Is ‘ukulele the easiest instrument to play?

Is ‘ukulele the easiest instrument to play?

We hear that question, or some variation, quite a bit at Pacific Winds Music. My answer usually has something to do with the instrument’s growing appeal, with a reminder that an ‘ukulele won’t play itself. Secretly, I’m think, “Why do you ask?”

As a public school band teacher I would get similar questions about band instruments. My response would be that any instrument is difficult to play well. But I really wanted to say, “Why do you ask?”

Any musical instrument takes effort and artistry to play  well. That is true for tambourines to violins and everything in between. However, some instruments do present more hurdles than others for beginners–think French horn, oboe, and unfretted instruments. In that sense, a ‘ukulele is a very approachable, friendly instrument. It has only four strings, frets, and a if you learn a few chords, you can accompany yourself on lots of songs.

Once you have learned those chords, how do you improve? Lots of hours, focus, and energy separate a player who can play a few chords from the instrumentalist who can really get around the instrument. Of course, even more separates the great musician from the casual player.

Teacher, self-teach books, or internet? Where do you turn for information and inspiration? As a long time teacher, I believe in the power of a good teacher, someone who can analyze your strengths and weaknesses to create your individual path to improvement. There are lots of good “how-to” books and we would be happy to show them to you. Of course, there are songs and information galore on the net. However, on the net you must sift through mounds of material that are not organized, and may not be accurate. It is a great place to hear lots of players, and that is one way to improve—listen to great musicians.

Pat Knaus


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