It would be easy to look at the simple 4-stringed ukulele and think, 'this is easy to play,' but it turns out very different when you pick up the little instrument. It has its quirks, and even experienced guitarists often find that it is more than they bargained for.
Unlike popular belief, the ukulele is not a smaller version of the acoustic guitar. While it shares the overall appearance with the guitar, that's all there is to it. The ukulele is tuned differently, which gives it different chords that in turn demand a different type of play, apart from the guitar.
The G-C-E-A tuning and the absence of 2 strings confound many guitarists who are mistaken to think they can transfer scales and chords to this little instrument.
However, the fact that you are playing fewer strings and chords makes the ukulele relatively easy to learn. Interestingly, the ukulele has been around for over 150 years, but it is a bit rare to find in your typical neighborhood band.
If you want to learn how to play the Ukulele as an adult, your best bet would be online lessons. There are several advantages to this including the self-paced mode of learning, and taking the lessons from the comfort of your home. Here are some of the top online ukulele lessons you can check out.
15 Best Ukulele Lessons for Adults Review
1) ArtistWorks - Ukulele with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel
This ukulele series of lessons are for all levels of players; beginners, intermediate and advanced. There are hundreds of lessons in HD video that can be played in slow motion or looped for clarity. Beginner level lessons cover basics such as;
· Holding the ukulele
· Hand stretches
· Positioning fingernails
· Basic strumming
· Ukulele tuning
· Key C
· Movable scale shapes – Low G and Major chords C, A, and F
· Intermediate strumming
· Intermediate picking
· 12 bar blues
· Choir melody
Advanced lessons involve using the ukulele as an accompaniment to popular songs, as well as advanced techniques including;
· Reading music charts
· Chord substitutions
· Advanced chord melody.
The last stage of this course has the student joining in popular duets by Craig and Sarah like;
· TNC & Guava Jam Medley
· Drop Baby Drop
· Waiting in Vain
· Come Back Home
· Autumn Leaves
Craig and Sarah can be termed as experts of the Ukulele. Craig is a professional performer and instructor with the Ukulele. He has collaborated with different artists and bands during music events as a ukulele performer. Sarah has been playing the ukulele since her college days. She has toured the world performing the ukulele. This ukulele course can be found on ArtistWorks.
2) Udemy - The Ukulele Academy: Play Music Today! by Andrew J. Smith
This course promises to be all you will ever need to be a ukulele player. It is for the absolute beginner, but also people who have been playing for some time and would like to fill gaps in their foundational skills. It will teach you the ukulele's anatomy and how it affects your play. You will also learn to harness music theory including scales and chords to create music and shape your musical style.
· Making Sense of Musical "Basics" - Get Your Start in Music!
· Strumming & Rhythm - Let's Make Some Sound!
· The Ukulele Player's Guide to the Left Hand
· Prepare to Amaze Yourself!
· Singing and Playing - Using the Ukulele AND Your Voice
· Spicing it Up with Strum Patterns!
· New Chords Types for You to Play!
· The "Keys" of Music
This course is taught by Andrew Smith, who believes that anyone can play music given the right basic skills and understanding of music. This course is delivered in a straight-forward, structured and energetic manner. There 37 lectures in about two and a half hours.
3) Udemy - Ukulele for Beginners | Play Ukulele Today by Stevie B
This beginner course is for anyone who has never touched a Ukulele before. It aims to have the learner playing three songs at the end of the course; Brown Eyed Girl, Let It Be, and Blowing in the Wind. It is delivered in five segments. In the introduction, you go through basics including;
· Types of ukulele
· How to choose a ukulele
· How to tune a ukulele
· Chord progressions
You will also learn rhythm and strumming, including the quarter note and the eighth note, and how to combine them. More advanced lessons include reading chord charts and playing F and G chords.
The last section is the practice session for the 3 songs above. This course is designed not to overwhelm the learner with detail, but for more practicality. It is taught by Stevie B, who has been playing the Ukulele since the age of 16.
He performs with live bands applying music theory and finding more ways to apply the ukulele. This is a relatively short course of 22 lessons covered in approximately one and a quarter-hour.
4) Udemy - Play Ukulele Now by Dan ‘Cool hand uke’ Scanlan
The really good performers with any instrument seek to understand it intimately, studying its beginnings, evolution, and role in different styles of music. This course is designed to immerse the absolute beginner into the world of Ukulele and making music with it.
The ukulele has been around since 1879, and this course traces its beginnings, lore, and how to make music with it in different harmonies, melodies, and rhythms. The course is in 7 segments;
· About the Ukulele- Parts, how to tune and care for the ukulele
· About Playing the Ukulele- Picking, plucking, muffling and strumming
· Ukulele Rhythm- Chords and patterns
· Ukulele Harmony- How to use chord sheets
· Ukulele Melody- Different scales (pentatonic, chromatic, Iraqi)
· Music Theory for Ukulele Players- Circle of fifths
· Songs, song styling and Songwriting
· The Ukulele Story- History and future of ukulele in music
The course also adds a bit to how guitarists can transition to the ukulele. Dan "Cool Hand Uke" Scanlan has been playing the ukulele for 60 years, which explains his in-depth knowledge of the instrument. He has been involved in cultural projects for the Ukulele in America and its roots in Madeira. This course is in 85 lessons delivered in about 5 hours.
5) Udemy - Fun Beginner Ukulele Course by Henry Olsen
Would you like to learn to play the ukulele for casual and fun play? This is a step by step course that has a light feel, to make the learner comfortable, and not feel overwhelmed. It starts with learning to unravel the riddle of tuning the ukulele.
You go on to learning the chords, and then to strumming techniques. The course immerses the learner in play-along songs for easier understanding and practice. The course is in 5 easy steps;
· Introduction to the course-
· Welcome to the inside of the course- choosing a ukulele
· Let´s start making music - tuning, chords, strumming patterns
· Your first songs - I´m yours chord progression (Jason Mrazer), Stand by me chord progression (Benny Kinger), Three little birds chord progression (Bobby marleyer)
· Strumming Focus and patterns
This course is taught by Henry Olsen, who has been performing for over 15 years, and another 6 years as an instructor. His first love was the guitar, but he later discovered the ukulele. He has a self-named YouTube channel. This course is in 31 lectures delivered in about two hours.
6) Udemy - Complete Ukulele Beginner Course (2020 Update) by Jacob Puchmayr
Being good at playing the ukulele demands good foundational skills and lots of practice, just like for any other music instrument, but few ukulele courses are detailed enough to include things like hand positioning.
This is a course for the absolute beginner, starting right from making the best right choice when buying a ukulele. This course includes a preliminary section with details that will introduce the learner to ukulele vocabulary, how to hold the instrument as well as tuning and caring for it.
After the preliminary, the course takes the learner step-by-step building on skills in stages and song lessons;
· Right Hand Basics & Strumming Part 1
· Left Hand Basics & First Chords
· Strumming Part 2
· Song Lesson: Are you sleeping?
· Chords Part 2
· Changing Chords Part 1
· Song Lesson: Rock my Soul
· Changing Chords Part 2
· Song Lesson: What shall we do with the drunken Sailor
One distinctive of this course is the detail on the role of each hand in playing the ukulele. Each segment is also accompanied by a song lesson for practice. The course is in 105 lectures lasting a total of about 3 hours. It is available on Udemy.
7) Ukulele Lessons: Fundamentals by Daniel Ho
Not many people get the opportunity to learn to play and making music under a Grammy award winner. This course allows you to learn to play the ukulele with Daniel Ho, an authority on Ukulele and a multiple Grammy award winner and nominee.
This is a course for beginners in which Daniel takes you the basics like major scales, intervals, and harmony. It covers everything you need to know in music theory concepts to lay a solid foundation. Some of the topics covered include;
· How to read music tablature
· How to change chords
· How to navigate the music map
· Different strum patterns
· How to add percussion
· How to use movable chords
This course explores the range of the ukulele and its capabilities in making music of different styles; reggae, soul, blues, Hawaii tunes and so on. You will also learn how to play the popular Aloha Oe and Soldier's Joy. This course packs a lot in about two hours. You can find it on Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning).
8) Ukulele 101 by Diego Gualda
Can you learn to play any instrument in under an hour? This course will try to teach you how to play the ukulele in 34 minutes. Well, it is a simplified course to introduce you to the basics of playing the ukulele so that you can find it easier to build on your skills with more practice.
Learners who have prior experience with a stringed instrument; violin, guitar, cello, Cuatro, balalaika, or the bass will have an easier transition with tips from these lessons. You will find 2-3-minute lessons covering;
· String theory: mechanics of sound and tuning
· Advanced tuning
· Basic strumming
· Happy and sad chords
· Anatomy of the Uke
· String theory: mechanics of sound and tuning
The course also takes the learner through basic techniques in making the Arpeggio, and the 12-bar blues. This is a crash course that will be very apt for anyone who is looking to get a feel of the ukulele and is thinking of adding it to his/her repertoire of string instruments. This course is offered by Diego Gualda, who is a composer, novelist, and journalist. You can find it on Skillshare.
9) Skillshare - Strumming Patterns
Strumming patterns differentiate the style of music made with the ukulele. This course delves into strumming, including learning how to read and write strumming patterns. The course uses over 12 songs and more than 50 strumming patterns to demonstrate the concepts. It is designed for beginners and players who want to improve strumming techniques. The course covers;
· Basic Theory and Reading
· Strings and tuning
· Chords, Rhythm plus Preparation
· Basic Theory and Reading
· Quarter rest
· Eighth rest
Some of the popular tunes used in the lessons include;
· Old Dan Tucker
· Jamaica Farewell
· Stand by Me: Advanced.
· I Will Follow You into The Dark
· Leaving on A Jet Plane
· Amazing Grace
· Scarborough Fair
The 33 lessons on offers take about 2 hours. If you intend to play the ukulele professionally, these lessons are designed to help you explore patterns that can widen your repertoire. The course is taught by Daniel Heslop who is a performer, composer and music teacher. He was named Best New Artist in Utah Music Awards of 2016. This course can be found on Skillshare.
10) LEARN TO PLAY UKULELE with "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz
"I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz is one of the easiest songs to play but also with a wide variety of chords and scales to make a good song for learning the ukulele. This short course takes you through song step by step, and chord by chord such that at the end you will play the song as a first step to mastering the ukulele. You will cover;
· Chords in this song
· Rhythm and measures
· Playing along with the song
This is a very short course, lasting 12 minutes, but with practice, it serves as a good introduction to quicker absorption of more skills on the ukulele. If you are a romantic at heart, this love song makes for good quick entertainment for your friends.
This lesson is taught by Renan Nerone, who is a singer, and songwriter based in South Florida. Renan started with a guitar from a young age and later took to the ukulele after coming to the US about 14 years ago. He has performed at different high-profile events around the world. This lesson can be found on Skillshare.
11) Free Ukulele lessons by Brett McQueen
They say the best things in life are free. This may be the case with this premium ukulele course that is taught by Brett free. This course is for anyone who has never picked up an instrument before i.e. an absolute beginner.
Brett has taught over 50,000 ukulele fans and promises anyone willing to learn that this course is the first step in becoming a good player. This course covers basics like;
· How to hold, tune and strum a ukulele
· Learning the essential chords
· The 3 essential versatile strumming patterns
· Playing popular songs
The course is divided into segments;
· Introduction - Ukulele parts, sizes, and types
· Chords and strumming – E, C, and Bb chords, playing the 12-bar blues, country, and blues
· Fingerpicking – Playing the ‘Hallelujah’
· Music theory – Reading music, transposing, and ukulele scales
· Scales – C, G, and F major scales
Brett also gives a few tips and tricks on performing with the ukulele, as well as practice lessons for popular Christmas carols like jingle bells, silent night and Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.
12) Learn and Master the Ukulele on Ukulele Underground
Aldrine Guerrero runs the ukulele resource site Ukulele Underground, where you can sign on for one-on-one lessons with him, as well as other masters of the ukulele. There are courses for all levels; beginners, intermediate and advanced players. There are over 30 courses and 100 individual lessons in total on this platform.
You will get beginner lessons on strumming and chords, fingerpicking, rhythm, and emphasis, singing and playing. Intermediate courses include soloing and Flatpicking, genre-breaking techniques, ukulele in reggae, Hawaiian and flamenco, mastering the fretboard, and music theory. Advanced courses include advanced strumming techniques, musical notation and direction, and advanced soloing.
These courses have been categorized into three;
· Ukulele Underground courses are taught by Aldrine Guerrero
· Uke Minutes are conversations on different ukulele subjects
· Masterclasses are taught by other ukulele masters including Kalei Gamiao, Craig Chee, Bruce Shimabukuro, and Jason Arimoto.
These courses are offered on a subscription model, where the learner can access all the courses for a fee per month. There are live one on one lessons as well as live events for learners to participate and practice their skills.
13) Live Ukulele by Brad Bordessa
This is a resource site with an interesting take in teaching the ukulele. In the beginning, the lessons are divided into right- and left-hand techniques; the learner will then access the relevant lessons to that hand. There are courses for beginners, intermediates and advanced players. A learner can also jump directly to segments of interests, for example;
· Fundamentals – chord charts, scales, and ukulele fretboards
· Basic ukulele- history, and parts of the ukulele, holding and tuning,
· Timing – timing basics and practicing timing on the metronome
· Rhythm – Hawaiian and reggae styles, switching chords, scrubbing and picking patterns
· Leading – fingering, picking, sequencing, soloing and improvising
· Music theory
· General lessons – creating a band, reading a tab, muting notes and chords, reading sheet music, tone, and Kani Ka Pila circle.
These lessons are available on video and downloadable eBooks on the website. The site also offers tons of info on chord charts and offers downloadable chord charts. The learner can also download over 60 fingerpicking tabs in PDF. This site is maintained by Brad Bordessa who has been playing the ukulele since 2005.
14) Free Ukulele lessons on center Stage Ukulele Academy
Center Stage Ukulele Academy offers free lessons as a taste of what is on offer on their more comprehensive courses that are available upon subscription. There are 7 free lessons that you can try out before committing to a subscription;
· Song lessons - If I die young by The Band Perry, Harvest Moon by Neil Young, Fire, and Rain by James Taylor
· Ukulele fingerstyle – How to pick and pluck the strings, combine melody and harmony to make distinct styles like reggae or flamenco
· Easy ukulele chords for beginners
· You and I ukulele chords- Develop skills to play any major or minor scale by moving up and down the frets
· Ukulele barre chords
The free lessons come with no conditions. If you like what is on offer in the free lessons, you can go ahead and sign up for a 7-day trial. The lessons are delivered in HD video at multiple angles. These courses are taught by two ukulele instructors; Ashley Shepherd and Bryan Billhimer. These two have a cumulative experience of over 50 years of teaching music. This site is a resource for the guitar and bass as well.
15) Ukulele beginner course on Justin Guitar
This is a guitar-centric website, whose tutor developed an interest in the ukulele and has documented his learning path for other learners. Justin started playing the ukulele in 2013, after finding that some of the skills were useful in picking up techniques for the ukulele. He has recorded 7 beginner lessons;
· 4 basic chords of the ukulele- Explores 4 essential chords using easy to play songs to develop simple strumming skills
· Ukulele open chords (Part 1) – Explores 9 chords open chords for C, F, and G
· Ukulele open chords (Part 2)- Explores another 9 open chords for D, E and A
· Ukulele shuffle strum – This is a common groove for the ukulele which is easy for beginners to pick up
· Backbeat groove in 2 and 4 hit strums – Experiment with an accent on beats 2 and 4 of the strumming pattern
· Ukulele fretboard – How to use the fretboard to learn chords and scales
· Ukulele movable chords: Shape 1 – Work on expanding the chord library
These lessons are delivered in an easy conversational format, which is easy to follow.
Choosing the Best Ukulele Lessons for Adults
The simple four-stringed ukulele is regaining popularity for its versatility in music. you can make a variety of music styles with it, making it a good instrument for different social and entertainment events. It is portable and simple to maintain.
If you are thinking of picking up skills on a music instrument, the ukulele is a good stepping stone into the world of music performance. The good news is that with online ukulele lessons, you can learn how to play this fun instrument from the comfort of your home.
You will also be able to choose to learn from some of the best ukulele masters of today, ensuring you absorb life-long solid skills and become a good player.