The ToneWay® Project: helping people play music

Circle of tones

I can't seem to understand the circle of tones and using the pattern? How would you figure out say the Key of D or A pattern? Do you have a website for me?

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I find the easiest way to understand the pattern is by looking at a keyboard. It helps one understand that crazy pattern of the alphabet!


Yes Nancy, you are correct. Here is a link to a reference that I find handy - the ukulele fretboard. Have a look at it and compare the tones in your method book. It may help. It also shows where the tones fall on the keyboard as suggested by Mary Ann.


I've got your Ukulele Method book. I'm just trying to make sense of the pattern. Like in Key of G: # 1 is G, #2 is A, #3 is B, #5 is D, and #6 is E?

Exactly. Did you go through the online course at yet? If not, they may help.

In a playing by ear approach to music, the letters G,A,B etc., are not important, except for denoting the key you playing in, tuning, and finding your high note… I suppose.

Picking out the melodies using the patterns in the book trains your ear's brain to feel the 'tonal flow'. One problem we've often seen is how people can easily over-think the method. Understanding really comes through doing.

After you've done the Get Started lessons (on line and in your book), start playing (singing and picking melody) of the 36 songs, page 29 - 46. Refer to to hear one of these songs, then sing it, then use the Tonation to pick its melody.

I would just play these in the key of C or F, depending on which key matched your vocal range best. I'd guess the key of C. I trust you put a low G string on your uke, otherwise playing the the key of C won't work.

If you have the Ukulele and Guitalele Songbook ( ) instead, see Song Tips on page x in the Song Index at the beginning of that book. There you'll find the page numbers for these 36 songs and their 'Tonation'.

I can't emphasize enough how understanding really comes through doing. You are training your intuitive faculties for music, not your linear cognitive faculties. Kids that begin early enough do this quite naturally. For us adults, doing rather than thinking will win the day.

In Japan, they say it takes three years to move past the beginning stage. Maybe that helps point out the problem of expecting too much too soon. Note: Once you get beyond the beginning stage, playing in any key will come rather naturally.


Thank you. I really like this method but like you said I'm probably over-thinking it so need to jus do it.


What Carl said is soooo true!!
I'm in my fourth or fifth year as a BEGINNER and each time I let my fingers take over my brain, a lightbulb goes off. The brain is a hard thing to overcome;-)

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