How to Sing and Strum a Ukulele at the Same Time!
Learn how to strum ukulele while singing! Plus, you’ll learn how to play “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Learning how to sing and strum simultaneously is a fun skill. The key to mastering this is to learn the various parts of the song needed and get them feeling solid individually before you put everything together. Slowing down in the beginning will help you speed up later on.
We’ll break this lesson into 4 parts: Melody, Harmony (Chords), Rhythm (Strumming), and Lyrics.
The melody is always the most important part of a song, so we’ll start with that. Put down your ukulele and listen to/practice singing the melody (using the syllable “la” so you can focus only on the notes) over and over until you can sing it acapella several times in a row without the help of the original recording. Don’t move on until you feel comfortable with this step.
Next up is the harmony (chords). Slowly play through all the chords in the song using single down strums (quarter notes) to ensure that you know how to make all the chord shapes you need. Practice any chord transitions that are unfamiliar or tricky. Notice if there are any patterns or repeated sections in the chord progression. For example, in this song, we use the chords from the last line of the Verse (bars 17-24) as both the Intro (bars 1-8) and the Outro (bars 25-32). Then play through the entire song at a slow tempo (still using only down strums) until you can do so smoothly.
Now move on to the rhythm (strumming). We’ll use an Island Strum for this song. Play through this strumming pattern slowly using the Z chord (a.k.a. a muted chord) first so you can feel the rhythm. Once you are comfortable doing that, try strumming the rhythm while distracting yourself to see if your hands have it down as muscle memory yet. For example, try talking aloud to yourself while you strum, look at yourself in a mirror or record a video of yourself playing. Once you can comfortably play the rhythm for a short while without messing up the strumming pattern, try adding in the chords and playing through the song at a slow tempo. Keep working through this to smooth out any messy chord transitions or fingerings.
After you have worked on the first three elements of the song, you can try adding in lyrics. First, speak the lyrics out loud in rhythm. Then try singing the lyrics to the melody that you should know very well by now. When you are comfortable doing this, you can try adding in the chords (begin with single down strums if needed, and then finally add the strumming pattern).
You may notice when you first put these four skills together that you still get tripped up at certain spots in the song. If so, take a moment to think about which part is giving you the most trouble. Then go back to that part and work on it individually until it feels more comfortable. Repeat this process as needed with any of the four skills, occasionally putting everything together again to check your progress. Once you have mastered all the parts individually, you will find it much easier to put them together so that you can sing and strum simultaneously!
Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson