Play Better Ukulele TODAY! Roadie’s tips for learning uke
by Alec Plowman, Jun 25, 2019 . 3 min read
Teaching yourself to play ukulele is great! Whether you’re learning to play ukulele online or with a book, it’s an awesome skill.
But, there are some pitfalls for beginners to watch out for. These are easy mistakes, but making them can kill your motivation.
Don’t worry though. We’re here to help. Follow these simple tips and you’ll start playing better ukulele right away!
Tune BEFORE Playing
As Ukulele Tricks notes, playing an out-of-tune uke is a frustrating experience that’ll kill your motivation before you’ve started:
“Playing a ukulele that is out of tune may frustrate your experience when attempting to learn new songs. You’ll find the notes you strum don’t quite match what you are listening to. Learning the chords to a song while your ukulele is out of tune will get you stuck. You may know where to place your fingers on the fretboard but the actual notes you are playing are not the intended notes from a tuned ukulele.”
Tuning your uke is a must at any level. And, if you’re looking for an incredibly accurate, quick, and easy way to tune your instrument, you don’t get much better than Roadie 2. Alternatively, you can also check out the free Roadie Tuner app available for both Android & iOS.
Pay attention to your posture
It’s easy to ignore, but having good posture makes a huge difference to the level of enjoyment you get out of your instrument.
How do you know if you’re holding your ukulele right? Well, there’s a few golden rules. As Live Ukulele notes, these are the dos and don’ts when it comes to holding your uke:
• Hold the ukulele in a relaxed manner.
• Keep your thumb behind the neck.
• Keep the ukulele upright and against your chest/belly.
• Keep your fingers relatively parallel to the frets – unless you are playing a chord that requires you to turn your wrist.
• Let the ukulele slide flat onto your lap. This makes things much, much harder for your wrist.
• Squeeze the ukulele to death. Find the happy medium that supports the instrument but also lets you relax.
• Hold your elbow way out.
• Hold your elbow tucked all the way in or in front of you.
Further Reading – Why Should You Learn Ukulele? Roadie’s Guide to all things Uke
Little and often
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!
I’m sorry, bad joke I know. But, the universal truth of learning any instrument is that you’ve got to put the hours in.
The question, though, is how exactly you go about doing that?
Practice slow and steady, rather than in fits and starts. A 20 minute session every day will pay off in dividends compared to a strumming marathon once a week. Why?
- Regular repetition is a proven technique for committing concepts to memory.
- Playing in short bursts, especially when you’re starting out, builds up stamina and reduces the risk of cramps and other injury.
Regarding point #2, we refer you to this passage from Alistair Wood’s Ukulele for Dummies:
“You may be tempted to push through the pain in your hands. But if the pain is internal (for example, sore muscles or cramps), you can do permanent damage. If your hand is feeling sore, let it rest. It’ll have more strength and stamina the next time you play.”
What’s your favorite song to play on the ukulele? And are you guilty of any of these beginner mistakes? Let us know in the comments.