3 Major Benefits to Playing ʻUkulele
When starting something new, it's natural to weigh the pros and cons. The same goes for any musical instrument: determine what you want to do or get out of playing music, and this can inform or even drive your decision. Now, you can find a TON of answers to this question online, but I wanted to give my personal perspective and share some things from my own musical journey. This article is about how ʻukulele has personally benefitted me, and how I hope it can benefit you as well.
Now, I know that seems like a given, but it's an often overlooked aspect of any art that really is the main point of practicing art. Honestly expressing myself through music has helped to get me through some really stressful times, from dealing with my parents' divorce in middle and high school to dealing with bouts of depression. Self-expression provides a way to cope, release and process emotions, and even connect to God or nourish yourself on a spiritual level however you believe. With ʻukulele being so beginner-friendly, you can have fun and start this journey of self-expression immediately.
2. The "Gateway Drug"
ʻUkulele is what I call "the Gateway Drug" to music. Personally, I've stuck with ʻukulele my whole life since starting at the ripe age of two. However, it has served as the gateway for me to expand my musical knowledge and understanding, as well as enhanced my ability to learn other instruments fairly quickly. I now play ʻukulele, guitar, bass, some keys, some drums, sing, basically the whole band! At the moment, I play rhythm and lead guitar with some of my friends in a band, and just got my first electric guitar. All this comes from starting with ʻukulele after already liking music, then learning more about music and falling madly in love with it and the creative process. I even like to program and record music in my spare time once in a while, and I can only credit ʻukulele for that.
3. Deepen Thinking and Creativity
Thereʻs already a ton of studies about the correlation between music and math/logic, cognitive ability, and creativity. The way it has worked practically for me throughout my life has been incredible: every skill I learned through playing and learning 'ukulele has applications in other aspects of life. One of the biggest skills I developed was my ability to recognize patterns. I may not initially have the vocabulary to describe those patterns (thatʻs what learning music theory provides), but I can recognize them well. After recognizing patterns, I look for them in other places, which was usually in the form of different songs from the same 'ukulele player or similar patterns used by different artists, 'ukulele or not. After that, I started to practice those patterns and insert them into different places I thought they may fit. I eventually started to develop my own style by combining the patterns used by different artists, and sometimes making my own patterns. Those patterns can be in the form of chord progressions, strumming patterns/techniques, dynamics, scales, picking techniques, and licks/riffs.
Bonus: Beginner Friendly
I can't go through this article without mentioning that ʻukulele is beginner-friendly! At first glance, it does sound like it's more of a reason to play and not necessarily a benefit. Very true. However, the fact is that being beginner-friendly means that you can learn the basics that much faster! Advancing past the fundamentals is a matter of practice and exploration, but having solid fundamentals is key to developing further, and that's relatively very easy compared to other instruments. In addition to that, most of the skills you learn can easily be transferred to other instruments, especially fretted string instruments like guitar and electric bass.
This is the Tip of the Iceberg
Thinking about all these benefits from my personal experience is always enlightening, because this article doesn't come close to fully describing how ʻukulele has helped me throughout my life. That would take a longer article or video, probably a whole series! That just goes to show you that the benefits to playing ʻukulele are innumerable, and the best way to learn about them yourself is to experience them. The best way to experience them is... start playing!