riffing right along with him to “Green Blues.”

14 min
Ukulele Songs with Sliding Chord Shapes

18: Ukulele Songs with Sliding Chord Shapes

Make simple chord progressions sound a little more exciting with sliding chord shapes. Picking in G major and sliding G minor up and down the fretboard, learn the techniques you need to play “Easy Peasy.” Practice until you have it down, then return for your next lesson.

16 min
Chords, Melody, and Fingerpicking Combined

19: Chords, Melody, and Fingerpicking Combined

Now that your skills have developed, we will revisit an earlier, traditional Hawaiian song, “Aloha Oe.” Not only will you practice an instrumental chord melody arrangement that you can play along with Michael, but later in the lesson, you can learn a self-sufficient solo version that sounds complete all by itself.

16 min
The Freedom of Ukulele Barre Chords

20: The Freedom of Ukulele Barre Chords

Listen as your expert begins this lesson by playing the same barre (also spelled “bar”) chords that you will learn today. By stretching your fingers and skills, you can use barre chords to make moveable shapes that quickly transition from one fret and chord to another.

14 min
Ukulele Songs with Movable Chord Shapes

21: Ukulele Songs with Movable Chord Shapes

Today Michael Poupko takes you from practice to application with several songs using the barre chords and other moveable shapes from the previous lesson. Using strum patterns that you have learned, practice applying your new skills to increasingly complex compositions. Make sure you take breaks as your hands get used to this new practice.

15 min
Latin Groove for Ukulele with C Minor Scale

22: Latin Groove for Ukulele with C Minor Scale

Take your learning to the next level in this lesson with a Latin, Bossa Nova style rhythm. Efficient motion as chords are formed will help to increase speed without sacrificing precision. Practice moving smoothly through complex progressions, plucking and strumming alternately to hear how the tone changes even as the rhythm remains the same.

15 min
Percussive Strumming for Ukulele

23: Percussive Strumming for Ukulele

Each lesson offers new challenges, but with a little practice, you are ready to learn some funky new riffs. Would you believe that the ukulele can also be used as a percussive instrument, like a drum? Deaden the strings with your left hand, and let your right hand take flight in a percussive groove.

14 min
Combine Your Ukulele Skills: “The Doozy”

24: Combine Your Ukulele Skills: “The Doozy”

Bring it all together in the final lesson of this course in a song that combines all the skills and techniques you have learned thus far. Picking and strumming, major and minor chords, progressions, percussions, and melodies, “The Doozy” is a challenge, but by now, you know that you are absolutely up to it. Enjoy!

15 min