During Coronavirus Isolation, Consider Learning to Play the Guitar or Ukulele

Many of us are enjoying more time off than we have in a long time. In addition, many of us own a guitar or ukulele that we bought on impulse, promising ourselves that we would learn to play when we had the time. Now we have it. We can also learn to play at home, for free, thanks to the Internet. Online guitar and ukulele teaching may be more of a discouragement than a motivator because of the dizzying number of alternatives. Help is at hand in the form of online instructors we’ve personally utilized and found to be excellent.

While many advertisements for online music education may try to convince you otherwise, the key thing is to get started, not how you start. This is especially true right now, when we could all need a little music therapy applied to ourselves. For the time being, you’ll be able to forget about the events of the day thanks to the intense concentration required to practice. One of the most rewarding learning experiences we’ve ever had was when we were able to play our favorite songs.

You can’t go through life without a little extra grit, or to put it another way: There’s nothing like it.

In-person lessons aren’t a possibility for the time being, but you can still make significant progress on your own. A year after starting lessons with DiscoverDoubleBass—after years of tinkering with other instruments—I was playing jazz gigs on the double bass I had taken up after years of tinkering with other instruments.

Numerous websites and YouTube channels provide training on how to play the guitar or ukulele, and some of them guarantee that you’ll be able to play like a pro in a week. The majority of these teachers, however, teach the same fundamental chords and techniques. It’s more important to practice frequently and to challenge yourself than it is to choose an online tutor.

In order to begin, if you don’t already own a guitar or ukulele, you will need one. Even an old hand-me-down from a family member or a selection from our guide can be adequate for a beginner:

With the goal of recommending sites and channels that have interesting content and can rapidly start you playing some simple songs, we looked for sites and channels that could do both of those things. In contrast to other sites and channels, we don’t believe you should waste time learning the basics of playing an instrument, such as how to hold and finger the instrument.

Courses in the guitar

Justin Guitar, the website of Justin Sandercoe, is our top pick for free online guitar lessons. Although his teachings may be found on YouTube, this website organizes them alphabetically. It’s best to start with the “traditional” beginning guitar course, which teaches the fundamentals quickly and gets you playing two-chord songs in less than an hour. There is a newer version of the course that goes into much more information, but we prefer the original. After two years of diligent practice, students can expect to learn Jimi Hendrix licks and jazz bass lines from Justin Guitar. Just like with other paid music classes, the Justin Guitar website makes it simple to save and mark lessons as completed.

All of the classes are free, however donations are encouraged on the website. With a seven-day free trial, it costs $8.99 a month or $64.99 per year to use the iOS/Android app.

Lauren Bateman, a well-regarded online teacher, is another option. Aside from a free online beginner’s lesson, she also has a large collection of beginner tunes. However, her site has a few paid features that will keep you busy for weeks or even months without the need to spend a penny.

You can also find a wealth of great and inspiring guitar teachers who are occasionally interrupted by commercials for other guitar teachers on YouTube. Only a few have the depth and breadth of courses found on Justin Guitar or premium sites like Guitar Tricks or JamPlay, but many have enough lessons for beginners or those who just want a fresh take on familiar chords. Marty Music and Andy Guitar are two excellent resources for beginning guitarists on YouTube, both of which feature engaging teachers and thoughtful lesson plans.

Courses in the ukulele

There aren’t as many ukulele-specific websites as there are for guitar, and many of those that do exist lack the kind of step-by-step instruction found on the guitar sites mentioned above. There are, however, enough ukulele lessons to make even the most ardent student proficient by the end of the school year.

Bernadette Teaches Music’s 30-day uke challenge and Andy Guitar’s 10-day beginner course are two of the best step-by-step YouTube uke lesson channels. A beginner’s guide to playing ukulele and tuning a ukulele is included in both of these books. For students who prefer a more leisurely pace and who are easily overwhelmed, Bernadette Teaches Music’s course is the better option. In the case of students who are eager to learn as quickly as possible, the Andy Guitar course may be the best option.

TenThumbs Productions has a number of YouTube tutorials that you may check out if you’re ready to expand your horizons. If you want to learn how to play songs by artists as diverse as Bruno Mars and Elvis Presley, or even Hank Williams, this is the channel for you. (Going straight to the website is the fastest way to locate them.) While the majority of these melodies will be beyond the abilities of absolute beginners, the tutorials also take great care to make the tunes playable for students who have mastered basic chords but little else.

All of the tutorials listed above have one thing in common: Instructors recognize that frets, strings, chords, and notes on ukes and guitars might be perplexing, and they assume you don’t know an eighth note from a Post-it Note. Despite the fact that it may appear overwhelming, all you need to get started is a musical instrument and a tuner. If you do, you won’t regret it.

Thomas Jefferson, who famously urged his daughter, “Do not ignore your music,” if you don’t believe us. “It will be a partner that will make your life more enjoyable for a long time.”


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