Learning how to play ukulele is not difficult, but it would take longer time if you don’t have some of the basic knowledge about the instrument.
I have been studying ukulele for about 6 months and currently my skill has been improved a lot. There are several things I realized that I should have known from the beginning. Check out below 11 things you must keep in mind when starting to play this tiny instrument:
1. Success May Come Later Than We Expect:
Maybe you have read many articles saying that playing ukulele is very easy. It’s much easier than any other stringed instrument and can be mastered after 1 month, or even shorter.
Well, that’s not really true. Honestly, the speed of success depends on how hard-working you are, how much time you spend on playing the instrument. But, if you haven’t known anything about the chords, the strumming patterns, etc. perhaps it would take more time to learn from the scratch.
That’s why you should keep calm and be patient at the first several weeks. Sometimes you may feel a bit frustrated because you want to master it earlier but you can’t. Don’t worry! You will succeed, just need more time to improve than expected!
2. Practice Slowly – Step By Step:
When you study something, it’s obvious that you would want it to get progress as soon as possible. Many people tried to practice their whole favourite song at once. But that’s not a good way to start. You should set specific tasks and goals in your journey and try to accomplish them step by step.
For example, today you promise to yourself that you will master a chord and try your best to make it. Tomorrow you set a goal to master a strumming pattern and work really hard on it. It’s not like after getting something done, you will start to play around like a drunk person. You will make mistake and become frustrated.
3. Don’t Compare Yourself With Anyone Else:
You might watch a lot of videos on Youtube or social media about ukulele young talents. There are even several videos about children who can play ukulele in a professional way. Those stories make us think that playing ukulele is easy, even kids can do it.
As a result, when you realize that you can’t master the intrument in a short time, you will be shocked and disappointed about yourself. In fact, you should be more positive and optimistic.
Not everyone is the same. Each person has their own ability and different period of time to succeed. If you always compare yourself to other people, you won’t have time to practice, and never get any chance to catch up with them.
4. Ukuleles are not tiny guitars:
Although they look similar to guitars, ukuleles are not small versions of any guitar. Many people still assume that playing ukulele is the same as playing guitar, but that’s not true.
Yes, they are all stringed instruments. And since ukulele gets fewer strings, you can learn it first then use the knowledge you know to study playing guitar. However, the two instruments are totally different.
A guitar always has 6 individual strings that produces 6 separate notes, while ukuleles strings only provides 3 different notes. The 4th string is actually repeat of the 1st string.
That’s why ukulele is just suitable for a limited scope of music, whereas guitar can fit a wide range of musical styles, melodies, and techniques.
However, it doesn’t mean that you cannot play good songs with ukuleles. You just need to choose the right style then it can still produce amazing masterpiece.
5. Make Sure To Invest In A Good Ukulele:
Budget might be an important factor when you decide to buy a new instrument. Ukuleles are usually much cheaper than other instruments, so you won’t need to spend too much money on that.
If possible, you should invest in a decent one with good sound. Make sure you get a real ukulele, not a toy. Normally, a good ukulele only costs you from $100, quite reasonable among a wide instrument market.
Perhaps you already saw or will see online ads that sell a ukulele at $20. Don’t buy them. You will just waste your money.
You may want to try because they are cheap. But what would happen if you realize everything is not good? What if you must change the strings or any other parts of the ukulele? It will even cost you more.
So, try spending at least $100 for a new ukulele!
6. Fewer Strings Means Harder, Not Easier:
You think playing an instrument with fewer strings means it would be easier? The answer is MAYBE, but NOT 100% TRUE.
Technically, when you deal with fewer strings, you will have to remember less chord shapes and it’s also more comfortable to switch between the chords.
However, as mentioned above, the limited number of strings makes it impossible for ukulele to fit various types of music.
That’s why you would feel a bit difficult when you want to change from playing simple easy songs to more complicated songs. You will need to practice a lot to bring about certain emotions for your audience.
7. Musicality Is More Important Than Speed:
Perhaps you would extremely admire players who can play a piece of song very quickly, of course, without any mistake.
However, with ukulele, being fast means nothing. You need to focus on the quality of the music, and how much emotion you can deliver.
If you just try to play as fast as possible and it becomes difficult for listeners to catch up with the sound, then it’s nonsense.
Remember, musicality is more important than speed!
8. Always Work On The Basics:
When you learn anything, you always have to start from the basics. Playing ukulele is no exception.
If you are a newbie, don’t force yourself to study big fancy tab, start from the basic chords instead.
Study from the majors, minors and then go on with other chords. You will see that just based on those fundamental chords, you will be able to play tons of songs without any hesitation.
9. Tune Your Ukulele Before Playing:
Knowing how to tune your ukulele is very important. An ukulele with out-of-tune strings will directly affect the quality of the sound, and it may make you frustrated when learning new songs because the notes don’t match with what you usually listen to.
That’s the reason why you had better check your tuning before playing the instrument.
There are 2 easiest ways to tune your ukulele: using electronic tuners and using tuning apps on smartphones.
Both are very convenient and won’t take you much time to get perfect notes. So, you should create this tuning habits before whenever you want to play.
10. Find a ukulele group:
You may not need a beginner course or a club to learn how to play ukulele. You can totally study by yourself.
However, it’s always better to look for a group of people having the same goal with you.
It’s not necessary to get together everyday to practice, you can join online groups to share your own opinions or experience in your journey with the uke. You will feel very happy and motivated to keep up the good work. And there might be some experienced ones who can help with your problems or curiosity about the instrument.
11. Learn how to hold your ukulele:
This may sound ridiculous, but it is one of the most important fundamental things you must learn when starting to play the ukulele.
If you are sitting, you can let the body of the ukulele rest on one of your legs and rest your strumming arm on the top of the ukulele. And if you are standing, you can hold it against your chest and keep it there with your strumming arm.
There’s one thing you need to remember: don’t hold your ukulele too tight! The sound still needs to vibrate properly through the body.