Learning how to play ukulele is super fun! The ukulele was once dismissed as a novelty instrument that was very easy to play. Any instrument, really, is easy to play. It's playing the instrument well that's hard! Playing a ukulele is a learning process and you're not going to be good at it just because the fretboard is small and there are only 12 readily-accessible frets on the smaller models. A ukulele is a serious instrument and you need to use opportunities to learn how to play better as they come along and that means learning to play at your level.
Most songs have three or four chords that make up the majority of the melody. Get a chord book and teach yourself some basic chord forms. You only have to learn how to fret them and get a clear tone out of the instrument. You don't have to transition from one to the other very quickly it, just learn the basics and be prepared to be patient as you learn how to transition from one chord to another.
On top of most sheet music, you'll find indications for the appropriate chord for the accompanying part of the music. You can get the transitions down for a song a play rhythm for singers or another ukulele player very easily. This is usually the first step in learning how to play ukulele. Concentrate on the basics of tone, transitioning and rhythm to start with.
Playing with a teacher or a more advanced player can be fun. If they're not a teacher, however, you'll likely frustrate them if you keep getting your parts of the song wrong. To give them a basic rhythm to follow, start out concentrating on the chord accompaniment. Most players give a count, either by stomping their foot or counting aloud before a song begins. If you're accompanying a more experienced player, your job is usually to stick to the count and to play the chord changes for them. In this arrangement, you can think if your accompaniment as the canvas and of the lead player as the painter giving it its light and dark tones.
Playing along with a recording is a great way to learn to play ukulele better. The first thing you have to do is to tune your ukulele to the pitches of the musicians on the recording. Listen to a song until you hear a chord you recognize and match your own ukulele to the pitch. You can tune to a tuning fork or an automatic tuner, but these might not give the same pitches as the musicians on the recording are tuned to.
Start by trying to follow the chord structure of the song on the recording and play along softly. As you start to get the hang of it, follow the percussionist—if there is one—instead of keeping count in your head. This gives you an idea of how it feels to flow with a song and it's an important—possibly the most important—skill that musicians develop. It's one of the foundations of being able to express yourself with music.
There are some ukulele lessons that are recorded on video or audio that you can use to learn from. Most of them will have a tone that you tune to so that you can be sure you're getting an accurate pitch relative to the instructor. These are great ways to learn. If you have a hard time hearing the recording while you're playing over it, try using headphones and listening to the lesson in them as you play along.Return to Home Page