By Ukulenny
Hey, fellow uke player! Did you know 99.9% of visitors to this site will scroll past this message without making a contribution? Many plan to pledge later, but then forget. So we're asking you to give just $2 (or whatever you can afford) right now.

We all want to get better on ukulele, and it’s no secret that the key to doing that is practice. But what should you practice on ukulele? And how often should you practice ukulele? And for how long? Here are some tips to help you come up with a ukulele practice routine that works for you.

To emphasize these points, in the video above I put together a few clips during my family trip to demonstrate my favorite practice tips. (I wish I’d thought of that rhyme while I was filming…) Best wishes on your practicing journey!

Uke Everywhere

I truly believe in the idea that more practice is mo’ bettah. Bringing your uke everywhere you go means that practice is within reach at all times.

  • Bring your uke everywhere to maximize your practice time
  • Have one in each room, in your car, in your office, and uke whenever there’s a dull moment!

Memorize Something to Play Any Time

Following the same idea of taking your uke everywhere, if you have something committed to memory, you have no excuse to not practice! Have something that you can practice walking around your living room, free from music stands and other inhibitions.  Committing at least one progression or ukulele skill to memory means you can practice anytime, anywhere, no books or charts necessary.

Some examples might be: 

  • “Stand By Me” (C Am F G7)
  • A short picking excerpt from a song
  • A difficult chord transition
  • A strum pattern

Develop a Routine That Works For You

Developing a routine can be simple as picking 3 songs to work on or play every day, or maybe having a regiment of scales/exercises, songs, soloing, and free play/improv. We’ll get into more detail on this in a bit.


Advertisement


Learn Scales and Exercises

Scales and exercises will strengthen your fingers and allow you to focus on proper fretting technique. It’s nice to be able to start your practice routines with exercises to wake up your fingers and prepare you to tackle songs and difficult chords. Scales are also fundamental for soloing, so you’ll benefit from knowing them by heart.

Scales to learn:

  • C Major
  • G Mixolydian
  • C Blues
  • A Minor Pentatonic 

Exercises to learn:

  • 0-1-2-3
  • 1-2-3-4

Just Play!

Overall, the more notes you play on your uke, the better you’ll get. Free play adds an extra exciting element outside of your usual routine, especially if you’ve only learned a few chords and songs. 

  • Devote some practice time to playing around
  • Play random notes/frets and see what happens
  • Put chords in different combinations 
  • Create songs
  • Play along with your favorite tracks; take solos or try to find the notes in the melody
  • Jus’ press!

30-Minute and 60-Minute Basic Practice Routines

30 Minutes

  • 5 min exercises / scales
  • 5 min of 1 easy, nearly memorized song
  • 5 min difficult goal song 
  • 10 min of easier songs you’re working on
  • 5 minutes of improv, free chord progression practice, or a cool down song (another easy, memorized or almost memorized song).

60 Minutes

  • 10 min exercises / scales / technique practice 
  • 5 min of 1 easy, nearly memorized song
  • 10 min difficult goal song 
  • 15 min of easier songs you’re working on
  • 10 min “sight reading” or new material
  • 10 min of improv, free chord progression practice, or a cool down song (another easy, memorized or almost memorized song).

Lenny San Jose, AKA Ukulenny, is a musician and educator based in Oakland, CA. You can find him on Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram under the handle @ukulenny.

book cover for ukulele basics – chords and harmony

Ukulele Basics: Chords and Harmony is a collection of six easy-to-follow but in-depth lessons on the basics of chords and harmony. Instructors and Ukulele magazine contributors Jim D’Ville and Fred Sokolow, as well as the great composer/player Daniel Ho, will guide you through easy chord variations, harnessing the power of certain chords, demystifying the famous Circle of 5ths, and understanding moveable chord shapes.