The ukulele has a reputation of being one of the easiest instruments to learn.
And that could be true – on condition you approach it in the right way.
Our ultimate ukulele guide will take you through all the basics of playing the uke, including your first chords and songs.
Plus, we will provide you with tips and tricks on how to make your learning journey more efficient and enjoyable.
Part 1 – Getting Started
Chapter 1: Things to Keep in Mind
1.1. Why Learn How to Play Ukulele?
If you’re still not sure whether the ukulele is the right instrument for you, we’ve gathered some ukulele facts that might affect your decision.
In fact, we will tell you all the reasons why we think uke is one of the coolest instruments to learn.
Reason #1: Ukulele is easy to learn
Ukulele is indeed one of the easiest instruments to learn.
It’s a great instrument for beginners because it’s easy to play in tune, and unlike guitar, it has only four strings.
Reason #2: It’s fun to play
Many people are drawn to ukulele because it has that carefree, dreamy sound.
That feeling you get while listening to ukulele will ultimately make your ukulele lessons more fun and enjoyable.
Reason #3: It’s budget-friendly
Ukulele is not a very expensive instrument, and it doesn’t come with a lot of equipment and accessories. Therefore, the whole process of learning to play the ukulele can be quite affordable.
Reason #4: You can play it anywhere
Uke is a small, portable instrument, so you can easily carry it around with you and play wherever you want.
Plus, the sound of ukulele can fit any situation – camping with friends, evening on the beach, or a family gathering.
Reason #5: Ukulele skills translate to guitar
Although ukulele and guitar have many differences, learning how to play uke will allow you to learn the guitar more quickly. Many of the chords and techniques you learn on the ukulele can be applied to guitar.
Moreover, taking ukulele lessons will give you a good foundation for learning any other instrument.
See also: Ukulele vs Guitar
Reason #6: It’s a versatile instrument
There are different types of ukulele – from the tiny soprano ukulele to the larger tenor uke. And that will give you the freedom to choose the size and type of instrument that suits you best.
Reason #7: It’s good for your health
Did you know that playing the ukulele comes with physical and physiological benefits?
Learning the uke improves coordination, memory, math skills, focus, and concentration.
But it also reduces levels of stress and anxiety. So with uke lessons, you won’t only gain valuable skills but also improve your mood.
Are there any disadvantages to learning ukulele?
Honestly, we had to think hard for this one.
Ukulele is a great instrument to learn – it’s fun, easy, and versatile. But just like any other skill, learning how to play ukulele comes with its challenges.
1. Not so many options for lessons
There’s no doubt about it – ukulele is a popular instrument. However, it’s less popular than piano and guitar. Therefore, finding a ukulele teacher or uke lessons might be a bit challenging.
2. A smaller range of tones
Compared to many other instruments, ukulele has a rather small range of tones.
For instance, a 12-fret soprano will have a range of 22 half-tones (C4-A5).
1.2. What to Expect
Before moving to specific tips and tricks on how to learn the ukulele for beginners, we want to tell you what to expect.
The question that usually comes before starting ukulele lessons is the cost of it all. So let’s take a quick look at all the costs of playing the uke.
How much will playing ukulele cost?
The biggest expense of your uke learning journey is the instrument itself.
Luckily, the ukulele is not an expensive instrument. You can get an entry-level ukulele for less than $100.
Of course, there are also more expensive models. So it all depends on your budget, abilities, and goals.
But as a uke beginner, we suggest buying a nice beginner-friendly uke. Either way, it’s important to opt for a reliable instrument and a trusted brand; but more on that in our Shopping Guide down below.
Another expense you need to take into account is the cost of ukulele lessons.
Private ukulele lessons with a teacher can cost anywhere from $20 to $100+ per hour. There are, however, ukulele learning websites that offer affordable online ukulele lessons. And music learning apps and online programs are probably the cheapest options.
How much do I need to practice?
Another question that many people ask is: how much do I need to practice to learn ukulele?
The answer depends on your goals and expectations. Do you want to become a skilled ukulele player? You’ll have to practice every day for hours. And if you just want to master the basics so you can play the songs you like, you’ll get there rather quickly.
Regardless of what your goals are, the most important thing about ukulele practice is consistency. Ideally, you should practice 30 minutes a day. And a 15-minute daily practice is better than 2-hour practice on a Sunday.
Even though it’s relatively easy to learn (compared to some other instruments), becoming good at playing ukulele takes time and practice. But if you incorporate simple uke practice into your daily routine, you’ll get there sooner than you think!
1.3 What is the Best Age to Learn Ukulele?
Another frequently asked question about ukulele practice is: am I too old to learn the ukulele?
The simple answer is – no. You’re never too old to play the ukulele.
There are many advantages of taking uke lessons as a kid though. But as an adult beginner, you also have certain advantages.
Learning Ukulele as an Adult
Firstly, adults are used to having responsibilities and sticking to their schedule. So taking ukulele lessons and maintaining regular uke practice won’t be that difficult.
As an adult learner, you will also be able to learn effectively and at your own pace because you already know what your learning habits are.
And your motivation to learn will allow you to keep moving forward. Adults usually want to learn a new instrument because they want to play the music they like, and that’s definitely a good starting point.
Finally, think of your age as your ally. You have more life experience than a child, and therefore more knowledge – all of this will help you acquire certain playing skills and understand complex musical terms.
Learning Ukulele as a Child
There are many studies suggesting that it’s easier to learn an instrument at a younger age. Moreover, there are countless benefits of learning how to play an instrument as a kid.
To be more specific, ukulele learning encourages kids to be creative. It also improves their memory, focus, and problem-solving skills.
Ukulele is also a great first instrument for kids because it’s very small and light, so kids won’t have any problems holding it.
Finally, this is a good opportunity for children to be introduced to music theory. With the ukulele, they will also learn about rhythm, melody, harmony, tempo, and so on.
Chapter 2: Ukulele Buying Guide
2.1. Types of Ukulele
As we’ve already mentioned, there are different types of ukulele you can play. And there are all kinds of sizes and shapes of ukulele available on the market.
Therefore, it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed.
To help you make your decision and find the best ukulele for you, let’s first take a look at the most common types of ukulele.
The soprano ukulele is the most popular type of ukulele. It’s also the smallest in size, so it’s ideal for kids as well as learners who want to travel around with it.
It has a standard tuning of G-C-E-A, and it’s known for its thin sound generally associated with ukulele.
The concert ukulele (sometimes referred to as alto) is slightly larger than the soprano size, and it also has G-C-E-A tuning.
Compared to the soprano, the concert ukulele has a somewhat fuller sound.
And the frets are slightly more spaced, so players with larger fingers might find it easier to play.
See also: Best Concert Ukuleles
Like soprano and concert ukuleles, the tenor ukulele has a standard tuning of G-C-E-A. But some musicians also tune it to D-G-B-E.
The tenor ukulele is larger in size and it therefore has a richer, fuller sound.
The baritone ukulele (sometimes referred to as simply bari) is the largest type of ukulele. It’s 30 inches in length (like tenor), but it is slightly broader than a tenor ukulele.
That being said, it has a deeper and fuller sound.
And it’s normally tuned to D-G-B-E.
2.2. Buying Your First Ukulele
If you’re not sure exactly what size and type of ukulele model you should opt for, we suggest you start by asking yourself the following questions:
What is my budget?
Before going to a music store or browsing instruments online, you should determine your budget. That way you’ll narrow down the choices and be able to make a purchase in a quicker and more efficient way.
What size of ukulele do I need?
Whether you’re going to buy a soprano ukulele, concert ukulele or something else depends on your preferences. For instance, if you want a small, portable uke that produces that recognizable ukulele sound, you should opt for a soprano.
On the other hand, some beginners prefer concert and tenor ukulele due to their rich tone and playability.
Who will play the uke?
One of the ways to determine what type of ukulele you need is to think about who is going to play. Maybe your kids will want to play it too, and that’s something to factor in.
Rent or buy?
If you’re uncertain if you’ll continue with your ukulele lessons, you can opt for a renting option. Check out what kind of instruments you can get in your area and if they fit your expectations.
But uke is not an expensive instrument, so even if you don’t play it for a longer period of time, you probably won’t regret buying it.
Research the brands!
Before purchasing anything, we suggest conducting a little research about the most popular ukulele brands. Every manufacturer has their own values and target customers, so make sure the brand you’re purchasing aligns with your goals and abilities.
See also: Best Ukulele Brands
Features to Look for in Ukulele
So, what makes a quality ukulele?
Firstly, you should opt for a trusted brand. Apart from that, the overall craftsmanship needs to be satisfying. When it comes to materials, most manufacturers use spruce for the top soundboard and mahogany for the back and sides.
Either way, make sure you find good value for money.
Useful Ukulele Buying Resources
If you’re looking for a more detailed uke buyer’s guide, you can check out the following websites:
- Beginner Ukuleles websites offers a comprehensive Ukulele Buying Guide
- Ukulele Movement also has a nice article on How to Choose Your First Ukulele
2.3. Ukulele Accessories
Buying a new ukulele will be your biggest expense. But you should also invest in essential ukulele accessories.
Clip-On Ukulele Tuner
Tuning an instrument can be tricky even for experienced players. But with a clip-on ukulele tuner, you can tune your ukulele without hassle.
A good gig bag is essential for traveling, as it will protect your instrument from scratching and weather conditions.
You can also purchase a hard case. It’s heavier than a gig bag, but it will keep your instrument very safe.
A capo will allow you to change keys quickly, and it will generally make your playing a little smoother. Ukulele capos are smaller and lighter than guitar capos.
If you want to keep your ukulele safe and unscratched between sessions, you should also get a nice ukulele stand.
Ukulele Maintenance and Care
Like any other instrument, ukuleles require care and maintenance.
You can use a simple cotton cloth for cleaning your uke. You should wipe off the strings and fretboard after every session.
Also, you should keep your instrument dry, but not too dry. A humidifier can keep your uke safe when you’re at home – it will keep the moisture in your instrument case at the proper levels.
2.4. How to Find a Ukulele Teacher
See also: Best Online Ukulele Lessons
Ukulele is less popular than piano or guitar, and that’s why there are less learning options. However, hiring a guitar instructor or going to a music school is no longer your only option.
With so many well-designed online learning programs and music apps, you can easily learn how to play ukulele by yourself. You just need to find a program that suits you.
Online ukulele lessons are actually a great way to learn ukulele. They’re convenient, affordable, and efficient, and most of them focus only on important things.
However, many would agree that nothing beats in-person lessons. After all, traditional lessons will ensure you clear guidance and professional approach. Also, a teacher can point out your weak spots and help you improve them.
But at the end of the day, it all comes down to your preferences, abilities, and learning habits. So let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of popular ways of learning ukulele!
- Direct, personalized feedback
- Clear guidance
- Professional teaching methods
- Can be pricey
- Might be tricky to find a teacher
Ukulele Learning Apps
- Fun and engaging
- You can choose your learning material
- Not so many options on the market
- Lack of quality feedback
Online Ukulele Lessons
- You can learn from home
- Lack of quality feedback
Combination of Methods
Another good option for learning uke is to combine methods or formats. For example, you can meet with a teacher once a month, and practice with an app or an online program in the meantime.
Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to establish a practice routine. You might feel overwhelmed or a bit lost otherwise.
Generally speaking, online learning programs are a great source because they offer structured learning. Lessons are usually linear, and you can move forward once you complete them.
2.5. Other Methods
With so many modern learning options out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused. But if you know what you’re looking for, everything will be easier.
After all, everyone has their own preferences and unique learning habits. You just need to find something that fits yours.
Traditional methods may be more pricey, but they will provide you with quality learning and clear guidance. But modern methods turned out to be quite effective too. Most video lessons and tutorials go straight to the point, and they allow learners to be flexible and learn at their own pace.
At the end of the day, it’s great that we have so many possibilities to learn these days. So why not take advantage of that?
PART 2 – Mastering the Fundamentals
Now when you know what to expect from your uke learning journey and how to find the right instrument for you, let’s start with your first lesson!
Chapter 3: First Steps
3.1. How to Hold a Ukulele
Before playing your first chords, you need to learn how to hold the ukulele properly.
Ukulele is a small instrument, which makes it easy to hold. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to your hand positioning while playing.
To hold the ukulele in the right way, follow these steps:
1. Hold the neck of the ukulele in your left hand
2. Bend your right arm in the elbow (so you can use it to strum the strings)
3. Keep the instrument close to your chest
3.2. How to Tune a Ukulele
Tuning a ukulele can be tricky for beginners. Luckily, there are also some easy ways you can tune a ukulele.
Using a clip-on ukulele tuner is arguably the easiest way to tune a ukulele. You can get a chromatic tuner, as it will enable you to tune to all of the notes.
You can also download a ukulele tuning app to help you out.
But if you want to go the traditional way, you can tune a ukulele by ear – and that’s a more challenging method.
First you’ll need to find a reference note (that’s usually middle C) on another instrument such as piano and then twist the tuner on your ukulele until the note matches. Once you have your middle C, you can continue with the rest of the notes.
Chapter 4: Basic Skills
4.1. Ukulele Strings
See also: Ukulele String Names
Before learning technique and your first songs, you need to memorize ukulele string numbers and names.
A standard ukulele has four strings, and they are tuned G-C-E-A.
So, starting from the string closest to your chin, the ukulele string names are:
If you think you’ll have trouble memorizing this, the popular acronym ‘Good Charlie Eats A Lot’ might be helpful.
4.2. Ukulele Notes
Once you learn string names, you should become familiar with specific ukulele notes on the fretboard.
First of all, you should keep in mind that every string corresponds to a chromatic scale; it just starts at a different spot.
Generally, a chromatic scale is a set of twelve pitches used in tonal music. So the notes you’ll come across in ukulele playing are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. In between of these notes is a sharp and flat, which makes it 12 notes in total.
On the ukulele, each fret is only half a step (or half a note) apart. Therefore, a sharp (#) is half a step up, while a flat (b) is half a step down.
4.3. Difference Between Chords and Notes
Before moving on, we want to clarify the difference between ukulele chords and notes.
Notes are solitary pitches that you hear when you pluck one string, and a chord is a group of notes played together at the same time.
As a ukulele beginner, you’ll probably learn how to play chords first. That being said, let’s take a look at the essential ukulele chords.
4.4. How to Play Easy Ukulele Chords
Are you ready to play your first chords on the ukulele?
Don’t worry – these chords are very easy to play, and they will help you get an idea of how playing the ukulele feels like.
Moreover, these essential uke chords will help you get started with learning songs. You can learn many easy songs using just four chords.
C Major Chord
The C Major chord appears in many popular songs, and it’s arguably one of the easiest ukulele chords.
To play the C Major chord on ukulele, you just need to press the “A” string in the third fret and then strum all the four strings.
F Major Chord
To play the F Major chord, you need to put your middle finger on the second fret of the G string and your pointer finger on the first fret of the E string. You then need to press them and strum all four strings together.
G Major Chord
The G Major chord is another basic ukulele chord you need to have in your repertoire.
To play this simple chord, you need to place your middle finger on the second fret of the A string, your ring finger on the third fret of the E string, and your pointer finger on the second fret of the C string. Now strum all four strings.
A Minor Chord
As a beginner, you should also learn how to play the A Minor chord.
To play the A Minor chord, you need to place your middle finger on the second fret of the G string. Now strum all the strings. And that’s it!
With these four basic uke chords, you can start learning beginner-friendly songs. Some of the songs that use the combination of these chords include “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, and “Let It Be” by The Beatles.
But before starting with your first songs, there are a couple of important things you need to master first.
4.5. How to Strum a Ukulele
If you want to play chords smoothly, you need to learn how to strum ukulele in the right way.
First of all, there are several ways to strum a ukulele.
Strumming ukulele with a finger
When you strum the ukulele with your finger, you need to use the fingernail on your index finger. Make sure to keep your knuckles pointed away from you and your fingers curled in toward your body.
Strumming in downward motion involves striking the strings with your index fingernail, while the up strum requires the use of the fleshy pad of your index finger or your thumbnail.
Strumming ukulele with a pick
Some ukulele players prefer using a pick. To try this technique out, hold the pick between your thumb and the side of your index finger.
Strumming ukulele with a pick produces a louder, brighter tone.
Basic Ukulele Strumming Patterns
Regardless of what technique you choose, there are several ukulele strumming patterns you should learn.
The most common strumming patterns will allow you to tackle different chord progressions. And that’s why understanding strumming patterns is essential for every ukulele beginner.
Some of the most popular ukulele strumming patterns include:
- Down-up-down-up (D-U-D-U-D-U-D-U, as written in tablature) – In this simple pattern, every downstroke is followed by an upstroke
- Down-down-up (D-D-U) – This pattern is ideal for ¾ time
- Down-up-down (D-U-D-D-U-D) – In this pattern, there are two downstrokes in a row, and it’s repetitive
- Down-up-up-down (D-U-U-D-D-U-U-D) – This pattern is more challenging, but it’s useful and it sounds great
There you go, these are the best ukulele strumming patterns you can learn as a beginner.
PART 3 – Music Theory & Practice
Before moving forward with playing your favorite songs on ukulele, it’s important for you to get to know basic music theory.
Music theory isn’t something students should be afraid of. It is, in fact, a foundation of making music, and it’s a necessary part of education for every aspiring musician.
Chapter 5: How to Read Ukulele TAB
In short, a TAB is a simple kind of musical notation. It’s different from standard notation because it only shows you which strings or frets need to be played. Sheet music, on the other hand, shows you notes, rhythm, and so on.
That being said, learning how to read sheet music is a very useful skill, and we certainly encourage you to do it. But for starters, let us show you how the simple ukulele tab works.
In ukulele tabs, horizontal lines (dashes) represent strings – G,C,E,A, from bottom to top. And each number on the tab refers to the fret number. The zero indicates an open string.
So in the example shown above, you would play the open C and E string, and then the fifth. Then you would have to play the third, followed by an open C string, and so on.
Once you get a hang of it, you’ll realize that ukulele tabs are really simple. And once you feel comfortable with the notes, strings, and technique, you can learn how to read standard notation too.
One of the things that standard sheet music shows you (and tabs don’t) is the rhythm.
Western music is divided up into bars (measures), and each bar cycles a certain number of beats. That’s what ‘4/4’ you see at the beginning of the staff means; this is also the most common time signature.
A time signature indicates the number of beats – four beats per bar, in this case.
You also need to be familiar with the tempo or the pace of a song. In ukulele playing, tempo is measured in Beats per Minutes (bpm) – so this is basically a speed at which you perform a certain song.
Since you’re a beginner, we suggest using a metronome. That’s how you’ll develop a sense for rhythm and improve your timing.
Chapter 6: Chord Diagrams
Just like ukulele tabs, chord diagrams are super simple to read. And they will come in handy when you just want to learn the chords of a song.
As you can see in the picture, the chord diagram is different from tablature. For instance, numbers in tabs represent frets, while numbers in diagrams refer to fingering.
So, the numbers below the diagram tell you which fingers to use. The numbers correspond to the fingers in the following way:
- 1 – index
- 2 – middle
- 3 – ring
- 4 – pinky
Each vertical line stands for a string of the ukulele – G, C, E, and A, from left to right. And horizontal lines represent frets; the topmost horizontal line normally stands for the nut.
Furthermore, circles at the top indicate an open string, and an “X” means that the string is not played or it’s muted.
Finally, dots are placed on the diagram to indicate the location of each note in the chord. Sometimes they may even tell you which finger to use.
And that’s all you need to know to read chord diagrams. Easy, right?
Chapter 7: Your First Songs
7.1. Easy Songs on Ukulele
See also: Easy Ukulele Songs
Without a doubt, one of the most rewarding parts of ukulele learning is playing the songs you love.
However, you should stick to beginner-friendly songs first. If you play something too challenging, you might get discouraged.
Fortunately, there are many great songs that are easy to play on ukulele. If you learned basic ukulele chords, notes, and patterns, you’ll be able to learn them without hassle.
And even if you don’t feel comfortable with reading tabs and diagrams just yet, there are many great uke song tutorials to help you out.
So let’s take a look at some of the easy songs you can play on ukulele.
1. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
“I’m Yours” is probably one of the most popular ukulele songs.
The song is very sweet and catchy, and the ukulele line is quite simple. If you’re just starting out with playing songs, this is a great place to start.
2. “Fallin’ For You” by Colbie Caillat
“Fallin’ For You” was a big hit when it came out in 2009, and it still sounds great.
Colbie Caillat’s sweet tune is also a great song for uke beginners to play. If the tempo seems too fast for you, you can play it at reduced speed first.
3. “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King
“Stand by Me” is a timeless classic. And it sounds great on ukulele.
The chord progression in the song is C, Am, F, G, so you shouldn’t have any problems learning it.
4. “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train
“Hey, Soul Sister” is another popular ukulele song for beginners.
The song has a similar structure to “I’m Yours”, but it has a different pattern in the chorus. Nevertheless, it’s very easy to play and memorize.
5. “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley
“Three Little Birds” is an ultimate feel-good classic – and it’s a perfect choice for ukulele beginners.
The song has a rather simple strumming pattern, and the simple version includes easy chords.
7.2. The Fastest Way to Learn Songs on Ukulele
All of the songs we mentioned above are considered to be easy beginner-friendly uke songs. However, even a simple song can sometimes be tricky to master if you’re a complete beginner.
But there are some things you can keep in mind to make your song learning process smooth and easy.
1. Choose the right song
First of all, it’s essential to choose a song suitable for your level of experience.
And once you master a number of beginner songs, you can choose a song that is slightly above your level. That way, you’ll be able to expand your knowledge and improve your technique.
2. Find an accurate ukulele TAB
Once you decide which song you want to play, you need to find a reliable learning source. If you know how to read tabs or sheet music, you won’t have any problems learning it properly – you just need to find an accurate TAB or sheet music.
Alternatively, you can search for ukulele song tutorials on Youtube. Just make sure you find a reliable channel.
And if you’re taking online ukulele lessons, you’ll most likely play songs from your platform’s song library.
3. Don’t rush
No matter what your learning source is, you should take a step-by-step approach to learning songs. And the best way to do this is to divide songs into chunks.
And understanding basic strumming patterns and chords before learning songs will help you immensely.
4. Work on your weak spots
One of the ways to perform the song on the ukulele effortlessly is to work on your weak spots.
Therefore, don’t play the whole song over and over during practice. Focus on the parts that you don’t feel comfortable with instead; and practice until you feel confident playing them.
Chapter 8: Ukulele Practice
Regular and consistent practice is essential, especially if you want to reach advanced levels.
To help you establish a good practice routine, let’s take a look at some of the most common questions regarding ukulele practice.
8.1. Establishing a Practice Routine
If you want to learn how to play the ukulele well, you’ll have to set a schedule.
Establishing a practice routine will help you practice consistently – and consistency is crucial for learning any instrument.
How long should I practice every day?
To see the results within months, you should practice 30-45 minutes each day. As you progress, you can prolong your sessions and practice for an hour.
Either way, try to avoid long and unbroken practice sessions of longer than one hour at a time. If you want to practice for longer than 20 minutes, split up your practice sessions by having short breaks.
How often should I practice the ukulele?
Well, you should practice as often as you can. In any case, it’s better to practice 20 minutes a day than for 3 hours once a week.
When to practice ukulele?
What time in the day is best for you to practice depends on your daily routine and learning habits.
Where to practice ukulele?
Ukulele is a small and portable instrument, so you can practice literally anywhere.
However, it’s always better to find a quiet, safe space where you can do your practice without any distractions.
8.2. Before Your Practice Session
If you practice uke at home, and if you take your learning seriously, we recommend removing all the distractions.
For example, you can mute your phone or tell your family or roommates that you don’t want to be disturbed unless really necessary. This will give you the peace you need to truly focus on your playing and make the most out of your session.
8.3. Structuring Each Session
Your ukulele practice session should start with a warm-up. There are many warm-up exercises for you to explore – find the one that suits you best and incorporate it into your session.
You can then continue with musical concepts or techniques. You can start by repeating the things you know (like simple chords) and moving on to new stuff.
The next part is probably the most rewarding for every learner – playing the songs. You can start by playing the sections you know and moving on to new parts of the song.
8.4 How to Avoid Common Mistakes
In the beginning, every ukulele student makes mistakes. Well, even pros make mistakes.
However, if you’re aware of common mistakes beginners make during their first lessons, there’s a higher chance you’ll end up avoiding them.
These are some tips on how to avoid these mistakes and make your ukulele practice more efficient:
- Make sure your instrument is tuned well
- Practice with a metronome
- Keep your wrist relaxed while strumming
- Study theory and technique (and not just the songs)
- Don’t take big chunks of music at once
- Record yourself playing (and ask for feedback)
8.5. Ukulele Goals and Motivation
The best way to maintain regular ukulele practice is to set realistic, short-term goals.
Keeping your motivation high is also important. On the other hand, it’s completely normal to feel discouraged or even frustrated at times. Learning how to play an instrument is a long process.
But the uke learning process is also very rewarding, and since it’s a rather easy instrument to learn, you’ll be able to see the results sooner than you think.
And don’t forget that one of the most important things is to enjoy the process!
PART 4 – Ukulele History and Culture
Chapter 9: Background
To understand your instrument even better, it’s important to learn about its origins.
9.1. When Was the Ukulele Invented?
The ukulele was developed in the 1880s. Although it’s originally a Hawaiian instrument, the first ukulele was actually a modification of a Portuguese instrument called the machete. The machete was introduced to Hawaiians after the arrival of the Portuguese immigrants.
In the Hawaiian language, the word ‘ukulele’ roughly translates to ‘jumping flea’ – probably due to fast movements of the player’s fingers.
The ukulele became an integral part of Hawaiian culture. And eventually, it became an important part of many music genres that have emerged over the decades.
Chapter 10: Exploring Genres and Styles
As a ukulele player, you have a variety of genres to choose from. We definitely encourage you to explore them – versatility of songs you have in your repertoire will ultimately make you a better musician.
So let’s take a quick look at all the most popular genres and styles associated with ukulele.
Rock is arguably one of the most popular genres in the ukulele world. And you’ll be surprised how many rock classics sound great on ukulele.
That said, there are so many great rock songs you can play as a beginner – from AC/DC and Green Day to Nirvana and The Cranberries.
Rock Ukulele Tutorials:
Pop is another great genre to explore as a ukulele beginner.
There are many pop hits you can easily play on ukulele – and you’ll probably get a fresh and surprisingly beautiful version of the song. After all, the sound of uke makes everything more dreamy.
Pop Ukulele Tutorials:
The sound of ukulele is mostly associated with Hawaiian traditional music, but it can also be heard in many other folk songs.
There’s a variety of folk songs for you to explore – from Irish music to modern indie folk songs.
Folk Ukulele Tutorials:
Chapter 10: FAQ and Resources
10.1. Free Online Resources
If you decide to learn how to play the ukulele by yourself, besides reliable online lessons, you’ll have to find good online learning resources. Even if you hire a uke teacher, these learning websites and online tools will come in handy.
That being said, our last chapter is dedicated to reliable free online resources.
Ukulele Buying Guides
Besides our own ukulele shopping guide above, there are several guitar buying guides that can come in handy.
- Beginner Ukuleles website provides a nice Ukulele Buying Guide
- UkuTabs website also offers a comprehensible Ukulele Buyer’s Guide
Free Ukulele Tabs and Sheet Music
- Live Ukulele offers a collection of free ukulele tabs
- 8notes also offers free tabs as well as ukulele sheet music
Recording Softwares and Programs
If you’re learning the uke by yourself, it’s important to hear yourself playing. That’s how you’ll be able to work on your weak spots and improve your performance.
That being said, recording programs can come in handy.
- Audacity is a free, open source, cross-platform audio software that’s easy to use
Online learning websites provide useful articles, free lessons, and tips and tricks on how to improve your ukulele playing.
- Uke Like the Pros is a uke learning platform that also offers free articles and tips
- Ukulele Tricks offers free articles and useful online tools
10.2. Ukulele Players Community
If you’re taking online ukulele lessons, you can search for online communities or even jamming sessions in your area to connect with fellow players.
Forums can also be a great thing – besides information, they can also give you a chance to share your uke learning experiences with other learners.
Am I too old to learn how to play the ukulele?
No, you’re never too old to play the ukulele. In fact, you have many advantages as an adult learner, including focus, working habits, and strong motivation.
Do I need to learn music theory to play the ukulele?
No, you don’t have to learn music theory to master the basics. However, studying music theory is necessary if you want to reach advanced levels. Learning notes will help you understand how music works, but it will also allow you to learn new songs more quickly.
How long does it take to learn ukulele?
To play the ukulele comfortably, it should take you a couple of months. It shouldn’t take you too long to learn the basics though, but if you want to learn how to play the uke well, you’ll have to be patient and persistent.
How to tune a ukulele?
Using a chromatic clip-on tuner is the easiest way to tune a ukulele. You can also use a reference note from another instrument to tune one of your strings and then tune your uke by ear.
Can I learn the ukulele in 3 months?
Yes, it’s possible to learn the ukulele in 3 months. However, you’ll need to maintain a regular practice routine.
Is ukulele easy to learn?
With the right approach, the ukulele isn’t difficult to learn. But just like any other instrument, learning how to play it well takes time and practice.
Can I teach myself ukulele?
Yes, you can teach yourself ukulele, but you need to find a reliable learning source – well-structured online lessons, for example. If you follow the instructions and stick to your schedule, you’ll be able to gain ukulele skills without using traditional methods.
Is ukulele easier than guitar?
The ukulele is generally easier to learn than guitar. The ukulele has fewer strings and a shorter fretboard, and it’s less complex than a guitar.
Is playing ukulele healthy?
Playing the ukulele comes with numerous health benefits. It improves memory, coordination, and immune function. It’s also good for your mental health as it reduces levels of stress and anxiety.