We’ve recently launched our first fully-accredited suite of ukulele grades from debut to grade 8, and we’re very excited for you to start getting stuck into the new repertoire. In this blog we discuss the myriad pros of learning the ukulele, how RSL can support your learning, and we even throw in a free 7 step guide to get you started. What are uke waiting for?!
No matter which instrument you pick up, the tunes you learn are always at the core of any musician’s experience of playing their instrument. You’ll be pleased to hear that the ukulele syllabus features some of our most exciting repertoire yet!
You can find familiar tunes from pop titans like Taylor Swift and Imagine Dragons, timeless classics from the late Bill Withers, and arrangements of the ukulele’s leading lights, Taimane Gardner and Jake Shimabukuro, that have been carefully crafted by our expert team of musos.
We’ve even thrown in a couple of Metallica tunes to keep you rockers satisfied, and make sure we really keep the ‘rock’ in ‘rockschool’!
The ukulele has historically been dismissed as not a ‘proper’ instrument. There is a perception that its only purpose is to provide gentle accompaniment to twee vocalists and so should not be treated seriously as a solo instrument. Isn’t the ukulele only a stepping stone to playing the guitar and has such a limited range that the material written and arranged for it is simplistic and uninspiring? Think again - these assumptions could not be further from the truth!
Extended techniques to unleash the ukulele’s unique sound
The ukulele may be small in size and ‘only’ have four strings, but you’ll quickly find that there’s plenty to do with this supposedly limited range. Whether you’re strumming or picking, it’s possible to create a unique sound that sits somewhere between a harp and the higher notes on a guitar – and the fun doesn’t end there!
Some pieces are written in a campanella style, a way of playing which was pioneered by John King. Campanella translates as “little bell”, and this really comes across when played accordingly; the strings are picked individually and allowed to ring, creating a close harmony effect that is reminiscent of the harp.
Even if you don’t plan on becoming a ukulele virtuoso, the ukulele is so much more than just a stepping stone to the guitar or its four-stringed big brother, the bass. It can be a great instrument on which you can gain a basic understanding of music.
A sense of rhythm, sight-reading skills, and playing in an ensemble are all crucial skills to develop as a musician; you’ll learn all these skills and more when learning the ukulele.
It’s no coincidence that the ukulele is overtaking the recorder as the instrument most commonly used in the classroom to introduce children to music. It’s portable, you can find decent ukes for a reasonable price, and it sounds good even if you have no clue what you’re doing!
So how can RSL Awards support you?
Picking up a new instrument can be a little daunting. First you have to pick out the instrument you’d like to play, then find repertoire that suits your ability and preferences, and eventually find an inspiring teacher who’s going to show you how to make the most of your new passion.
Luckily, we’ve got plenty of FREE resources to keep you on the right track as you take the first steps on your journey to uke superstardom.
7 step guide to learning the ukulele
We’ve consulted some of the best ukulele experts around to create our FREE downloadable 7 step guide to learning the ukulele. Featuring a guide to help you hold, strum, and pick your ukulele correctly, chord diagrams to get you playing your first few songs, and extended reading once you’ve got the basics nailed down.
RSL Teacher Registry
You can find thousands of teachers who teach the Rockschool syllabus on our Teacher Registry, plenty of whom are uke specialists. Take a look and see if there are any in your area who may suit your needs, or if there are some further afield who may be able to do video lessons.
Practise with Purpose Diary
Practising is absolutely key to any musician’s development, and it’s no different when learning a new instrument. Download our free Practise with Purpose Diary to keep your routine in check, and make sure you’re making progress in the way you want. Read more about this free, downloadable resource HERE.