View Full Version : Trying to put an end to the myth that beginners find the ukulele easy

02-05-2016, 01:53 AM
Now with added statistics!


Croaky Keith
02-05-2016, 02:37 AM
And if you are a beginner reading this and struggling with your ukulele in the early days and weeks. Remember - you are not alone - most other people felt the same way. Stick with it. It can be a challenge for many reasons, but that's nothing unusual, you are NOT failing and it's totally worth persevering.

Have fun!

Barry Maz

I began in mid November last year, no it's not an easy instrument to play as a beginner, but just like any other, practice will make you/me better, it will just take time & perseverance.

I know I'm getting better, I can see it because I was encouraged to make videos & join in with the Seasons.

I was terribly slow at finding the notes at first, (not that I'm much faster now), but it gives me a good reason to get on & practice.


02-05-2016, 04:34 AM
I think it's pretty relative to the individual. As some commenter said it was easy for him to transition to uke from guitar, that is a no brainer. A stark beginner will have it harder. Some beginners find it easier than others.

A good teacher can make a big difference. A lot of your points are spot on for example, the importance of timing and rhythm being first and foremost. Walk before run, etc. Practice, practice, practice. I even have my own methods of breaking down practice to make it as easy as possible for a beginner to make music right out of the gate no matter their ability.

I consider the ukulele a good gateway instrument to guitar and recommend as such to very young guitar aspirants. Possibly the easiest instrument to make music on in the shortest amount of time.

I also am a serious advocate of the ukulele as a valid, serious musical instrument with which the most complex, beautiful and technically difficult music can be played.

02-05-2016, 05:04 AM
I agree that it's certainly easier than many (most?) other instruments, and personally I'm a fast learner and picked it up pretty quickly, but I would never call it easy, at least not when it comes to playing well. Easy to learn, difficult to master, as the saying goes.

I'm sure the whole misguided "you can learn to play the ukulele in fifteen minutes!" fallacy has its roots in marketing somewhere, and like most statements made in marketing and advertising, in my opinion it's a pack of lies clouded by carefully chosen language. Sure, most people who can count and who don't lack even the slightest sense of rhythm can learn to strum one in 4/4 in fifteen minutes, but like all things worth doing, doing it well will take a lot more effort and be much less "easy."

But "hey, this will take a lot of work and commitment and perhaps you may never be brilliant at it" was never a very good sales pitch. "Easy! Fast! Results in fifteen minutes!" on the other hand - isn't that pretty much the backbone of all successful products, from pharmaceuticals to appliances to gym memberships and beyond?

Just call me cynical :)

Doug W
02-05-2016, 01:30 PM
Well the uke is much easier to carry than many other instruments. As far as playing, it is like most instruments, you get better the more you play and practice. It takes about a lifetime to get really good.

The ukulele does have an easier to find, easier to know, built-in community, than many other instruments. I would venture to guess that there aren't bassoon groups that get together twice a month to jam and have a few laughs. No offense intended to you bassoon players out there, I'm sure you are a lot of fun.

Steve in Kent
02-05-2016, 05:54 PM
I think the "easy to play" bit is that by learning 4 chords you can have a bash at quite a few songs, and can play and sing along in your local ukulele group, (who are always friendly, some sort of universal law :) ).

And you'll really enjoy it and think this is great.

Try the very same songs by yourself, and it's not so great.

So the "easy" bit really means it's by far the better musical instrument to get and be able to play along in a group, (which really is great, really, really great).

Then you learn it's not that easy when you're by yourself, but by then you are hooked, so are willing to practice to learn more chords, more strumming patterns, fingerpicking etc.

That's what happened to me anyway.

I always say to beginners that it's easier than other instruments to get started with, but just as difficult as any other to master, which is a real attraction as you never stop learning.

Plus of course the way the ukulele sounds just lifts ones soul, as does being a part of such a positive thinking community.

Oh, and I agree with both your articles, including the "cheap" bit.

When I tell people my ukulele cost 325 they are gobsmacked, and it's not even an expensive ukulele, (I think 325 is a bargain for the Pono).

Just because they have been told it's a cheap instrument.

02-06-2016, 01:16 AM
Thanks Barry.

When I started with a uke at age 50, with no finger dexterity, no rhythm, and poor strumming technique, I didn't think it was easy. But, I found I progressed faster than my failed attempt at playing acoustic guitar 10 years earlier. So, for me, the uke seemed relatively easier than the guitar. But, I practiced the uke much more, too.

02-06-2016, 02:17 AM
I started with the piano (88 keys) with little success, then guitar (6 strings) and banjo (5 strings) with more success. No surprise that a 4-string instrument has turned out to be my favorite. My other instrument is the tin whistle, which has only 6 holes. There is a trend here - it seems for me, less is more. I still like to play guitar and banjo, but my 10 year old son has surpassed me on the piano.

I think uke can be a pretty easy instrument if you can master the basic strums with a relaxed hand - more difficult for some than others. Advanced strums and fingerstyle can provide a lifetime of challenges...