The ukulele is a stringed instrument that originated in Hawaii over 100 years ago. It started out as a small guitar, but it has since been modified to become a treble stringed instrument. The first ukuleles were made using the top half of resonant spruce coconuts which were lashed together with dried coconut-fiber cord. Nowadays, ukuleles are mostly made out of wood or plastic. A ukulele is composed of four nylon strings and tuned the same as a guitar - G-C-E-A. It can be used to play any type of song from rock and roll, blues, jazz, folk songs, classical, or traditional Hawaiian songs. Ukulele has gained a lot of popularity since Israel Kamakawiwoʻole won a Grammy for his medley of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World" in 1993. Also, the movie "The Jerk" starring Steve Martin has the sound of a ukulele playing in its background which further increased its popularity. Some other notable people who have played or are currently playing the ukulele are Frank Sinatra, George Harrison, Elvis Presley, Eddie Vedder, Jason Mraz, Erykah Badu, Norah Jones, and Lyle Lovett.
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Now that you have some of the history of the ukulele out of the way let's talk about how to play it! This article will provide simple instructions on how to play the ukulele.
1. Notes On A Ukulele
Firsts things first, you have to know some basics on how to read notes on a ukulele. Whether you're planning to enroll in a
Ukulele Course for Beginners or learn by yourself, it'd be best first to study the basics. Remember that strings are the most important aspect of the ukulele. A typical four-stringed ukulele has four different strings, each one is made up of nylon. They are similar to guitar strings because throughout history they were like a little brother to the guitar, so they share some similarities. Strings in the ukulele are smaller in size than guitar ones. If you've ever seen or held a guitar before then the process should be very similar. All of the strings are in the order from thickest to thinnest when looking at them from left to right: the Low-G String (thickest), the A-String (second thickest), the C-String (thinnest), the E-String (second thinnest).
Before you start learning how to play the ukulele, you have to know the chords that are available for it. Chords are combinations of two or more notes that are played simultaneously. There are different types of chords, all depending on the notes that are played. Some examples of chords are major, minor, seventh, diminished, and augmented. In order to play a chord properly, you should press the strings firmly against the neck of your ukulele. You should press each string down from its topmost fret until it makes contact with the next. Once that is done, you should strum all of the strings.
3. Tuning Your Ukulele
Once you have your ukulele in hand, it's time to tune it.
Tuning your ukulele is very simple and can be done by anyone as long as you know the right steps. You can do your tuning with the tuner, but if you don't have one on hand, then there are other ways on how to tune a ukulele without an electronic tuner. You can tune your ukulele with your ear by listening to the sound your strings produce when plucked. There are certain steps you should follow in order for this process to work properly.
First, make sure that all of your strings are pressed firmly against the neck of the ukulele by sliding your fingers or thumb across the frets. Play each string one at a time until you get to the E string (second thinnest). Make sure that you hold down the string on the second fret and pluck it. After, check if your E string is tuned by playing it directly after you've plucked the one on its second fret. If they're on the same note then you're done and congratulations! You've successfully completed the process of tuning a ukulele by ear. If you want to further tune your ukulele, carry on the same process with the A string (second thickest). Play it after plucking the E string and check if they're alike. Keep doing this until all of your strings are tuned as accurately as possible. The final step is to turn the tuning pegs of your ukulele until each string produces the same note as it did when you finished tuning them. It is also advisable to tune your ukulele before and after each song you play because even the most expensive of ukuleles will sometimes be out of tune.
4. Playing The Strings
The only thing left for you after going through all of these steps is to play your strings! It's time for you to strum each one and create a melody. Before you start strumming, ensure that the strings are pressed firmly against the neck of your ukulele and no part of them is sticking out. After all, you wouldn't want to get a cut on your hands from sharp strings, now would you? When holding the ukulele in your hand, make sure that the face is pointing towards you.
The next step that comes after holding the ukulele is to place your fingers the right way. Your thumb should be on the back of your ukulele, whereas your index finger should be on the front side. Make sure that your index finger is placed right next to the A string (second thickest). The rest of your fingers are then placed on the other strings, all being pressed gently against the neck of the ukulele for support.
There are a lot of YouTube tutorials that can help you with this step if you're still unsure of how to play the ukulele. Try watching a few, and see which one is right for you. It will be easier for you if the whole process is visualized for you. You can also ask a more experienced player if they can come over and show you how it's done. Watching a video or a friend who's playing ukulele will make it a lot easier for you than to just read how it should be done.
Also, one more important thing - make sure not to get frustrated if you don't get it right away because this is a skill that takes time and practice, but of course, with a little help from YouTube or a friend who's good at playing the ukulele, you'll eventually get it.
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5. Record yourself playing
Now that you've learned how to play your ukulele, record yourself playing it. This is very important because the only way for you to know if you're truly improving is by listening to your self-recordings. You can check if there are any flaws in your playing and see what parts of the song need more practice and improvement. You can also make sure that you are playing with the correct tempo and the right tune of the song. Working together with your recordings will help so much because you'll be able to notice if there is something wrong with your style or tone, as well as speed up parts of a song.
This step is as important as tuning and practicing, so make sure you don't forget about it.
After you've learned how to play the ukulele, make sure to
maintain it properly. When not in use, keep your ukulele in a case that will protect it from dust. If you don't have one then get a breathable bag that will absorb any extra moisture after being stored inside of it for long periods of time.
Something you should definitely do is to change the strings from time to time. This will make your ukulele sound new again and it won't be as difficult for you to play, since the sound produced by your ukulele will be amplified. Strings that are old and worn out don't produce a very high pitch, so they will need to be changed.
Finally, the most important part of maintaining your ukulele is polishing it after you're done playing. This will remove any dirt that has collected on the strings or the body of your instrument and keep it clean for longer periods of time. If you take care of your ukulele as you should, it will stay in great condition for a long time and be as good as new even after years of use.
(Photo : Pexels)
Playing ukulele can be really fun for beginners because it's not too complicated to learn. If you already know how to play another instrument then it should be a lot easier for you. As long as you have patience and learn step by step, there will be nothing stopping you from playing this beautiful instrument. This article provided you with some simple instructions on how to play the ukulele. With a little practice and help from YouTube or a more experienced player, you'll be able to play your ukulele like a pro in no time. Follow these steps don't forget that maintaining your instrument is very important, especially if you want it to stay in great condition for longer periods of time.
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