The ukulele is known for being one of the most beginner-friendly instruments. Not only does it have a welcoming sound, but its playability is rather inviting to newcomers. So, how long does it take to learn the ukulele?
A person can learn to play the ukulele proficiently in one to six months. The more one practices, the quicker one will learn the instrument and the better one will become. However, there are many proficiency levels, and someone could play for years before becoming a professional.
You can take several different approaches if you are trying to learn how to play the ukulele. The more dedicated you are to the instrument, the faster you’ll learn how to play it. We’ll walk you through some of the steps you can take, so keep reading!
Normal Length of Time Till Proficiency
It is common for a person to learn how to play the ukulele over one to six months. This may seem quick, but the ukulele is a pretty simple instrument. It only has four strings and a limited amount of chords to play. Once you learn 3 or 4 basic chords, you can play most ukulele music.
You will likely see a lot of progress after even just three months. A lot of the difficulty in playing the ukelele comes from singing and playing simultaneously, as noted by Eden Ecklund in her video about her 1-year progress playing the ukelele.
If you have previously played another fretted instrument, such as a guitar, you may be able to learn the ukelele even more quickly. Some guitar players can learn to play the ukulele within a few hours.
Different Approaches You Can Take To Learning Ukelele
There are several ways to learn how to play the ukulele, including in-person lessons, online lessons, digital guided practice, and self-teaching.
If you take the lessons route, you can take them in a group setting and join a class, or you can take private lessons and hire a ukulele teacher. Some people find in-person instruction their favorite and the most effective way to learn an instrument.
Another choice you have is to take ukulele lessons online. There are courses available for you to take, whether with a live instructor or a pre-laid-out class, like some smartphone apps offer. These courses, videos, and exercises are free and provide various instruction styles.
There is also the self-taught route. This approach involves a lot of listening as well as using the internet. Some people like to use YouTube for this! Some apps and websites allow you to listen to what things should sound like and look up chords. Of course, some people can play things by ear as a natural talent, but for most, this method will still require a lot of practice and patience.
No matter which approach you choose, your frequency of practice will be the biggest determining factor in how long it takes you to learn to play the ukelele. Frequency of training will likely be an even better way to ensure steady progress than long practice sessions once a week.
Six Things You Should Learn on the Ukulele
To start with the basic level, take these music tips when getting started:
- Tuning the ukulele – the standard tuning of a ukulele is G-C-E-A. Learning how to tune your uke is one of the first things you can do.
- Learning basic chords – some basic chords include C, F, and G. There are seven. Learn chord shapes online by looking up diagrams. You should also work on switching chords, a tough beginner skill.
- Different strumming patterns – Typically, ukuleles are strummed using your index finger. You can choose a pick if you are looking for a different sound. Practice strumming the ukulele based on the sound you want.
- Ukelele posture – Like most instruments, you should play with a straight back, regardless of whether you sit or stand. Keeping the ukulele to your chest will avoid back pain and other issues.
- Holding the ukulele correctly – Start by practicing holding the ukulele, supporting the neck with your left and right forearm over the body for strumming.
- Fingerpicking techniques – Start with thumb picking, but eventually progress to three-finger pricking as you get more experienced.
Ukuleles are some of the simplest stringed instruments in the world. Still, like other musical instruments, you need to spend time working on the craft to understand it.
Tips to Practice Learning the Ukulele
Here are a few ways to practice the ukulele and learn to play it quickly!
- Drills: Do drills often. Drilling involves repeating any ukelele exercise or even part of a song passage. For example, maybe you just learned a new chord progression or a tricky transition order. If you practice the chord progression regularly, it will become easier to do. Whether it is a difficult part of a song or just a practice exercise you found on Youtube, your skill in playing the ukulele will increase every time you practice.
- Listen: Listen to the songs you are trying to learn to play. Even when you are not playing, this will help you when you start playing your ukulele. You will know what the notes should sound like, making it easier to identify mistakes when they occur.
- Leave it be: It can be frustrating when you don’t see results when you put in the effort. When you get frustrated, take a break and start playing the ukulele again when calm and not tired. It is okay to take a break from playing for a few days.
- Work through it: It will probably also take about a week or so to learn how to make the strings sound how you want them to, so don’t give up. More advanced techniques and confidence in your ability to play the ukelele well will come with time and practice. Work through your frustration, and don’t give up.
- Enjoy it: Choose your favorite songs to play that you love to hear. This will make playing your ukulele more enjoyable and increase your motivation to practice.
How to Know When You’re Proficient
Once you can play at least five chords, a couple of strumming patterns, and a few songs from memory, you are probably proficient at playing the ukulele. Honestly, by learning how to play a couple of songs on your ukulele, this will likely come fairly easily.
If you don’t have to constantly look at where your fingers are positioned on your ukulele while learning to play new songs, you are likely proficient at playing the instrument. It is okay if you periodically look at where your fingers are positioned. Still, if you are adept at playing the ukulele, you should be able to tell where your fingers are and whether or not they are in the right place while playing this instrument.
Overall, it doesn’t take long to learn how to play the ukulele, which is one of the reasons why it is such a popular instrument.