Here are some tips on how to practice a song, for beginner ukulele players.

Because playing songs is where the fun really kicks in.

(Click here to read the first post in my Ukulele practice tips series.)

When you learn a new song, don’t just start at the beginning and bash it out without thinking. Aim to practice skillfully and effectively.

Right at the beginning, before you start playing, do these four steps.

  1. Look at the chords and make sure you can play the shapes. Check the chord sequence and make sure you can get between the chords in time. Practice by counting 1234 and then changing chord. (NB this is just initial practice. When you actually play the song, the count might be different.)
  2. The strum – establish which strum you will be using for the song. If it’s a strum that you don’t know well, practice playing it with the chord changes.
  3. Check the rhythmic structure of the song (also called the time signature). With popular music this is generally either 1234 1234 or 123 123. (There are some exceptions.)
  4. Counting in at the beginning. Some songs start on the first beat and others start at other places. E.g. Happy Birthday To You is 123 123 and the count in is 123 12.

Other tips for practicing

Learn the chorus first

Usually the chorus is the part of the song that you already know best. So learn to play that first. Then you can look at the verse.

Singing while you’re playing

Some people find it easy to sing and strum. Other people prefer to practice one thing at a time. But I hope you will be doing both soon.

When you are learning a song, don’t try to sing from the start. Add your vocals to the part of the song that you know best – usually the chorus.

When you can sing and play the chorus confidently, then go back and start singing the harder parts of the song.

The ending

Learning to play the ending is important when you’re playing with other people. Here are a couple of ways you can practice endings.

  1. One person is in charge of the ending and everyone else follows them.
  2. Always play exactly the same ending each time you play the song. (But I think 1. is more fun and creative!)

More practice tips

Here’s my post about how to get into the habit of practicing. And here’s a post about practice tips for beginners.

Hi, I’m Alice

I’ve been in love with the ukulele since my mother, Sue, taught me three chords when I was six.

I teach ukulele to adult learners all over the world via Zoom and Skype. If you happen to live in Hamilton, New Zealand, I also teach group ukulele classes.

You can find out about my group classes by clicking here.

Click this link to book online ukulele lessons with me. $US160 for six half-hour lessons.

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Photographed by Brooke Baker

Strum your way to fun!


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