The ukulele has become an integral and widely recognized part of Hawaiian musical heritage. It was brought to the Hawaiian islands in the 19th century by Portuguese travelers.
In Hawaiian, ukulele literally means "flea (uku) jumping (lele)," because when plucked, the high pitch of the strings evokes the image of a jumping flea.
For anyone that has seen "The Wizard of Oz," you'll probably recognize Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's version of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," that I've included on this card, a version of the song that has attracted international love and praise.
Here are 10 tips for new ukulele learners:
1) Find the right ukulele
- If you're on a budget, you can find quality ukuleles in the $100 range
- Avoid anything under $50. The main issue with these is that they don't stay in tune for very long
2) Learn how to hold your ukulele
- Try holding your ukulele while standing and sitting
- When sitting, let the body of the ukulele rest on one of your legs and put your strumming arm on top of the ukulele
- When standing, hold it against your chest and keep it there with your strumming arm
3) When first starting, stick to the basics
- Learn your chords first
- Start with the majors, minors, and then go on to the other chords
- After you know your chords, you will begin to play sings without even thinking!
4) Decent strumming makes all the difference
- Start with a simple up and down, up and down strum
- After you have mastered basic strumming, start experimenting by slapping, palm muting, and other techniques
5) Play as slow as you can
- Accuracy is more important than speed
- Try changing between chords after you know your basic chords and have mastered basic strumming
- Start with slow, easy songs with little chord changes, and gradually speed up and try more difficult songs as you learn
6) Listen to other ukulele players and play along
- Play along to other musicians in person or watch videos online and practice
- Listen and watch carefully for tempos and rhythm
7) Record yourself playing and listen to it
- Listening while you are playing can be difficult. This will let you listen to what you are doing wrong so you can easily fix the problem
- This will also get you used to playing in front of a mic or for an audience
8) Exercise your fingers!
- Exercising your fingers will help build calluses (tough, thick skin caused by repeated friction) and will allow you to play string instruments with little to no pain at all
- Try playing and exercising 10-15 minutes a day to build string fingers and calluses
9) Cut your finger nails clean and short
- Because you press the string with the tips of your fingers, this is necessary to produce a clean sound
10) Have fun!