…learn to play the ukulele and be the most popular kid at the campsite!
There are several instruments that are great for bringing along for your music festival trip, especially the camping festivals when late-night sing-alongs are inevitable. One could argue that even smaller instruments like harmonicas are great because they can literally fit in your pocket, or perhaps an acoustic guitar because it is louder and more versatile… and we are not here to debate, but simply to present an option that you may not have thought about when packing for a music festival. The ukulele!
The ukulele is such a fun instrument to learn and play. There are tons of online resources that teach you everything from the basics to advanced techniques and everything in between, one of which we recommend at the end of this post, and regardless of your skill level, you are sure to have fun with your friends playing your favorite jams with a ukulele.
Let’s go over the basics and get you started on being the most popular kid at the campsite!
Step 01: Get a Ukulele
Pretty obvious right!? Can’t learn to do much of anything with a ukulele unless you are holding one. We have a couple favorites, one is a lower investment for a total beginner not sure if this is something they want to really get into, or a higher end one for someone who is ready to rock!
This Ukulele Starter Kit on Amazon has some great reviews and is a great one to get started!
This Concert Size Ukulele Bundle is a step up but worth every penny if you want something that sounds amazing!
Step 02: Learn How to Hold Your Ukulele
This sounds like a super simple step and perhaps even common sense, but as a musician, I can tell you with confidence that learning to play any instrument without learning proper form first, can lead to cramping, wasted energy, and general frustration. Start with the fundamentals, get proper form, and you will certainly enjoy the learning and playing experience even more! Here is a short video that explains better than text can!
Step 03: Learn How To Strum Your Ukulele
Now that you have your ukulele and know how to properly hold it your next step is learning how to strum it. Once again, this sounds like an obvious step and one you can just figure out, but this is also critical if you want to sound like a pro and not a total amateur. The goal of these strumming exercises is to teach you to hit each and every note so that what you are playing is heard clearly. This will make the sing-alongs much more fun and sure to make you look like a pro. Here is a short video explaining how to strum a ukulele.
Step 04: Start Slow
We know how exciting it can be to learn a new instrument, and that excitement can easily turn into impatience, and that impatience can easily turn into playing to quickly. You need to fight the urge to play fast, and slow down, think about the movements, get your muscle memory down, focus on your form and the sound the instrument is making. Focusing on accuracy and form instead of speed when first starting out will make you a much better player in the long run! We promise.
Step 05: Learn Some Chords
You would be surprised how many songs you have grown to love and have made it to the top of the charts have been written using only a few chords. There are hundreds of them, and you can impress the crap out of your friends by only learning a few chords. Below are four ukulele chords to get you started, and if you are ready to learn all the chords there is a handy pocket-sized cheat sheet on Amazon.
It is not just about learning the finger positions, you need to practice moving between the chords. Start with these four and switch up the order you rotate between. Start with just two chords, rotate back and forth between the two, then start introducing the other chords. Once you have that down, change up the order, you would be surprised how just switching up the order can require a lot more concentration, and ultimately lead to quick skill development. Don’t forget to stay focused on making each chord sound great!
Don’t believe you can learn a lot of songs your friends can sing along to with just 4 chords? Here is an awesome mashup of songs using only the below chords!
Step 06: Start Jamming
Once you have your technique and a few chords down. Turn on some of your favorite music and just start jamming along. You are not going to hit the right notes, but that is not the point. The point is to just get familiar with playing to certain rhythms, beats, and familiarizing yourself with the process of playing a song. Do a simple google search for the chords of the songs you want to play along to and you are sure to find plenty of info.
Remember the point of this exercise is not to play perfectly, at least at first, the point is to get you familiar with strumming to a beat, staying on tempo, and even learning to sing along while playing. Just have fun with this and you will be surprised at how much you can learn about song structure and how much fun it can be.
Step 07: Learn Some Songs
Now that we have learned the basics and have a good idea of how to play along to a song, it is time to start playing the song on your own. This is when it gets fun! If you can sing, start singing along, if you can’t (you can learn to sing) you can take lessons or just hum along for now. After all the point of all this is to entertain your friends and get everyone to sing along! There are plenty of ukulele song chords online of some of your favorite songs, and here are a few.
Step 08: Level Up Your Skills With Online Ukulele Lessons
We searched high and low, and although there are plenty of free online resources for learning the ukulele, having access to a pro that can teach you all you need to know in one place is the best approach. We have found just such a course and it costs less than the ukulele itself. We found some amazing lessons for beginners on Ukulele Buddy that will teach you all you need to know! This is an affiliate link, so we earn a small commission on the sale, but rest assured it has been vetted and FSG approved. If you have any questions feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to share your pics and videos with us on social! We can’t wait to see/hear your ukulele jams!