What’s the first instrument that pops into your head when you think of Hawaii?
You probably think of the humble ukulele thanks to the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Although the song was originally recorded for The Wizard of Oz, Hawaiian ukulele player Israel Kamakawiwo’ole released his cover that has earned over 500 million views on YouTube.
There’s a reason why it’s nearly impossible to find someone who hasn’t heard his song. His beautiful voice complemented by the simplicity of his melodies touches everyone.
You may not think of the ukulele as glamorous, but this tiny instrument has wormed its way into the hearts of millions of people.
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play an instrument but felt too intimidated, the ukulele can be your perfect match. Besides being undeniably charming, the ukulele has so much more to offer.
Here are 15 reasons why you should learn to play the ukulele.
1. Ukuleles Are Affordable
You’re probably asking yourself, “Should I buy a ukulele?”The answer is definitely yes!
Unless you plan on starting a professional band that tours around the world, you don’t need to break the bank when you buy a new ukulele. Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend, you can get a great ukulele for around $50.
Be aware that there are super cheap ukuleles out there for $20, but you get what you pay for. The best thing to do is search for reliable sellers who have good reviews and fair prices.
Other instruments usually cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It doesn’t make sense to pay that much money when you’re trying something new. What happens if you don’t like the instrument or you only want something to play casually as a hobby?
If you do decide to get more serious about your ukulele playing, you can always upgrade while still paying a reasonable amount.
2. They’re Easy to Learn
With all of the information and tutorials online, learning to play the ukulele has never been easier. You don’t need to spend countless hours trying to decipher sheet music. There are plenty of videos that demonstrate how to play certain chords, tabs, or offer other helpful tips.
If you’re a visual learner, then watching someone else play can be helpful. If you need to read something, then learning how to decipher tabs is a painless process.
No matter what your learning style is, the ukulele will be easy to master. You could even pick one up and start strumming randomly. It would still sound good.
Here’s a video of Brett McQueen teaching how to play essential strumming patterns:
3. There’s a Ukulele for Your Voice
Did you know that ukuleles come in different sizes? Although any ukulele will be small, ones that are only a couple inches longer can sound completely different.
Common sizes you’ll be able to find include soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. If you want to sing along with your ukulele, you can find one that perfectly matches your vocal range.
4. They’re Portable
Ukuleles are so small that they can fit in any personal bag you carry. This means that you can enjoy the sweet sounds of your ukulele anywhere.
There was actually a student at my high school who used to roam the halls between classes playing the ukulele. Even if people didn’t personally know him, everyone knew him. Everyone loved The Ukulele Man.
The only other instruments that could rival the ukulele in size are perhaps the triangle or maracas, but let’s be real. Can you find any instrument as versatile as the awesome ukulele?
5. Increase Your Dexterity
The skills you pick up learning how to play the ukulele can be helpful in your regular life, too! In the modern world, everyone needs to know how to type fast. Increasing your finger strength and dexterity with the ukulele can benefit many other aspects of your life.
If you want to get better at using both hands equally, playing the ukulele is a fun way to become ambidextrous.
6. Get Invited to Social Gatherings
The Ukulele Man can attest to how popular playing the ukulele can make a person! Even if you’re an introvert, having a ukulele on hand can act as a wonderful security blanket. If you want people to think you’re cool but you’re not the best at socializing, just whip out your ukulele and start playing.
The ambiance that ukuleles create is welcome at almost any social gathering. You’ll be everyone’s hero if you bring a ukulele to a bonfire, beach trip, or any other casual event.
The guy who always lugs around his massive guitar looks like he’s trying too hard to show off. Unveiling your little ukulele is like unwrapping a present that everyone gets to enjoy.
7. You Only Need A Few Chords
Did you know that most songs can be played with only 3 chords on the ukulele? You’ll be amazed by how much unique music you can play be varying 3 chords.
The best news is that even the most inexperienced musicians can master these chords in an hour. This means that you could trick people into thinking you’re a pro the same day you start learning how to play the ukulele.
8. Improve Your Mental Health
If you ever suffer from boredom, stress, anxiety, or depression, then the ukulele can be your best friend. Everyone feels bad at some point, and having a healthy coping mechanism can help you get through any tough times.
Music has restorative properties. There are innumerable studies out there that show how magical music is for people’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Although the “tortured artist” has become a cliche, almost every person who plays or listens to music will experience an increase in their mood.
In the above study, participants who were allowed to play instruments during a therapy session showed fewer signs of anxiety and depression than participants who went to counseling.
There is a paradox in the way we treat mental health. Most people who suffer from anxiety and other issues are too nervous to seek the professional help that would alleviate their symptoms. Not to mention, therapy can cost an arm and a leg.
Once you buy your inexpensive ukulele, each therapy session is free. Playing the ukulele can help take your mind off of bad things, release built-up tension, and let you express your emotions in a judgment-free way.
9. They’re Durable
If you buy a ukulele, chances are that you can make it last a lifetime. Even the cheapest ukuleles are built sturdily. Their small size may make them easier to drop, but you never have to worry about breaking them.
While this doesn’t mean your ukulele is indestructible, you’d have to actually try to break it. You can always smash your ukulele after an impressive performance, but it probably won’t look as dramatic as smashing a guitar. Besides, why ruin the awesome vibe your tunes created?
The only thing you may need to replace is the strings. Sometimes they may be cheap and snap easily or they can get worn with age.
You could also snap a string while trying to tune your ukulele. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Tuning your ukulele gets a lot easier with time.
Until you learn how to tune your ukulele by ear, there are great resources that explain how to properly tune each kind of ukulele. You’ll be able to sound your best after a few quick adjustments.
10. Everyone Loves the Ukulele
Again, let’s not forget The Ukulele Man. Although almost everyone has heard a ukulele at some point in their life, people rarely see someone playing one out in the real world.
Other people may be more drawn to the ukulele’s more glamorous cousin, the guitar, because they want to be a rockstar. The problem is that so many people know how to play the guitar nowadays that it has almost become a cliche.
Nobody has any negative associations with the ukulele because it is pure happiness in an adorable, tiny package. If you tried to walk around playing the bagpipes, you may get some nasty looks. No one will ever be offended by the sound of a ukulele.
What’s even better is that you can make your cool ukulele look even cooler. Yes, it is possible. Ukulele accessories exist and they are the best way to customize your ukulele so it can best match your unique personality.
11. Exercise Both Brain Hemispheres
Whether you’re the creative or analytical type, playing the ukulele can help you round out any skills you may be lacking.
On the creative side, you can experiment with different playing styles and even try to write your own music.
On the analytical side, you can master the finger positions and learn how to play all of the tabs.
Musicians use both hemispheres of their brains more than normal people. Not only will playing music make you a happier person, but you can use any problem-solving skills you learn to improve your everyday life.
By flexing both sides of your brain, you’ll be better at thinking outside of the box. It may not get you jacked, but playing the ukulele to exercise your brain is a lot more fun than going to the gym.
12. Be More Relaxed
The American Psychological Association backs the notion that music is medicine. If you have a bad day, don’t sit on the couch all day eating junk food. Though that may provide immediate comfort, it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that makes you sicker and unhappier in the long run.
Did you know that music can act like a painkiller? Many people will agree that music uplifts your spirits. As it turns out, music can also alleviate physical pain.
Channel any nervous energy or anger into playing your heart out on the ukulele. After a good jam session, it’s hard to return to reality with the same perspective. Your problems that felt unconquerable may suddenly feel irrelevant.
13. There’s Always More Challenge
Although you only need to learn 3 chords to convince people that you know how to play, the ukulele can be as easy or difficult as you want. Once you learn all of the chords, you can try changing the tune.
Learning how to play the ukulele in different tunes can give you more creative freedom to cover your favorite songs. Everyone can learn how to play an instrument, but people who develop a signature way of playing really stand out.
14. Get Creative with Remixes
When you learn how to play the ukulele, you can spend so much time playing songs that you would never think could sound good on the ukulele. Have you ever heard heavy metal played on the ukulele? It sounds incredible.
Once you feel comfortable playing the ukulele, you can experiment with different strumming patterns, changing the tempo, and even adding in some beats by smacking the wood.
If you ever need inspiration, there is a huge community of ukulele players online. Watching other people’s take on your favorite songs could inspire you to do some incredible things.
15. You’ll Make Everyone Want to Learn to Play the Ukulele
Once people see how much fun you’re having playing your ukulele, they’ll be inspired to get their own. We can all agree that the world needs more happiness in it, and what better way is there to accomplish that than with music?
If you know anyone who plays an instrument, you should suggest hanging out with them for a good old-fashioned jam session. Your ukulele can introduce you to a lot of wonderful people you would never have been able to meet otherwise.
Can’t Get Enough Ukulele?
The feeling is mutual! Ukuleles aren’t normally at the top of people’s list when they think about which instrument they’d like to learn. However, once you take the time to really think about how cool ukuleles are, those are all you’ll want to play.
Hopefully, this article has convinced you to give it a shot! At Easy Ukulele Songs, helping others learn to play the ukulele is my passion. If you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you.