Learning anything, whether it is a musical instrument or not requires dedication, effort and resolve. In learning you will always hit 'barriers' where you feel like you want to give up, that it's never going to work and that you have made a mistake. The ukulele is no different.
I repeatedly point out to beginners that the ukulele is an easy instrument to learn and I stand by that. In my opinion it has one of the shallowest learning curves of any instrument meaning most beginners can get something meaningful out of it in weeks, days, or even hours and minutes. But it takes a considerable period to become proficient and unless you are a total natural, you will hit walls that you think are impossible to break through. The trick is to stay dedicated and work through them!
The first barrier many people hit, particularly if they have never played strings before are the sore fingertips. This is extremely common and something that only eases with more playing as you need to build up harder skin in the form of callouses to overcome the pain. But it should be short lived and WILL improve. If you are struggling though, check out the advice Here.
Another cause of pain you may encounter will be aches and cramps. Again, perfectly normal. You are asking your fingers to move and stretch into unnatural positions and your muscles and tendons need to learn. In these cases, if you are in pain, don't play on regardless or you may cause some more serious damage. Take a break! Sure, only continued practice will stop the pain occurring, but you need to listen to your body's signals and know when to ease up. You may want to accompany your practice with finger stretching exercises you can find Here.
Moving on to the other hand, the next most common barrier is getting comfortable with strumming. For many, it is a real struggle to get your playing flowing naturally. The biggest mistake many make is to try to learn something far to complex before mastering more basic songs and patterns. Keep it simple when you are starting out - if you enjoy your uke you will be playing it for years. You have all the time in the world to learn that favourite song with 15 chords and a tempo of 100 miles per hour! The first strum you need to master is just some basic up and down in a steady rhythm. Consider investing in a metronome if you struggle to keep time. It may sound boring but if you don't master a basic rhythm, you will always struggle.
And putting all this together, you will continue to hit barriers, even when you become an accomplished player. I still hit them when trying a particularly complex strum, or chord change. The answer, as with even the most basic barriers is to keep at it. If it's not working for you, take a break and play something else, come back to it another day.
I hope this inspires and supports new players who are reading. You are not alone, and we all go through what you are going through, just keep pressing on and before you know it, you'll be playing freely and advising other new players how to break their own barriers!
Good luck as always, and enjoy it!
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