So, in Australia we have this saying that goes: “We’re not playing for sheep stations!” Okay, maybe not all Australians… It comes from a board game called “Squatter”, where the aim of the game is to win… a sheep station!
I’ll admit, when students in my Music classes play ukulele, they’re not all ‘playing for sheep stations’ – but for many, making a good, clean sound straight away will increase their chance of stick-with-it-ness! The secret? Thumbs up.
While the right hand thumb is usually fine, it’s important to teach students that the best place to play is not over the sound hole – rather, where the neck meets the body. While trying to keep it simple, here’s how I get success here:
“Stretch your right arm over the body so that your palm is over the hole (but not smothering it!). Your forearm will help push the uke into your body.
“Then, curl your fingers around the bottom shoulder gently, to help take the weight a little bit. Your thumb is now ready to play above the strings, and if you play (strum) all the strings downwards with your thumb, it should make the perfect sound!
We’re going to call this our ‘Holey Hand’ position! Let’s put the uke down and practise getting into that position again quickly…"
Of course, this is a basic strum or thumb-picking position - focusing on a consistent sound from a consistent right-hand technique.
Does this work for you? Let me know in the comments… Next is my left hand lingo, of course!