Now that my ukulele was in tune I wanted to play it! I was very excited and immediately started searching songs. I went on the website uktabs.com and was amazed by the options. There were so many fantastic songs! The song “Can’t Help Falling in love” by twenty-one pilots caught my attention. I started imagining myself walking down a quite road on a sunny day and hearing nothing but birds chirping and the hum of my ukulele. My dream shattered when I realized I had no idea how to hold or strum the ukulele! It was time to learn some more basic skills. The first thing I searched was how to hold a ukulele. I found an amazing video from the YouTube channel Bernadette Teaches Music. As I watched her video I tried to follow along. Each step was explained very clearly and I took away some key points.
Holding the ukulele
1) Rest the ukulele on your right forearm
2) Keep your wrist relaxed so its easy to strum.
3) Angel the ukulele at 10 O’clock. The neck shouldn’t be too high or too low.
4) Rest your left thumb in the center back of the fret board. This allows your hand to reach more.
5) Left thumb should be angled downwards. You shouldn’t be carrying the ukulele with your left hand.
After watching the video I felt a lot more comfortable with holding the ukulele. I understood the importance of holding it properly. The position in which you play can really impact the ease of playing and even how you sound.
My final goal of the day was to learn how to strum. Lucky for me I found another amazing source to help me with that. The video I found was from Cynthia Lin, a popular youtuber known for her ukulele tutorials. She explained that beginners usually start strumming with their thumb. However, she said you should move towards strumming with your index finger. This was consistent with the advice I received from liveukulele.com who said that strumming with your index finger gives you more options to experiment while playing with your thumb limits the sound. I decided to follow along with Cynthia Lin’s tutorial. Here are some key points I took away from her lesson.
Strumming the Ukulele
1) Start playing with your thumb to get comfortable with strumming.
2) Make sure to pluck each string down with your thumb with a lot of power. You need to be able to hear each string clearly.
3)While playing chords make sure to press down each string to get the best sound.
4)When you get comfortable playing with your thumb start playing with index finger.
5) Press thumb and index together. Stick out index finger a little farther than thumb.
5) Don’t be afraid to put pressure on the strings.
6) Make sure you have control while strumming.
7) Use the index finger for grip and thumb for power.
Finally I was done researching and I could practice the skills I learned. I was naive and thought holding the ukulele would be easy. As I stood up with the uke I found it slipping. I almost dropped my brand new instrument! Luckily I remebered Bernadette’s advice and held the uke with my forearm. After that It didn’t slip! WOOHOO! I moved on to strumming. I started off cocky thinking I could immediately strum with my index finger. I soon learned I could not and switched to my thumb. It was exciting to finally hear the calming sound of the strings and feel the vibrations on my stomach. After I got comfortable with that I tried my index finger again. It was scary, pressing down on the strings with so much force but like Cynthia Lin said you need to have a clear sound. I kept worrying that the strings would break! Playing with my index finger was definitely hard but the sound is just so much stronger. One of the most difficult things about strumming is making sure you don’t miss any strings. Each string needs to be heard but every time I seemed to miss one. I had to remind myself not to get frustrated. Practice makes perfect (I hope).
I will practice my strumming during the next couple days and hopefully improve. If you are someone who is also learning something new remember don’t give up! Today there were many times where Iwas ready to chuck my ukulele across the room. Just remeber to breath and have fun. With each failure you learn a little bit more and you are closer to your goal. Or at least thats what I keep hearing. We will see how this turns out for me. In conclusion, whatever you are doing don’t chuck it across the room.
Finally, I will leave you with this GIF.
Sources I used today 🙂