We all know that distinctive ukulele sound. And whether you're looking to learn your first musical instrument or are a musician looking to expand your playing abilities, the ukulele can be an easy instrument to learn.
However, it's essential to choose the right lessons for ukulele if you want to develop a strong foundation with the instrument. Today, we'll be looking at Ukulele Buddy, an online set of ukulele lessons that promise to teach you this fun little instrument with just three seven-minute practice sessions a week. Is it as good as it sounds? We'll take a closer look and let you decide.
Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Online Ukulele Course
If you've spent any amount of time looking for ukulele lessons online, you may already know that there are quite a few options available. How do you know which to choose?
It all comes down to what you need out of online lessons. Here are some questions to help you decide what you need:
Ukulele Buddy - Chord Buddy Learning System
PRO's & CON's of Ukulele Buddy
Before we dive into the features of this program, let's look at some of its pros and cons:
Features & Benefits
Now, we'll take a closer look at some of the features of this program:
Many video lesson programs (whether they're for ukulele, guitar, or another instrument) bill themselves as being very easy to complete. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that most of these lesson programs, including this one, follow a simple video format.
This course is made up of 70 videos, each about seven minutes in length. The videos are taught by JP Allen and Mitch Chang, two ukulele teachers who we'll learn more about in a little bit.
While the lessons are designed to be easy, they are the result of years and years of experience. Creator JP Allen says he has spent 25 years using his teaching and performing experience to develop this simple yet effective program. The lessons start with the very basics and progress from there. If you want to hear more about the course from someone who has taken it, see this video review. It also offers a breakdown of the program.
Sample Lesson Topics
The creator of Ukulele Buddy promises that you'll learn chords, strumming patterns, and more from the 70 included videos. But what do the lessons themselves look like? Here's a list of some sample video lesson topics from the course website:
It's worth mentioning that the creator of this course has noted that many online video lessons ask you to pause the video and practice on your own. Part of the philosophy of this program is ensuring that you never need to pause a video -- you can simply learn by playing along the whole time.
Meet the Teachers
This course was developed by JP Allen, a ukulele player, and instructor. Allen has toured worldwide, playing with Grammy-nominated Abra Moore. He has also taught ukulele at the University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College.
JP Allen even offers online harmonica lessons -- you can check one out in this video. He's a lifelong musician who wants to share the joy of playing with people the world over.
However, JP Allen isn't the only course instructor. The course is also taught by Mitch Chang, a graduate of the University of Hawaii and an accomplished ukulele player in his own right. In many of the reviews we found, students mentioned that both instructors were personable and especially skilled as teachers.
The video lessons are the backbone of this program, but if you choose to sign up, you'll also get four digital booklets, a ukulele digital toolkit, and five digital songbooks.
The first booklet is on the Instant Chord Method, which will help you learn and remember ukulele chords faster than you thought possible.
The next booklet is on learning to play the ukulele by ear. Playing by ear may sound incredibly challenging, but it can be learned -- check out this video of a lesson in playing by ear.
The third booklet is a guide on how to learn to play songs by reading ukulele tabs (short for tablature). This simplified form of music notation is used in most online song databases. Once you can read tabs, you'll be able to look up and learn to play many of your favorite songs for free.
The last booklet is a guide to decoding strumming patterns by ear. As you learn to play different songs, this guide will make it easier than ever to play them as they were written.
The free ukulele toolkit included is designed to support your playing by giving you useful tools. You get a chord chart, a metronome, and an easy-learning checklist. The chart contains diagrams for many of the common chords used by ukulele players. The metronome will help you keep time as you play, and the easy-learning checklist contains tips and reminders to keep in mind as you learn to play.
As you learn ukulele chords and songs, you'll want to practice and put those skills to good use. As you're learning to play, songbooks can be a useful resource. With these videos, you get five books of songs from many different genres.
As you know, this program comes with a money-back guarantee. (More on that in a moment.) Even if you choose to ask for a refund and return the videos, you will be able to keep all of the extras included with the program.
Pricing and Format Options
Ukulele Buddy is a thorough program that's easy to follow -- you can learn chords, strumming patterns, and even start on songwriting if you choose to. If you want to learn to play with these videos, you can do so with one of two options -- online videos or videos in DVD format.
The online videos can be watched on a Mac or PC, and you can also watch them on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. And once you sign up, you can access the videos (as well as the free bonuses) right away, which lets you start learning to play as soon as you want. This version costs $67.
If you prefer physical copies, you can also purchase the program on DVD. If you choose this option, you will also get free instant access to the online version of the videos and the free bonuses. This version costs $97.
If you're still not sure whether you want to take a chance on these video lessons, check out this player's experience with the lesson series.
If you decide that this program is not for you, you can return it for a full refund, thanks to the money-back guarantee. For a whole year after purchase, you can return it for a full refund. The digital extras are yours to keep.
If you find that you need or want extra guidance while learning to play, you do also have the option of taking a one-on-one lesson with program creator JP Allen or instructor Mitch Chang. These lessons are done via online video and cost $125 per hour.
Social Proof of the Course
Chord Buddy Ukulele is a lesson program that promises a lot. Before you make a commitment to purchase, you'll probably want to see what other players have to say. Here are some of the reviews we were able to find:
This review snapshot is from Old Time Music, a music review site. It's particularly useful because it gets at some of the strategies behind the program. Instructors JP Allen and Mitch Chang aren't just teaching you chords and strumming patterns--they're also teaching you how to practice effectively.
This review is from Ukulele World. This snapshot highlights some of the program's pros and cons. The reviewer at Ukulele World seems to think that this is a good program overall, but they do point out that there's no way the instructors can correct errors as you make them--a major disadvantage of online lesson programs.
This last review snapshot is from the website StringVibe. It outlines some of the useful tools that you get with this program, and it also details some of the advantages, like the one-year money-back guarantee, that makes it an attractive option.
We think that Chord Buddy Ukulele offers great value to aspiring ukulele players. You get 70 quality instructional videos (plus lots of extra resources) for less than 70 dollars, which is an outstanding value. If you don't find that it's the right option for you, you can receive a refund within a year. While the generalist approach it takes may not be right for more advanced players, we think that this program will help those new to ukulele to quickly build a solid foundation. Click here to check it out!