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In the late 19th century, immigrants left Portugal to work on sugar cane farms in Hawaii. Some of these immigrants were also woodworkers and instrument makers. With them, they brought two traditional Portuguese instruments, the braguinha and the rajão.
The builders combined parts from both of these traditional instruments to make the machete, which eventually evolved into an instrument that became known as the "ukulele." Ukulele means “jumping flea,” and in its native Hawaiian it’s pronounced oo-koo-lay-lay. No matter how you choose to say it, you'll love learning to play this fun and cheerful-sounding instrument!
Why Learn to Play Ukulele?
For starters, the sound of almost any song played on the ukulele will undoubtedly conjure up peaceful, island feelings thanks to the instrument's Hawaiian origins. Playing instruments is proven to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and improve the immune system. So, it's possible learning to play the ukulele could be the best vitamin you ever take.
Playing the ukulele also has additional physical benefits, like fine-tuning your motor skills and hand-eye coordination while you learn to play on its soft, nylon strings. Practicing the proper way to hold the instrument will also improve your posture, which will relieve headaches, back pain, facilitate easier breathing, and improve your digestion.
The ukulele is a great starter instrument for children, because of its size and simplicity. Unlike other string instruments, the ukulele is small and rather easy to learn. It’s also extremely inexpensive in comparison to most instruments.
Topics You'll Learn in Ukulele Classes Near You
If you want to learn to play ukulele, learning with a private tutor is the best way to go. With prompt feedback, personalized lessons, and one-on-one attention, you'll learn ukulele faster than you could in a large class setting.
Our private tutors customize their course materials and teaching style to your individual needs and interests. As a result, ukulele lessons for kids differ quite a bit from ukulele classes for adults when it comes to lesson topics and pace. Below, we’ll go more in-depth on the topics you’ll learn at each level of ukulele lessons.
Sample Curriculum from Ukulele Lessons for Beginners
Ukulele lessons for beginners will vary if the student has previous musical experience. However new you are to music though, you'll enjoy the relaxed vibe of ukulele lessons and being able to play simple songs after your very first lesson. Beginner lessons often cover the following topics:
- Proper way to hold the instrument
- Instrument care
- Easy strumming patterns and techniques
- Major, minor, open-position, and 7th chords
- Songs with simple chord sequences
- Intro to music theory
- Reading sheet music and tablature
Sample Curriculum for Intermediate Ukulele Classes
Intermediate ukulele lessons are designed to continue developing your skills as you learn ukulele. You'll be introduced to new, more challenging techniques and be able to play more complex songs. Intermediate ukulele lessons near you will likely cover the following topics:
- Finger picking
- Major and minor scales
- Substitution chords
- Tremolo picking
- Practicing difficult chord sequences
Sample Curriculum for Advanced Ukulele Lessons
When you're ready for advanced lessons, you've nearly mastered the ukulele. At this level, you'll practice advanced strumming techniques and fancy finger work. Other class topics may include the following:
- Alternative tunings
Advanced strumming - Eight finger roll - Three string strum - Ten finger roll - Rhythm filler strum - Sextuplet strum - The flick - Strum picking - Golpe - Muted plucking
Professional advice for performing and recording
- Singing while playing
How to Find a Ukulele Teacher Near You
The first step to being able to make beautiful ukulele music of your own is finding an experienced ukulele teacher near you. A quick search here at TakeLessons will reveal a long list of ukulele teachers who provide local and online lessons to students of all ages and skill levels.
When browsing through our directory, you'll see find teachers who are highly qualified, educated, and have industry knowledge of the music business. You can also read through the hundreds of reviews left by other students just like you.
The ukulele leaves room for variety of genres, since it’s used in many different musical styles such as folk and reggae. So when choosing an instructor for your first ukulele class, we recommend looking for a teacher who plays the same genre of music you hope to.
So why not get started today? Whether you plan to play for your friends, bring the ukulele out at parties, or take a slot at your town's next open mic night, learning to play the ukulele will add a bit of musical sunshine to your life!
By Maile Proctor
As you advance in your ukulele lessons you will learn different techniques to achieve different sounds from your instrument. Ukulele fingerpicking is an important component if you want to boost your playing skills and take your music to the next level. Here, ukulele teacher Willy M. teaches you ukulele fingerpicking basics... A lot of people like to strum the ukulele, but they usually stop there and never explore all of the ways to fingerpick the ukulele. Typically, I deal with people who …More
By Madalyn Danielson
By Maile Proctor