memorizing chords for ukulele

Is Memorizing Songs a Must?


For help with memorizing chords for songs, just click the button for your free Knowledge Upgrade.

Why play the uke?

You probably picked up the uke because it's fun and friendly and fast to get started on.

And you know me—I’m all about finding the fun–even while working, learning, and getting better. After all, it’s called PLAYING music, right?

So, why I am about to tell you to do something hard?

Why I am going to suggest that you MEMORIZE some of your favorite songs?

The answer is easy.

[pullquote align=”normal”]it’s fun to be able to whip out a few songs on demand. No fumbling for pages or pulling it up on the iPad. This makes you look like a pro—wheee! [/pullquote]

Second (and more important), every song has a lesson.

  • The lesson may be a simple as “here’s how to change from C chord to a G.”
  • Or, something you’ve worked out in the playing: “Hey, if slide up to the D, that’s sounds really nice.”
  • It may be something more subtle like “Ooh, that clever Burt Bacharach, throwing in a B7 where I didn’t expect it. Need to remember that!”

And right there, that’s why you want to memorize.

Because those single moments where you’ve noted something of value, can be used over and over again. Not just when you play that same song, but when you’re figuring out new songs, trying to play with others, or even maybe writing a song of your own (!).


Jazz musicians are famous for their improvisation. Makin' it up, man. Just makin’ it up as we go along.

But, here’s the secret truth behind improvisation.

It is made up, yes.

[pullquote align=”normal”]But do realize—it is made up of all the tiny variations the musician has learned from playing songs over and over, and memorizing—yes, memorizing—all those nice bits. All those memorized and internalized bits can be used and recycled time and again, in different orders, in different places, creating something new each time. [/pullquote]


  • Grab the music for a song you love and play it through.
  • Stop at any bit that strikes you as interesting, and ask yourself–why is that interesting?
  • Analyze it a bit, then squirrel it away in that big brain of yours.

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You may not have the goal of being a great improvising jazz ukuleleist, but—

  • You can memorize one song today.
  • And you can apply that knowledge to a new song tomorrow.
  • Rinse.
  • And repeat.


This post comes with a free KNOWLEDGE UPGRADE--a few quick tips to help you memorize songs and chords. Here's how to get it:

  1. Share this with your uke pals, so they can get smarter, too (use the buttons to the side).
  2. Click the big button below to access your free upgrade.

  • Ken Barrett says:

    Knowledge Upgrade