Ukulele Playing Tips: How to Develop Good Rhythm and Timing
Learning to play the ukulele is loads of fun and being able to play the songs you love makes it more fulfilling. Since the ukulele is played mostly by strumming, you’ll find it easier to learn how to play the ukulele well if you already have a good sense of rhythm. Good timing is also a must when you are changing from one chord to another.
Some people are born with the gift of rhythm (many become percussionists and rhythm guitarists), while others take a little more time learning to move with the beat. If you’re more of the latter, it’s alright. We’re here to help!
For rhythm-challenged players, we’ve put together a handy list of fun and effective ways to help you improve your timing skills. 1, 2, 3, 4 – let’s go!
Use your foot
You’ve probably tried tapping your foot to the beat of a song. This is good practice – just keep going and try tapping to songs with different tempos or speeds. Get yourself acquainted with different tempos and rhythms and you’ll be able to use this knowledge when you play your ukulele.
Here’s how to apply this skill when strumming. Match the movement of your tapping foot with that of your strumming hand. When your foot is down, equate this to a downstroke. Once your foot lifts up or off the floor, do an upstroke.
Use a metronome
A metronome is a tool that keeps regular beats to help musicians keep time to the tempo of a piece. Mechanical metronomes produce an audible clicking sound. There are also digital metronomes in the form of software and even apps for iOS and Android devices. Metronomes are easily accessible to musicians and they are highly recommended for beginners to use.
You can develop a sense of time by listening to the clicks of the metronome. In time you will get the hang of the different tempos and this will help you develop an internal rhythm. And when you’ve gotten used to hearing the clicks, you’ll find it easier to practice playing with the clicks to guide you. Over time you’ll find you don’t need the metronome anymore as you’ve already developed a keen sense of rhythm.
If you find some tempos challenging to play in time using the metronome, cut down on the speed and start slow. It’s perfectly alright to go back to a more comfortable speed until you’ve gotten the hang of strumming to this slower pace. Then, gradually increase the tempo a few beats per minute. Practice and repeat!
Loosen up and dance!
Okay, you don’t really have to dance, but you have to move. Put your favorite soprano ukulele down first and loosen up physically. If your body can feel the beat, you can play to the beat! Open your music streaming app and play songs at random. At every song, create a movement that matches the rhythm. Think of how orchestra conductors move and do something similar. Don’t be shy and let the beat enter your being. If you want to dance, do!
In summary, your progress as a ukulele player will depend on a number of things, but at the top of the list is developing a good sense of rhythm.
We hope the tips above help you develop your sense of timing so you can become a better ukulele player. What other techniques have you tried to improve your rhythm? Share them with us!