- Paul Jones
So you’ve got a ukulele - now where to begin?
Picking up any new instrument for the first time can be a minefield and it can be daunting to know where to begin; the ukulele is no different. Something very important in your first few weeks of playing is to take small steps and focus on little ideas. Maybe it’s memorising the names of the strings, your first chord shape or how to hold the ukulele with good posture. The important thing is to make sure these things are completed to a good standard and that you’re confident with them before moving on. Learning an instrument is like building a house, strong foundations are needed before you can add to it. A great target in your first few weeks of playing is to focus on the chords C, Am, F and G (or G6 for an easier option). The ‘Ukulele Quest’ book starts by taking you through these chords in great detail and has purpose written songs to help learn changing between them. The songs are upbeat and funky as it is always more inspiring to play to a good beat! These four chords are relatively easy to pick up for a beginner and offer hundreds of songs that you will be able to strum along to before you know it. After you’ve tackled the first four chapters of ‘Ukulele Quest’, tracks like “Let it Be” by the Beatles, “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake (made famous by the Trolls movie) are a great next step and can all be played using these chords. If you feel like these four chords are a bit tricky to tackle all in one go during a song, focus on one chord and play it each time it comes around in the sequence. You can then try out two chords, then three chords and finally all four chords; you’ll be playing along in no time! Taking this approach and gradually building the chords up will help make the song less daunting and will be a great way to track your progress. If you’re a younger learner or have a child who is just picking up the ukulele for the first time, a great little addition is coloured stickers to mark out the chord shapes (using a different colour for each chord). Through teaching in primary schools, James and I have used this idea during our lessons and noticed that it really helps children find and memorise the chord shapes. Coloured dot stickers can be purchased cheaply and are a quick and easy indicator on the fretboard. This can really speed up learning, especially for more visual learners. Learning any instrument is an exciting and rewarding journey. James and I are both passionate about making music learning enjoyable and accessible for children. When writing Ukulele Quest, we wanted to provide a resource that would be ideal for learners taking their first steps on the instrument. The book takes small steps and reinforces learning throughout in a fun and interesting way. We’d love to hear about your Ukulele Quest! Let us know how you get on!