First week with my ukulele is in the books! I would say it was pretty successful. Having tried to learn this instrument before, I really wanted to assess the learning component. I took some time to think about what went wrong the first time I tried to learn the ukulele. I think my biggest mistake the first time was thinking I could jump into learning a song on day one. I didn’t have the proper foundation to build upon.
So, for the first week, I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t try to learn a song. Instead, I broke out my handy dandy notebook, did a little bit of research, and tried to come up with a plan.
The first step was to tune my ukulele. I read that the standard tuning for a uke is GCEA. I used a tuner app on my phone to tune the ukulele.
My main source of information has been YouTube. It’s amazing how many tutorials you can find! As a visual learner, they are the easiest way for me to take in information. There are TONS of tutorials for ukulele playing. The biggest thing I wanted to learn how to do this week was to strum properly. These two videos helped the most! I also learned there is a difference between a strum pattern and strum technique. A strum technique is how you strum the ukulele, and a strum pattern is the number and order of ups and downs, and how many strums fit into each beat. A cool thing I learned about the ukulele is there isn’t a right or wrong way to strum. There are many options, and you pick what works best for you!
I was able to learn both a strum technique and strum pattern after watching these videos. I also learned four chords: C, G, Am, and F. Then, I spent hours putting those chords with a strum pattern. I don’t have near the musical skills of the music majors in our class, but I’ve had a few years of informal training. I played the clarinet from sixth grade until my sophomore year in college. So, knowing things like how to tune an instrument, and a foundation of rhythm are making this process a little easier. Plus it helps that I know there is no magic trick to learning an instrument. You just have to practice, practice, and practice some more! Then, when you think you’ve practiced enough, you practice again. Luckily, I don’t mind practicing the same thing over and over again on the uke. Unlike obnoxious runs on the clarinet, the repetitiveness of the ukulele can be relaxing. In case you were curious, the video below is the result of my practicing! I’m pretty happy that in a week I’ve gone from knowing absolutely nothing about the ukulele, to being able to play this set of chords! After reflecting, the biggest thing I need to work on are the shifts between the chords (as you can tell by the short pause between the first and second chord in this video clip). That will just come with time. Heres hoping week two is just as productive! 🙂