Arts & Entertainment, Music

OO·koo·LEY·ley Basics

Jake Shimabukuro

Lesson time 04:20 min

Learn how to pronounce, select, and tune your ʻukulele.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: ‘Ukulele Types · Tuning Your ‘Ukulele


[00:00:00.00] ['UKULELE PLAYING] [00:00:07.14] - When I first started traveling, you know, people would ask me, what instrument do you play? And I would say the ookooleyley. And they would say, what is that? And I'd say, oh, it's like a little guitar from Hawaii. And they're like, oh, you mean the 'ukulele. [00:00:19.35] And I would always just kind of chuckle, you know? Because growing up in Hawaii, I was always taught to say "ookooleyley," which is made up of two Hawaiian words, you know, ookoo and leyley. Ookoo means flea, leyley means jumping. It's really the jumping flea. And it got its name, the jumping flea, because your fingertips look like little jumping fleas on the fretboard. [00:00:48.42] The modern day 'ukulele was truly invented in Hawaii, but it was the Portuguese immigrants who brought over two instruments, the machete and the rajao. And it was basically a hybrid of those two instruments that became the 'ukulele. [00:01:07.17] So there are four basic sizes. There's the standard size, sometimes referred to as a soprano, and that's probably the most common. Then there's the concert size, which is a little larger. People also refer to that as the alto. Then there's the tenor size, which is what I play. And then there's the baritone 'ukulele, which is the largest of the four. [00:01:29.25] And you want to find an instrument that you respect and that you feel connected with, you know, regardless of the price, because you're investing in something that is going to bring you so much joy. And the best thing is to go to a local music store or instrument shop that sells 'ukuleles and try each one. [00:01:56.48] For me, personally, I love just playing this one instrument all the time. So whether I'm practicing or recording or on tour, it's just this instrument. [00:02:13.25] People think I'm crazy. And they're like, well, but what happens, you know, if something happens to that 'ukulele? Then what do you do? So I've been working up my stand-up routine for that. [00:02:23.83] But-- but seriously, I really believe in just committing to the one instrument. Because, as crazy as it sounds, the more time you spend with your instrument, not only are you learning that instrument, but that instrument is learning you. [00:02:53.65] So the tuning of the 'ukulele is G, C, E, A. A good way to remember the names of those pitches is good cooks eat always. It's important to train your ear, because you want to get used to hearing what your instrument sounds like when it's tuned properly. [00:03:17.02] ['UKULELE PLAYING] [00:03:19.76] And some of you may be familiar with the phrase my dog has fleas. (SINGING) My dog has fleas. And that's an easy way to remember the intervals of each string. If it sounds like (SINGING) my dog has fleas, then the 'ukulele is in tune. [00:03:37.73] ['UKULELE PLAYING]

About the Instructor

Called the “Jimi Hendrix of the ʻukulele,” Jake Shimabukuro won worldwide acclaim for his fresh and fearless musical interpretations. Now he’s sharing his approach so anyone can experience the joys of the ʻukulele, from the simple chords that make up hundreds of songs to more complex fingerings and compositions. Learn how to adapt songs you love for ʻukulele or write your own. Stop worrying and start strumming.

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Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro teaches you how to take your ʻukulele from the shelf to center stage, with techniques for beginners and seasoned players alike.

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