On my first day of taking the intermediate ukulele course in Hawaii, I was surprised to witness the entire class playing and singing along. We were sight reading and sight singing, skills that take years to master for musicians.
That morning at Maui College in January 2016, all we had in front of us was a single sheet of paper that contained the lyrics, chord names, and chord diagrams. No music notation. No Italian words about tempo and dynamics in italic. No tablature. No abbreviations. No other music symbols. How could a single sheet of paper with minimal information guide music making?
Obviously, you must know the song already. Not so, says one of my ukulele friends. Songs follow patterns. Once you hear the first verse, you can join in the second. For me, you either have heard it before and recognise it or have never heard of it. And it’s up to you to keep up with the strumming and join in the singing when you’re comfortable.
If you’ve never heard of the song and didn’t grow up with such songs, it may be hard to follow and get the hang of it. Before playing the ukulele, I’ve had to learn many songs from reading the piano score. Since picking up the ukulele, I learned new songs differently, mainly from listening in group singing and playing.
What other pre-requisites are there? In my intermediate course, everyone knew how to keep to a steady tempo (keep time), do the down and up strokes, play the basic chords of C, F, and G7, and read chord diagrams. Our teacher exposed us to a variety of genres: pop, rock, folk, Hawaiian, jazz, ragtime, country, etc.
Recently I discovered there were ten songs I’ve never heard before in the film “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”. I decided to search for the sheet music as well as listen to the soundtrack on Hoopladigital and Youtube to learn them. The songs played in my head like a broken record. I simply couldn’t get rid of them even without listening to them.
Exactly four weeks after watching the movie for the first time (after going to the island where it was filmed and watching it for the second time, outdoors next to the Adriatic Sea), I got together with three other ABBA-enthusiasts and played and sang to our hearts’ content on ukuleles, guitars, and keyboards. Two and a half hours later, out of breath and nearly out of voice, we sat down to decide which of the ten songs were most suitable for ukulele.
- When I Kissed the Teacher
- Why Did It Have to Be Me
- Andante, Andante
- My Love, My Life
- Angel Eyes
- I Wonder
Needless to say, “Super Trouper”, “Mamma Mia” and other songs from the ABBA GOLD Album are also immensely suitable for ukulele.
Who will create ukulele song sheets for the above songs?