How to Strum the Ukulele

Updated on April 16, 2018
Marilyn Lane profile image

Marilyn is a writer and beginner-musician who, in her free time enjoys writing, playing her ukulele, and reading.

Learning to strum the ukulele can seem intimidating, but if you follow these simple steps  it can set you well on your way to playing with ease.
Learning to strum the ukulele can seem intimidating, but if you follow these simple steps it can set you well on your way to playing with ease.

Learning to strum the ukulele can seem intimidating, but if you follow these simple steps it can set you well on your way to playing with ease.

Before You Learn How To Strum

To start strumming, you need to learn how to strum! Before learning how to strum, there is something you need to do.

  1. Make sure your nails are trimmed---the sound coming from the ukulele when you strum it won't sound right if your nails are longer than just barely above the skin on your fingertips. A good way to check the length is to hold your hand, with your palm facing you, and see if you can see the tip of your nails. If you can see more than just the tip, then you might want to file, or trim your nails.

Now you're all set to learn how to strum!

This is a good example of the length your nails should be for playing the ukulele.
This is a good example of the length your nails should be for playing the ukulele. | Source
Learning to strum the ukulele takes patience, but when you know how, you can learn how to play lots of simple songs that require basic strumming.
Learning to strum the ukulele takes patience, but when you know how, you can learn how to play lots of simple songs that require basic strumming.

Step 1

Now you're going to learn how to strum!

To learn how to strum, hold the ukulele, with the strings facing away from your stomach, and then pull the ukulele in till you can put your right hand on it, as if you were patting yourself on the stomach. Another way to think of this, is to picture a seatbelt, with the thinnest part of the ukulele aimed towards your left shoulder, and then your hand comes across to hold the ukulele in place.

Example of how to hold a ukulele.
Example of how to hold a ukulele. | Source

Step 2

Hold the ukulele with your left hand, don't press any chords, you're just going to practice the strumming first.

Your thumb should be in the middle back of the ukulele when you're holding it.
Your thumb should be in the middle back of the ukulele when you're holding it. | Source

Step 3

Hold your fingers on your right hand together as pictured, and bring them down across all 4 strings of the ukulele.

You can additionally try strumming with just your pointer finger- this may be easier for some people. (Also pictured.)

Example of the way your fingers should be when you bring them down across all 4 strings.
Example of the way your fingers should be when you bring them down across all 4 strings. | Source
Example of strumming with your pointer finger.
Example of strumming with your pointer finger. | Source

Step 4

Now do it again. Practice single down-strums, until you get the hang of it.

It will feel really weird at first, and your fingers may have a hard time strumming all 4 strings at once, but when you practice it becomes easier.

It's best if you practice this for a solid 10-15 minutes. Once you've got the hang of it, Congratulations! You now know how to strum the ukulele!

Finding a good, peaceful place to practice, can help you to feel more relaxed and more inclined to keep practicing.
Finding a good, peaceful place to practice, can help you to feel more relaxed and more inclined to keep practicing.

Tips:

  • Try to find somewhere quiet, and peaceful to practice learning to strum. Whether that quiet place is your bedroom, your backyard, the playground in your neighborhood, or your closet, it's best to practice in a relaxing atmosphere. This will encourage you to practice, and not get frustrated.
  • Don't worry if you can't get it immediately! It just takes practice, and once you learn how, you'll wonder how you ever thought it was hard before!
  • If you get frustrated, take a break. Breathe, drink some water, and walk around a bit, then come back and practice slowly.

Leave a comment below if you found this article helpful, interesting, or if you have any tips for people learning how to play the ukulele!

Did this article help you?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working