There’s no question that singing and strumming the ukulele at the same time can be a challenge to beginners.
It takes a bit of practice to get the timing right, but with a little patience, you’ll be able to wow your friends and family with your dual talents.
In this blog post, we will show you how to sing while playing ukulele. So put on your favorite song and dive into our post.
Why Is It Hard To Sing While Playing ukulele?
People often get discouraged when trying something new but rarely figure out its reason. If you really understand why singing and playing the ukulele (or a specific instrument) is a challenge, you’ll be less likely to look back.
It’s because this task requires you to develop enough muscle memory for doing both activities, but your brain is not ready yet. Singing while playing, in fact, is not hard to do, but very hard to learn.
Whenever you learn a new skill, it takes you so much concentration to master it.
Just imagine how hard it is when you’re focusing on learning knitting, but someone’s talking to you. You may find yourself getting distracted easily and soon launching into an incorrect row of purls.
But once you have enough experience and build muscle memory, you can knit and speak simultaneously, even without looking at it.
The same goes for singing and playing the ukulele (and other multitasks)! As long as you train hard, there’s no way you can’t perform well.
Practice With The Metronome First
Keeping time while singing on the ukulele is a very important skill that all accomplished players must learn.
A good beginning is half done, so let’s first practice using a metronome so that you can improve your timing and rhythm with the ukulele.
Start a slower tempo for songs with faster rhythms. It’s best to set your routine with the beats of 65-70. When you’re getting used to it, gradually increase the speed up to the right tempo.
This device will help check your timing, and you will get noticed if you’re playing too fast or not. The longer you practice, the better your playing will get.
How To Sing While Playing Ukulele At The Same Time
We’ve just walked you through the habit of keeping time with a metronome. If you’re ready with it, it’s time to discover a step-by-step guide on how to sing and strum the ukulele at the same time.
#1. Choose A Song You’re Interested In
Singing while playing the ukulele can be tough. But if you choose a song that motivates your passion for finishing what you’ve started, it will get easier.
There are numerous factors for you to consider when selecting the song, such as music genres, music styles, level of difficulty, the song’s tempo, etc.
Songs with a fast pace will be more challenging to perform than those that are slower. A good rule of thumb for a beginner would be to choose something that sounds relatively easy, and you can play with some practice.
You may be unfamiliar with some advanced ukulele techniques, like Harmonics, Arm Wah Bending, Tapping, or Palm Mute.
If you want to test your strength, it’s still okay. Just spend time learning that specific technique until you’re confident of performing it. Then it’s way easier to add your voice and start singing.
So remember: pick the song wisely, or you will leave it half done.
To discover some easy songs for the ukulele, you can watch this video:
#2. Find The Key That Fits Your Voice
Now that you’ve picked the song, the next step is to find the key that suits you the most. Understanding the key signatures and transposing helps you figure out the chord progressions that work best for you.
Some common keys include G, C, D, and A. And if you’re new to music, you may not know that the Key of G is considered as “the people’s key”.
Its basic chord progression consists of G, C, and D. You probably sing songs in that key, but if not, move on to the Key of C.
You can try singing into a chromatic tuner, then notice which notes frequently appear. If your voice matches the Key of E, tune your ukulele to ADF#B so you can play the E chord much easier.
In case your voice fits the minor chords, your vocal abilities are likely to be better suited to ballads than pop songs. There is no one-size-fits-all, so you’re not alone.
A good way to determine your perfect key is by playing different songs. It will be easier to play songs you enjoy, and you will be able to tell if you’re singing them properly. So, try whatever you want, from Rock, pop, classical to folk.
Don’t give up the game if the song doesn’t sound right on your first try. Let’s transpose it in other keys that you think it’ll more fitting.
A small tip is to listen to the song a few times before you play it with your ukulele. While playing, place a lyric sheet in front of you and focus on the chord changes (which we will discuss later on).
The lyrics and chords on the internet are sometimes not correct. So make sure you double-check them during playing. Believe your ears, and locate the problem if it’s because of the key changes or anything else.
This method is also beneficial for practicing chords and progressions of the ukulele. Over time, you will realize which key matches your voice best, which songs work on the uke, and which do not.
#3. Learn The Chords And Get Into Chord Changing Exercises
Almost all learners find it hard to smoothly switch between chords. The key point is it depends on how you practice and how much time you spend on it.
It can be a bit overwhelming at first, so just take it slowly! Start with the basic, four strums per chord. Increase the difficulty after you’ve practiced for a while – raise the level at three strums, two strums, and one strum.
The process of learning to switch chords will also depend on what pace you are going at. For example, if your song has faster-paced sections, it’s more difficult in those moments to change chords.
That’s also the reason why you should pick some slower songs at first to cover all your bases – without stress or worry about missing a beat!
You can also practice on those chords one by one to enhance your mastery. Just work with each one for a few minutes before moving on.
Keep in mind that making mistakes is a part of the process. It’s important to learn from them and refine your technique so that, over time, things will get better. The more you do something, the better it becomes.
#4. Play The Song And Hum the Lyrics
It takes time and effort for beginners to play the uke without remembering the lyrics simultaneously. But you can get around this by simply humming the lyrics as you play.
You can think of this step as a warm-up exercise to get you into the habit of singing the lyrics. The most difficult aspect of singing while playing is to focus on two different rhythms. You have the melody and the strumming, for example.
It’s essential to learn to be independent of the singing and rhythm, which you can do by humming. As a rule of thumb, you must get to the point where you’re so confident with the strumming that you don’t even hesitate about it.
#5. Play the Song While Singing the Words
Once you reach this step, you just move one step closer to success – play the song and sing the lyrics naturally.
Even so, don’t be frustrated if you don’t get around to it right away; it requires practice. You might want to start with an easier song and gradually build-up to the more challenging music.
When you finally sort out how to sing while playing the ukulele, the procedure will become so simple that you can just repeat it.
#6. Record Yourself Playing
You should have selected your favorite song to learn, determined your perfect key, mastered the chords and how to switch between them, you got confidence when humming, and finally sang while playing. It’s time to record yourself playing to assess your performance.
You’ll be able to tell if you sound the way you expect if you record your practice, no matter if it’s on audio or video. Recording yourself is also a good way to improve your ability to spot mistakes. It’s because you don’t always pay attention to your errors when you’re playing simultaneously.
You can also use these recordings as a practice tool. For example, you can listen if the ukulele sounds are much louder than your voice or pay attention to the inconsistencies in the rhythm and melody.
Another benefit is that it allows you to better follow your progress.
For instance, you may have begun slowly, but the sound becomes smoother and more complicated at some points.
Don’t be hesitant to sing once you’ve reached such a certain point. Some songs will feel natural to sing, whereas others will necessitate more practice.
Just rewind the recording and listen carefully to where you performed well and where you need to correct. That way, you will save a lot of time and effort in practicing your ukulele skills.
#9. Take One More Step – Perform Your Song With Other People
You’ll get excited when participating in a jam session with your friends or even experienced ukulele players. It will motivate you to continue learning new advanced uke techniques.
Just say that you want to perform your song and hear some comments. Surely they will be willing to listen and give you some pieces of advice.
It is also a good opportunity to exchange ideas about how to get better with the ukulele, which will encourage the team to keep learning new songs in the future.
With luck, you guys can even form a band. Who knows what the future is, right?
The Bottom Line
We’ve just walked you through a full-detailed guide on how to sing while playing ukulele. No business is a success from the beginning. But if you get started with the right tutorial and enough practice, nothing is impossible.
If you’ve read as far as here, you absolutely want to start your journey, right? Pick an easy song to practice, like I’m Yours by Bruno Mars. You will be surprised by the wealth of your talent!