The ukulele, a small guitar-like instrument, has become wildly popular in recent years, thanks in large part to its association with the laid-back, breezy vibe of the music associated with these islands. While some may think of the ukulele as a difficult instrument to learn, there are plenty of easy Hawaiian ukulele songs that beginners can master in no time.
These simple tunes tend to have a slower tempo and simpler chord progressions, making them perfect for new ukulele players eager to get their feet wet. Even experienced players will find that these tunes have an irresistible charm that captures the essence of Hawaiian music and culture.
From classic island standards like “Aloha ‘Oe” to modern hits like “Over the Rainbow,” there are plenty of easy Hawaiian ukulele songs out there just waiting to be strummed by aspiring musicians of all levels.
Getting Started with Easy Hawaiian Ukulele Songs
Getting started with playing easy Hawaiian ukulele songs is a fun and rewarding experience. The ukulele is the perfect instrument for playing the traditional songs that have become so iconic around the world. To get started, you’ll need a ukulele and some basic knowledge of ukulele chords.
Aloha is a commonly-used term in the state, and it’s also often used in reference to playing songs on the ukulele. When practicing, focus on getting the chord changes right and finding the right strumming pattern to match the song.
As you progress and become more comfortable with playing, you can start to play along with recordings of classic Hawaiian songs like “Blue Hawaii” and others. With time and practice, you’ll be able to play a wide variety of beautiful songs and enjoy the joyful, uplifting spirit of the music.
10 Easy Hawaiian Ukulele Songs
Playing the ukulele is a fun and enjoyable experience, especially when learning Hawaiian music. Beginning players can start with easy uke songs, which generally use only three chords, such as C, F, and G7 or D7. Famous tunes like “Blue Hawaii” or “Aloha ‘Oe” are perfect choices for practicing chord changes and rhythm. Besides, with a little practice, even beginners can learn to play a Hawaiian ukulele song. In total, we have compiled 10 easy Hawaiian ukulele songs that any Uke enthusiast can try to master. Aspiring ukulele players can learn the chord progressions for these songs to start playing a few of their favorite Hawaiian classics.
1. “Over The Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Over The Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole is possibly the most famous Hawaiian ukulele song that has gained immense popularity over the years. The song’s melody and lyrics are breathtakingly beautiful, and Kamakawiwo’ole’s voice and ukulele skills add to the magic.
The ukulele chord used in the song showcases the instrument’s versatility and significance in Hawaiian music culture. Kamakawiwo’ole was a legendary Hawaiian ukulele player, and this song is proof of his talent and skills. The song’s soothing and calming effect has made it a popular Hawaiian song worldwide.”
2. “Aloha Oe” by Queen Liliuokalani
“Aloha Oe” is a song written by Queen Liliuokalani in honor of her love for her home country. The song has become a symbol of Hawaiian culture, and its lyrics express a heartfelt farewell to loved ones. The melody of “Aloha Oe” is highlighted by the tradition of using a ukulele, an instrument that has become closely associated with island music.
The song is played with simple chords such as D7 and G7, making it easy for both beginners and experienced players to enjoy. “Aloha Oe” has become a beloved song that embodies the essence of culture on the islands, and remains a treasured piece of art that represents the spirit and love for the islands.
3. “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” by Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu
“Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” by Mark Keali’I Ho’omalu is a lively and upbeat song that makes you feel like you’re on a tropical island. It features traditional Hawaiian instruments such as the ukulele and has a catchy melody that is hard to resist singing along to.
The song also includes a mix of English and Hawaiian lyrics, making it a perfect representation of the culture. The chord progression in the song is simple yet effective in conveying the carefree and joyful message of the song. Overall, “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride” is a fun and energetic song that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
4. “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby
“Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby is a beloved Hawaiian Christmas classic. The song’s title translates to “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian and is regularly played during the holiday season in Hawaii. Bing Crosby’s smooth voice, combined with the use of a ukulele and 14 chords, creates a relaxing and cheerful atmosphere for listeners.
While this is not really a Hawaiian ukulele song for beginners due to the large number of chords, it’s absolutely one that belongs on this list. Once you master the chords needed, this is a very fun song to play.
The song also features the D7 chord, which is a popular chord in Hawaiian music. “Mele Kalikimaka” is a wonderful representation of the Hawaiian culture and its traditions during Christmas time. This iconic song has stood the test of time and remains a staple in holiday music.
5. “Love And Honesty” By Hawaiian Style Band
“Love And Honesty” is a beautiful song by the Hawaiian Style Band. As the name suggests, the song talks about the importance of love and honesty in a relationship. The song combines the gentle strumming of the uke and the soothing vocals creating a calming effect.
The use of different chords in the song adds depth to the music and makes it more enjoyable for the listener. Overall, the song captures the essence of island music and is a must-listen for anyone who loves relaxing and soothing music.
6. “E Ku’u Morning Dew” by Eddie Kamae
“E Ku’u Morning Dew” is a classic Hawaiian song by the renowned musician Eddie Kamae. The song features beautiful fingerpicking on the ukulele and is played in the D7 chord. The smooth and tranquil melody of the song is reminiscent of a peaceful morning in Hawaii.
Eddie Kamae’s mastery of the ukulele shines through in this composition and captures the essence of Hawaiian music. The song’s title, “E Ku’u Morning Dew,” translates to “Oh My Morning Dew” in English, and perfectly fits the gentle nature of the song. Overall, “E Ku’u Morning Dew” is a timeless piece of music that showcases the talent of Eddie Kamae and celebrates the beauty of Hawaii.
7. “Hele On To Kaua’i” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
“Hele On To Kaua’i” is a classic song performed by the legendary Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. The song features many chords, including the popular g7 chord, that creates a joyful and upbeat melody. The chorus of the song is particularly memorable, consisting of just three chords that are easy for beginners to learn on the ukulele.
The song has become a beloved part of Hawaii’s musical heritage, with its lyrics celebrating the island of Kaua’i and its natural beauty. Whether played on the ukulele or another instrument, “Hele On To Kaua’i” is a tune that can bring a smile to anyone’s face.
8. “Maori Brown Eyes” by Palolo
“Maori Brown Eyes” is a beautiful song performed by Palolo. The soulful lyrics express admiration for a woman and the melody is accompanied by a simple chord progression and a gentle strum on a uke, creating a calming and romantic atmosphere. Palolo’s smooth vocals give life to the heartfelt lyrics, praising the beauty and grace of the woman mentioned in the song.
The use of the name in the title highlights the cultural significance of the lyricism, broadening the emotional impact and connection to the listener. Overall, “Maori Brown Eyes” is a charming tune that exalts a love affair and the beauty of the human gaze, while simultaneously honoring the Maori culture.
9. Aloha ‘Oe by Queen Lili’uokalani
Aloha ‘Oe was composed by Queen Lili’uokalani in the late 19th century. The song, which means “farewell to thee” in English, has become an iconic representation of island culture and hospitality. In terms of musical composition, the song is relatively simple, consisting of only three chords. Despite its simplicity, this song has a beautiful melody that is both nostalgic and haunting.
The song evokes a sense of longing and sadness, but also a feeling of warmth and love. It is often played as a farewell song or during traditional Hawaiian ceremonies, further cementing its importance in the culture and history.
10. “Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley
“Blue Hawaii” is an iconic song by Elvis Presley that was first featured in the movie of the same name. The song is known for its catchy melody played on the ukulele, which utilizes only four chords throughout the song. These chord changes give the song a cheerful and upbeat feel, perfect for the tropical setting of “Blue Hawaii”.
The ukulele adds an authentic island vibe to the song that complements Presley’s vocals perfectly. Overall, “Blue Hawaii” is a classic Elvis Presley tune that showcases his musical talent and ability to create feel-good songs that stand the test of time.
How do you Strum Hawaiian Style?
Strumming Hawaiian style involves a unique technique that emphasizes the use of thumb rather than the traditional down-up strumming. The thumb strumming is based on a rhythmic pattern that involves the index finger and a combination of open and closed chords that create a unique sound.
To play this style, start by holding the ukulele with your left hand and position your right hand halfway up the strings.
Place your thumb on the G string, and use it to strike the A string followed by the E string as you alternate with your index finger tapping the C string. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can add more flair by adding palm-muting or creating your rhythm patterns. With some practice and patience, one can successfully strum Hawaiian style.
Why are Ukuleles Popular in Hawaii?
The ukulele is a four-string musical instrument that has been associated with Hawaii since the early 20th century. Although it originated in Portugal in the late 19th century, it gained popularity in Hawaii due to its accessibility and ease of playing. The small size of the instrument made it easy for musicians to carry it around and play it anywhere. The affordability of the ukulele also made it accessible to many locals.
The sweet and cheerful sound produced by the ukulele also contributed to its popularity in Hawaii. Traditionally the ukulele performed traditional songs and hula dances, and it became an integral part of their culture. The instrument became so popular that it was declared the official state instrument of Hawaii in 2010.
Today, the ukulele continues to be a significant part of the island’s music culture, and it is commonly played at luaus, weddings, and other events. Tourists also contribute to the popularity of the ukulele by purchasing them as souvenirs and taking up lessons to learn how to play the instrument. Overall, the ukulele’s popularity in Hawaii can be attributed to its affordability, accessibility, sweet sound, and integration into the state’s unique culture.
Ruby has spent much of the last 20 years touring both North America and Europe in a number of Orchestras, playing lead chair for several. More recently, she has started to teach kids and young adults both the fiddle and violin, with interest in spreading the love for both bluegrass and classical music.