Ukulele Playing TipsAugust 26, 2019
Honoka & Azita – Bodysurfing
I’m guessing that you may have seen this video before, and probably did not expect that such beautiful music can be made with the ukulele alone! Many of our ukulele students have also shown us this video and asked us how long they need to practise before they can actually play like that.
Well, follow these few simple tips and with constant practice, you will be well on your way to being a proficient ukulele player!
The Right Ukulele
For a beginner, it is rather common that we would think that there is only one type of ukulele to choose from. However, we have to know that there are many different sizes of ukuleles to choose from, and each has their distinct sound characteristics and advantages.
The smallest-sized ukulele would be the Soprano Ukulele, and it is suitable for children as well as beginners. Besides the Soprano ukuleles, the next two common sizes are the Concert and Tenor-sized ukuleles.
For a concert sized ukulele, it is suitable for beginners with larger hands, as the Soprano ukulele might be too small for some adult players. As for the Tenor ukulele, it has a larger body and so most ukulele players with intermediate or advanced skills would use this size, especially for its versatility and fuller sound quality. There is even a Bass ukulele that produces lower sounds when played.
We do recommend that before you purchase your own ukulele, you try out the ukulele for yourself to feel the fit, the size, and also listen to the sound produced when you are playing on it.
Managing the length of your fingernails matters a lot as it contributes in producing better sound when you are playing your ukulele!
A general guideline is to keep the fingernails on the hand that is pressing on the fret board neat and short for a cleaner and distinctive sound, and also to grow a little more of the nails that you are using for strumming.
For picking technique, it is recommended to grow your fingernails a little longer on your thumb, first, middle and ring fingers.
Hold your ukulele in a relaxed posture first to get more comfortable with the placement of the instrument and how it sits in relation to your body and your hands. Now, without strumming any strings, use your fingertips to switch between different chords and their finger placement on the frets.
10 minutes of this practice per day will help in making your fingers more flexible and also build up your muscle memory of these chords!
Start with a simpler song
More often than not, when we are inspired to take up ukulele is because we want to learn the song we heard playing on ukulele before and usually those songs have a more complex chord or trickier time signature.
Instead of choosing on those songs that are more complicated to start off, your focus should be getting familiar with the basic techniques, such as, on-beat strumming, keeping steady or moving from one chord to another.
Learn to read, read to play
When we get our first ukulele, what we usually do is to go to Youtube and find the simplest way we can play our favourite song on our ukulele.
So, like many before us, we would copy every finger placement on the frets, and also the strumming in the video, movement for movement, step for step, without actually understanding what chords we are playing or what strumming rhythms we were using. This is very common for people who just got their first ukulele, and it is certainly not an effective learning method!
However, when we know how to read musical scores, we will then be able to use just 3 simple chords, and play more than 500 songs! For beginners, some of the 3 most important chords would be the ‘C chord’, ‘F chord’ and ‘G chord’. With these 3 chords, you can play more than 500 songs, for example this song ‘Popular Song’ by Ariana Grande:
Now, we all have heard many times that Ukulele playing can be learnt from Youtube tutorial videos, and yes, it is certainly true that certain techniques can be learnt through online videos. However, unlike physical lessons with an actual instructor, Youtube Videos will not be able to help you correct other factors that occur while you are practising, for example, your posture, and also provide you with guidance that is tailored specifically to your learning curve.
Our ukulele instructors are qualified to teach, and they have at least 7 years of experience as performers and instructors! Look at one of our feedback comments from a parent after his son attended the ukulele lesson with us:
“We are delighted that our son, Brandon, has enjoyed learning to play ukulele at Intune Music. Special thanks to Sek Jhia, who has been very patient with him and we can see our son eagerly looking forward to attend his lesson every Sunday.
We have seen improvement in our son playing ukulele much thanks to (Sek) Jhia.”
Parents of Brandon, Ukulele Student
At Intune Music, we pride ourselves to provide a personalised learning progression and structure for our students as we believe every student has their own learning progression and one generic lesson structure is not suitable for every students.
Try out our ukulele trial lesson at only $55 for individual lesson and $30 for group class!
Watch our guitar and ukulele instructor, Sin Sek Jhia, covered a small segment of Fly Me To the Moon on ukulele below!