Learn how to play Ukulele : The Ultimate and Best Procedures for Beginners
Learning to play ukulele starts with the right foundation which is exactly what you do starting in this lesson right now.
The following are steps on how to play Ukulele
1. Buy a Ukulele Right For You
The first and most important step in playing the ukulele is getting the ukulele.
It doesn’t matter if you borrow a friend, go to a music store, or buy a guitar online. Don’t overthink. Just get the ukulele!
If you are not sure about buying a ukulele, feel free to refer to my ukulele buying guide where I provide tips and ideas on the best ukulele for beginners and how to choose the right ukulele for you.
2. Get in the Right Mindset to Play
If you’ve never made music before, put aside your fears and doubts about playing.
You can do this!
Watch the video where I introduce myself and offer specific encouragement to new ukulele players.
Why is Possible to Learn Playing Ukulele with no Natural Musical Talent
Many novice guitar players fail even before they pick up the instrument.
You say to yourself:
“I wasn’t born with a natural musical talent.”
“I’ve failed an instrument before and will probably fail again.”
When you take on a new challenge like learning the ukulele, that’s a big deal! It is normal to experience your own self-doubt or fear. Don’t be hard on yourself and get into it with an open mind.
Remember that playing the ukulele is about having fun!
At first, the harp may feel like it is holding a foreign body. How can such a small instrument make such a beautiful sound? In fact, a beautiful sound you make!
Take a quick minute to get to know your new instrument by reading about the different parts and sizes of a harp.
For what it’s worth, I’ve taught students over the age of 90 in my online courses. If they can do it, you can do that too.
Now that we’ve got the introductions away, let’s start tuning your ukulele and get ready to play.
3. Tuning the ukulele
Set the ukulele to the standard re-entry tuning where the strings are tuned to g-C-E-A from top to bottom.
This tuning method works with almost any ukulele including soprano, concert, and tenor ukulele.
One of the most underrated secrets to making a ukulele sound great is tuning it!
You do not want to skip this step.
When it comes to stringed instruments such as the ukulele, it is important to check the tuning every 10 to 15 minutes of playing. Small errors in tuning can create a very awful sound for you and your listeners. You always set yourself up for success with the harmonious ukulele.
Fortunately, the ukulele is easy to keep in tune. For the fastest tuning, I always recommend using a chromatic tuner like the Snark SN-6 ukulele tuner I’m using in the video.
If you have a baritone ukulele or have more questions about the notes you are tuning or about alternate tuning, get the complete ukulele tuning guide here.
4. Hold the ukulele
To hold the harp, place the body of the ukulele in your right arm, while the part of your forearm, closest to the elbow, presses slightly against the top of the harp, so it is held tightly against your body. Next, support the neck of the harp into the slit of your left hand where your thumb meets your index finger.
You’ll soon see how holding the ukulele in a comfortable position allows you to smoothly change the strings and keep the playing going.
5. Play your first ukulele chord
Learn to play the C chord where you place the ring finger of your fretful hand on the third fret of the lower A string and let the upper three strings open.
The first chord you should know on the ukulele is the C string.
This is where it all begins!
To play the C chord, place the ring finger of the dread hand on the third fret of the lower A string. Let the first three strings open.
Once your fingers are in position, go ahead and play the strings. Don’t worry about the exact playing technique for now. We’ll look at that together in the next step. At this point, make sure each chord resonates beautifully and clearly.
Keep in mind that you may feel some pain in the fingertips in the first weeks of playing the ukulele. To remedy this, give yourself enough breaks for your toes to heal between training sessions. Eventually, your fingertips will build up the corns, making it easier to irritate the tendons.
6. Play your ukulele with this important style of playing
To play this basic and important style of strumming, press strumming while counting out loud to count to four.
If there is one playing style to control them all, this is the one.
Despite its simplicity, it is a very effective pattern, especially when you are learning a new song for the first time. In fact, this is the simple pattern I use to express Leonard Cohen Hallelujah’s performance on the ukulele.
Note: The notation above refers to the strum of the instrument down to the number four. The numbers “4/4” on the far left of the music crew indicate that the pattern is played up to number four. The letter “d” below the notation indicates strum down. The letter “C” above the first note indicates the playing of the C chord.
Repeat this playing pattern as you count out loud. Keep strumming and playing consistent and as even as possible.
Give this some practice.
Believe it or not, you are ready to play your first song on the ukulele!
7. Play the first easy single chord song on the ukulele
Take the C chord and the rhythm of a simple strumming pattern down to play this simple and familiar song on the ukulele.
When it comes to learning a new song on the ukulele, I like to break things down into easy little steps. Watch the following video to learn how to play this song.
The first step to learning this song is to review the chords in the song. For this song, a quick look at the notes and the ukulele tab shows that there is a C chord.
Make sure you’ve practiced the C chord.
The second step is to review the strumming pattern in the song.
Again, make sure you’ve practiced this playing style.
The third and final step to learning a new song is to play the chord of the song without vocals. This means that you follow in the music for Are You Sleeping and play and count out loud as I show in the video.
Once you can do that, it’s just a matter of humming or singing the tune of this song!
You are building a solid foundation
Now you may not win a Grammy for your performance in Are You Sleeping yet but that’s okay!
Only in this lesson are you really building a foundation that puts you far ahead of most students.
I have learned:
How to fine tune the ukulele to produce the best sound
How to comfortably hold a ukulele in a supportive and comfortable playing position
How do you put your fingers on the first string?
How to Play and Rhythm Play to a steady and consistent rhythm
How to play your first song
I’ve dealt with a lot already! Give yourself a pat on the back for all your great efforts.
8. Take your skills and learn three easy ukulele songs
You did it! You play the ukulele. Now, take your knowledge and learn three easy ukulele songs.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve completed the first lesson in the four-lesson “Learning to Run Ukulele Today” video lesson tutorial.
There are still three more lessons where I teach you more things like:
How to learn more ukulele chords
How to change ropes smoothly
How to change the playing style
How to Play Three Unforgettable Ukulele Songs (Including a Beautiful Hawaiian Ukulele Song)