Dec 19, 2017

Ukulele Fingerstyle: What Child is This? Left Hand Position - D Chord Trick

William Chatterton Dix wrote the lyrics for "What Child is This" in 1865. Dix worked as the manager of an insurance company at the time he wrote the carol and had been struck with a serious illness.  

Ukulele Fingerstyle: What Child is This?
While recovering he underwent a spiritual renewal, that led to him writing several hymns including the lyrics to this one.

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Find out for yourself why teachers and students have depended on Play Ukulele NOW Methods and Songbooks since 2009


Find all my fingerstyle and chord melody solos here.

"What Child is This" is set to the tune of "Greensleeves" a traditional English folk song. Although this carol was written in Great Britten it is more popular in the United States.

Previous fingerstyle arrangements

Here are some of the arrangements from previous posts. There are study notes and lessons with each of the arrangements, so if you haven't already, check them out for some tips on fingerstyle technique and on playing various parts of the arrangements.

Those tips will come in handy in playing this and other arrangements.

Silent Night - Easy Fingerstyle

Jingle Bells

Silent Night - two arrangements

The First Noel - two arrangements

What Child is This?

Click on the image to see it up close - Updated 4/24/2021

Click here to get the PDF (updated 4/24/2021): What Child is This

Performance notes

This is an advanced song, take it a few measures at a time to get it down.

First we'll brush up on some basics that allot of people miss and are essential to playing this arrangement cleanly.

Proper left hand position must be used to play this

You thumb must be in the middle of the back of the neck, as you make the difficult movements in this song you thumb will be a pivot point. You will find that with your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck can easily reach a great deal of frets with very little left hand movement.

Ukulele Fingerstyle: What Child is This?

From the Play Ukulele NOW Method and Songbook

Note: Take a look at the picture on the right side - the thumb dose not extend or go up over the fretboard at all. It can not be seen - it's in the middle of the back of the neck.

UPDATE: More on holding the uke here:

Are you holding the ukulele wrong? Avoid these 5 mistakes

Here's a video that covers some of this:

Don't Squeeze the Juice out of your Uke - Avoid these 3 mistakes

Also, in order to achieve perfect left hand position, the ukulele is held at about 2:00.

Don't cup the neck

If you cup the neck in your hand and your thumb is over the top of the fretboard more movement is required to move from chord to chord and there will be more friction making performing any complex arrangements much more difficult.

Less movement is always key

With your thumb in the middle of the back of the neck the left hand moves less to go from chord to chord and pivots around the thumb allowing you to easily tackle the difficult changes found here and play the cleaner much quicker.

Pivot and cover more ground

Since the ukulele is so small you can cover allot of ground on the fretboard by pivoting with your thumb as the anchor.

Also, when fingering the chords be sure to use your fingertips, yes, if you have nails you'll need to cut them.

Here's the best way to play a D chord - Nobody's talking about this

Surprisingly - you will likely not even find the best way to cleanly play the D chord on the internet!

As you may have found - if you've played D chords before - it's tough to fit all of those fingers across the same fret. Because of this, you may touch and mute the 1st string which is to be played open.

Here's the trick: Check out the fingering here.

Ukulele Fingerstyle: What Child is This?

This is how the D chord is presented in the Play Ukulele NOW Method and Songbook

Start by placing your second and third finger in the position indicated, behind the second fret, right behind the fret

Then place your 1st finger behind them to fret the final note! You will see this fingering takes up less space and you are more likely to play the chord cleanly without touching the 1st string - which must be able to ring clearly.

UPDATE: More on this here (it's a video):

The Easy Way to Play the D Chord - Makes playing in the Key of D Easier

Just so you know... There are a few other tricks to play the D chord

There are a few other great tricks as well, but the one presented here is the easiest. I'll present the others at another time.

Specific study notes

Let notes ring together whenever possible.

Measure 1 & 9

Rather than playing the 2nd note in this measure on the 1st string, 3rd fret, try it on the 4th string 5th fret and let the notes all ring together

Measure 2

Hold this chord down throughout the measure - add the note on the 8th fret with the 4th finger.

Measure 3

The first chord appears throughout this arrangement, in measure 17 its on the 8th fret. It's a simplified version of an E chord form.

Play the note on the 1st string with your 1st finger and the other two notes with your 3rd and 4th finger.

Want more?

Check out my books... Click on the 'learn more' link for each of the books for free samples, complete descriptions, song listings etc...

A Ukulele for Christmas: Fingerstyle Solos

A Ukulele for Christmas: Fingerstyle Solos

Learn fingerstyle ukulele at the same time as you learn these beautiful solo pieces, each one a little more of a challenge than the last!

These arrangements are hauntingly beautiful, with many campanella passages, and majestic; steeped in rich harmonies.

They are carefully arranged and graduated; each song comes with a comprehensive lesson to help you perform it properly.

Get the paperback on Amazon: A Ukulele for Christmas - Fingerstyle Solos
Get the eBook (instant download): A Ukulele for Christmas: Fingerstyle solos eBook
Get just one song: O Little Town of Bethlehem from "A Ukulele for Christmas: Fingerstyle Solos" with extras! (this and other songs from the book are available FREE to patreon members).

Christmas Solos for the Ukulele

Christmas Solos for Ukulele

These arrangements are rich with lush chords and enchanting campanella passages taking full advantage of the ukuleles unique reentrant tuning...

As a special treat I introduce you to the wonderful world of JAZZ CHORD MELODY by spicing up some of the arrangements here with beautiful extended chords and amazing chord substitutions... I walk you through exactly how I do it so you can ‘jazz up’ other songs on your own!

Grab the eBook here (instant download): Christmas Solos for Ukulele - FREE to patreon members

Ukulele Fingerstyle: What Child is This?

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