UD #1 Challenge Your Musical Memory!

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from Ukulele in the Dark w/ Guido Heistek



Have you ever had a tune playing in your head?

I have never met anyone who answered no to this question. We all have musical memory: the ability to remember notes and sounds. Musical memory is very important for our enjoyment of music, but also essential when it comes to playing music -especially if we want to play by ear. To learn music by ear we must consciously sustain a note in our heads long enough to find it on our instrument. This is an active use of musical memory that many beginners find very challenging.



Try this little game to put your musical memory to the test. The answer is at the bottom of the page. (Intended for G,C,E,A tuning. Make sure your uke is in tune!)

  1. Listen to this note a few times. And try to retain it in your head. Play it back for yourself mentally a few times. Here’s the note:


  2. After you’ve got the note in your head try to find the same note anywhere on your ukulele. You are allowed to play as many notes as you want until you find the one that matches. It’s not played on an open string so you will have to “fret” a note to play it.


How did it go?

Were you able to find the note on your ukulele? Were you able to sustain the note in your head while you were hunting for the note on your instrument? Or did the note vanish from your head as soon as you played any note on your ukulele? If so, you are not alone. This happens to many students and can lead to some frustration.

Don’t give up! If you would like to learn to play by ear, practicing using your musical memory can really help. Here are a few ways you can practice.




1. NOTE PAIR GAME: I love this game. It functions the same as the memory card games that many of us played as kids. Instead of remembering pictures we have to remember sounds. Here’s a link and a photo of what the game looks like. You have to scroll down the page to find it. Enjoy!



In this game one person plays a note on the ukulele and the other person tries to find the same note on their ukulele.

-Decide which string you will use. (Let’s decide on using the A string, for example)
-Ask your friend to play a note anywhere on the A string without letting you see which fret they are fingering.

-After you hear the note try to find the same note on the A string of your ukulele.
-If you forget the sound of the note ask your friend to play it again.

Have fun with this. You’ll find it gets easier and easier.



Here’s a recording of me playing some random notes on the C string of the ukulele. I play each note twice. See you if you can find the notes on your C string. Again, you don’t have to go directly to the correct note. You can play notes until you find a match. The answers are at the bottom of the page.



OKAY! That’s all for now. I hope that you’ve enjoyed my first UKULELE in the DARK newsletter. If you know someone who you think would enjoy this newsletter please forward it along.

All the best,


1. Musical Memory Challenge 1: F note: 5th fret C string or first fret on E string
2. Musiical Memory Challenge 2 : 1] E (4th fret), 2] B (11 fret) 3] G (7th fret) 4] A (9th fret)