Did you ever wanted to learn an instrument but weren´t sure which one to choose, or simply wanted to add another one to your list but could not decide on one?
Well, look no further because ukulele might be just the perfect instrument to learn for all sizes and ages. And you are probably wondering why choose ukulele?
For starters this instrument its extremely portable because of its size and weight, ukulele has 5 different sizes which are Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone and probably the most popular one, the Sopranino. And if you are wondering what is the best size ukulele for beginners, this decision tends to be extremely relative to one´s personal taste and feel.
For example for kids the best choice is probably a Sopranino or a Soprano since this are the smallest but for adults it comes down to which sound you like most, because it ranges from very high pitch onto a more deep and heavy sound depending on the size.
Also there is not really a definite correlation between the size of a person and the size of ukulele they should play so I would highly recommend first going to a music store and getting the feel of each different size of ukulele, try to just play one or two open strings (no need to know how to play) only to hear the sound of each one and from there you will have a better idea of which is the best one to start with and what sound you like the most to then buy the best ukulele for you.
Most ukulele teachers say that their students always end up getting more than one ukulele over time, because each type is a different sound and universe over time you might feel the need to experiment with other sizes and sounds of the instrument.
Is ukulele easy to learn?
The answer is definitely, ukulele is actually one of the easiest instruments to learn. This is because there are fewer strings to work with and the tension on them is much lower than say, the guitar for example. You can actually start playing songs within just a few days of practice, with a fair amount of effort of course.
The instrument itself its relatively inexpensive so you don´t have to spend a huge amount of money on it, there are of course higher price ranges available if after a while you want to invest in a much better quality ukulele to further expand your collection.
It takes about 3 chords which are C, F and G7 to play almost any song in rock´n´roll and a lot of blues songs as well, you can get very instant auditive results with ukulele.
Of course everything has its degree of difficulty depending on what type of pieces you would like to learn, there are simple and fun songs for this instrument and there are also more virtuosic types of pieces if you are interested to get to that level as well.
There are several health benefits of playing a ukulele and this include not only physical but mental improvements as well, one of the most important benefits would be an increase in coordination. Because every string has a different sound you have to be very aware of what you are playing and what comes next, you also have to be in a hyper-focused state while performing after a while because there is rhythm, chords, tempo, and other things to think about.
This is why ukulele amongst other instruments is highly recommended for people that struggle with problems with ADD or ADHD, because it strengthens your concentration skills considerably and helps with focusing problems.
It can also help a lot if you are just looking to improve your attention span, learning this instrument would be a good way to go.
Playing ukulele helps greatly when it comes to stress relief because it helps decrease your heart rate, and as a result it can actually lower blood pressure according to a study made by Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. As a side effect of reducing stress it helps improve your immune functions and with all this happening in your body as it is free of negative emotions, creativity starts flowing.
People that play instruments have a much faster auditory, tactile and audiotactile reaction times, and playing an instrument its way more efficient than actually playing any kind of brain game. This is because it encompasses information from different senses such as vision, touch, hearing and doing specific movements when playing.
Because it is a challenging cognitive exercise it also helps your brain become sharper and enhance your memory significantly, this is a very important benefit that helps further develop a very healthy and much more functional life when it comes to aging since it can actually lower your chances of developing memory illnesses.
Amongst other ukulele health benefits there is a high improvement on fine hearing or ¨noise recognition¨ and since music theory has many mathematical elements in it, it can sharpen your math skills considerably.
The differences in the brain of an instrument player and a non-instrument player are even visible even on brain scans! The corpus callosum is in fact larger in musicians brains, this is the part that connects the two different hemispheres of the bran. Several studies have proved that playing a musical instrument actually increases the gray matter, and enhances reasoning and literacy skills.
On top of this playing ukulele can improve your social skills since after you start to feel more comfortable playing you will probably want to be around people with the same interest, this usually evolves into joining small to medium or large music communities were everyone performs together and help improve one another.
Is age an important factor?
This is a very common thought, am I too old to play the ukulele? Well not at all, learning to play ukulele is beneficial for any age and this ranges from small kids to senior citizens. This instrument is especially perfect for all ages because as I mentioned before, it is very light and much smaller than other instruments so it doesn´t become a challenge when carrying it around and you don´t run the risk of hurting yourself in any posture because it´s not a physically challenging instrument.
All the health benefits mentioned above are extremely valuable for any stage in life, and when learning a new instrument the most important thing is to be willing to put in the time and effort necessary each day. Another common question is what age to learn ukulele would be the best or most ideal?
Typically a kid as young as 3 can start learning but probably the most recommended age would be 6 and up, this is because by this age their motor and concentration skills are far more developed.
If you are trying to get your kids into playing ukulele is best to first show them some examples of songs or people paying it, this will willingly get them interested in the instrument and they won´t feel like is something being imposed onto them. Bottom line is that you should not be concerned on age at all, focusing on following through and set weekly goals is far more important.
Can you learn ukulele by yourself?
You most certainly can, with the internet comes an infinite number of different options where you can find quality readings, videos, photos and more to help you start learning ukulele right away. Just in Youtube for example, we can find countless instructors that actually make a living by posting tutorials and theory explanations on the popular site. The only thing they ask for are views and subscriptions, which means it is not necessary to pay a specific fee to get all this information.
I would highly recommend to start at first with just some basic theory such as some main chords, memorizing each note of the strings, and maybe check what are the best positions to hold the ukulele while playing, with this you should have enough information to start learning your favorite songs.
For reading material you can get the ¨Absolute beginners ukulele¨ guide written by Stephen Sproat, it also comes with a cd where you can check how things are supposed to sound.
It is also a good idea after sometime that you have been learning and practicing by yourself, to get some private lessons if you wish to polish your technique.
A good teacher can be able to give you great advice on how to play in a more professional way, also they have great tips to remember certain theoretical elements and improve sight reading.
In conclusion the ukulele is a great choice of instrument to learn, it can be for young people, older people, it can be used for its several health benefits, it can be your first interaction with music or it can be an addition to your musical knowledge in instruments and theory. The best way to know if you will like something, is to start and try it!