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Ukulele Tab: Learn To Play Happy Birthday To You

Aug 17, 2007
An ukulele can be used to play chords when you sing but you can also play melodies. It's fun and quite easy to learn melodies on your uke with ukulele tab. Let's learn to play Happy Birthday To You!

As many people know "Happy Birthday to You" is a song which is sung to celebrate a person's birth. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is the most popular song in the English language.

Here is the most common lyrics. "Peter" is to be replaced by the name of the celebrating person.

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday dear "Peter",
Happy birthday to you.

I use my own form of ukulele tab for articles like this to be sure that the tabs are readable on article sites. The more common ukulele tab staff notation can be found on my site with ukulele tabs and free sheet music.

The string with the highest pitch is usually an A and is called the first string. The first string is the string nearest your feet when you play your uke.

The first notes in the song are on the third string.

The first number indicates the fret. The second number after the slash tells you which string to play. Here is the first line of lyrics and the ukulele tab:

Happy birthday to you,

0/3 0/3 2/3 0/3 1/2 0/2

0/3 indicates that you play the third string with your right hand thumb for example without pressing down any left hand finger. It is called to play on the open third string.

This type of ukulele tab doesn't indicate the length of the notes. I guess you hear that the first two notes are short and the last note long.

Let's play the next line:

Happy birthday to you,

0/3 0/3 2/3 0/3 3/2 1/2

3/2 means that you press down a left hand finger on the third fret of the second string. I haven't told you anything about which left hand finger to press down on the frets on your ukulele.

You can use your first finger for all the notes but a more professional approach is to play the notes on the first fret with your first finger, the notes on the second fret with your long finger and the notes on your third fret with your ring finger.

Maybe it's difficult at first but with practice it will be easier for you to find the right notes. You don't even have to look at your fingers to find the right fret if you get accustomed to this way of playing.

The next line comes now:

Happy birthday dear "Peter",

0/3 0/3 3/1 0/1 1/2 0/2 2/3

You know what the ukulele tab above tells you by now.

The last line comes here:

Happy birthday to you.

1/1 1/1 0/1 1/2 3/2 1/2

Now you can play Happy Birthday To You on your ukulele and you are prepared for the next birthday party!

Actually you can play this melody with the use of the above ukulele tab notation on a guitar also. The first three strings are tuned the same way but not in the same pitch.

The ukulele tab notation I have used is good for finding the notes but I recommend you to learn the melody by heart so you can play it anytime and anywhere!
About the Author
Peter Edvinsson is a musician, composer and music teacher. Visit his site Capotasto Music and download your free sheet music and ukulele tab at http://www.capotastomusic.com
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