Habit Hack: Add Nuance

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Once you’ve mastered the mechanics of a song, it’s time to add nuance. Think about the story behind the song, the lyrics, the emotion, and the mood you want to convey. Then ask yourself, How can I make that come through in my playing?

Listening to different recordings of a song is a great way to find inspiration, and folk songs, which get recorded over and over again by many different artists, offer a lot of opportunities for this. Compare these two very different interpretations of L’il Liza Jane by Nina Simone and Elizabeth Mitchell. Or Johnny Cash’s version of Goodnight, Irene with Jack White’s. What can you add to make a song sound uniquely yours? Record yourself playing it, then share it with me by tagging me on Instagram or Facebook so I can cheer you on!

This post is one of many in a weekly series called Habit Hacks. Every week I post a new tip to help you build and maintain a consistent ukulele practice. Check back each Thursday for a new tip!


I’m Melissa Stevenson, a music-maker, ukulele teacher, and author of Let’s Play! The Ukulele Handbook for Beginners. On the Musical Mama blog, I post practical and inspiring tips for beginning ukulele players, free music-themed downloads, and video tutorials to make learning to play the ukulele as straightforward and fun as possible. Let’s play!

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