Learning Ukulele Songs – Get In The Game

ethnic boy playing ukulele for cheerful sibling and mother
ukulele songs

Learning ukulele songs is the ticket into the uke community. When ukelele players meet, they talk about what songs they know.

So how will your kids build their set list of tunes, and what are some of the songs they can expect to learn?

Early resources for song learning

Your kids can get an early boost from the booklet that came with your uke. These booklets usually contain a few simple songs, with chord diagrams.

Then, if you can, get online ukulele lessons from a structured online learning program, like those from ukulele makers Kala or Fender. These programs are available on the web and on your phone.

Online Ukulele lessons

Online lesson platforms can offer structured, self-contained learning that makes it easier for you to follow your kid’s progress.

You will save a lot of time using a structured program instead of spending hours searching out ukulele lessons on the internet.

More ukulele makers are offering online learning, for two big reasons:

  1. Many first time instrument buyers do not continue playing.
  2. Modern marketing practices are built around building relationships with customers.

Simply put, they want to keep your business, so it’s in their best interest to help your kids succeed. The two industry leaders in online learning are Fender Play and Kala Learn to Play.

The stand-alone organization and pay wall security of programs like Fender Play and Kala Learn to Play are a stark contrast to the random blizzard of ukulele offerings on YouTube.

YouTube is a fire hose of information, good and bad – maybe not the best place for kids to start learning ukulele — but it can be a good resource later once you know what you are looking for.

You can get 6 months of the Fender Play program for $49.99, less than $10 per month.

Top 5 First Ukulele Songs

Three Little Birds

What songs will you find in beginner ukulele programs? Any popular song with only three or four chords. Like Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds which is dominating ukulele instruction and is often the first song featured.

  1. Three Little Birds
  2. Happy Birthday
  3. Twinkle, Twinkle
  4. Wheels on The Bus
  5. Stand By Me

Are there cooler songs that your pre-teens and teens might like? Yes indeed. You’ll find lessons on songs by:

  • Ed Sheeran
  • Twenty-One Pilots
  • Jason Mraz
  • Grace VanderWaal
  • Adele
  • Iz

Once kids have gotten through the basics, song books are a good source of new tunes.

The Musical Magic of Song Books

You know how in Broadway musicals everyone just starts singing the same song, magically knowing all the words and melody. We can’t really match that. But getting a few good songbooks can come close.

A songbook allows you to share tunes with other players. They can look at your book and play the song with you, even if they’ve never played it before. So the magic can happen, but you have to be like Harry Potter and bring your own book of spells.

Another benefit of song books is that they work as prompts. Prompts to practice and to learn new songs.

What Ukulele Song books should you get?

For Kindergarten through 3rd Grade

2 and 3 Chord Ukulele Songs is a fun and effective first ukulele book for kids. The author uses 30 familiar kids’ songs like Mary Had Little Lamb and stays within the lines, using just the same three chords across many songs. The simple graphic style is kid friendly.

It’s available in print and Kindle format at Amazon. Click on the image to get it now.

For Pre-teens and Above

A book series to look at for older kids is the Ukulele Play-Along series, which come with backing tracks. Playing along with these tracks is great for learning and practicing. The books cover a wide range of styles, including more recent songs your kids like.

Volume 40 in this series includes some newer tunes popular with ukulele students, like Riptide by Vance Joy and House of Gold by Twenty-One Pilots.

For Hawaiian Songs

The Jumpin’ Jim series is a gold standard for ukulele books.. Jumpin’ Jim created such a strong brand that now even other ukulele authors are published under the imprint. 

Even though these books aren’t aimed at kids, the Jumpin’ Jim books are great for learning the classic Hawaiian ukulele songs like  Tiny Bubbles , Pearly Shells, Aloha Oe and Mele Kalikimaka.

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