The ukulele is a stringed instrument with four nylon strings that produce a unique, mellow sound. It’s small enough to be held like a guitar and is similar in structure to the mandolin or banjo. Originating from Hawaii in the 1900s, it gradually popularized over time and its short string length makes it easier for younger players to learn. Ukuleles are becoming more and more popular as an affordable instrument for beginners of any age.
Whether you’re just starting out as a beginner or have some previous experience playing other instruments, learning these popular songs can help build your repertoire and confidence on the ukulele quickly. Here is our list of 30 of the most iconic and accessible ukulele songs for beginners:
- Included are tutorials along with chords, lyrics, and strumming patterns so you can start playing right away!
Popular Songs for Beginners
Learning to play the ukulele is an exciting and rewarding experience. The ukulele is an accessible, easy to learn instrument, and the popularity of the instrument means that there are lots of great ukulele songs for beginners.
This article will cover 30 of the most popular and easy songs for beginners and kids to learn, ranging from classic hit to contemporary, folk, and standards:
“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz
“I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz is a great beginner song for those starting out on the ukulele. It features strumming chords that all beginners should master and simplifies complex sounds into minor and major chords. The song also has some more advanced techniques like hammer-ons that are fun to master as you develop your playing skills. Additionally, “I’m Yours” is an uplifting, cheerful and popular song with an overall positive message.
This catchy tune has six main chords in total – F Major, C Major, G Major, E Minor, A Minor and D Minor. You basically just repeat these one after the other in each verse or chorus sequence of the song depending on which line is next. You can either use finger picks or regular fingers to play it as well; both ways are suitable for beginners although finger picking provides more precise sound quality while strumming will flaunt a looser vibe if done repeatedly along with keeping time with your foot tapping or hand clapping!
The combination of cheerful lyrics, easy chords progression and simple yet hearty sound makes “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz a great beginner option for ukulele players who want to get into learning some groove-worthy songs tailored towards people who are just starting out!
“Riptide” by Vance Joy
“Riptide” by Vance Joy is an upbeat indie folk pop song that is accessible for acoustic guitar beginners as well as experienced players. The chord structure for the song is fairly simple, making it a great pick-up-and-play piece. The catchy melody, easy chords, and driving rhythm make this song a crowd favorite. It has been used in countless TV shows, movies, and commercials since its release in 2013. Its initial success propelled Vance Joy to instant fame throughout the world.
The chords to “Riptide” are simple enough for most acoustic guitar beginners to quickly become comfortable with the changes and play along with the track. With only four chords in the entirety of the song (Emin-Dmin-G-B7), there isn’t any difficult barre chords or awkward jazz chord shapes involved – just basic open chords that everyone can handle!
For those looking to add more variety to their playing, incorporating a fingerpicking pattern adds a whole different feel to “Riptide” while still keeping within reach of players with beginner skillset levels. Experienced players also have plenty of room to make up their own solos and licks while they play along with this classic tune.
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen is a timeless classic often chosen by beginning guitar players. Written and originally performed in 1984, it became an international hit thanks to Jeff Buckley’s ethereal interpretation. It is incredibly simple to learn the chords and the melody by ear. This progressive folk song packs a powerful emotional punch with its minor-key melancholy, intricate finger-picking, and lyrical imagery.
The song can be played using only two chords: E minor and A minor with their respective major 7th intervals for the chorus and bridge section. The low key of E as well as heavy arpeggiation makes “Hallelujah” an easy pick for light musicians looking to study chord voicings, alongside intermediate players that can further explore the subtleties of its progression. Its use of hammer-ons and pull-offs also adds flavor to its accompaniment, which adds a certain richness to each performance.
“Let It Be” by The Beatles
The Beatles were one of the most prolific and influential rock bands in history. “Let It Be” is a classic that was released in 1970 and has since become a beloved mainstay of the band’s repertoire. The song has been covered by many performers, including Celine Dion, Ray Charles, and The Chordettes.
It’s important to note that “Let It Be” is among the easier songs to learn on guitar because the chords are relatively basic. The song features verses in E-minor, followed by choruses in A major. The verse uses E minor chord progressions while the chorus incorporates A major 7th chords with a 6/4 time signature. It also contains an easy-to-remember handclap pattern after every chorus (E–A–D–G).
The song encourages little ones to embrace life’s trials as opportunities for growth and strength, making it a perfect tune for younger beginners learning their first few chords on guitar. It’s sure to bring them—and you—pleasure for years to come!
“Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber
“Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber was released in 2015 off of his album Purpose. The song teaches a positive and reassuring message about learning to be confident in your own skin and encouraging self-love. This catchy acoustic pop ballad is perfect for anyone just starting out on the ukulele, with its simple chords and fun strum pattern. It’s upbeat nature also allows it to remain interesting throughout its duration, making it a great choice for players of all skill levels.
The chord structure is comprised of four easy chords that are gradually repeated throughout the song – C, F, G and Am – before finishing on a stronger F chord at the end. As an added bonus, the chords chosen are by far some of the most used within popular songs across different genres; they provide an excellent introduction to playing more complex songs in the future!
“Love Yourself” is ideal for anyone honing their skills or even as a party hit when hosting a get-together!
Easy Ukulele Songs for Kids
Learning to play the ukulele can be a fun and rewarding experience for both children and adults alike. The ukulele is a relatively small instrument compared to other stringed instruments, and its core principles are fairly easy to grasp. Because of this, it has become a popular instrument for kids to learn.
Here are 30 easy ukulele songs for kids to help them get started:
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is a classic and popular ukulele song for kids and beginners alike. This song has been around since the early 1800s and is a staple for musicians of all ages. The tune and lyrics are simple, making this an ideal choice for anyone wanting to learn their first ukulele song. This popular nursery rhyme can be easily accompanied by ukulele chords, particularly those of a C major and G major. Additionally, it’s great practice in transitioning between basic chords throughout the entirety of the song.
Aside from being easy to learn, playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on the ukulele also offers an uplifting tune with cheerful lyrics that’s sure to put anyone in a good mood!
“Old MacDonald Had a Farm”
“Old MacDonald Had a Farm” is a classic nursery rhyme that has been around for generations. As one of the most popular children’s songs, it provides hours of entertainment and encourages young musicians to explore the basics of music. With a few simple chords and some basic skills, you can learn to play “Old MacDonald” on the ukulele. Here are the steps needed to play this timeless tune:
- Basic Chords: Start by learning three fundamental chords: G, C, and D7. These three chords will form the basis for your entire song and act as building blocks for any other ukulele songs you may want to learn later on in life.
- Lyrics: Practice reciting or singing the lyrics to familiarize yourself with the song before attempting to play it on your instrument. Make sure you practice in front of a mirror or have someone watch while you perform so they can help point out any troubles you may have with your pronunciation or timing.
- Strumming Patterns: Get comfortable playing two different strumming patterns: an up-down pattern starting at the highest string (G), followed by two alternating notes on both strings below it (C, D7), finishing with an up-down strum all along each string (G, C, D7). It’s important to get used to playing each chord evenly in order for them to sound correct throughout your performance.
- Combining Elements Together: Now that you have learned all three components—lyrics, chords, and strumming patterns—it is time to combine them together into one piece! The tempo should be slow at first while learning how they fit together and then gradually pick up speed as you become more comfortable. Be sure to take breaks when needed and enjoy your new skills!
“The Wheels on the Bus”
“The Wheels on the Bus” is an iconic children’s song that is ideal for beginner ukulele players. It would be relatively simple to learn, and with plenty of fun hand movements, it can be a great way to familiarize your kids with basic chords. With its easy strum patterns and easy-to-follow lyrics, playing and singing “The Wheels on the Bus” will make any musician sound like a pro.
The typical chord progression for “The Wheels on the Bus” consists of four chords: G, D7, C, and D. To simplify further for younger children or those just starting out, you could play only the G and C chords. An accompanying pattern that works well for this song is to strum down twice at each chord change in a rhythm of 1 2 3 4 (strum down).
As with most kids’ songs written by folk writers hundreds of years ago, there are many variations on the simple melody that can add enchantment to any performance. Traditional interpretations of “The Wheels on the Bus” often involve different so-called verse combinations – and changing up your strums are another possibility. If you want to kick your performance up a notch try speeding up tempo or experiment with new endings chords. Teaching kids music can be a lot of fun while they quickly learn more chords as they get better at playing!
“If You’re Happy and You Know It”
“If You’re Happy and You Know It” is the perfect way to introduce kids to the joys of playing the ukulele. It is a popular children’s song that easily lends itself to a catchy, easy-to-sing tune with lots of room for variations. The chords are also simple and easy for beginner ukulele players.
To play “If You’re Happy and You Know It” on an ukulele, begin by strumming a G chord four times. Then move on to playing an A chord before transitioning back to G. For each lyric line, you play two G chords followed by two A chords (played slowly with only one strum each).
Once you get familiar with these basic chords and their corresponding lyrics, you can add some modifications:
- hit a C chord between “Clap hands!” and “Stomp your feet!”;
- add slides or different strums in between lyrics;
- play around with fingerpicking as well as muting strings for further variation.
Give yourself plenty of time and chances to experiment until you find your own unique sound for this fun tune!
“You Are My Sunshine”
“You Are My Sunshine” is one of the oldest and most beloved ukulele songs out there, and is a great choice for kids to learn. It is quite simple to do, and makes for a catchy and enjoyable tune. This song was written in the 1930s by Jimmie Davis and first recorded in 1939 by United Artists Records singer-songwriter Walter Morrison (aka Smith Ballew). It has since been covered by countless artists, including Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.
This song only has four chords, G, C, D7, and Em. The tune starts off with gently strumming the G chord being carried through two lines then transitioning into a D7 chord asking “please don’t take my sunshine away?” before going into C for the chorus line then formatting back to the original progression with G leading into D7 again asking “please don’t take my sunshine away?” The pattern continues until eventually adding in an E minor chord before going back to G at which point the song should be completed.
It’s important for children learning this song to keep up with the rhythm of each section as it will greatly determine what kind of effect they have on their audience whether that be family members or other people playing along! This tune can be enjoyed as both a strummed accompaniment piece or an opportunity to showcase some fingerpicking skills; so feel free to experiment with different tempos and techniques while they learn! Enjoy making some music everyone!
As you can see, playing the ukulele can be a lot of fun and easily mastered with a bit of patience and effort. Getting familiar with chord progressions is key to being successful with the instrument.
With all these popular and easy-to-learn ukulele songs for beginners, we hope you’ve found something perfect for you and your little one! From rock classics to contemporary favorites, these tunes are sure to help make playing the ukulele as enjoyable as possible. Have fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are some popular and easy Ukulele songs for beginners?
A1. Some popular and easy Ukulele songs for beginners include “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, “I’m Yours”, “Riptide”, “Hallelujah”, “Five Foot Two”, and “Happy Birthday”.
Q2. What kinds of Ukulele songs are good for kids?
A2. Some good Ukulele songs for kids include “Wheels on the Bus”, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Old McDonald Had a Farm”, “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”, “The Alphabet Song”, and “Row Row Row Your Boat”.
Q3. Are there any other resources to learn more Ukulele songs?
A3. Yes! There are many online resources that can help you learn more Ukulele songs, such as website tabs, online tutorials, and YouTube videos.