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How to Play the Ukulele Standing Up

playing ukulele standing up

As the ukulele continues to increase in popularity, more and more musical acts are looking to give the instrument an active role in their performances. This means playing the ukulele while standing up is more important than ever. The good news is that it is a very lightweight instrument which makes it pretty easy to play standing up with or without a strap. 

For a quick reference, here's a look at the different parts of a ukulele: 

parts of the ukulele

Holding the Body

The first step to playing the ukulele standing up is to hold the body of the instrument against your body, high up on your midsection. The sound hole of the ukulele should be about even with your chest. Take your strumming arm and wrap it tightly across the butt of the body, holding it close to you and locking it in place with the inside of your elbow. This should allow you to keep full range of your strumming hand up and down the strings without allowing the instrument to slide away. 

Holding the Neck

Ideally, your fretting hand should not be "holding" the instrument so much as cradling it. The weight of the ukulele should be against your body and strumming arm, with the neck resting comfortably in the cradle of your thumb and forefinger on your fretting hand. You should be able to slide your hand back and forth on the neck without the instrument moving, and your hand should remain relaxed throughout the process. It may take time to get used to holding the instrument up with your strumming arm at first, but practice makes perfect. 

Free Movement

Once you have the ukulele positioned correctly against your body, the next step is to ensure that you can still strum the strings and play the frets properly. When learning the ukulele you must remember to keep your hands relaxed or you will quickly get tired of playing or experience cramps in your hands and wrists. On your fretting hand, your thumb should be behind the neck and able to slide back and forth freely. Your fingers on the fretting hand should be able to reach all four strings and press down at the frets. You need to press the strings firmly enough to make a sound just before the intended fret bar to keep the string from buzzing, but be careful not to press too hard. 

Your strumming hand should be positioned above the sound hole. You will use your fingertips to strum the strings up and down in varying patterns to create different sounds. If your strumming arm is too tense you will struggle to gain speed and accuracy. Stay relaxed and focus on hitting the correct string every time.

For a great example of how it's done, watch ArtistWorks teachers Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel playing ukulele standing up at the 2016 Los Angeles International Ukulele Festival:

Take our word for it, playing standing up becomes a lot easier once you understand how to properly hold the ukulele. Many people tend to tense up their shoulders and arms in the process. When you find yourself becoming tense, stop and relax all of your muscles from your head down, then try again.  You can also try playing in front of a mirror to see if you have your instrument positioned correctly and if it moves while playing. 

For the best results though you'll need a good teacher and luckily at ArtistWorks you can learn ukulele online from Sarah Maisel and Craig Chee. Click below for more info and free sample lessons! 

Learn more about ukulele lessons at ArtistWorks

Related Ukulele Blogs:



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