You know practicing is a huge part of learning any instrument, and the ukulele is no different! Learn how to make sure you’re practicing effectively with this guide from music teacher Carol Beth L.…
So you’ve begun to learn to play ukelele. It is a fun instrument, and there’s a lot you can do with it, whether it’s accompanying others or playing your own songs. But how long and how often do you need to practice to make it worth it?
You may have heard the saying that “practice makes perfect.” Indeed, it is difficult to improve without practicing. What “enough” means, however, may vary from situation to situation. There are a few factors that can help to determine whether or not you are practicing enough.
1) Are you practicing your ukelele consistently?
This very often means you have a set practice schedule and practice times. It definitely means that you are practicing most days out of the week, if not every single day. If you are practicing only one to three days per week, chances are it isn’t enough. Learning to play a musical instrument is in many ways like learning a new language: you will learn more quickly through constant reinforcement of new concepts with time overnight to assimilate what you have learned. This is the most important of the practice recommendations listed here.
2) Are you practicing long enough to cover all of your current materials every day?
This includes exercises, your current songs, and any other assignments your teacher has given you. You may also wish to include time for reviewing an old song or two so that you can maintain your more basic skills and accumulate and maintain a current repertoire. This will affect both how often you practice and how long you practice each day. If you are playing in several groups, you may need to practice more frequently and longer in order to cover all the material you need to learn.
3) Are you allowing yourself the time and space to practice thoughtfully?
For instance, instead of just playing (or even rushing) through the piece once or twice, you might target difficult passages to play slowly first, and then gradually speed them up. Or you might break the piece up into sections to learn initially or to memorize. As you play, you are also listening to yourself and to how you sound. Once you know the notes, don’t satisfy yourself with just that; make sure it is in tune, and that the style, tone, and dynamics are what you want them to be.
The time spent practicing will also depend on age, level, seriousness, and goals. For a young student just beginning to study, 15-20 minutes every day could be enough. For an elementary student or for one who is around intermediate level, 30 to 45 minutes per day is often a good amount. For a teenager or adult student, or for one who is more advanced, an hour a day is more appropriate. Professional musicians often practice several hours a day.
Frequency, on the other hand, should not vary as much from student to student. As mentioned in #1, consistency is key for learning and maintaining your musical abilities. Some people will take breaks during long vacations or business trips if they cannot bring their instrument or will not have time to practice. Under normal circumstances, however, practicing 5 to 7 days a week should be the norm, and exceptions should not be too frequent. Stay consistent and your ukelele skills will soar!
Taking lessons from a qualified ukulele instructor is the best way to learn to play ukulele. Search for your ukulele teacher now!
Carol Beth L. teaches English, French, viola, and violin lessons in San Francisco, CA. She plays viola in the San Francisco Civic Orchestra and she has been teaching music lessons for three years. Learn more about Carol Beth L.
Photo by Philip Hay