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Ukulele Lesson – Learn to Play Nearer, My God to Thee

Ukulele Lesson – Learn to Play Nearer, My God to Thee

Nearer, My God To Thee is quite easy to play on the ukulele! Now you will learn to play the melody and how to use your left hand fingers as you play.

Ukulele tablature

Here is a brief introduction to tab notation. A normal tablature staff uses four lines representing the four strings on the uke and number on the lines indicating which fret to press down.

In this ukulele lesson we will use another form of tab notation with numbers. Every note is represented with two numbers, the first telling you which fret to press down and the second which string to play. String number one is the first string with the highest pitch.

Time to start

We will start with the first part of the melody by presenting the lyrics. Below the lyrics you will find the ukulele tabs for the melody.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

01 32 12 12 23 23 03 12 01 32

As mentioned before the first number in the pair tells you on what fret to play. The next number which string to use. 01 32 means, play the first open string and then the third fret of the second string.

Left hand fingering

In order to play the notes with minimal movement of the left hand I suggest that you play the notes on the first fret with your left hand index finger, the notes on the second fret with your middle finger and so on.

Even if it is awkward at first you will soon get used to this type of fingerings. This will help you to play the notes without looking at the fretboard.

Learn the lines by heart

Probably the best way to learn the melody is by memorizing the lines one by one. Then you are not dependent on having the tabs on paper but can pick up an uke and play wherever you are. This is also the best way to learn the melody fast as you have to concentrate and make a conscious effort to learn.

Here is the next line of lyrics with corresponding ukulele tabs:

E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me

01 32 12 12 23 23 03 12 02 32 12

What about the right hand?

In order to pluck the strings you can use your right hand thumb, a pick or for example alternate between the right hand index and middle finger.

People using the last approach usually rest the finger on the adjacent string after having played a string. This means, if you pluck string number one with your index finger it will slide to the second string and rest there. This is called a support stroke and requires another article to explain fully!

Here comes line three:

Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee

32 01 32 32 02 32 32 01 32 32 02 23

What about the rhythms?

In this easy ukulele tab notation the actual length of the notes are not indicated. Tablature notation often assumes that the reader are familiar with the notated melody but there are ways to notate even the duration of the individual notes. However, this will make the tabs a little bit harder to read.

I assume that you know the melody and maybe you can sing the lines with lyrics to figure out the correct melody!

…and here is the final line:

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

01 32 12 12 23 23 03 12 02 32 12

As mentioned before, I suggest that you learn the melody by heart so you can have access to it whenever you have an ukulele at hand!