How to Teach the Ukulele

tuning the ukulele image by Shirley Hirst from

The ukulele is a popular instrument because it’s easy to learn, inexpensive and portable. With its rise in popularity, the demand for ukulele teachers is also on the rise. If you have a moderate amount of knowledge about the ukulele, you can even teach a class about it. Be sure that you start with beginner-level chords and songs before working your way up to teaching scales, soloing and jazz chords.

Show the students how to read chord charts. Bring some ukulele chord printouts to the first class you are teaching. Have students practice reading the chord charts on their own before the end of the class.

Teach rhythmical strumming. Have students imitate your strumming, and then have them learn to read some common rhythms written on paper with upstrokes and downstrokes.

Photocopy some simple ukulele songs to share with the students. There are lots of songs that have only a few chords. Tell students to learn one or two songs for homework, and have them perform for one another at the next class.

Teach students some basic music theory. Show them how different chords fit into different keys and often appear together. Then, show them scales that can be played over certain chords. Demonstrate the scale yourself, in order to show the students proper fingering. Before the end of the class, have the students take turns practicing playing scales and solos, while the rest of the students play the chords to a song.

Teach some of the history of the ukulele in Hawaiian culture and in jazz music. With this lecture as their motivation, have each student do a special project that includes researching a particular type of ukulele music or a ukulele musician, and learning a song that’s relevant to the research. Each student can then give a presentation on her research and teach her classmates her chosen song.

Teach the students to write their own songs on the ukulele by creating a set of chords for the chorus and verses. Have students pair up and write a song together in which they take turns playing rhythm and playing melody.


  • Include a jam session at the end of each class where the students get to pick favorite songs that they can sing and play together. This is good for student morale and motivation.