Searching for a fun, easy way to relax during these stressful times? Itching for a creative hobby to escape this pandemic temporarily? Learn to play the ukulele!
I decided to try the instrument purely on a whim. My daughter’s piano teacher was offering beginner ukulele group lessons to adults. I thought, “Why not?” In addition to piano, my daughter studied and performed the uke, so I had plenty of experience as an observer.
I noticed that instrument was simple to pick up, skill-wise and literally. Also, I was pleasantly surprised by its versatility. My daughter could play so many different musical genres on her uke. Most importantly, I enjoyed listening to its upbeat sound and wanted to try making ukulele music myself!
So what are you waiting for? If you need more convincing, I can tell you that the uke is:
With just four strings, the uke is one of the simplest instruments to study and play. If you already know how to read music, you are ahead of the game. If not, no worries; ukulele sheet music is often written in tablature (aka tabulature or musical notation) that tells you exactly which fingers to place where in order to form different major and minor chords. And you can get started playing many popular songs just with the C, G7, and F chords alone. For inspiration and to get started right away, see “Fun First Songs for Beginner Ukulele Players.”
Children as young as five years old can learn to play the uke; check out Thai musician Gail Sophicha playing a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Lazy Song” at age six. My daughter started playing it at age 12; prodigy Feng E. from Taiwan was already a pro by that age). I took up the ukulele as a middle-ager after decades off from studying the piano. Even 89-year-old billionaire tycoon Warren Buffett plays the ukulele (and sings!) on television, in front of investors, and at charity events.
A harmonica, recorder, or kalimba may be less expensive, but the ukulele is easy on your wallet. As one of the most affordable stringed instruments, it’s certainly less expensive than a guitar. You can find a good (but not cheap!) quality ukulele starting at around $60.00; prices depend on the uke’s size and construction materials. Check out Ukutune’s collection.
Caring for your ukulele requires simple household objects and common sense. You don’t need any special cleaners, expensive replacement parts, or specialized tuning equipment. Just remember these basic tips:
Bring your uke anywhere with you; it’s lightweight and transportable. The most popular size—the soprano—looks like a toy (but it’s not!) that’s cute and convenient. Even the larger models (concert, tenor, and baritone) are still much smaller than guitars.
Listening to music stimulates your brain. Playing music does even more: you’ll improve your hand-eye coordination by learning to play the ukulele. As Harvard Medical School noted, hearing and making music have "major effects on many aspects of health, ranging from memory and mood to cardiovascular function and athletic performance."
You can’t help but smile at the ukulele’s gentle, cheerful strains of music. Whether the sweet sounds transport you to a Hawaiian island, a rousing music hall, a friendly singalong, or a private oasis, the ukulele can make any situation sunny.
Now more than ever, the world needs relief from anxiety and stress. The ukulele’s cheerful music helps to combat depression. Concentrating on learning to play this instrument provides a brief escape from reality. In this pandemic time of quarantine and social distancing, the uke’s music can help you cope with isolation and lift your mood.
You can play almost any song from diverse genres on the ukulele—pop, jazz, rock n’ roll, classical, folk, ragtime, religious, holiday, and more. Even more encouraging is the fact that many songs have different versions for varied skill levels; ones with complex chords can be simplified for beginners.
Experience the feeling of satisfaction in achieving a goal. As a beginner ukulele player, you can create beautiful music right away; then as you practice and improve, you can master more advanced songs on this melodious instrument. Feel pride as you succeed to play simple versions of favorite tunes…and then eventually progress onto more advanced versions to expand your repertoire.
If you still aren’t convinced, no worries. Just search on YouTube for videos of ukulele players and how-to tutorials to discover more about this wonderful instrument.
In either case, enjoy!