Something I have fallen in love with over the past few months is my ukulele. I sometimes get questions from people online about my ukulele so I thought I could write a whole post on it today. Do know, I am not a proffesional nor do I know a lot about ukuleles. In fact, I hardly know anything. All I can tell you is how I have experienced learning the ukulele so far.
Why did I choose to play the ukulele?
I think the ukulele is not an instrument you immediately think of when you are picking an instrument to learn. However, if it’s your first ever instrument; a ukulele is a nice start. For quite some time I had the thought of wanting to play an intrument. However, I have always had the guitar in mind. Two songs that really encouraged me to pick up an instrument were Missing You by All Time Low and The Strays by Sleeping With Sirens. Both two of my favourite bands, both really great and meaningful songs. However, I never thought I would be good enough to be able to play a guitar. At this point I had discovered a few people on Youtube who played the ukulele and that gave some ideas. I thought perhaps the fact that a ukulele is a lot smaller than a guitar meant that it was also a lot easier to play and cheaper to buy. So I did.
Which ukulele do I have?
I have the Diamond Head DU-250 which is a soprano ukulele. There are four main ukulele sizes and mine is the smallest. Which one to get really depends on what you want to do with your ukulele. If you are anything like me and you had no idea there were different sizes you just want ‘that one you see everyone on Youtube play’, you probably mean a soprano or a concert ukulele. The concert one is a little bigger and has a harder sound to it. I advise you to do think about what you really want to do with your ukulele once you have it and try and find the right one for it. Prise wise, ukuleles can differ a lot. You have very cheap ones and very expensive ones. If you are just starting out, I would advice you not to but an expensive one right away. Mine was around 40 euros and honestly, I feel like it sounds just as good as expansive ones. Perhaps I have to do some more tuning but that’s okay for me.
Is it difficult to learn how to play a ukulele?
When I first started playing my ukulele, it was the hardest freaking thing ever. I struggled a lot. But then I remembered something. I have this 5 Seconds Of Summer DVD in which Michael, my favourite member said: ”I almost gave up on playing the guitar cause it was so hard to do. I am glad I didn’t give up.” This is something that always motivates me whenever I struggle to play. Even famous guitarists struggle. Just don’t give up. Keep practising. Keep getting better. I have to say, I still struggle. But I keep practising everyday and I keep getting better everyday. However, to answer this question: No, the ukulele is in fact not a difficult instrument to play. It just takes some getting used to. Fairly quickly I taught myself a few basic chords and strumming patterns and with that I am able to play so many different songs. If you are new to playing an instrument, a ukulele is a great start.
Why do I enjoy playing the ukulele so much?
I like playing the ukulele. However, the thing that made me love it was Twenty One Pilots. As you may know, Tyler also plays the ukulele. Seeing him play it and hearing his songs motivated me a lot to improve. In all honesty, if it weren’t for Twenty One Pilots, I would have probably already gotten bored of playing. Not only do they have a lot of great songs to play on the ukulele, Tyler also taught me something important. I am a very emotional person. That is just a fact. Whenever I feel any negative energy inside me, whenever I feel a negative emotion, I can go and use that negativity to do something negative. That is and always will be an option. But how about we take that energy, that focus, and aim it at something else. Something more positive. Take that energy you have and use it to create. I use my ukulele to aim my emotions on something positive instead of negative. That is what I love about playing.
How do I learn to play new songs?
I am a self taught ukulele player. I have never had any lessons nor do I know how to read music notes. Here are some places I like to go to learn new songs:
- www.ukutabs.com On this website you will find ukulele chords to so many songs. You can also transpose them to make them easier if you need to. It’s easy to use and understand so you can get started right away.
- The Ukulele Teacher Probably the best ukulele channel on Youtube. The ukulele teacher has taught me most I know about playing the ukulele. He explains chords, strumming patterns, tuning and even more.
- Matthew Hedges A slightly smaller channel and not just ukulele tutorials, however very useful to me sometimes. Like me, Matthew is a massive Twenty One Pilots fan so he has some tutorials on that. Watching his, or anyone’s covers can be very instructive too. It might give you some ideas to play and if you look closely, you might even be able to see which chords to play.
- Isabelle Hyde She is probaby one of my favourite people ever. She is so talented and once again, a Twenty One Pilots fan, like me. So most of her covers are Twenty One Pilots songs. She has, in my opinion, a very creative way of playing songs. She uses strumming patterns you wouldn’t think of right away. That is why I love watching her covers to get some inspiration and ideas to play songs myself.
Some tips on how to play the ukulele.
The most important thing before you start playing is tuning your ukulele. I struggled a lot with this. I find it very hard to hear when exactly my ukulele is tuned in the right way. I would advise you to either get a tuning app or an actual ukulele tuner. This has helped me a lot. Tuning is obvioulsy done with the tuning keys. The basic way of tuning is G-C-E-A. Meaning that if you hold your ukulele, the string closest to your face is G, the next one C, and so on.
When you are just starting out, the basic chords to learn are F, G, Am and C. These are, first of all, very easy to play and, second of all, very common. You can play so many songs with just these four chords so make sure you know them.
Besides chords, strumming pattern is also important. It’s the thing you do with your other hand basically. You will see that strumming patterns often look something like this: dddudu. D = strum down. U = strum up. Some basic strumming patterns that you can use for most songs are: DDUUDU & DDUDUDU. I started strumming with a guitar pick. For me this was easier. Especially very quick strumming patters are easier with a guitar pick. However, at the moment I prefer to use my thumb to play. It gives a softer sound which I like more but the way you like to strum is totally up to you.
All of these tips are nice. However, there is one thing that to me, is the most important thing to know. Whatever instrument it is you play, know that there is no wrong or right way to play it. Music is self expression so whatever it is you need to be able to express yourself, do it. Don’t let anyone tell you, not even your favourite band member or your own mind, that what you are doing is wrong. The only way to know if you are playing your instrument right is by asking yourself the question: do I truly enjoy playing? If your answer is yes than you are doing it right!
I hope this post was somewhat helful and that I answered at least some of your questions. If you still have questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below! You can also tweet me, or snap me, or ask me on Instagram if you like.
I will see you tomorrow!