ʻUkulele - Worth It?
Is the ukulele worth learning?
Now this is an interesting question. Believe it or not, I do hear this one quite often, but phrased in different ways or muttered under someone's breath in an attempt to keep from being heard. The truth is that, in my opinion, any musical instrument is worth learning. On that note, ʻukulele is one of the easiest instruments to learn! I'll share with you some of my story to help illuminate the possibilities, and to show you just how valuable this instrument is.
1) ʻUkulele is easy to learn
I've played the ʻukulele since I was the ripe age of two. I've been learning, growing, and playing ever since! Now, starting young is not uncommon here in Hawaiʻi nei, but I do acknowledge that it isn't common elsewhere. However, the fact that so many of us here start early should clue you in on just how easy it is to start. Even if you have trouble in the beginning, with the right instruction and enough dedication, you can usually push through those barriers fairly easily in the beginning. Trying different approaches to adapt is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and will help in other areas for things like problem solving and creative thinking. Because of this, musicians and other artists have unique perspectives that allow them to see the world from multiple angles.
2) 'Ukulele can set you up to learn more
The fact that the ʻukulele is so beginner-friendly means that it's a good tool to gain a better understanding of music fundamentals and theory. This allows you to expand your understanding past the ʻukulele to music in general, so you can then take your skills and apply them to learning other instruments, music production, or writing songs.
Personally, I've kept up with the ʻukulele, but have also learned guitar, tuba, electric bass, some piano/keys, some drums, and even picked up singing and music production along the way. I've found that I not only enjoy the ʻukulele, but music in general, and this humble instrument has helped me expand my understanding and skillset past just the ʻukulele itself. When learning (and thinking) music theory, I actually have a fretboard in my mind that I use as a point of reference! Learning an instrument helps to make tangible the seemingly abstract concepts of music theory
3) ʻUkulele is great for accompaniment!
Many singers get into ʻukulele simply because they want something to accompany their singing, and lyricists pick it up because they want to find and write good chords to their songs. Learning the basics on ʻukulele can help to accomplish those goals. In addition to the basics, singers, lyricists, and singer/songwriters can use this instrument to dig deeper into music theory to learn how they can mix things up and make their songs sound more interesting and captivating. You can make music sound more jazzy, bluesy, country, funky, and even make your songs switch genres like reggae or ska--the sky's the limit! All of this can be practiced on ʻukulele.
4) ʻUkulele saves lives
I know I've mentioned some of these things in my previous articles, but I feel this point is relevant here and now more than ever. Over the last couple years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, people have flocked to musical instruments and the arts in droves. Even I bought an electric piano to improve my technique for easier music production! Many will say that this is out of sheer boredom, but a lot of people I've spoken to have experienced the same thing I did while growing up--ʻukulele saves lives.
Well, okay, music saves lives. Playing music, as hard as it may sound at first, has actually helped me to express and process my emotions over my entire life. As a kid, you can imagine how invaluable that was. Artistic expression is something every person craves, but not everyone has the opportunity to do so. Music has personally helped to pull me out of very dark places, and my ʻukulele has often been my vehicle on the journey back into the light.
Goals, Goals, Goals
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. Whether you're thinking of learning the ʻukulele for your first instrument, your 30th instrument, or anywhere in-between, it's very much worth the effort. If it's not your cup of tea and you learn so while going through the basics, no problem! At the very least, you can cross it off your list, and you learned some music along the way. For some people, that's part of their journey. Just set your goals, get started, and have fun. Otherwise, why play music?