Ukulele for Beginners: Setting Up a Practice Routine
Learning to play ukulele is exciting but for some beginners, getting into the habit of practicing daily can be a struggle. This is most often the case for those who have a day job or go to school, who would often come home exhausted or would have homework to do.
But regular practice - daily, if possible - is a must if you want to play the ukulele well. The trick to a productive practice session is to set up a routine that suits your learning style. You would need to do some experimenting to see which learning methods are effective for you, and then work these into your practice routine.
For instance, if you are a visual learner and are able to absorb new information best when you see it being demonstrated to you, then incorporate watching a 5- or 10-minute tutorial video into your routine. If you’re more of a reader and like concepts explained to you in writing, then take a few minutes to read articles about playing the ukulele, such as strumming techniques and rhythm exercises.
Practice sessions: How often and how long?
For beginners, it’s recommended to set aside at least 20 minutes a day to practice. If you can extend that to 30-40 minutes, that would be great, and if you’re planning on supplementing your practice with a few videos and articles, then an hour for ukulele work would be good. It’s up to you and how much free time you have.
It’s ideal to practice at the same time each day so you can get into a routine where your time is devoted solely to learning to play ukulele. If you can’t work in a full hour at once, then set aside 30 minutes in the morning for watching videos and reading articles, then spend 30 minutes in the afternoon or evening for exercises.
Practicing every day for five to six times a week is good for beginners. An ideal schedule would be to learn a new piece of information or skill for three days straight, then a day off to give your brain and fingers a break, then two to three days to review and practice what you’ve learned earlier in the week. Breaks are important to allow your brain to process and store the new information.
What should your practice routine consist of?
As a beginner, you need to have an outline of the basic ukulele lessons you need to cover and the exercises or drills you have to do. There are plenty of online sources outlining these fundamentals and beginner exercises, so do your research and come up with a lesson plan. You will need this when you’re setting up a practice routine.
It’s important not to skip lessons even if they sound boring or difficult because you need to equip yourself with these skills if you really want to become a good ukulele player. A bit of delay is okay, but never skip!
With that said, what are the other aspects of playing ukulele should you include in your practice routine? There’s really no hard and fast rule to this, but here’s one example you can follow:
● Warm-up exercises (stretching, finger dexterity, left-right hand coordination, etc.)
● Ukulele fundamentals (ukulele anatomy, basic chords, scales, ukulele notes, other aspects of music theory)
● Playing techniques (strumming, picking, muting, chord changing, etc.)
● Learning a simple song (using the new chords you learned or using a new strumming pattern)
● Quick review of the day’s lesson
Those are the practice routine must-haves for ukulele beginners. You can tailor the lessons according to your knowledge and skill level and keep a log of what you were able to accomplish after each session. Oh, and always have your beginner ukulele ready and in tune before practice.
We hope this helps you set up a routine that works best for you and your busy schedule. And remember, even if you only have 5 minutes free, use it productively by practicing a new skill. It all goes into making you a better ukulele player, so spend your time wisely!
Author: Jennifer Hughes