We 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, we will show you our favorite songs for beginners that are easy to learn and fun to play so you can experience the joy that playing the ukulele brings today.
About the author
How to hold and strum your ukulele?
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.
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 we chose the songs on our list?
We chose the songs on this list below because they all have less then five different chords in total. Some of the songs even have just two chords!
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.
They 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.
These are the easiest ukulele songs to learn for beginners:
1. Surfin’ USA
by The Beach Boys
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.
We recommend keeping the rhythm simple at first and do one down strum (or D) per chord. Also, when you get to the chorus: “Everybody’s going surfing, surfin’ USA” – consider leaving out the second F chord for a more simplistic approach.
2. Don’t Worry Be Happy
by Bobby McFerrin
We love this carefree tune by Bobby McFerrin. The 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.
3. 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.
4. Leaving on a Jet Plane
by John Denver
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 – we just hope you’ll be back again!
5. Born in the USA
by Bruce Springsteen
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 stokes 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!
6. Jane Says
by Jane’s Addiction
Remember this 1987 alternative rock hit by Jane’s Addiction? Well 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!
7. Let It Be
by The Beatles
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.
8. All of Me
by John Legend
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.
9. Amazing Grace
Playing this spiritual hymn will help you feel grounded and at ease. 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.
10. Somewhere Over the Rainbow
by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
Israel Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’ole stole all of our hearts when he performed this gorgeous work of art by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg in 2010 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.
We hope you enjoy this list we compiled for you of easy ukulele songs for beginners. Let us know how it goes in the comments below, and keep strumming!