Category Archives: Learning Songs by Ear

UD #54 & #55 Green Day Ukulele Duet (When September Ends)

Posted on

Green Day Ukulele Duet (When September Ends) UD #54 & #55 from Ukulele in the Dark with Guido Heistek Today I’d like to teach you a simple and beautiful arrangement of Wake Me Up When September Ends, a song by Green Day. Here’s a recording of the arrangement. The backing part is in the left speaker and the melody is in the right speaker. Give it a listen and we’ll learn it!   When September Ends Ukulele Duet: http://ukuleleinthedark.com/filesUD/September-Duet.mp3   Okay, there have been some requests for more transcription lessons (learning by ear) so, I thought we would learn this little   …Continue Reading


UD#43 Another Round? (DONA NOBIS PACEM)

Posted on

UD #43 Another Round? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Learn a beautiful new round to play and sing with your ukulele group! In UD #32 we talked about rounds. I introduced “Jubilate Deo” a beautiful 12 bar round. It was so wildly popular that I’ve been on the look out for a follow up ever since. Happily, one of my students at Ruby’s Ukes introduced me to this gorgeous round, Dona Nobis Pacem. If you are not familiar with musical rounds, please go take a peek at UD #32 and come right back. Here is a   …Continue Reading


UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies

Posted on

UD#37 Horse First Then The Cart: One String Melodies from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek LETTING THE INNER MUSIC LEAD YOUR FINGERS: I remember being amazed by this experience when I was a kid: I used to listen to the same album again and again. I became so familiar with the songs on the record that when one song finished, the next song would “pop” into my head before the song had even started. This always seemed magical. Have you ever had a similar experience?This effect is one of the most magical things about music making: When you   …Continue Reading


UD#34 The Magic of Chord Melody (SILENT NIGHT)

Posted on

UD#34 The Magic of Chord Melody (SILENT NIGHT) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   This week we are talking about chord melody. Here is a little video of me playing through a chord melody of Silent Night. First I play a fairly stylized version with a finger-style treatment. Then I walk you through how I usually approach teaching a simple chord melody arrangement of the song. These are the usual steps: 1. Learn the melody 2. Learn the chords. 3. Put the chords and melody together. Here’s the video: Here are a few notes to help you   …Continue Reading


UD#32 The Thrill of Accidental Harmony (Jubilate Deo)

Posted on

UD#32 The Thrill of Accidental Harmony (Jubilate Deo) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Singing or playing in harmony is one of the most thrilling things to do in music. This week I want to introduce you to a type of composition called a round. A round is kind of melody composed in such a way as to allow different groups to start at different points. When the melody is “staggered” in this way it creates harmonies. Here’s a recording of some of my intermediate students from Ruby’s Ukes singing a beautiful round called Jubilate Deo: Some simple   …Continue Reading


UD#19 What Key is it in?

Posted on

UD #19 What Key is It in? from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek I love this video of Bobby Mcferrin: What he demonstrates in this video is that on hearing a few notes of a pentatonic scale (5 note scale) people intuitively know where the rest of the notes are. This is because scales are all about the relationships between the notes. Once we’ve intuitively clued in to what scale we are listening to, we can guess the rest of it without hearing all the notes.  It’s a kind of musical extrapolation.The same effect can be demonstrated with   …Continue Reading


UD#18 How To Figure Out Songs By Ear

Posted on

UD#18 How To Figure Out Songs By Ear from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Here’s the scenario: You hear a song that sounds pretty simple that you would like to learn to play. You can’t find the chords anywhere on the internet. How do you figure out how to play it? Last week we talked about diatonic chords (the chords that come from one scale). If you haven’t read that newsletter, please go here: UD #17 The Building Blocks of Songs. The first thing to do when you are figuring out a song by ear is to determine   …Continue Reading


UD#6 Lost in Progressions? (Hearing Chord Patterns)

Posted on

UD #6 Lost in Progressions? from Ukulele in the Dark w/Guido Heistek A student came up to me and asked me this question:   “I can hear the chords changing but I loose track of where I am in the progression. I can’t tell where the progression begins and ends and I get all confused. How can I work on that?” We had been working on a simple song in class. The tune was “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” by Bob Dylan. It has a repetitive chord progression that goes like this:   G               Am            C                G 1  2  3  4      …Continue Reading


UD#5: Scales, Intervals and Ukulele Ear Training

Posted on

UD#5  Scales, Intervals and Ukulele Ear Training from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek     -The C Major Scale: Here are two ways to play the C major scale on a ukulele: 1. Up the C string: (the numbers tell you which frets to play) 2. Across the strings or in “open position” -INTERVALS in a C MAJOR SCALE: The distances between the root note C (open C) and the other notes in the major scale are described by intervals. The distance between C and D is called a Major Second interval.  (M2) C to E is called   …Continue Reading


UD#3: I Can’t See Your Fingers!

Posted on

UD#3: I Can’t See Your Fingers! (Teaching chords without diagrams, hiding behind whiteboards or blackboards.) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek   Here’s one of my favourite ways to introduce new ukulele chords to a class.   With a beginner class I start with one or two finger chords. Here are the steps. 1. I hide behind the whiteboard. I’ll hide behind a blackboard too. I’m not picky. 2. I play the open strings of the uke in this order: G, C, E, A and have the students sing the notes back to me. 3. Then I fret   …Continue Reading


UD#2 Feeling Chord Changes

Posted on

UD #2 Feeling the Chord Changes (Using your ears to tell you which chord to play) from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek Many of my students come to me believing that playing by ear is impossible. Especially choosing chords by ear. It seems utterly magical to them that someone could just know which chord to use and when to change chords without looking at printed music. But, choosing chords by ear is something that anyone can do. Some people get so good at it that they can actually guess the chords in a song as they are playing   …Continue Reading