One of the greatest joys in life is playing in a ukulele jam session! Sadly, I didn’t get to play in a lot of ukulele jam sessions prior to the pandemic because I had just picked up my first uke in May of 2019. But thankfully, lots of great people found ways to do a ukulele jam online, so I still got to enjoy playing in the company of other ukulele players.
Whether you’re a brand new ukulele player or have been playing for years and years, finding and playing in a local ukulele jam can make you a better player in so many ways! Let’s talk about finding a ukulele jam near you, creating your own ukulelesession, and all the ways that these gatherings can benefit you as a musician and more.
How to Find a Ukulele Jam Near You?
Even if you live in a rural area like I do, there are ways to find out if there’s a ukulele jam near you. Start by checking with your local library or community center – many of these places host monthly or weekly gatherings.
If you have a performing arts center, music shop, or music school near you, those are also all good places to inquire about a ukulele session.
Don’t be discouraged or disappointed if you can’t find a ukulele jam near you. It may be that you have to start your own!
How to Start a Ukulele Session
So if you can’t find a jam session near you, you can always start one of your own! There are a lot of ways to find out if there are any other ukulele players near you, and chances are, there will be. Some good ways to find other people to start a ukulele jam:
- Put signs at your local library, post office, music shops, or other community spaces.
- Sign up for your local community message board like Nextdoor to find other interested ukulele players.
- My local community has a wonderful blog and newsletter where you can place ads for free – find out if there’s one in your local community and place an ad!
Once you have a few people who want to get together and play the ukulele, you can also inquire about a space for you to meet. You don’t have to use a public space like a library or community center – if you have enough room at your house, invite some folks over for a bonfire and a ukulele jam!
How to Have a Great Ukulele Jam
When you finally get to your first ukulele group, there are a few things you can do to make it a great time.
- Decide who will lead the songs. If your jam is just in the beginning stages, it might be okay for just one person to lead the songs. If your group has been meeting for a while, offer others the chance to lead the songs. You might even have different people presenting/leading different songs in the same jam session.
- Whoever is presenting/leading the songs should give the chords and lyrics before you start playing. The leader might also want to share something interesting about the song to give players a little bit of background.
- Count everybody in! Before you start playing, count off with a few beats so that everyone knows when to start and can join in at the same time.
- Turn off your cell phone. Everyone goes to a ukulele jam to come together as a group, sing, and share music. Don’t let distractions get in your way of having a great time!
- Be supportive of your fellow uke jammers! Everybody makes mistakes when they’re playing the ukulele, and some of us make more than others. Always be supportive and friendly with your fellow ukesters at a ukulele jam, and only offer suggestions when asked. A ukulele jam should be fun and encouraging for all involved!
What to play at a ukulele jam
What you play at a ukulele jam depends entirely on the people who are playing! Do you want to play popular songs from the 50s and 60s? Maybe some classic ukulele tunes from Hawaii? The possibilities are endless.
One good rule of thumb for choosing what to play at a ukulele jam is to offer something for everyone. Beginners can strum the chords and practice singing and strumming, and intermediate and advanced players can take turns soloing. If there are kids in attendance, keep the material suitable for them, too.
The beauty of choosing songs at a ukulele jam is that you can play just about anything and almost everything! Just ask your fellow uke jammers what kinds of songs they like play, and maybe find out a little more about these songs so you can give some background information when you’re ready to introduce a new song at your next ukulele jam.
Benefits of playing in a ukulele jam
There are so many benefits to playing in a ukulele jam. Whether you’re playing online using a video conferencing platform or meeting in person once a week to strum and sing, you’ll learn so much about playing the ukulele.
Some of the physical benefits of playing with a ukulele group include things like reduced stress levels, increased hand-eye coordination, and even increased immune function (most likely due to reduced stress levels). Playing the ukulele with a group can also benefit your mental state by providing you with new friends, healthy positive social interaction, and improved moods.
Even if you’re playing at home with a group connected by video conferencing like Zoom, you’ll still get the benefits of increasing your concentration and hand-eye coordination. The best part is – you’re still making music with other people!
Did you know that Uke Like the Pros hosts ukulele sessions in the San Diego area? You can check out our website to learn more about it and find out how you can participate! And even if you’re not local to the San Diego area, you can join a ULTP jam session online! Every Friday at 1 p.m. PST, join dozens of other ukulele players and make some music!