When you first learn ukulele, it’s so exciting. There are so many things to learn and so much information to devour. However, if you’ve been playing for awhile now, every now and then sometimes you feel like you’ve hit a wall. You’re not sure what to learn next and you feel a bit uninspired. This has definitely happened to me and I imagine everyone feels this every now and then.
Here are some ideas of things you can do to rekindle the magic of playing ukulele. I’d love to hear your ideas below.
1.) Take a Break – This might seem obvious, but sometimes when I’m really focused in on something it’s hard to pull me away from it. However, sometimes I need to pull away from it to get some perspective and clear my mind.
2.) Listen to Different Types of Music – It’s easy to become trapped in one style of music. Say you’re really into the blues, maybe try listening to some reggae. Are you just a strummer? Maybe you should give fingerpicking a try. Listen to these different styles of music and allow them to inspire you.
3.) Create a Practice Plan – It’s easy to fall into a rut when you have no clear direction for where you’re going. Identify some goals for yourself as a ukulele player and create a daily practice plan of specific exercises or songs you can work on to bring yourself to another level.
4.) Get Feedback From Others – Are you able to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a ukulele player? Sometimes receiving critical feedback from other ukulele players can be really hard, but it’s worth it. Be encouraged by your strengths and know your weaknesses so you can work on them.
5.) Share Your Music With Others – Similar to the last one, but rather than seeking feedback from others, find opportunities to play the songs you know for friends and family. Maybe go to your local coffee shop for an open mic night and just have some fun. This can give you a new energy to the way you approach your playing.
6.) Cover Some Pop Songs – It’s fun to take a song that wasn’t originally intended to be played on ukulele and figure out a version that works on ukulele. I just did this recently with Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and it was a lot of fun.
7.) Join a Ukulele Club – I’m not very familiar with ukulele club’s because I’ve not heard of any around me, but in some cities, groups of people who play ukulele get together every now and then and play some uke (e.g. Vancouver Ukulele Circle). This is a great way to get inspiration and learn some new things from other people.
8.) Buy a Different Size Ukulele – There are tonal differences between soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone ukuleles. I’ve been really inspired before by picking up a different instrument that is not mine. This obviously costs some more money, but it might be worth it if you’re a serious ukulele player.
9.) Learn a Different Instrument – I know how to play ukulele, guitar, piano, and some drums. Learning a different instrument can provide a broader perspective on music than the one you currently have. Whenever I learn a new instrument, it not only helps me see music as a whole in a new light, but it helps me understand the other instruments I know in a new light.
10.) Learn “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” on Ukulele – Watch the video. Anyone who can overcome the challenge of learning this song deserves mad props.
11.) Write a Song – It’s always really satisfying to play your own music. As you first start out writing, it probably won’t be very good (sorry), so don’t be discouraged, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a go. It’s a lot of fun and very satisfying.
12.) Study More Music Theory – In my lesson on ukulele scales, I briefly emphasized the importance of knowing music theory. Music theory gives us a framework for which to understand the music we are playing. If we understand it, it can unlock a lot more creative options for us as we approach music.
13.) Find Another Hobby – This might seem counterintuitive if you want to get better at ukulele, but sometimes too much of a good thing is bad. Give yourself a break and do something else you really enjoy alongside of ukulele.
14.) Go for a Walk – A breath of fresh air always does you good.
15.) Make a Home Recording – Most computers these days come with a built-in microphone, and if not, you can pick one up for really cheap. Recording yourself not only can help you identify areas you need to improve in, but it’s also fun to be able to have a tangible product of your ukulele playing.
16.) Join a Band – Bands and songwriters in the indie/folk scene are using the ukulele a lot more these days. Find some other musicians and form a band, even if it is just for fun.
17.) Learn Chord Variations – The Ukulele Tricks’ chord library has hundreds of chords in several variations. Learning these variations can give a “new” sound to the songs you are already playing.
18.) Teach Someone How to Play Ukulele – I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to teach someone an instrument. You don’t have to be a virtuoso to teach someone (this blog is a case and point of that). I find in my teaching I often become a much better musician myself.
19.) Expand Your Repertoire – How many songs have you memorized that you can play off the top of your head? It’s always good to have a repertoire for those moments where people want you to play a song for them.
20.) See a Good Ukulele Player in Concert – I’m always very inspired whenever I see an excellent musician in concert. Find opportunities to be inspired by other musicians.
What would you add to this list? Let’s hear it. Post your comment below.
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