In addition to the guitar lessons I’ve been teaching for the last few years, I’m now also offering ukulele lessons in my Seattle studio.
I learned how to play the ukulele several years ago, but haven’t tried teaching it until recently. I’ve had several requests for ukulele lessons in the past few months from current and potential students. So I brought my knowledge of the instrument up to speed, organized some teaching materials, and taught my first few trial lessons. They went really well, so I’m very excited to make it official: I’m a ukulele teacher!
Great for Kids
For most kids under 10 years old, I recommend learning on a 3/4- or 1/2-size guitar before switching to a full-size later on. It’s important to minimize obstacles for a beginner. However, a ukulele is even simpler and much smaller in size and price. Learning the ukulele before the guitar gets the right muscles working in the fingers and the right thinking going on for musical learning, all without the hassle of an instrument that may be too large, too complex, and too challenging for a youngster to tackle.
A Fun First or Second Instrument
Never played a musical instrument before? Interested, but not sure if you’ll stick with it? The ukulele is the ideal introduction to music for many in this position. It’s one of the most portable instruments out there, and the really basic models run as low as $20.
The payoff is pretty quick too. Once you learn a few chords on the ukulele, you’ll be able to accompany the vocals on a variety of songs, whether you’re singing alone or with family, friends, or fellow patrons of your favorite adult beverage establishment.
If you’re already an experienced guitar player, consider adding a ukulele to your arsenal of instruments. You can take any open chords you already know on the guitar and play them all on the ukulele with a minor mental translation. The standard ukulele tuning is as if you put a capo on your guitar’s 5th fret, removed your 5th and 6th strings, and tuned your 4th string an octave higher. Mentally, everything is the same. Physically, you already have the skills to fret notes on different strings. But the sound is totally different.
Buying a Ukulele
The salespeople at your local music shop will be able to tell you far more about the various ukulele brands and models than I can. But I’ve been very pleased with the Lanikai LU-21 Soprano Ukulele I bought from Amazon for about $60. That seems to be the most popular option, and Amazon probably has the best deal you’ll find.
An even cheaper option is the Mahalo Soprano Ukulele at around $20, which I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re going for the absolute minimum entry cost. If that’s you, then go for it, but be prepared for some tuning troubles.
Speaking of tuning, you’ll need a tuner. My favorite is the Snark SN-2 clip-on tuner for all instruments.
If you’re into self-directed learning as well, you can find some excellent articles for getting started on the ukulele at Uke School.