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Thread: Tell me about your ukulele experiences!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019

    Default Tell me about your ukulele experiences!

    Hello everybody! My name is Loredana, I'm 21 years old and I live in Chile and I'm new to the forum and the uke.

    I really enjoy singing and I decided I wanted to finally learn how to play an instrument and for several reasons, I chose the ukulele so I got it last week and since for some time I won't be able to afford lessons, I started learning through YouTube.

    Right now the hardest thing for me is transitioning between chords and strumming, but I'm trying not to get frustrated and I'm really enjoying the ride I've learned three songs so far with the same four chords (C - G - Am - F) and for now the hardest thing is to transition between any chord to G so I'm trying to master that so I can move to new chords. Since I have no one to guide me, I'm trying to figure out what I have to learn next, haha.

    One thing that really frustrates me but that I know that it's normal, is not being able to sing without my strumming hand starting to do something weird.

    And this is why I'm opening this thread. I want to know all of your beginner experiences. I know it depends on each person but I still am interested in knowing. How long did it take for you to get decent/good? Did you learn by yourself or did someone teach you? How long did it take for you to start singing and strumming at the same time?

    These stories motivate me so I'll be thankful if you share them with me and everybody else who is interested

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I'm looking forward to read from you soon.

    Greetings from this side of the world!

  2. #2



    For the G chord try barring at the second fret like this:


    Practice, practice, and practice. Frequent short practice sessions are usually better than occasional long practice sessions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Oahu Isle, Hawaii


    Hello Loredana --- Welcome to UU Forum AND welcome to the joy of playing a ukulele

    Barre chords can be a bit tough at first. I had my small granddaughter squeeze a small rubber ball in her left hand for about 10 minutes every day. Soon she was doing barre chords more easily.

    You didn't say what size ukulele you are playing. Unless you barre a G chord, your fingers are a little crowded doing a G on a small uke such as a soprano.

    Quote Originally Posted by lorepm View Post
    ... ...One thing that really frustrates me but that I know that it's normal, is not being able to sing without my strumming hand starting to do something weird.... ...
    I never start singing a song untill after I have strummed my uke for 10 or 12 beats at the tempo I want to use when I start singing the song. After several strums, I start singing. In other words, I let my uke set the tempo and do the lead-in. I like to start singing at about the 12th down beat. That works for me. It *might* work for you, too. If not, don't worry. We are all a little different from each other. You will find your own groove in time. Just keep on keeping on.

    Aloha from Hawaii,
    Last edited by bellgamin; 05-14-2019 at 02:41 PM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Ewa Beach, HI


    First of all, Don't give up!
    I was fortunate enough to have private guitar lessons when I was a kid, so that made learning the ukulele easier, as I already had the technique and strumming squared away.
    What was a challenge for me was singing while playing.
    Even though I love to sing, and could play pretty well, (I'm talking even after having been a player for over 10 years) I was still unable to sing and play at the same time!

    I was frustrated as I really was counting on being able to sing and play ukulele.
    So what I did was this - I chose a simple song that I knew all the lyrics for, and could sing well. I then proceeded to learn how to strum the song (without singing).
    The song I chose was "Imagine" by John Lennon.
    Anyway for nearly a month I just hammered away at it, I kept trying, and it really was a struggle for me.
    I worked on just one measure of the song at a time, and tried to build it up.
    But then one day, something just - clicked - and I could DO it! Like magic!
    Furthermore, it was not just that song, but pretty much every song. I dug out my guitar, my old music, I could suddenly sing and play anything I already knew, just like flipping a switch.
    And today, if I know how a song goes, I can pretty much fake it just by placing the chord sheet and lyrics in front of me even if I have never played it before.
    Of course, I have been playing many years, so don't expect that to happen overnight.
    But it *will* happen for you, just don't give up!
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2016


    I had a few lessons, but they were too much pressure for me and I wasn't really enjoying them so I stopped. Otherwise, I just learned from YouTube, like you. It took me a long time (many many months) to be able to get even basic chord transitions and to be able to sing and strum at the same time. Just keep working at it and don't let it stress you out too much.

    FWIW, this is what I sound like now

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012


    Chord transitions are challenging as a beginner but they will become much easier with practice practice practice! Play songs that you enjoy and that you know well so you will know how they are supposed to sound and you will be able to gauge how you are progressing.

    I started out decades ago by teaching myself how to play guitar. This was before the internet became a big thing so I didn't have the resources we can easily access today. I was never very good and abandoned the guitar after a few years of sporadic playing. One thing that never went away was that itch to play an instument and make music. I was always a singer first and a player second so I entered into the world of ukuleles with the intent of accompanying my singing. My experience with the guitar helped me to start playing the ukulele pretty quickly but it still took a lot of practice and I'm self taught in the ukulele as well. (Practice to me was repeatedly playing songs I liked and knew.) I guess I was lucky because singing and playing at the same time happened for me right from the start. I think that my singing informs my playing quite a bit. How to sing and play at the same time if it's a struggle? Maybe pick a song that you like and that you know well. Play the song and clap along with it so you can internalize the beat. Then play it again and just sing along with it. Then play it again and try to sing and clap through the song at the same time. If you are able to do this then maybe you'll be able to transition that to singing and keeping the beat on your ukulele. Maybe at the start you can try just down strokes to the beat. Then try and sing along while keeping the beat with down strokes on your uke. I don't know if this approach will work but I think it's worth a try. Good luck!
    Last edited by mikelz777; 05-14-2019 at 04:25 PM.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019


    Hi Loredana,
    I’m also fairly new to the ukulele, but am coming from a style of banjo playing called Clawhammer. While the Clawhammer right hand technique is also usable on the ukulele I have had difficulty with what I perceive as regular ukulele strumming. I have found slower patterns of strums and chnks’ (where you strum down and hit the strings with the underside of your hand to get a percussive sound from the strum) easier to maintain than strumming patterns like down, up, up, down for example. There is a wealth of material to read here. I wish you the best on your journey and will try and check back in to see what works for you. It might just be the hint I need.
    Best regards,

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Buffalo, NY


    When I was a beginner, I taught myself how to switch to a G chord easier by setting up your fingers on the chord before it in a way that made it easier to transition. For instance, when going from a C to a G, I would hold down the 1st string on the 3rd fret like you would normally, but I would use my ring finger for the C, anchor my middle finger down on the 1st string 2nd fret right behind my ring finger. That way when I transition to a G, my middle finger is already fretting part of that G chord and I only have to worry about moving my ring finger up one string and dropping my pointer finger on the 3rd string second fret to complete the G. I hope that makes sense.

    You will learn how to set up your fingers on chords to make transitions easier. Another more obvious one is fretting your Am with your middle finger when an F is the next chord, so you can leave that finger planted and simply add your pointer finger to complete your F chord. It DOES matter which fingers you fret chords with. Certain ways will make transitioning to the next chords far easier.
    Just Feel The Groooooove

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.


    Start very slowly, the mistake many beginners make is going too fast. Work on C to G first, over and over again, give yourself at least an hour just on those two. Do that for a few days. Do G to Am the next few days, then Am to F, then F to C. I say about an hour at first so you don't get fatigued. Then put all four chords together, slowly. And yes, practice, practice, practice. Look forward to moments of breakthrough where suddenly you're going to be able to do it much better than a short time before.

    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015


    Hi Loredana and welcome. Have you tried to hook up with other ukulele players near you? It’s always fun, not to mention motivating, to play and learn with other uke players, whether that’s just two of you or a big group. Keep at it, it’s fantastic to be able to make music, and it will get easier with time.

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