Can non-singers enjoy the ukulele? Learn chord melody!

by | Jul 1, 2020 | Chord melody | 2 comments

I’m a terrible singer. Can I still learn to play the ukulele? What is chord melody? Can I learn chord melody? Are there simple versions?

Non-singers can learn chord melody

Yes, you can learn to play the ukulele even if you are a terrible singer. One of the greatest ukulele artists around, Jake Shimabukuro, does not sing.

Check out the following video for an example of what chord melody can sound like. Here Jenny plays “Wayfaring Stranger” as a chord melody solo.

As a beginner, you’re not going to sound great right away.

But there are steps you can take to learn to play simple chord melodies.

When learning a new song, first learn to sing and strum the song. All music has three elements: melody, harmony, and rhythm. For the ukulele that transfers to:

  1. voice=melody  
  2. chords=harmony 
  3. strumming pattern=rhythm 

When you’re first beginning you will need to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Then you can put them all together.

It’s important to sing or speak the lyrics when the chords change. Otherwise, you will not know where you are in the song. If you hate singing, you can play along with our online lesson videos or check out other YouTube channels. 

Here is a YouTube channel where you can play along with the artist.

You are practicing learning the chords and learning to keep the beat. You don’t have to worry about the lyrics and the melody. Check out  Ukeplayalongs

Not a singer?

I know many people don’t like to sing. And I understand. I get at least one YouTube comment a week that tells me to stop singing!

Here are some words of encouragement about singing.

“If you can talk, you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance.”

African Folk Saying

In teaching music, singing is a necessary part of it. You have to sing to understand the melody component of music.

Unfortunately, in our culture, we are all encouraged not to sing. Singing has become professionalized. And right now singing in groups is not considered safe, so learning how to play melody on your ukulele is a great idea!

Steps for learning from Beginning to Advanced


You will need to sing or speak lyrics at first before you learn to play melody on your ukulele.

  1. Learn basic chord shapes.
  2. Add simple strumming patterns.
  3. Add your voice to complete the song.

Advanced Beginner

So, you don’t like to sing?

Then learn the melody tab. All our books have the melody written out in standard notation with tab underneath. Our video lessons teach you how to play the tab. Since you watch the videos to know how the song goes, you’ll be able to figure out how to play the melody. We teach you how to read the tab in our books.


Play a duet with a friend or relative. Here’s what one customer said.

I ordered 3 Christmas uke books. This one was by far the best. It uses beginner-friendly chords and has a clear tab for the melody. My 10-year-old and I can play duets with the melody and the chords. Now I’m looking at picking up the other books by these authors.

Advanced Intermediate

Learn chord melody. Here is an example of a chord melody version of Frere Jacques. As you can see, we’ve kept the chord melody simple. You add the notes of the chord underneath the melody on the first beat of each measure. If you start with simple material like this, you will be able to sound complete without singing soon.

Later you can go on to more complicated songs where you change chords a lot and you play notes higher up on the neck of the ukulele. But you will be happiest if you start with easier music first.

Here’s what an Amazon customer said about learning chord melody.

I was a beginner ukulele player when I bought my first Jenny Peters and Rebecca Bogart 21 Songs in 6 days. It took me a lot longer than that to learn all of it. Then I went to 21 More songs. I am just about done with it. I am learning solo ukulele with chord melodies, what fun and they sound recognizable without someone singing. They recently came out with a folk song book and soon will have a gospel book! I would consider myself an intermediate now🤗

All our books offer melody, melody tab, chord stamps and a suggested strumming pattern. Many of our books offer chord melodies too. We also offer online live lessons where we talk about learning melody tab and chord melody.

So, read more to find out more about our products and to sign up for our mailing list. You will be happy that you joined our community!

Wow, chord melody sounds rich and full, with melody and chords at the same time!

But it’s probably too hard for me. Not true!
In this course you’ll learn easy full-sounding music using techniques you know.

Get your course now


  1. Sandy

    I have every one of Rebecca bogart and Jenny Peters ukulele song books and am learning to play but no one knows what I am playing because I can’t sing at all.
    Should I just give up and stop playing l love playing mu ukulele but frustrated cause no one knows what I am playing

    • Lala - Customer Support

      Hi Sandy,
      If you don’t like singing, then playing the melody using the ukulele would be a great alternative. Our books include melody tab for most of the songs and chord melody for some select songs. If you haven’t yet, one thing you can do is to register for the free course of your books – hearing how the songs are played helps a lot. Go here to see how you can register for the free course of your books:


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