Learning to play the ukulele is tons of fun, but it comes with its own special challenges too. Music teacher Jonathan D. shares three difficulties beginners often face, plus the best ways to overcome them…
The ukulele is a fantastic instrument that’s relatively easy to learn how to play. However, like with any new skill, there can be a bit of a learning curve – especially when you’re first starting out.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at six of the most common problems beginners face when playing the ukulele, and we’ll give you some tips on how to overcome them. Read on to learn more!
What Are the Difficulties You Have Encountered in Learning a Ukulele?
Learning to play any musical instrument can be challenging, and the ukulele is no exception:
- For one thing, it can be difficult to find the right teacher. Unfortunately, not all music teachers are created equal, and it can be difficult to find one who is both knowledgeable and patient.
- Learning the ukulele requires a certain amount of dexterity and coordination. Many people give up before they ever really get started because it takes time and practice to develop the necessary skills.
- Tthe ukulele can be a bit pricey, especially if you’re just starting out. While there are some less expensive options available, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. In other words, cheap ukuleles are often made of inferior materials and are not as easy to play.
All of these factors can make learning the ukulele a bit of a challenge. However, with patience and perseverance, anyone can learn to play this beautiful instrument.
Are you ready to get started? We’ve made the process of finding the right ukulele teacher a bit easier – all you need to do is sign up for lessons with TakeLessons! Check out the video below to learn more of the benefits of doing so:
What Are Some Common Ukulele Problems?
For the enthusiastic beginner on the ukulele, a healthy dose of “try harder” in combination with a shiny new instrument may seem like a great start, but you may soon find you need to dig a bit deeper to conquer some of the stubborn difficulties of the instrument.
There are multiple categories of pitfalls the ukulele can present. First, there are general musicianship concerns such as reading notation and developing rhythmic coordination. Then there are the difficulties inherent to the ukulele. Last, there are the mental minefields you must navigate before mastering the ukulele. Let’s look at all three!
1. Keeping the Beat
Common to all instruments is need to recognize and master rhythmic structures. Beginning ukulele students face this problem immediately. At first it doesn’t seem like a big deal to play quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. Most method books teach students to count quarter notes as one beat, half notes as two beats, and whole notes as four beats. Most teachers teach students to develop a system of counting beats. Unfortunately, many students promptly forget the importance of the beat. Fingering, reading notation, strumming, and many more concerns can cloud your mind as you learn how to play the ukulele and cause “rhythmic amnesia”.
The importance of keeping time cannot be overestimated. So how can you learn to stay on beat? There are several solutions that can be used alone or in combination. Using a metronome is at the top of the list. These days there’s no need to shell out $20 for a mechanical ticker at the local music store as a number of apps and online resources are available to the modern music maker.
Another solution to the enduring problem of rhythm is to isolate the rhythmic elements in a song and repeat them in your body until you habitually “feel” the rhythm of music. For example, if the introduction of eighth notes is causing you mental anguish, stand up and rock back and forth in time, coming down on alternate heels with each quarter note, and chant or clap twice for every beat. If you’re interested in exploring this method, TaKaDiMi is a superb option.
Perhaps the best approach to playing rhythmically is to find songs that are rhythmically enjoyable. After all, the real problem is usually a lack of motivation to find and maintain a beat. I’m always perplexed at musicians who leave out the best part of music making – the beat! Find songs that make people want to dance. Then enjoy playing them (along with metronome and TaKaDiMi work of course).