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…
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.
Switch from high G to low G or vice versa
The change will force you to learn a new way to play.
Learn a new technique
Never tried clawhammer before? What about incorporating some percussion on your playing?
Turn the metronome on
Try practicing with a metronome for a while, you should see your timing improve hugely. This is a great way to get faster at playing ukulele too.
Try a new musical genre
Pick a genre that you’re not familiar with, there are lots of different techniques used in different genres.
Put some percussion into your playin
Give your uke a few slaps and see if you can emulate a drumbeat.
Move up the neck
Get away from the first 3 positions and start playing further up the neck.
Learn the chords in different positions
Chord inversions will make you a more versatile player and your music will sound more interesting for it.
Grab yourself a backing track (Youtube has plenty) and improvise over the top of it.
Stop looking at tab
Use your ears to learn songs rather than your eyes.
Play with less strings
Playing with fewer strings forces you to be a little bit more creative.
Take a ukulele course
Ukulele courses are a great way to maintain progress as you’re following a structured path.
Switch it up
Switch songs from strumming to fingerpicking and vice versa.
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.
There’s nothing to consolidate your knowledge quite like teaching.
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.
Practice fingerpicking without your uke
You can develop your finger independence by simply tapping out patterns onto your thumb.
Train your ears
Grab yourself an ear training app and develop your note recognition.
Learn to play and recognise scales.
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.
Heard an annoying advert jingle? Try and copy it. Tv theme tunes are also good to try and copy.
If you tend to play sitting down, try standing up. It will change the way you hold the uke.
Pick a single chord song and try and play it keeping it interesting throughout.
Ever played with a capo? It can really mix your playing up when you start to experiment with a capo.
Memorise the fretboard
Learn every note up to the 12th fret.
Don’t look down
Try not to look at your uke as you play, feel your way around your ukulele. This will improve your understanding of the fretboard and at the same time your ears will develop.
Tension gets in the way of fluid playing and leads to mistakes, learn to relax your hands and arms. Try and be aware when you’re becoming tense.
Tap tap tap
Improve your timing by taping your foot on each beat (this made a huge difference to my playing)
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.
Set specific time aside to practice and stick to that time like glue – try and get yourself a practice routine to maximise your time.
Play with the dynamics when you’re playing and your performances will sound so much more professional.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, fear is a big block to progress so just go for it.
Yeah it sounds really obvious but too many people play without really listening.
Cut the distractions
When its time to practice, it’s time to practice. No TV, no laptop, no distractions. Just you and your uke. A small period of dedicated focus is better than a longer period with a lack of focus.
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.
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 which will help you to progress.
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!
13 thoughts on “36 Ways To Become A Better Ukulele Player”
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?
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
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.
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..
#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.
Hey Mike. Regarding #37, specifically what music are you talking about?
thank you so much for all the information. I do not know what clawhammer means. could you explain.
Perfect tips! I will use and share it!
Thanks Aline, I appreciate you sharing it
Hi! So, I am 12 years old and I been playing the ukulele for about a year now. I started singing 5 years ago and have been playing the cello for 6 years. and I practice them a lot every day. I also have a lot of homework at school, so I never get time to practice my ukulele. I know how to sing and play, the strumming patterns, and most of the chords. The one thing I cannot understand is how to finger pick. I have been trying for months now and I cannot seem to get it. If you could just give me advice to make my ukulele playing better, that would be great! thanks!
Really useful !! Thanks
Makes me want to keep going !
What a brilliant post. Lots of food for thought. Thank you.