A couple of months ago, I attended an all day ukulele intensive workshop that was led by Geoff Davis of the Blue Stone Folk School. During the class, a couple of students were asking for ukulele instructional book suggestions. Geoff recommended Ukulele Method Book 1 by Lil’ Rev. I’ve seen several of Lil’ Rev’s videos on YouTube and immediately plunked down $9.95 for the book with CD.
This is a 9 x 12 inch format paperback book with 48 pages. It’s available with and without an audio CD. If you opt for no CD, the price is $5.95.
I’ll admit that I was so excited to see that Lil’ Rev had a book on the market, that I didn’t even flip through the pages before buying it. I assumed it would have instructional material for the styles of music that I’ve seen him play on various videos. After I got the book home and really looked at it closely, I found it to be almost entirely devoted to playing melodies (single note picking). But, as a complete beginner’s book, I should not have been surprised.
Like most beginning uke books, this one also starts out with a short history of the instrument and some information on popular players from the past and present. It then progresses into the requisite diagram of ukulele parts, how to hold the instrument, tuning, and a one page overview of how to read musical notation. If you’re terrified of musical notation, never fear, tablature is also included.
The book progresses from introducing the notes on each string, to learning simple songs with those notes. Most of the songs are included on the CD and are referenced in the text with a speaker icon and the track number. I’m a bit confused why all of the exercises and songs are not included on the CD though. Seems odd that a few are left off…
For the most part, the songs that are demonstrated in this book, are ones that most people should already be familiar with. Songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain When She Comes, Little Brown Jug, etc. In all, there are 36 songs to learn (a few are duplicates though).
About half way through the book, Lil’ Rev introduces chords and strumming techniques. This is where I started to get more excited, because he does have a few blues progression exercises. But, I was left wanting more… much more
Ukulele Method Book 1 by Lil’ Rev will give beginning players the necessary skills to pick up their instrument for the first time and start learning to play familiar tunes right away. It then introduces the next step in playing: chords. Lil’ Rev’s approach to teaching is thorough and easy to understand and I can’t wait until Book 2 is available. Keep em coming Rev.