Updated: May 7
Every professional ukulele player starts a session the same way, by warming up. So if it’s important for the pros, its important for everybody! Here are some technique and warm up exercises that can help you to gain fluency, speed and accuracy on the ukulele fingerboard. It's a good idea to do these exercises every day. If you are totally new to the ukulele, please don’t get discouraged when you start these drills. Your fingers will probably strain, fingertips burn, and your hand may freeze up like a mummy.
But that’s okay! You gotta start somewhere. But I promise over time your skills level will increase and these drills will become effortless.
Below are 3 drills that everyone can learn. I’ve given them names that will help you differentiate them.
First... ladder drills.
Drill #1 “Ladders”
“Ladders” is just like it sounds. We are going to move from one end of the fingerboard to the other, nut to 12th fret. Starting with your index finger on the first fret, G String, you are going to continue moving up to the 12th fret note to note. You are going to do this using your index, middle, ring, and pinky finger just on the G-String. When you get to the 5th fret you are going to restart the sequence by playing it with your index finger... followed by playing the 6th fret with the middle finger, 7th fret with your ring finger, and 8th fret with your pinky. It then restarts with the index finger on the 9th fret and so on, until you get to the 12th fret. Then you’re all the way up the ladder. Then you repeat this pattern again on the C, E, and A string.
If you want to make this drill more challenging, you can “climb” down the ladder from the 12th fret. Starting with your pinky on the 12th fret, you begin to move backwards back to the 1st fret.
Drill #2 “Stairs”
This drill is similar to ”Ladders”. But with “Stairs” we are gonna move vertically on the fingerboard. Starting on the 1st fret G String, we are going start like we did with ”Ladders” and move up the fingerboard to the 4th fret. But instead of restarting the sequence on the 5th fret on the G String, we are gonna move down to the 1st fret, C String. And then continuing the sequence up the C String, stopping on the 4th fret, and dropping down to the 1st fret E String. Then finishing the sequence on the A string.