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Top 10 easy ukulele songs for beginners (with tutorials)

I have a theory that if all humans on the planet learned to play the ukulele, there would be world peace. The ukulele is a very user-friendly instrument for all of us to enjoy – even the non-musicians of the world.

In this article, I will show you my favorite ukulele songs for beginners that are easy to learn and fun to play so you can experience the joy that playing the ukulele brings right away.

About me

Marye Lobb, writer at Higher Hz

I’m a singer-songwriter who plays the ukulele, guitar, and piano. I’ve released three original albums independently, and currently producing my fourth. My third album, Top of the Trees, was written and performed exclusively on the ukulele.

To me, being a working musician and a teaching artist go hand in hand. I can’t be one without the other, and vice versa – I will feel off-balance.

I have been working with music lovers ages 4 to 98 for over a decade, and I take great pride in helping my students get to the joy of making music as soon as possible.

Before we start: How to hold & strum the uke

Music is comprised of three basic elements: rhythm, harmony, and melody.

When you sit down to play your ukulele your left hand will go under the instrument and up and down the neck. Think of your left hand as the hand that conducts the harmony or creates the chord shapes.

Your right hand goes up and around the ukulele almost as though it is giving it a hug. Think of your right hand as the part of your body that is in charge of the rhythm or the strum patterns.

young woman holding the ukulele and playing songs

Give your ukulele one strum from the string closest to your chin down the the string closest to the floor. This is called a down-strum or D.

If you strum starting with the string closest to the floor up to the string closest to your chin, this is called an upstroke or U.

The melody is the part of the song with words that you sing.

Why I chose these particular songs?

My ukulele adventure began when my neighbor gave me her ukulele before she moved away.

I had been playing guitar for a few years so the sensation of my fingertips hitting the strings was familiar. The shapes of the chords were new though. The sonic frequencies were higher-pitched, it was a thinner sound than a guitar strum. It was like a newer fresher kind of guitar – it was exciting!

I chose the songs on this list, first and foremost, because they are fun to play. They have brought a great deal of joy to my life, and I hope they will do the same for you.

The songs on this list are easy to sing because the melodies do not require an extensive range nor do they jump from a high note to a low note in succession.

They can be played with a simple strum pattern – the down-strum or D. You can also play one strum per chord without having to change chords quickly.

Finally, I chose the songs below because they all have less than five different chords in total. Some of the songs even have just two chords! I hope you have fun playing!

Here are the top 10 easy songs I recommend for ukulele beginners:

  1. Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
  2. Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  3. This Little Light of Mine
  4. Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver
  5. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen
  6. Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
  7. Let It Be – The Beatles
  8. All of Me – John Legend
  9. Amazing Grace
  10. Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys

For me, it is hard to imagine the beach without the ukulele and vice versa. I wrote my fourth album while surfing in the morning and reflecting on the sun-soaked experience in the afternoon with my soprano uke in hand.

This sun-kissed serenade will have you feeling beach-ready in no time. “Surfin’ USA” was written by Chuck Berry and Brian Wilson and is most well known for being performed by The Beach Boys.

“Surfin’ USA” uses the chords C, F, and G7. I recommend keeping the rhythm simple at first and doing one down strum (or D) per chord.

Also, when you get to the chorus: “Everybody’s gone surfin’, Surfin’ USA” – consider leaving out the second F chord for a more simplistic approach.

Here’s a tutorial to help you get started:

Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

I love this carefree tune by Bobby McFerrin. It is soothing and reminds me of my dear friend from California.

She is a huge Bobby McFerrin fan and when she takes a deep breath in and then slowly allows this song to leave her soul, you forget that you ever had any problems at all; it’s mesmerizing.

The ukulele arrangement of this song uses the chords G, A minor, and C. You can use the D D U D strumming pattern or just play one strum per chord.

Watch this tutorial:

This Little Light of Mine

If you’ve been feeling down lately this traditional hymn will lift your spirits and your self-esteem! C, F, and G7 and the D D D D strum pattern is all you need.

I love to share this song with my young music students around the age of six. I find that this song provides a built-in lesson on mindfulness and deep breathing.

Singing and playing “This Little Light of Mine” is a way for music lovers of all ages to reconnect with themselves and reset their emotional temperature if a music lesson has become too challenging.

Here’s a simple video tutorial for you:

Leaving on a Jet Plane – John Denver

The life of a troubadour is one with many unplanned farewells. I have had many concerts where I am leaving town and, indeed, am not sure when I will return.

This song helps me say it all without having to explain anything at all. John Denver wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t know when he’d be back again.

The chord progression of this song is G, C, G, C, G, and D and it repeats until the end. You can play four down-stroke strums per chord and then you’ll be hoppin’ on your own jet plane – I just hope you’ll be back again!

Watch this tutorial:

Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen

I love singing this song because people of all ages love singing along.

Feeling patriotic? Bust out Bruce Springsteen’s rock anthem on July 4th and impress all of your friends with your new ukulele chops.

With two chords – A and Dsus2 and four down-strokes per chord you will get the party started in no time!

Do not fear the name of the Dsus2 chord – it is more simple to play than the D chord itself!

Here’s a useful tutorial:

Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction

This was a favorite song of my cousin who would visit over the summer when we were teenagers.

We would listen to it on repeat as the sun poured in the window and the summer breeze smelt so fresh it made you feel like dusk would hide until we were ready for the day to end.

This alternative rock hit by Jane’s Addiction hit #6 on the alternative song charts in 1988. Now you too can rock it and the F and G chords will be your new best friends.

The chord changes are quick but since there are only two chords, you will have plenty of time to practice!

Watch this video tutorial:

Let It Be – The Beatles

I love singing this song with other musicians and inviting the crowd to sing along with us. I feel beyond happy during those moments.

This Beatles classic will bring you to the next level of zen. The song utilizes the chords C, F, G and A minor and uses a D DU D D strum pattern.

Sing it out and remember this too shall pass just like Paul and John said in this brilliantly poignant composition.

Here’s a nice video tutorial:

All of Me – John Legend

To me, “All of Me” captures the essence of love. I see why it’s such a popular request for the wedding ceremonies where I provide music.

This love song by John Legend will bring everyone to tears when you play it. Enjoy the G, C, E, A chord progression and the beautiful rhythm of this heartbreakingly beautiful piece of music.

Keep in mind that if the rhythm feels too complex for you to play at first, then play one down-strum per chord for now until you feel ready to make it more challenging.

Watch this tutorial:

Amazing Grace

Playing this spiritual hymn will help you feel grounded and at ease. I was not raised in a particular church or denomination, but when I sing and play this song, I feel like I, and everyone in the world around me, belong.

The chords are G, G7, C, and D and you can play three-down strokes per chord as a rhythmic modification to make it easy.

Here’s a video tutorial for you:

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – Israel Kamakawiwoʻole

This is the first song I learned on the ukulele. Unexpectedly, I ended up playing it at my father’s funeral. It’s a request I receive often for both weddings and funerals alike.

I am always shocked and impressed by the range of emotional depth “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” can express.

In 2010, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole stole all of our hearts when he performed this gorgeous work of art by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg and now you can too.

The song uses the chords C, E minor, A minor, F, and G and you can do two down-strums per chord to keep it simple for now.

Watch this cool tutorial:

Thank you for reading!

I hope you enjoy this list I compiled for you of easy ukulele songs for beginners.

Which song has been your favorite to learn? What stories can you share about the songs and what they mean to you?

I recommend when you learn a new song, try to listen to as many versions of that song as you can to make your performance your own.

Please share in the comments below and keep strumming!