Where do I start with learning the Ukulele?
Less than a decade ago, the Ukulele was an instrument assigned to the past. It had enjoyed something of a heyday when it arrived from the exotic shores of Hawaii more than 125 years ago. Yet during the early 2000s it was considered kitsch, synonymous with the likes of Lancashire born George Formby, famed for the song ‘When I’m Cleaning Windows”. So what happened? Why the sudden revival? Perhaps it was stars such as Zooey Deschanel whose love for the four stringed instrument brought it back into the spotlight. Or Jason Mraz, remember the opening to his hit “I’m Yours”, the ukulele is responsible for those cool chords right at the beginning of the track. So whatever your reason for learning the ukulele, you can be sure you are in good company.
Due to the rise in popularity of ukulele, there is plenty of information on the internet to help you get started. To maximise your learning experience, it is advisable to use a mixture of media such as videos, books, diagrams and audio recordings. Using these websites is also a great way to gain foundational knowledge. For example, before you can really start to play, you are going to need to get to grips with the instrument, literally. Holding the ukulele correctly is essential to making a good sound.
Therefore we have put together a quick checklist which will ensure you are holding the instrument correctly.
Are you left or right handed?
If you are right handed, hold the neck of your ukulele with your left hand so you can strum the strings with the right. If you are left handed, simply reverse this position.
If you are sitting down, many players like to rest the ukulele on their laps. If you prefer to stand up then it may be more comfortable to hold the ukulele against your chest.
And a few more tips:
- Hold the ukulele in a relaxed manner.
- Keep your thumb behind the neck
- When standing ensure the ukulele remains upright and against your chest.
- Keep fingers parallel to the frets, unless you are playing a chord that requires you to turn your wrist.
- Find your elbow position, tucked all the way in or held in front of you.
Now you have decided that you definitely want to learn the ukulele, it is time to decide which instrument to buy. If you are lucky enough to have friends or family that already play, ask them if you can try their instrument to see how it feels and if this is definitely right for you. The good thing about ukuleles is that practice instruments start from as little as £50. Of course this is reflected in the materials used and if you prefer solid wood over plastic, you will need to up your budget to approximately £150. We have a selection of Ukulele’s in our online store, however we’d encourage you to have a go on one first, perhaps at your local music shop.
As with many things in life, what you put in, is what you get out. However practising the ukulele should be enjoyable at all times. If you have stopped enjoying it or are suffering aches and pains, perhaps you are pushing yourself too hard. In order to see real progress, it is recommended to spend between 30-60 minutes per day on your ukulele practice. Those who do less are likely to see little progress and therefore become frustrated.
Practice makes perfect and once you have mastered the basics, you can start to have fun with exotic chords and palm muting the strings! Enjoy 🙂