No other musical instrument is more associated with Hawaii, beaches, and vacations than the ukulele.
The mellow tone and its small build are perfect for producing catchy, simple songs that capture the heart of listeners.
While this enchanting instrument doesn’t have the same popularity as a guitar and a violin, it remains a timeless medium for many musicians.
Because of its enjoyable sound and overall appeal, the topic of how long does it take to learn ukulele will always become relevant.
Let’s explore the different subjects of this four-stringed instrument to address the topic in detail.
History of the Ukulele
Before discussing how long does it take to learn ukulele, we’ll first have a quick look at its origins and history.
Ukulele was first introduced in the 1880s, inspired by a couple of small stringed instruments.
Portuguese immigrants brought it to Hawaii, where it became popular due to the promotion and patronage of King Kalakaua.
It gained recognition in the United States when ukulele tunes were played during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
Apparently, the name originates from the local translation of “jumping flea.”
However, various accounts have different versions of why the ukelele has such a name.
The meteoric rise of the rock and roll genre during the 1950s is the primary reason why the interest in the instrument gradually faded.
Electronic and acoustic guitars have become the staple of string instruments until today.
Nonetheless, many modern musicians have incorporated the ukulele in some of their greatest hits.
This instrument’s popularity might not have been what it was in the past, but its melodic charm won’t become obsolete anytime soon.
Learning The Ukulele
Ukulele is regarded by many as one of the easiest instruments to learn because you only have to work with four strings.
Still, those who claim you can play it well after a few minutes can be severely misleading.
It’s common for those who search online for how long it takes to learn the ukulele to assume that playing it is a breeze.
Sure, you can get the basics and even play a basic ukelele chord in one day but being proficient requires time and effort.
You must master the following three aspects before playing your favorite songs and complicated chords.
A chord is essentially the combination of a number of notes performed simultaneously to produce a harmonized sound or tune.
Strumming the different strings of the ukulele accomplishes this.
The finger position on the fret determines the sound produced by the instrument.
Simple chords require only one fret to establish, while complex chord structures need two or more frets.
Hundreds of songs on the ukulele are formed using a couple of chords: C, D, G, F, and A.
Once you master these basic chords, you’ll have an easier time playing your favorite songs or pretty much any ukulele song.
It is recommended to practice two chords at first until you’re able to do them fast and easy.
There’s no timetable for this part of learning because it depends entirely on your time and dedication.
Switching between chords is one of the most integral aspects of playing the ukulele.
This is where most beginners can find themselves struggling.
They have yet to retain the muscle memory for accurately moving their fingers from one string to another.
Remember that your hands must not move away from the fretboard while playing.
There is no shortcut or special technique you may follow to skip this step.
It’s all about repetition until you can essentially do it in your sleep.
A chord chart is significantly advantageous to have while learning, regardless if you have a ukulele teacher or don’t.
This will help you to be more familiar with how songs are arranged.
Avoid playing songs with complex chord forms at first.
Start slow and choose songs with simple common chords until you move on to something more complex.
Like with an acoustic guitar, you can strum a ukulele either with your fingers or a pick.
Like with a guitar, your fingertips are the most straightforward tool for producing sounds from a ukulele.
Playing with fingers takes much less time to master, depending on your muscle memory.
Use the nail on your index finger whenever you’re strumming full chords.
When doing up strums, ensure you use the upper-middle part or the fleshy spot of your thumb or index finger.
If performing down strums, you must avoid your knuckles pointing in your direction.
Curl your fingers while strumming downwards with your index fingernail.
Strumming with a pick can be more challenging because you must balance firmness and flexibility.
You might find it more time-consuming to learn to play the ukulele when you start with a pick.
Beginners often struggle to hold the pick firmly or consistently strum the strings.
You have to grip it using the side of your index finger and the upper-middle part of your thumb.
The key is to keep the wrist flexible enough to continuously strum while locking the pick between your fingers.
Not all ukulele or guitar players are comfortable with a pick, but it’s worth learning how to use it.
Tones produced by pick strumming are more defined and louder than using bare fingers.
However, you’ll find it a bit more to skip strings if you’re using a pick.
Once you’re comfortable performing the basic techniques, you’re ready to practice progressions.
This will help improve your skill of moving from one chord to another fast and smoothly.
Most ukulele tunes or songs contain variations of chord progressions.
Many of these songs require you to only play with three chords.
You can build your portfolio of chords once you know how chords are arranged.
With consistent practice and patience, you can play classical songs or even compose your own.
Choosing Your Ukulele
With the number of choices available, you may find that selecting the best ukulele for a beginner may be confusing.
Fortunately, you only have to look out for the size and price.
Expect to spend between $50 to $150 for beginner-friendly ukuleles.
You have five primary options for the size, from the smallest to the largest:
Selecting the size should be based on how you feel while holding the instrument.
Choosing the right ukulele for comfort goes a long way in speeding up the learning process.
You need to be comfortable with the weight and dimensions because you may be holding the ukulele for hours while practicing.
If unsure, check out your local musical instruments shop to see and feel for yourself before deciding.
How Long Does It Take To Learn Ukulele?
It’s possible to play the ukulele in a short time, even more so for players with some background playing similar stringed instruments.
However, being good or a master will require more than just a couple of days.
Some exceptional players had to practice for years, if not months, before attaining expertise with the instrument.
Whether you have the luxury of a teacher or reading an online ukulele lesson, you must put in the time and effort.
Sometimes, how much you want to learn is the very thing that speeds up the process.