A ukulele is a fun and exciting instrument that, once mastered, can produce some beautiful pieces of music. If you have made the decision to learn how to play the ukulele, here are some beginner’s tips to get you started. Make sure you give them a try.
These tips were provided by Ben at the guitar shop.
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Practice Your Hold
The size and manner of playing a ukulele can easily cause it to regularly fly out of your hands! Before you get to your lessons, practice a few strums, and strum at different pressures to make sure that you can hold the ukulele firm whilst you are playing. It doesn’t matter if you are making an awful sound, that’s normal at this stage.
Practicing the way that you hold the ukulele and finding a grip that allows you to keep it in your hands whilst you play will pay off in the long term. It may be that you have to change the position that you sit in, or the positioning of your arms and hands. Do what it takes to find what works for you and keep practicing.
Learn How To Tune A Ukulele
Ukuleles are great for up tempo tunes and for complicated sets of notes. Because of this, there will be a great deal of stretching and manipulating of the strings, which will make your ukulele sometimes go out of tune.
To short cut your progress, other than taking guitar lessons online, is to invest in a tuner and learn how to properly tune your ukulele. Tuning your ukulele as much as you can at the beginning will also familiarize you with the different notes and how they should sound. This will help develop your musical ear until you get to the stage where you can tune without equipment. It'll also help you master notes, chords and tunes much faster than with an un-tuned instrument!
Practice Moving Your Fingers Around To Make Chords
Any beginner’s ukulele guide will highlight some basic chords and notes for you to play, so having a practice whenever you can will get your hands and fingers accustomed to moving around the ukulele. The more you practice, the better you will become.
By far the hardest task with any stringed instrument is that you have to be very dexterous with your hands and fingers. Practicing chord changes and notes will train your fingers and hands to do what they need to do. It is likely that, if you have not played a ukulele before, your forefingers and thumbs will begin to feel quite sore. This is normal, so don’t worry if it happens to you. With practice, your fingers will harden up to deal with the stress of the strings, and will eventually get to a stage where they don’t hurt.
Practice Your Strumming Technique
The way you strum a ukulele is very different to the way you strum a guitar. The most basic strumming technique is to use your index finger; use the nail on the down strokes and the softer inside on the up strokes. Where you strum on the uke has a big impact on the sound, the sweet spot for most ukuleles is where the neck meets the body.
The actual technique for strumming is also very important to get right from the start. A common mistake is to move the whole arm up and down. For a better movement though, you should strum using your wrist rather then your whole arm.
To start, just practice a basic up down up down rhythm to get your strumming technique nailed.
Name Your Ukulele
As cheesy as it sounds, the relationship you have with your ukulele can make a massive impact in how you relate to it. For this reason, a lot of musicians name their instruments and give it a personality. Sounds silly, but it can help!
Practice Your Favorite Song
There is no better way to learn than to practice ukulele songs that you like. There are plenty of “how to play xxx on the ukulele” videos available for free online. These videos are great for when you are just starting out; they demonstrate the chord progressions and strumming patterns so you can see practical examples. Some also highlight common mistakes or problems, and let you know how to solve them.
So choose one of your favorite songs (maybe start with one of these easy ukulele songs), find a video tutorial, and practice, practice and then practice some more.
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