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The best Songs for ukulele Beginners

Grab your ukulele and let's play some songs!

by Jennifer VanBenschoten

You’ve started learning how to play the ukulele… Congratulations! You’ve embarked on what may be a life-long journey into the love of music. Now that you have a ukulele and you already know or are learning a few basic chords, you might be wondering what are the best songs for ukulele beginners. 

While the songs themselves may come from a variety of different musical genres, the best songs for ukulele beginners have a few things in common:

  • Simple and easy chord progressions. Look for songs that have easy chord progressions (usually I, IV, V in any key) and don’t have a lot of chords. You might think that fewer chords mean fewer songs you can play, but there are literally thousands of songs out there that use just three or four chords that are popular and fun to play!
  • Popular songs. Did we say popular? Sometimes the best songs for ukulele beginners are songs that everybody knows. When you’re learning to play a song on your ukulele, it really helps if you are already very familiar with the song so you already have an idea in your head of what it should sound like. Plus, these songs are great fun for sing-alongs with friends and family!
  • Any song that you like! When I’m teaching a new beginner on the ukulele, I try to find songs that they like. It’s much harder to make yourself practice or play a song that you really don’t like. So if you’re looking for the best songs for ukulele beginners, ask yourself what songs you really love and start with a few of those!

If you’re still stumped and looking for a list of the best songs for ukulele beginners, here’s a short list to get you started. Check them out!

The best Songs for ukulele Beginners

Riptide by Vance Joy

This song really catapulted the ukulele into mainstream music back in 2013, and it’s still a favorite of many ukulele beginners. It’s fun, upbeat, catchy, and easily recognized. Best of all, it uses just three chords: Am, G, and C. (If you want to get fancy, you can add F in during the bridge, but it works fine without it.) 

You’re Beautiful by James Blunt

Definitely a crowd pleaser at weddings and anniversary parties, this song joins my list of the best songs for ukulele beginners because it uses a super easy strum pattern, and a chord progression of C, G, A minor, and F. Timeless lyrics and a beautiful mellow melody make this a song that you can play for someone you love!

You Are My Sunshine

This is a classic song that always makes the list of the best songs for ukulele beginners, and for good reason! It’s well-known and well-loved by so many people, and it’s a fun song to teach to kids! It can be played with a simply chord progression of C, F, and G, so it’s perfect for someone just starting out on the ukulele.

Stand By Me

Another classic song from the 1960s, Stand By Me is a favorite for singing and playing around the bonfire at our house. It uses just four chords: G, E minor, C, and D, and has a lot of wiggle room in the strumming pattern. It sounds great with just a basic strum, or if you want to practice other strumming patterns, you can mix it up and have fun!

Hey Soul Sister by Train

I have fond memories of hearing this song late one night across the lake from the Tanglewood Music summer concert series in Massachusetts. This is another hit from the 2000s that brings the ukulele into the mainstream! While it might sound complicated, this fun song uses just four chords – C, G, Am, and F – to create a whole lot of music. One of the reasons I chose to include it in my list of the best songs for ukulele beginners is that it’s a great challenge for singing and playing at the same time!

Let It Be by The Beatles

This classic from the 1970s is a perfect mellow, chill-out tune to strum on your ukulele. I’m including it in my list of the best songs for ukulele beginners because you can play it with just the C, G, Am, and F chords, and it sounds great. Let It Be is another great song to practice new strumming patterns, too! 

I’m Yours by Jason Mraz

If you love incredibly catchy tunes that are fun to play and sing, then this is a most excellent song to add to your repertoire of songs for ukulele beginners. Use the chords of C, G, A minor, and F, and you’ll be playing this one in no time! I’m Yours is a great tune to experiment with the technique of chucking on the ukulele, so if you’re a confident beginner and you have your chord changes down, add a little percussion to your playing to make this song pop!

Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2

This was quite literally the very first song I learned how to play on the day I bought my very first ukulele! It was the perfect song for a beginner like me, because it uses just the C, G, and D chords. I also love that it’s a slower-paced song, and gives me lots of time to belt out the lyrics in between chord changes.

Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

I was thrilled when this song was featured in the season opener of one of my favorite shows on Netflix at the end of 2021. This classic tune by Bob Marley can be cheerful or contemplative, depending on your mood, and the best part is that it uses just the C, F, and G chords!  

Hey Ho by The Lumineers

I know I’m not the only person who loves to dance to this song, right? When I was a beginner on the ukulele, I was thrilled to bits to discover that you can play this song using just the chords of C, F, A minor, and G! Another summer favorite for singing around the campfire, this has just the right mix of chill and shake your booty!

Read more: What are the best ukulele strings out there?

You’ll notice as you read through this list that while most of these songs use the same chords, they’re all different in tempo, mode, and strumming patterns. These songs are great for ukulele beginners because they’re so simple. But they also have the potential for you to stretch your abilities and maybe include some new techniques like chucking, new strum patterns, and give you a chance to practice singing and playing at the same time! Happy strumming!

If you’re looking for more of the best songs for ukulele beginners, Uke Like the Pros has you covered! Check out all the awesome online courses where you can learn dozens of songs at your own pace!

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