No matter the musical instrument, there is a natural learning curve. Mastering the Ukulele is no different; It will take time to master the chords, strumming patterns, and essential fingerpicking techniques. But how long will this process take? And how can you make the most of your practice time to have fun and make progress quickly? In this post, we will explore these questions and provide tips and resources for learning the Ukulele most efficiently and enjoyably as possible. From the different sizes of Ukulele available to tuning, chord progressions, strumming patterns, fingerpicking, and resources for finding local ukulele groups or online communities to connect with other players, we will cover all the essential information to help you get started on your Ukulele journey. So, let’s start!
What’s the best way to learn how to play Ukulele?
Different approaches can work well depending on your goals and learning style when it comes to learning how to play the Ukulele. From a musician’s perspective, it always makes sense to learn as much music theory first before even trying to strum any instrument. We, musicians, like to learn the intrinsics of every chord and rhythm, even if we don’t apply the knowledge to our instrument immediately.
However, we also recognize that not everyone who wants to learn the Ukulele has the same goals or learning style as us. Some people want to have fun and learn a few songs they like, while others may be more interested in singing a specific song. In these cases, starting with the most basic chords and easy strumming patterns can be a great way to get started and keep things enjoyable. For most of the students, it doesn’t make much sense to learn music theory right off the bat.
We recommend a balance between learning theory and practical application by starting with easy songs that use basic chords and learning more complex chords and songs as you become more comfortable. This approach will help you keep motivated and engaged as you learn new skills while you have fun playing the Ukulele.
Tips for improving your Ukulele playing skills
Setting goals, breaking down difficult sections, and practicing regularly are all important components of learning how to play the Ukulele. One effective approach is to set specific, measurable goals for yourself, such as learning a new chord or mastering a particular song. Once you have identified your goals, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if your goal is to learn a new chord, start by practicing the finger positioning and strumming pattern for that chord until you feel comfortable with it. Then, move on to incorporating that chord into a song or melody.
Another critical aspect of learning the Ukulele is regularly practicing. Consistent practice is essential for building muscle memory, improving technique, and developing overall playing ability. It’s a good idea to set aside a specific time each day or week for practice, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time. By making practice a regular part of your routine, you’ll be able to make steady progress towards your goals and develop your skills over time.
What resources are available?
Gladly, we live in an era where information is readily available for any at no cost or at a cost so insignificant that almost anybody can afford it. Thus, many different resources are available for you to help you learn a new instrument.
Here are a few of the ones we recommend. Listed, not in order of importance, but in the natural order someone new to the Ukulele world would find them as they go through the learning process:
Learn how to Tune the Ukulele
If you are starting, you’ll first have to learn how to tune the Ukulele. Use this free online ukulele tuner to check that all your strings are correctly tuned.
You can also use a tuning reference, typically A 440Hz (use this video as a reference), to tune your ukulele or watch some youtube videos, like this one, to learn how to tune by ear.
Watch some strumming videos on Youtube
The very first place you can start is Youtube. Many musicians explain basic techniques for strumming the Ukulele and playing the basic chords.
If you’re starting from zero, be sure to pick your battles. You don’t want to jump into videos showing you how to strum and play chords simultaneously, but pick the ones dedicated to strumming first and then a few that only teach chords.
One of the channels that we like the most is Cynthia Lin Music; she has the most wonderful videos for beginners and explains slow, nice, and clear, in a way so anybody can kickstart their way into the Ukulele world:
Some of the typical strumming patterns for the Ukulele include down-up, down-down-up, and up-down-up-down
Learn some basic chords for Ukulele
Once you have your Ukulele tuned, the next step is to learn some basic chords and strumming patterns. Start with the most common chords, such as C, F, G, and A minor. Websites like Ukulele-Tabs.com and Ukulele-Chords.com have many chords, tabs, and lyrics for popular songs.
C F G Am
After learning the basic strumming and maybe a few chords, the second resource we do recommend is websites dedicated to Songs:
Websites with Songs and Chords
Here are a few of the websites with songs for the Ukulele that we like the most:
Once you’ve tried to play a few songs, you’ll have a basic understanding of how chords are used in the songs you like the most and which chords, particularly, are challenging to perform. This will pave the way to our next category of websites:
Online Courses and Lessons
While you learn with Youtube videos and try to play a few songs, you’ll also note that your technique is not as good as it should be, and your strumming sounds rough and too strident or shrill; here’s where you might need expert help.
There are plenty of online tutorials and lessons available for free. Websites like Ukulele Underground and Ukulele Buddy offer a wide range of tutorials and lessons for beginners, including videos on how to play specific songs. These few sites are dedicated to teaching Ukulele techniques, so whenever you’re ready to polish your technique, check them for more information about how to create a polished technique for both strumming and chords. You’ll find a list below of the ones we recommend, some of them paid, some of them free:
These three categories of resources, YouTube (basics), Websites (songs and chords), and Learning Systems (techniques), are, in our opinion, the best formula to start learning the Uke.
How long does it take to learn Ukulele?
In our experience as professional musicians, there are three main types of students when it comes to learning the Ukulele, and the time it takes to master the instrument can vary depending on certain attributes of each group.
The Musician: This type of student is eager to learn and is dedicated to studying the subject in depth. They are willing to dedicate many hours a day to learning the instrument and have a strong understanding of music theory. With this approach, they can learn how to play the Ukulele in as little as 2 to 4 weeks.
The Aficionado: This type of student has enough time on their hands to dedicate to practicing a few songs. They are interested in learning more than just the basics and enjoy watching videos on how to string strings correctly. They tend to practice for about an hour a day or for as long as the task is pleasurable, but no more. With this approach, they can master the basics and play a few songs in about a month to three months.
The Singer: This type of student has one main goal in mind, which is to sing their favorite songs. They are focused on learning how to strum the specific song and how to position their fingers to play the chords. They may not spend as much time learning the chord names or more detailed music theory, but they can still play their favorite songs beautifully. They practice for about half an hour a day, and it may take about three months to master the basics and play a few songs.
It’s important to note that these are rough estimates. The actual time it takes to master the Ukulele can vary depending on the individual’s learning style, practice schedule, and dedication. Regardless of the type of student, finding a method that aligns with your goals, learning style, and interests is essential to make the most of your practice time and enjoy learning to play this beautiful instrument. As professional musicians, we recommend trying different methods and resources until you find the best one.
In a nutshell
There’s a clear pattern that, if you like math, you might infer in these three reference student types: It doesn’t matter at what pace you learn; you’ll have to dedicate between 50 to 100 hours to the learning. It doesn’t matter if you do a total of 100 hours in a week or if it takes you three months or more; the time to learn how to play ukulele is always about the same, 100 hours or around.
In short, learning Ukulele requires a lot of practice; you can spend as much as a few hours a day and get better in just a few weeks or take it with ease and practice just a bit every day but see results in a longer timeframe.
This paints a picture that we hope is clear enough so you know what to do next and where to go to start learning the Ukulele. We sincerely hope you can kickstart your learning in the best way possible and, on top of all, have lots of fun while you learn.