Would you like to learn how to play ukulele? If so, you’ve come to the right website! We’ll show all the procedures in detail that you need to learn how to play.
The teddy bear and frog are all set, and so are we, so let’s get started 🙂
Learn to Play the Ukulele: 10 Steps to Success
Step 1: Choose the Right Ukulele for You
The first step to learning to play the ukulele is to pick the right instrument. There are four types of ukuleles, popularly known as ukes, available today: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. While soprano was the original version, concert, tenor, and baritone are modified versions that have gained popularity. If you are completely new to the instrument and keen to master the steps of how to play the uke, then it is best to go for a soprano ukulele rather than the modified versions; it’s easier to handle and fun to play.
A soprano uke has a scale length of 13” and an overall length of 21”, making it one of the cutest musical instruments ever made. You can go for a guitar-shaped or a figure 8-shaped uke, or a fun-looking pineapple-shaped one. Wooden ukuleles are preferred for better sound quality, but laminated ukuleles are great to start with and are also more affordable than the wooden ones.
Step 2: Tune Your Ukulele
After buying the instrument that appeals to you, the next logical step might be to learn how to play the ukulele. However, you need to tune your instrument before you can learn how to create melodies on it. An out of tune uke often sounds horrible enough to tempt you to put down the instrument and run. So, tune your ukulele, and tune it right!
The most common tuning used for ukuleles is GCEA. The closest string to the top is tuned to a G, the next one C, the next one E, and the last one A. To tune your ukulele, you’ll have to twist the tuning pegs, which are attached to the strings. The notes will go higher as you tighten the peg and lower as you loosen the peg. Your ears should be a good guide when you are tuning your ukulele.
If you are not too comfortable or confident enough to tune your first uke, you can use an electronic tuner. It’s pretty simple to use and should be available in any music store near you. Just clip the device on the head of the uke, and it’ll direct you through the tuning process. Alternatively, seek out a proficient ukulele player and ask for his/her help to tune your instrument while he/she teaches you the basics of how to play a ukulele.
If you want to tune your ukulele by ear, then you can tune along with this video below. Your only mission is to match the sound of each string to the corresponding string in the video.
Step 3: How to Hold Your Ukulele
There is no right way of holding your uke. Many ukulele experts place it on their lap while playing, and many others prefer to hold it to the body under the forearm. If you are planning to play the ukulele standing, you may want a strap as well. Play around to find out which way you are most comfortable holding the instrument. Remember, you cannot go wrong here!
The manner in which you hold the instrument should have no impact on how to play the ukulele, so feel free to experiment and find your own way. For instance, as a right-handed player, you can hold the neck of your instrument in your left hand and strum the strings with your right hand.
Step 4: Play Your first chord
Now that you have tuned your ukulele and are holding it properly, it’s time to have some fun! The basic ukulele chord is the C chord. Place your ring finger on the A string in between the 2nd and 3rd fret (the metal lines that are placed across the neck of your uke). Make sure that you are holding the string down on the fret while letting it vibrate freely along its length. Now, gently drag your index finger across the four strings. Voila! You have just played your first chord. That already sounds awesome, doesn’t it? As you progress towards your journey to understanding how to play the ukulele, there will be many such moments of wonderment.
If you still don’t know how to do this properly, then this video below is perfect for you.
Step 5: Strum Your Ukulele
Now that you have played the first chord, it’s time to learn how to strum your uke. Even though a ukulele looks like a miniature guitar, you don’t play it like a guitar. While you strum a guitar near the sound hole, in the case of a ukulele, you need to strum a bit higher to get the right sounds. The perfect place is where the neck of your uke joins the body of your instrument. Use the fingernail on your index finger to strum the strings in downward strokes. You can count “one-two-three-four” as they do in traditional music schools to get into a rhythm while practicing strumming.
Start with the basic chord, and when your feel the time is right, go for the faster rhythms. There are no hard and fast rules about to how to play a ukulele, so let the rhythm take over and let your ears guide you in creating fun music. You can also sing along some nice upbeat songs to make your practice interesting.
Watch this video below if you want to see how exactly to strum your ukulele.
Step 6: Fingers or Plectrum
One question that all Uke novices face early in their training is whether to play with your fingers or use a plectrum to strum the uke. There is nothing set in stone here; there is no right or wrong so far as how to play ukulele is concerned. You can choose to play with your fingers or with a plectrum, depending on what comes naturally for you. Playing with your fingers is considered a more intimate and personal experience by most experts. However, you’ll get some visible calluses on your fingers pretty quickly this way. If you have a serious objection to callused fingers, you can choose to use the plectrum. A ukulele plectrum should be available at any music store near you.
Step 7: Keep Yourself Motivated
If you are learning how to play the ukulele on your own, the biggest challenge can be to stay motivated. More often than not, people push themselves too hard when learning a new skill. In doing so, they cut out the fun from the process. DO NOT fall into this trap. Music comes as much from the heart as from the instrument. Keep yourself motivated and inspired. Listen to good music as much as possible and try to recreate the tunes on your instrument.
This video from YouTube is a perfect piece to keep you motivated when learning. Just listen to the cheerful tunes and try recreating the music on your uke. You can also try to play along with the video to keep the fun going.
Step 8: Practice
There is no substitute for hard work. Practice is the only way to perfect any skill. The same goes for the ukulele. Make sure to practice as much as possible. Once you understand how to play a ukulele, you must practice continuously to improve your skill. You could get in touch with the other ukulele enthusiasts and practice together. Practicing in a group takes the monotony out of it and makes it an enjoyable process. You could even call your friends and practice with them. This will make all your sessions entertaining as well as give you a sense of accomplishment.
Step 9: Use the Internet
Today, no matter what you are trying to learn, the internet is your best buddy during the process. The internet, especially YouTube, is a treasure trove of ukulele lessons. You’ll find numerous tutorials on how to play ukulele on YouTube. Besides the tutorial videos, you can also search for simple ukulele tunes that you can master on your own. Listen keenly to these tunes and let your ears guide you while you recreate them on your instrument. Most ukulele tunes are pretty simple to play and fun to sing along with. So raid the internet to help you learn ukulele quickly.
Step 10: Take Lessons With a Ukulele Teacher
If you have gone through all the above steps and are still not confident that you can master how to play a ukulele on your own, then it is time to seek a teacher who will give you lessons. Taking lessons from an experienced instructor is the best way to learn any musical instrument, and the ukulele is no different. An instructor will be able to show you many advanced ways of playing a ukulele and can correct your mistakes on the way. Check out at nearby music schools to find a ukulele teacher.
If you are looking for an experienced ukulele teacher, then Allen is definitely one to check out. His lessons are available on his website: http://www.ukulelebuddy.com/lessons
Even though the steps above are enough for you to start playing, we prepared some additional tips that you can use while practicing. These tips will make sure that you’re having even more fun while playing and help you achieve excellent results quickly!
Additional quick tips for unbelievable success:
- Take your first steps slowly. Learn your chords and practice them before trying something fancy. With the proper basics, you can go a long way.
- When learning how to play the ukulele, the most important ingredient is to enjoy yourself. The ukulele itself is a fun instrument and is known for its cheery tunes. At no point should you take pleasure out of your practice.
- Listen to uke songs as much as you can. Your ears are the best guide when it comes to music. Get them accustomed to uke songs. Listen to songs on YouTube, go to uke concerts, or try some uke song records to enjoy the upbeat music of the ukulele. These practices will entice you to experiment more and soon you will be proficient in the practice of how to play ukulele.
- Play along with other uke players. If you have a uke band, then it can be great fun to jam with your friends. Otherwise, you can simply turn to YouTube and play along with the uke songs there.
- While practicing, record the sound and play it back later. Most beginners mention this step as something that nudged them on to continue learning how to play the ukulele. This way, you’ll be able to detect the mistakes you are making and pinpoint the areas that need work.
- If you have decided to play with your bare fingers, then start developing calluses first. It may sound a bit weird, but unless you develop calluses, your fingers are going to hurt a lot when you play the high rhythm songs. Spend at least 15 minutes every day building up some calluses on your fingers because the callused areas don’t hurt as much.
- Cut your fingernails really short to get clean sounds out of your instrument.
- Follow your instincts when strumming your uke. You may start with practicing your chords right, but trust your intuition to throw in a bit of slapping as well as palm muting as you progress to develop your own style.
This was a complete guide to learning how to play a ukulele. Now that you know the secrets of playing this wonderful instrument, practice and practice some more to become a master ukulele player. The instrument brings in the carefree essence of Hawaiian life. Add a dash of fun to your everyday life with some ukulele songs.