Lesson Description

Welcome to UUU 100! In this first lesson, Aldrine will guide you step by step on your journey to getting started with the ukulele. You'll learn how to properly hold your ukulele, the basics of strumming, your first chord and your first song. Let's jump right in!

1:45 The anatomy of the ukulele

3:10 How to hold your Ukulele

8:00 How to strum

11:00 Practice strumming in time

15:35 How to keep rhythm steady

19:25 How to play your first chord

24:25 Whole notes

26:20 How to play your first song

Optional Learning Tools:
Empty Plastic Bottle
Egg Shaker / Pill Bottle


  1. I have just followed your 5 tutorial lessons. Truly benefited from them. Am an old beginner. Would love to continue with your tutorial. Where can I continue with your tutorials after the 5 lessons. Please advise. Thanks

  2. Thank you!!!
    I am a total newbie, I got my 1st Uke 3 weeks ago and I have been doing freebie lessons on YouTube. I was struggling to get the strumming with the chords. This foot taping has been a little stressful on the foot but very good technique. I am so glad I found you! I will definitely keep practicing…

  3. Hello Aldrine
    I`m glad having not been too arrogant to leave out the first lesson (because I play the uke for more than a year now). Thanks for telling me how to hold the instrument properly. You`re a really good teacher, explaining with a water bottle and a pill bottle… So even I as a non native English speaker I could easily follow. Thumbs up!

  4. Lesson 1 was so comprehensive! I have never played an instrument! Looking forward to the next one. How long should I practice daily?

  5. I cannot hold neck “on a pillow” – long fingers, I can do chords properly only if thumb is in the middle of the neck. But then Ukulele is quite unstable. When I try to change chords neck tries to fall down. Maybe I’ll need to use strap, but I am still trying what Aldrine shows. “The Jury Is Still Out.” Maybe initially to make faster progress I just need to try best stable position (which is for me classic guitar style, or sitting in work-chair with support for arms).

    1. So, perfect for me is when my fretting-hand thumb is in the middle of neck, the way classic guitar players do, I can easily change chords, I can use pinkie with full power, I can do indeed “Crawler” (by Rob MacKillop) and “Joe Satriani’s Diagonal Chord Relay” exercises up to 12th fret (for 1st finger). Some Ukuleles have “silk” finish for neck (not a gloss, but smooth like silk) which is probably the best to have so your thumb will smoothly slide over neck. But it doesn’t work for me… neck falls (slips) when I change chords. But some have glossy neck and easier to hold (no slipping). I can also use strap.

      SO, “innovation”, stupid idea to try with cheap uke: I’ll glue piece of plastic or wood rod on back-top part of the neck, so Ukulele can easily rest on tip of my thumb without slipping.

      All because I don’t like holding Ukulele the way acoustic-electric guitar players do: holding neck at “pillow” between thumb and index finders while playing. I watched some other videos by Aldrine on YouTube (such as “Imagine”), he uses both ways for fretting hand. Maybe I am not master yet 🙂

    2. I’ll try to learn “acoustic-pillow” way too, in any case beneficial for foundation/development (this is probably the only option if you want to play standing and without strap, and even to do some acrobatic tricks with Ukulele)

    3. I found nice description here, https://liveukulele.com/lessons/how-to-hold-an-ukulele/
      – and this is what I am trying to do; but as page describes, “the friction of your (bare) arm across the soundboard should be enough (with minimal help from your fretting hand) to keep the instrument under control and not fall onto the floor.” – this is my weak point right now.

      “Try to avoid wrapping your thumb over the top of the neck as this restricts your movement.” – right in tune with what I am experiencing.

      I Love You All!

    4. Quoting again, to make the point clearer, “lap” here is space (pillow) between index finger and thumb, my weakest point right now I do not “squeeze to death”:

      “But don’t:
      – Let the ‘ukulele slide flat onto your lap. This makes things much, much harder for your wrist.
      – Squeeze the ‘ukulele to death. Find the happy medium that supports the instrument but also lets you relax.”

  6. Thank you for the lesson! I really appreciated the beats-by-foot part, its my first time playing any instrument, and I am not very good with rhythm in general, so tapping my foot, helped me keep track of it in my mind, in a metronomal kind of a way.

  7. Things learned:
    How to remember G C E A
    I was playing C with wrong finger
    I was strumming in the wrong place
    Mahalo! Excited to find UU and take these lessons.

  8. WOW! I’m super impressed with the clarity of the lesson. Being able to replay things is so helpful. It feels good to start at the beginning. Having a recorded lesson also gives me a chance to really practice my listening skills, vs. showing up and talking my lesson away, or asking questions that sometimes took us in different directions. This option for learning is SO great. I’m thrilled!

  9. Hi there! My name is Dani.
    I recently went to the store and tried out some instruments and decided to play the ukulele. My brother had played the acoustic, electric and bass guitar in the past, so at first I thought I wouldn’t like it– but those nylon strings are so much nicer on my delicate fingers.
    This was a great first ukulele lesson. I’ve been playing around with the ukulele a bit, from practicing strumming and trying different chords and such, and it’s been super fun. I’ve found some helpful videos and tips from around the internet, but I am so thankful I stumbled upon this website. It was very helpful for me to learn how to play an ukulele correctly and comfortably (especially when it came to the part about the pillow– holding the neck like a guitar neck– thumb on the middle of the neck– is kind of awkward; I thought my hand would block the bottom string when I pillowed but thankfully it didn’t)! I also thought that tip on the sweet spot was awesome. My fingers often got stuck the lower down on the body they were. I do have one question, though: can I strum with the squishier part of my finger (not sure what it’s called)? I find I have less control over the tip than I do with that part of my finger. It is a little softer by default but if I strum a little harder it should work well.
    You are a very good teacher– you’re fun, upbeat and encouraging. You really helped me feel welcome and encouraged as a beginner, and that is such a vital skill and gift to have when you’re a teacher. It makes me want to do more lessons right now!
    I appreciate you and your team for making these videos and providing new ukulele players resources to use so that they may learn how to play the ukulele. Thank you so much for your hard dedication and work!
    Keep being awesome and God bless you guys!

  10. I already play other wind instruments (trumpet, euphonium, and bagpipes) so I am very familiar with tapping my foot. This was the first lesson I have seen for the ukulele that incorporated that. I also liked the accessories (water bottle & pill bottle) to help feel and hear the correct positions.

  11. Had some troubles getting caught up in the strings as I was strumming….then I learned I was in the wrong area….thanks for shedding some light on the “sweet spot” I will work on that and I’m sure it will help. So happy I have found this site!! Thanks for what you do!!

  12. Very good, I am 78 years old and on the uke is on my bucket list to learn. Great way to start the day… made me smile q:)

  13. Aldrine, you are an excellent teacher! I am so happy that I stumbled across your site. I just completed my first lesson and learn things I never knew.

  14. I am beginner; and for fingerpicking exercises in a so-called “manager-chair” I found the best is when I relax in a chair completely, my elbows are on a chair armrests (and I do not hold Ukulele by elbows). Ukulele is put on my thigh almost vertically (1pm) and fretting hand is “classic guitar”-like; right “fingerpicking” hand is resting on chair armrest completely; and I do perfect precise fingerpicking without using pinkie to stabilize right hand.
    Ukulele is “relaxed” at two points only: bottom is at right thigh, and neck is laying at my thumb; my left hand is 100% relaxed, I use right hard to type this message, and Uke stays in place and very happy 🙂

    I believe the more relaxed you are the better virtuosity you can achieve. Holding bottle with your arm… and strum at 14th fret on low-action setup… I am not sure this will work for fingerpicking.

    1. Hey Funtick,

      That’s awesome that you found a set up that works so well for you! The reason we teach holding the ukulele the way that we do, is because it works for both sitting and standing, as well as for strumming and fingerpicking. Over the years, Aldrine and the guys have used their experience to fine tune what they teach to best suit the majority of students, but Aldrine is always encouraging people to experiment and find the right adjustments that work for them.

      Have a great day and keep stummin!

      -Kira (UU Staff)

  15. As a newbie to the instrument and your course, I appreciated how slow, clear and repetitive you proceeded through the first lesson.

  16. I did lessons 2-5 thinking I didn’t need this lesson. I just went back and decided to do it so that I’d have completed the whole first set of 5 lessons. I’m glad I did. It corrected some things that I was doing wrong. Now the uke feels more comfortable and is not sliding down my thigh. Also, my hands do not feel as cramped up. Thanks, Aldrine!

  17. Great first lesson. I’m borrowing a friends ukelele and taking your lessons to see whether or not I think my elementary school music students with autism might be able to play this instrument. Stay tuned!

    1. Hey Sylvia,

      A D F# B, is pretty standard tuning in Canada. To follow along with the lesson here, it would best to re-tune your uke to G C E A. If you don’t have a tuner, Aldrine shows you how to tune by ear in Ukulele 101: Week 2. If you have any more questions, just let us know.

      -Kira (UU Staff)

  18. I found this video so very informative. Even though Ive been playing for just over a year, I still gained a lot of knowledge from your video, and hopefully corrected quite a few things I was doing wrong. Looking forward to lesson 2. 🙂 Thanks Aldrine

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