How to Play the Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus is a new book for newcomers to the ukulele which covers all topics a beginners should know, written by Ted Parrish and Wayne Erbsen from Native Ground.
This book is just over 100 pages long and comes spiral bound on large, 9″ x 12″ pages. This book also comes with an audio CD with over 60 tracks which will help teach you the material from the book, which is a major benefit when it comes time to understand the rhythm or timing being described on the page.
Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus Layout
This book starts out with a nice introduction and history of the ukulele to get the beginner grounded. It then talks about choosing the right ukulele for beginners, how to hold the ukulele, and tuning a ukulele which are all important topics that must be covered before you can start to play.
One place where we think Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus shines is in their early explanation of ukulele strum patterns. This book covers no less than 9 different strum patterns between standard time and three-quarters time. It’s important for beginners to familiarize themselves with different strum patterns early, otherwise it’s all too easy and tempting to fall into the trap of relying on one or two strum patterns for every song.
The book then goes through teaching you the basics of reading the easy-to-use tabs and chords that go along with the corresponding songs in the book. At the end of the book is a useful chord chart and strumming cheat-sheet to reference as needed.
Now that you have an overview of the layout of the book, let’s talk about the meat of the book – the songs.
The Songs and Music of Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus
The early songs in this book are very easy, containing only 2 chords and builds up to more advanced songs later in the book. Each song has an introduction, giving you a bit of background and history on the song, and then suggests the best strum pattern and other helpful tips for playing the melody when you’re ready to start picking.
Most of the songs are accompanied by the suggested strum pattern chart, which makes it easier to learn the song without having to flip pages. Many songs also have the accompanying lyrics to boot.
Overall, learning new songs through this book is very easy to do. What’s great is that the accompanying audio CD really clears up any questions or issues you may have learning how to play the music. Not sure if the way you’re playing the song is correct? Just listen to the corresponding track on the CD which exists for most songs.
The audio on the CD sounds professionally recorded and offers a ton of value for the new ukulele player. Being able to hear only the ukulele being strummed or picked from a high-quality recording gives you a much better sense of what you’re aiming for than many YouTube videos.
If we have one criticism for this music book, it’s that the song selection may not be for everyone, especially the younger crowd. Most of the songs are older gospel and blues classics. I imagine most teens looking to learn to play the ukulele aren’t looking to learn to play Skip to My Lou or Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, so they may have a harder time getting excited to learn with this book.
That being said, if you’re a fan of the classic gospel and blues hits, then you’ll love this song selection! Songs like Man of Constant Sorrow, Scarborough Fair, and House of the Rising Sun are likely to please more than just the blues enthusiast.
It should be stated that all the skills you’ll learn from this book even playing this older style of music will carry over to your efforts to learn pop music or any other genre for that matter. It would have been nice to have songs from different genres, but if you are already looking for something with a blues focus, look no further.