How to Write a Song on The Ukulele and Go Viral

TikTok musicians reveal beginner ukulele tips and how to amass an online audience.

Remember that ukulele you bought because of your TikTok fyp? After gathering dust in the back of your closet, you’re thinking you’ll give it another try. But you quickly realize why it was hidden in your closet to begin with.

“Don’t be embarrassed if you think you’re doing something wrong because being wrong is part of the process,” says ukulele TikToker Diana Interiano (@diana.interiano).

Learning an instrument is frustrating, especially if you have grand ideas for songs in your head. Once you understand ukulele fundamentals and how to gather an online audience, you’ll become a TikTok songwriter in no time.

Learn the basics.

You’ve got things to learn before you create musical masterpieces. First, tune your ukulele by using a clip-on tuner or downloading a tuning app. Next, figure out how to hold and strum the ukulele. Take advantage of the internet.

“Use the internet for everything that it gives to you,” says ukulele TikToker Victoria Kolasinski (@jiggywithviggy). “Look up the chords to songs, look up the sheet music, look it all up. That doesn’t make you any less of a musician than some guy who went to Berkely that could figure it out in his sleep.”

Master beginner chords.

Time to learn the backbone of your song: the chords. It’s difficult to play chords that involve multiple fingers when starting out. Kolasinski recommends learning dupes for those chords, such as Gadd9 for G or Fadd9 for F. These dupes sound like their more complex counterparts, and it’s easier to add more fingers once you get them down.

Before writing your own song, learn your favorite songs from other artists. It’ll teach you chords and strum patterns. Plus, you’ll discover elements you want in your song.

“Don’t cling on to those common songs that everyone plays when they’re first starting out,” says Interiano. “I try to avoid songs like ‘Riptide’ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ They’re great songs, but for me the thing that kept me on track and not wanting to give up was playing my favorite songs.”

Get inspired.

Easier said than done, right? Write down lyrics or song titles in a journal or in your Notes app. Every musician writes songs differently, says Ada Fender, musician and band member of Plumero. Whether you start with chords, lyrics, or a melody, go with what feels natural.

“Seeing other musicians play live, that’s super inspiring,” Fender says. “I want to songwrite after I see concerts or watch performances. But just listening to music too. I feel like you could find a lot of inspiration and incorporate what you like about other songwriters into your songwriting.”

Discover your niche.

Knowing what makes you stand out guides your songwriting. Is it your intricate finger plucking? Is it the stark imagery of your lyrics? Whatever it is, bring it to the forefront of your social media content. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing, people will listen.

“We can look at the movie La La Land, where one of the main protagonists is passionate about jazz but realizes it’s a dying genre,” says Interiano. “By the end of the movie he opens his jazz bar, business is booming, and even his love interest genuinely starts to enjoy jazz.”

Overcome recording anxiety.

When you have a song that you want to share online, recording yourself is a different kind of stage fright. One way to combat this is to record everything without the intention of posting.

“You know when you’re noodling around on an instrument and you’ll make a voice memo and it’s not really going to anybody, but you’re just recording it for you? That’s how I approached posting at first,” Kolasinski says. “If it’s a voice memo, you don’t care if you mess up. That was what I was doing but in video form. I was recording to see how it sounded and then I would throw it up online.”

Make mistakes.

You’ll record for hours on end if you strive for that perfect take. Want to know a secret? It doesn’t exist. Messing up means you’re immersed in the music. And your audience will see that emotion shining through.

“It just shows people it doesn’t matter what level you’re on,” Kolasinski says. “Taylor Swift still practices before she goes on stage. Ed Sheeran messed up his loop on tour in a stadium. We’re all people playing instruments and messing up and having fun along the way.”

It takes practice to feel comfortable in front of a camera. If you remember why you’re doing it in the first place, you’ll relax. You’re not striving for perfection; you’re showing the internet who you are as a songwriter. And that authenticity feels refreshing in a digitalized world.