36 Ways To Become A Better Ukulele Player

36 Ways To Become A Better Ukulele Player

Stuck in a rut and looking for some help to keep you improving? Here are 36 ways to become a better ukulele player. Get back on track with your learning and become a ukulele master…

  1. Stop playing things you already know. Focus on what you don’t know and can’t do in your practice sessions and you’ll develop faster.
  2. Switch from high G to low G or vice versa. The change will force you to learn a new way to play.
  3. Learn a new technique. Never tried clawhammer before? Now’s the time.
  4. Turn the metronome on. Try practicing with a metronome for a while, you should see your timing improve hugely.
  5. Try a new musical genre. Pick a genre that you’re not familiar with, there are lots of different techniques used in different genres.
  6. Put some percussion into your playing. Give your uke a few slaps and see if you can emulate a drumbeat.
  7. Move up the neck. Get away from the first 3 positions and start playing further up the neck.
  8. Learn the chords in different positions. Chord inversions will make you a more versatile player.
  9. Improvise. Grab yourself a backing track (Youtube has plenty) and improvise over the top of it.
  10. Stop looking at tab. Use your ears to learn songs rather than your eyes.
  11. Play with less strings. Playing with fewer strings forces you to be a little bit more creative.
  12. Switch it up. Switch songs from strumming to fingerpicking and vice versa.
  13. Play with someone else. Not only will you pickup some new tricks but you’ll start to create better arrangements. try using my clubs map to find a local ukulele club near you.
  14. Teach. There’s nothing to consolidate your knowledge quite like teaching.
  15. Get On Stage. The thing with getting on stage is that it forces you to learn, it’s like having a deadline to work to.
  16. Practice fingerpicking without your uke. You can develop your finger independence by simply tapping out patterns onto your thumb.
  17. Train your ears. Grab yourself an ear training app and develop your note recognition.
  18. Scales. Learn to play and recognise scales.
  19. Don’t use your index finger. By fretting open chords without using your index finger you’re making the transition to barre chords much simpler.
  20. Mimic melodies. Heard an annoying advert jingle? Try and copy it.
  21. Stand up. If you tend to play sitting down, try standing up. It will change the way you hold the uke.
  22. Single chord. Pick a single chord song and try and play it keeping it interesting throughout.
  23. Capo up. Ever played with a Capo? It can really mix your playing up when you start to experiment with a Capo.
  24. Memorise the fretboard. Learn every note up to the 12th fret.
  25. Don’t look down. Try not to look at your uke as you play, feel your way around your ukulele.
  26. Relax. Tension gets in the way of fluid playing and leads to mistakes, learn to relax your hands and arms.
  27. Tap tap tap. Improve your timing by taping your foot on each beat (this made a huge difference to my playing)
  28. Work on your musical theory. I played for years without any real knowledge of music theory but it definitely helped me to get to grips with even some basic theory.
  29. Routine. Set specific time aside to practice and stick to that time like glue – try and get yourself a practice routine to maximise your time.
  30. Dynamics. Play with the dynamics when you’re playing and your performances will sound so much more professional.
  31. Make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, fear is a big block to progress so just go for it.
  32. Listen. Yeah it sounds really obvious but too many people play without really listening.
  33. Cut the distractions. When its time to practice, it’s time to practice. No TV, no laptop, no distractions. Just you and your uke.
  34. Take some lessons. The right teacher can bring your playing on leaps and bounds. If you’re completely stuck in a rut, find yourself a great ukulele teacher.
  35. Try some books. Youtube is great but it’s very disjointed and the lessons are mainly just one-offs. Books have a natural progression to work to.
  36. Visit a ukulele festival. You’ll get chance to meet other players and artists that will inspire you.

If you have any suggestions to add to this list then please drop them in the comments below, I’d love to make the list even longer!

8 thoughts on “36 Ways To Become A Better Ukulele Player

  1. Hey Dave,

    That is a great post! Thank you.

    Question regarding item #8. In your Chord Inversion lesson you mention “In a future post I’ll show you how to find any chord at multiple positions on your ukulele without any reference”, did you do that? If so, can you point me to the link?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hey Ally, I haven’t written that post yet but you’ve brought it back to my attention so I’ll try and get that sorted really soon

  2. Thank you for your sharing.

    I do have a minor issue with the first suggestion, to stop playing what one already knows. One of my anticipated pleasures is to sit back, with my eyes closed, and play a song I worked hard to learn (and I do this daily). If I don’t, the fluidity leaves after awhile and fumbling takes its place.

    I have several new things I work on daily, but I find the repetition comforting.

    1. Hi Don, I understand what you’re saying – the point I’m trying to make with that one is that it’s very easy to pick up a ukulele and play a song you know in a way that you know it. But in order to progress you need to be constantly challenging yourself and striving for a goal that is just out of reach.

      This could be taking a song you know but playing it in a different way (switching from strumming to fingerpicking or similar) to keep you just out of your comfort zone..

  3. #37: learn to read notes on the uke. There are no good books to learn note reading so I learned by reading simple sheet music on uke. It added a dimension to my uke-ery.

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