View Full Version : How do you practice?

05-08-2011, 09:58 PM
Hey there UkuUnderground, I feel like I've been stuck at the beginner stage for a while now. I know a few picking riffs and is comfortable on a few chords a,am,c,d,dm,f,g mostly. I was wondering how everyone practices when you're not working on a specific song. And any advice are welcomed.

05-08-2011, 10:05 PM
When I'm not working on a song I'll play some little fingerpicking tunes to improve my dexterity.
Before I begin working on songs and such I practice each of the major and minor chords for fifteen or twenty minutes (I just go a,b,c,d,e,f,g etc) and if I'm having trouble with a particular chord I'll figure out a way to put it into a song I already know a couple of times so I learn to practice the switch.

Hope it helps :)

05-08-2011, 10:49 PM
I think this is a very individual question. how much some one does and should practice depends on factors like availible time, experience and how strong you hands already are. Ultimately the best way to practice , is push your boundries and focus on what you are not comfortable with the most.

I come from a guitar background and years as a 'shredder' I spent many years paracticing and play all day every day, until my illness made it so I couldnt do that. i had a hardecore sheduale of endlessly pracicing scales and finger exersises etc etc. its all ingraned into me now where its realy not nessesary I do that with the uke, i just work on songs. finger strumming is still a challenge so I focus on that a lot, doing rolls and such.

But for beginners I would recomend a schedule something like this not too long on each to prevent injury, 5 -10 minutes , taking little breaks between each- severe discomfort or pain-stop! stretch and take a long break.

stretching fingers, hands, neck, back and arms (you realy dont realise how tention in other areas can so affect ones hands)always good to start and finish playing with streching and massage
some easy chords, then challenge yourself with some you dont know from a chord chart or book, keeping track of the extra hard ones.
strum patterns and finger picking, work in a metronome to these exersizes and the the next...
scales, practicing alternating beteen differnt notes such as quarter and eight notes etc
learn some new songs
just listening to music. listen to the cadence, what beats are being played on, try to identify chords by ear, hum/sing melodies, how the various instruments (voice is an instrument too) are interacting.

hope this helps :)

Hippie Dribble
05-09-2011, 03:55 AM
hi iamfroogle and a belated welcome to the forums!!!

In the absence of anything constructive to write, I find I do some of my very best work here... :o


Maybe just feel your way around the fretboard a little bit too. Start picking some random notes and look for patterns on the fretboard. It's a good way of tuning in your ear to melody and chord sequences.

Also there is an awesome book around called 'Fretboard Roadmaps':


which will give you some very helpful, formal steps to work through with your practicing and skill development.

Otherwise, you could just be like me and stick to nice 3 chord songs!!!! :o

05-09-2011, 04:25 AM
I was having the same problem, so I had to start over with Uncle Rod's Ukulele Boot Camp and master my chords, so now, I use the exercises as a warm up to whatever I am going to play/practice.


05-09-2011, 07:12 AM
I have Fretboard Roadmaps, have been working on Uncle Rod's Boot Camp, and have the Hal Leonard Ukulele Method 1 &2 by Lil' Rev.

The Hal Leonards are interesting because it starts out single-note, but Lil' Rev teaches chords in chord families as you go along.

A book that's a course is something I like because I can tell myself I'm going to do a couple of pages a day and stick to it.

05-09-2011, 08:00 AM
I try to learn a new tune every week (typically jazz stuff for me). The problem is that my brain only can remember a couple of tunes at a time, so I have to go back for refreshes. To learn a a jazz tune you have to memorize the melody and chords and then practice the chord melody and scales for soloing. The difficult part is trying to approach it differently each time you play.

If you are stuck in a rut, just don't let yourself play something that you always play. Pick a new song or a new genre and learn to play it. Internet is great resources.

UAS also helps with keeping the inspiration going.

05-09-2011, 08:24 AM
When I find an interesting cover I'd like to play, I usually get the chords, then I record an mp3 file from the video and play it with my mp3 player, so I "try" to play along.

I also practice Uncle Rod's Boot Camp, particularly Bb and Bm chords.

And some barre chord exercices, for example doing some scales and barring at the same time :

That's a torture.... :D

05-09-2011, 08:41 AM
I just keep playing the same thing over and over and over and over now after two years I am starting to learn my second song.
my mistakes lead to discoverys these discoverys are added to my song until its long enough
well I have made enough discoverys to make 1.25 songs so far
and I do not know how to play any pre exsisting songs just my original song and I do not even know what chords I am playing
I guess I am learning as if I was stranded on a deserted island and found a uke in the sand
I am actually amazed that a brain that knows nothing about how to play can learn by just plinking strings and seeing what happens
I dont suggest this method for anyone else but i am a very hard person to teach anything to so I learn by trial and error

05-09-2011, 01:55 PM
Hi iamfroogle, when I'm not learning a specific song, I practice strumming patterns (my own variations of a fan strum, triple strum and split stroke) I also work on a couple of picking patterns i got from ukulele mike lessons (a four pluck and a six pluck pattern). I like to strum and sing, so I hammer at a song until I have it memorized and can play it without looking at a lead sheet. Of course if I don't go over them regularly I forget um.

05-10-2011, 03:04 AM
You guys are serious. I'd say the only time I practice is when I am preparing for making a video, or playing live or at a jam. Other than that, I leave the uke on the sofa, and when a commercial comes on, I play it.

05-10-2011, 10:11 AM
It's good to split practice time between playing material with which you're comfortable and more difficult material. Go online, get the the chords to LOTS of songs you like, and start strumming. Songs will quickly fall into "easy" and "difficult" categories. Spend enough time working on difficult material to continue improving, and don't forget to keep playing easy songs for fun. (Playing easy songs improves your ability, too, just a little more slowly.)

05-12-2011, 03:59 AM
I just find printable songs on the net with chords that I already know with perhaps 1 that's new to me. I don't like to take on a new song with too many new chords as I find it kinda frustrating and it takes the fun out of playing. So been playing now for about 9-10 months and I'm fairly comfortable strumming with maybe 20 chords. Still can't pick worth a darn though.

05-15-2011, 08:18 AM
I find a song that's too difficult for me to play, and play it. Takes me months to get it to sound competent, but I learn a lot fast. Here's what I've been working on.


You can't help but learn how to pick.

mm stan
05-15-2011, 08:30 AM
Aloha RUfrugal,
Depends what stage you are in playing I guess...I used to practice 3 chord vamps and or principal chords or just develop your own chord practicing progression to warm up..
or just you favorite song to see if your uke is tuned..Have fun and enjoy....Happy Strummings..MM Stan

05-15-2011, 10:15 AM
I find Uncle Rod's Songbook useful, because he goes into how to apply the rote learning of chords from his Boot Camp to how you'd approach songs. He has some simple songs on there, like Sloop John B., and shows you come up with a practice sheet for that song, just the chord sequences, so you can get 'em down, then your fingers should be almost automatic while you work on singing the song while playing.

I'm just trying to crank through the Boot Camp practice sheets daily, been pretty busy around here, and it's working. I'm trying to say chord names out loud to help me know them and also, it's practice in vocalizing while strumming. Pretty cool.

Another beginner's method that I think is very good, is the Hal Leonard Ukulele Method books 1 and 2, by Lil' Rev. There's also a DVD of the stuff in Book 1 that I'm considering getting. It's been criticized for being very simplistic, with very simple songs, but Lil' Rev will have you reading real notes on real music, he teaches some single-string notes, then a family of a few chords that go together, than a few more single-string notes, then another family of chords .... You learn the stuff in those books, even just Book 1, and you'll be on your way. Both books AND the DVD will cost you less than one lesson at a music school, and while I'd love to take live lessons, I live on VERY little so I have to watch my pennies.

Another method is what I call the YouTube method. There are TONS of videos on there, you can play 'em over and over, it's like sitting with a different dude or dudette playin' the uke together. Some are really nice and professional with little chord diagrams floating in the air, and some are hard to see the chords, and full of stuff like "Wait .... sh*t ... OK now.. like dis.... not waitwait.... like DIS" hehe. I'll admit I like both kinds.

05-15-2011, 10:22 AM
Oh yeah I was gonna add, sooner or later we're gonna have Uncle Rod's down. I found a site called Dr. Uke online, the guy's in England and has a lot of stuff that seems to me, to be a pretty smooth transition from Uncle Rod's to knowing chords by family, etc.

Since this is a beginner's forum and speaking as a real beginner myself, I want to say though, that I personally don't want to "move on" from Uncle Rod's too soon. Uncle Rod talks about getting good enough on the practice sheets to be able to do only 1 strum per chord. That's pretty smooth! And I find that over time I'm noticing how the chord shapes are related, you start with A, then add one more finger and you have this other thing...... all kinds of things I'd not notice if it weren't for just putting in sheer "mindless" work on these chords.

05-15-2011, 02:28 PM
Hey there UkuUnderground, I feel like I've been stuck at the beginner stage for a while now. I know a few picking riffs and is comfortable on a few chords a,am,c,d,dm,f,g mostly. I was wondering how everyone practices when you're not working on a specific song. And any advice are welcomed.
ThanksHonestly i just put my ukulele, lemonjelly by name, in my hands and start playing. simple as pie. :cool:

05-15-2011, 08:02 PM
I can't remember where I picked up this exercise but I do 1 minute chord changes when I run into a new chord that seems difficult. I was playing Our Town using A, D, A, E7 progression. E7 was giving this newbie some trouble so I did A, E7,A, E7 for one minute by the clock and counted the number of times I could change in one minute. It gave me concrete feedback that I was making progress even if I felt like I was still struggling. So, when I find a new song with a difficult chord I just revert to the one minute drill.

05-16-2011, 01:07 AM
Honestly i just put my ukulele, lemonjelly by name, in my hands and start playing. simple as pie.

Same for me... I systematically bring the uke/flute/harp along with me for hicking, jamming, hollidays, parties, and so on (even at work when I stay here for lunch)... whenever comes a 5mn with no other imperative I just start scalling up and down, or strum some funny tunes...

it's not very organized... though almost obsessionnally constant :)

I don't care about being or even becoming a great ''uker''... i'm not a great instrumentalist on any of the few instruments I play, but a fairly good musician in general I think.
If I encounter any technical pb to play a song or a riff, I will work on this particular aspect for a while until is becomes comfortable... otherwise only the pleasure and feeling matters!

05-16-2011, 03:22 AM
I usually will print off tabs/chords for a song and then practice a new song a week. I will then also work on solo's with scales for that particular song to work on fingerboard mapping.

05-16-2011, 06:41 AM
I like to use a countdown timer and divide my practice up into sections, so if i'm pressed for time i can do one part in the morning and the rest later.
First section- 15 minutes of Uncle Rod's boot camp sheet one
second section- 15 minutes of Hal Leonard Ukulele Method Book one
third section-15 minutes of songs,
Throughout the day i will pick up my ukulele and practice the c scale and a blues scale that i found on Ukulele Mikes youtube page but i don't use a timer for this. It's just free practice that i do when i can't keep my hands from picking up the ukulele.

05-16-2011, 07:23 AM
Everyones practice regime is different, but one thing is certain - you need to do it!

Beware practicing when it is not working for you though - dont want to lose interest or faith in the instrument. I wrote about that subject here - http://www.gotaukulele.com/2010/11/how-much-should-i-practice-ukulele.html

05-16-2011, 08:33 AM
Lately I've been working on music theory and memorizing the fret. I've been trying to construct scales and chords and I've been using this (http://lambchopukulele.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-to-learn-13-of-ukulele-fingerboard.html) to memorize the fret board and getting on www.musictheory.net