If you are looking into learning to play the ukulele, one of the first questions you might have is, can the ukulele be self-taught?
Well, I’m here today to answer that very question. Can the ukulele be self-taught? If all you are looking for is a random person on the internet to give you a simple yes or no answer, then here it is: yes! You most definitely can teach yourself the uke!
But maybe the question you should really be asking yourself is, should I teach myself the ukulele?
Now, the answer to that question is a little more complicated. It depends on factors like your prior musical experience (do you already play another instrument?), your learning style (do you learn best while reading, or listening, etc), and your goals (what is it you want to play, and how quickly?).
Here are some questions to ask yourself to better understand what path might be best for you.
Do You Already Play Another Instrument?
If you already play another instrument, like the guitar, then picking up an ukulele could be relatively easy for you. Even if you play something less ukulele-like (say the piano, or even a flute), it will still make the process much smoother, as you will have at least a basic understanding of how music works.
There are countless resources out there to help you make the transition – such as online tutorials, tuning apps, chord charts, and blogs (like this one!). So if you are simply looking to add another instrument to your repertoire, the ukulele is a great choice, as it is an affordable instrument that has a relatively minor learning curve.
No matter what your learning style is, you are sure to find something to point you in the right direction.
What if the Ukulele Is Your First Instrument?
But what if you don’t have any prior musical experience? What if the ukulele is your first instrument? Well, the good news is that the ukulele is actually one of the easiest instruments to pick up and play. No matter how much musical experience you have! In fact, the ukulele has become one of the most popular “first instruments” out there.
Using many of the same resources listed above (online tutorials, tuning apps, etc), you can still teach yourself to play the ukulele, it will just take longer.
If you are serious about playing the ukulele though, and have never played an instrument before, getting a teacher may be your best option. It really all depends on your goals.
What Are Your Goals?
Are you just looking to strum around and sing a few songs? Or do you want to learn to play fingerstyle ukulele? Maybe you want to write your own songs, and to be able to perform them in front of an audience.
Your goals for playing the ukulele are the most important thing to consider when trying to decide how to approach your ukulele journey. For many, just being able to strum a few basic chords and sing their favorite songs is enough, and that is something you can most definitely teach yourself to do (probably in a couple weeks too!).
Read more: How To Hold The Ukulele?
But if you want to play fingerstyle ukulele, play chord melodies, write your own material, or perform for an audience, it would be wise to consider hiring a teacher, at least to start out. This of course is especially true if you are new to playing an instrument, or even if you are coming over from a very different instrument (again, think piano and flute).
Pros and Cons of Ukulele Teachers
Like any method of learning the ukulele, there are pros and cons to hiring a teacher.
Studying with a teacher is going to provide a consistent structure, which is an essential key to quick improvement. Having regularly scheduled lessons, and a practice routine given to you by a professional will really put you on the fast track to success.
Having a teacher means receiving specific feedback on your personal performance, something a YouTube video or online course generally can’t offer. One mistake many beginners make is getting into unsustainable playing habits that aren’t that noticeable at first, but are hard to break down the road and can make playing more difficult and even lead to injury. A teacher will be able to point out issues with your playing form and give you ways to practice and improve those habits before they are set.
This is a big one. Having a teacher creates a sense of accountability. There’s another person out there counting on you to practice, so when the motivation fluctuates (and trust me, it will always fluctuate!), you still have some incentive to push on. This is, again, especially key for beginners and those new to music, because moving from a beginner to an intermediate player is probably the biggest hurdle, and what leads so many people to a state of perpetually picking up and putting down an instrument without ever really sticking with it.
So how about the cons?
The obvious answer here is the cost. Hiring a teacher is an investment. Maybe you aren’t sure enough about learning the ukulele to commit to that kind of expense right off the bat. Not to mention, with all the free resources out there, it can be a hard pill for some to swallow when that money could be allocated elsewhere.
Likewise, hiring a teacher is making a big time commitment. With lessons and practice, you might be hesitant to commit so much free time to the ukulele, especially if you are unsure what your goals are.
There may not be any teacher readily available nearby. Although in this day-and-age online teachers are easy to find, not everyone has easy access to a computer, or maybe does, but it doesn’t have the necessary capabilities to do lessons over a video call.
What If a Teacher Is Not an Option?
So what do you do if a teacher is not an option, but you are really serious about learning the ukulele? Are there still options out there?
If you learn best from watching, try YouTube. It’s not just song tutorials you can find on YouTube anymore, there are countless how-to videos on different playing styles, practice habits, do’s and don’ts, etc. Just about anything you want to learn, you can find someone willing to teach it for free, it just takes more time and effort. Our channel, Uke Like the Pros is chalk full of great videos teaching you everything from how to tune your ukulele to how to solo on your ukulele.
Use a Blog (This One!)
If reading is more your speed, there are websites designed to get your ukulele journey off on the right foot. On this blog, we are dedicated to providing you with all the resources you need in good old written form. You are already here, why not check out some of our other articles that cover some of the basics like reading chord charts, or which ukulele size is right for you.
Sign Up For a Membership to an Online Teaching Site
Want the best of both worlds? The commitment of making an investment in yourself while maintaining the ability to learn on your own time? A community of fellow players to cheer you on and answer questions without having to go anywhere in person? How about regular live calls and workshops where you can have your personal questions answered by professionals? Or monthly challenges with giveaways? At a fraction of the cost of hiring a personal teacher? If that all sounds good to you, consider a membership with Uke Like the Pros.
With both yearly and monthly prices available, a membership with Uke Like the Pros gives you access to everything listed above, and more!
After years of playing the ukulele on and off without making much progress, I signed up for a membership with Uke Like the Pros and have seen more progress in my playing than in all the years I played around on my own. I’ve started my own YouTube Channel where I play ukulele covers, and of course, I’m now writing for their blog!
Can the ukulele be self-taught? Yes it can! Should you teach yourself the ukulele? Well, only you can answer that, but I hope this article has given you some of the information you need to find an answer.
For more lessons on chords, techniques, and songs to help you along on your own uke journey, make sure to check out our site www.ukelikethepros.com. We offer you a bunch of great ukulele content that comes hand-in-hand with an awesome ukulele community that will support you in this journey.
This is a great article. I got a ukulele during the pandemic and learned on my own with the help of YouTube. Once I knew how to strum, I googled the title of a song I wanted to learn and chose my favorite tutorial. I have a musical background (I’m a singer), which helped, but it had been a long time since I played an instrument. I found this approach to learning extremely empowering. It allowed me to set goals and have a sense of accomplishment at a time when so much felt beyond my control.
I now subscribe to a channel that includes clinics and tutorials, and I just added baritone. Through all of this, I have learned that we often start with one kind of learning and need something different later. In the end, it’s about growth and having fun playing music.
Thanks for all you offer through this site!