Welcome to Chord by Chord, a beginner’s guide for the ukulele. In the previous lesson, you learned the three major chords in the key of C major—C, F, and G. This time you’ll do the same, but with minor chords, which are indicated with a lowercase m. The first one is Am. To play it, place your second finger on string 4, fret 2, and leave the rest of the strings open.

For Example 1, strum two measures of Am, first at a nice, easy pace and then a bit faster. Now do the same with Dm, as shown in Example 2. Dm (D F A) happens to share two of the same notes as F major (F A C), a chord you learned in the previous lesson. So to make Dm, simply play an F chord and add your third finger to string 3, fret 2. If this one’s a little strange at first, I promise you’ll get used to squeezing those three fingers together.

Now try some switching. For Example 3, you’ll play a progression that’s kind of like a sandwich: one measure of Am, followed by two of Dm, and then back to one of Am. In the interest of efficiency, keep your second finger held in place on string 4 throughout, adding your first and third fingers to play Dm, and lifting them for Am.


The last chord of this lesson, Em, also requires three fingers. Start with your first finger on string 1, fret 2, then add your second on string 2, fret 3, followed by your third on string 3, fret 4. This shape should look like a little staircase. Once you’re able to form it, try strumming two bars of Em (Example 4).

For Example 5, try another “sandwich” progression, comprised of one bar of Em, two of Am, and another of Em. Unlike switching between Am and Dm, these two chords have no common fingers, so try to visualize each shape before you play it. These shapes take a bit of precision, so be patient with yourself—keep at it, and you will sound amazing. In the next lesson, you’ll learn about dominant seventh chords, so that you can add a little bit of spice to your music.

We’ll be releasing a new lesson in this series each month. Can’t wait? Support Ukulele on Patreon and you’ll get access to all twelve video lessons right now!