Why You Should Learn Some Scales on Your Ukulele

Ukulele close up

Photo Credit: cottonbro from Pexels

If you have taken any music lessons at all in your life, you have probably been told at one point or another that you should learn some scales.  In fact, it may have been part of the curriculum of whatever instrument you played before you discovered the ukulele.  And while it is not talked about as much, since the ukulele is such an accessible instrument that people often pick up so they can learn to accompany themselves while they sing, learning scales is an important part of improving yourself as a player.  Take it from someone who has tried to avoid learning scales at all cost.

So, what are the top reasons you should bother to learn a few scales?

It improves your finger dexterity. 

Having a hard time playing a Bb chord, a F7 or the dreaded open position E chord?  Playing scales regularly teaches your fingers to work independently from each other because you are picking up one finger and placing down another finger in succession.  It also helps increase the reach of your fingers as you have to stretch the tendons to reach notes with different fingers.  If you practice a scale or two before launching into your favorite song as a warm up, you will greatly improve your ability to fret more difficult chords.

It's a great vocal warm up for singers.

If you mainly got into this "playing the ukulele thing" because you love to sing, it is important to warm up your voice so you don't damage your vocal chords.  If you learn the C major scale in its first position, you can sing each note as you play it to help warm up your voice.  If you memorize the pattern of the C major scale, you can also move it up the fretboard to play the C# major scale, the D major scale, and so on.

It helps you learn some notes on your fretboard.

If you learn just one scale, the C major scale, you have learned the position of 12 notes on your fretboard.  This helps lay the groundwork for learning more difficult techniques later on, like playing lead.  I recommend playing the C major scale and say each note as you play so that you will memorize the location of these notes.

At some point you will have reached a plateau where you have bought several ukuleles, you know a lot of songs and chords, and have mastered basic strumming techniques.  What then?  How do you keep things interesting?  You will most likely decide it's time to learn other techniques like playing chord melody, playing lead, or learning some music theory.  In all of those instances, you will need to learn some scales in order to get better.  So why wait?  Start now, with these videos I have created for you.

This one is how to play the C Major Scale:

A----------------------------0------2-------3----

E------------0----1-----3-----------------------

C---0----2--------------------------------------

G------------------------------------------------

This one shows you how learning just that one scale and how I was able to improvise with only those notes:


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