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View Full Version : Strum pattern is KILLING me!



Titan56
03-07-2017, 05:33 PM
How do you guys count when strumming. I know this is a dumb question, but for the life of me I can't figure it out. For example, how would you count 1&2&3&4&? I hope this question makes some sense. I love playing the Uke but this is really starting to frustrate me and causing me to hate my practice time.

DownUpDave
03-07-2017, 05:46 PM
The simple answer is the numbers are on the down stroke and the & is the up stroke. I am not sure if this is what you were asking or if this helps.

To spice things up you can use a metronome to change speed and give some variety. Then there are different patterns where things get changed up. How long have you been playing?

bikemech
03-07-2017, 05:46 PM
Patience. Tap your foot. Count the number on the tap. Count the & when your foot rises up. Do the same with your strum. Do a down strum and count the numbers. Count the & when you strum up or raise your strumming hand up to prepare for another down stroke.

Titan56
03-07-2017, 05:57 PM
The simple answer is the numbers are on the down stroke and the & is the up stroke. I am not sure if this is what you were asking or if this helps.

To spice things up you can use a metronome to change speed and give some variety. Then there are different patterns where things get changed up. How long have you been playing? I've been playing for a little over a month now. I've never played an instrument before in my life so this is all pretty new to me.

DownUpDave
03-07-2017, 06:16 PM
I've been playing for a little over a month now. I've never played an instrument before in my life so this is all pretty new to me.

Congratulations......I started about three years ago and never played an instrument before either. Practice is important but having fun is more important. Find an easy song to learn, goof around a bit making up strumming patterns or tempos. It is called PLAYING the ukulele for a reason.

Welcome aboard.

Mivo
03-07-2017, 07:06 PM
It really helps to count out loud, not just think it. Say "one" on the downstrum, say "and" on the upstrum, and so on (the beat ends on "and"). When you get to pattern that skip a strum, still say it and still move your hand.

The hardest part for me is to do these trivial and seemingly boring rhythm exercises, so I combine them with chord changing exercises. Every beat a different chord, sometimes in random order. Not a bad way to discover chord progressions that sound good or at least interesting (vs. looking up common chord progressions).

UkePyrate
03-07-2017, 11:31 PM
what helped me a lot in the beginning was starting with "lower density" of strums, and increasing it as needed...

e.g., when playing song (with 4/4 time signature) for first time
- i counted all the numbers only - 1,2,3,4, no &'s -, and strummed chord only on count of 1 (down strum);
- this way, i play the song as a sequence of simple chords, with no fancy rhythm/pattern
- when feeling confident, i added strums also to other numbers, e.g. yo 2, or to 2,3,4

Same applies to up-strums of course, if the rhythm contains them - adding them for the hand movements heading upwards right after specific numbers.

I think i never explicitly counted &'s in the rhythm, i just hard-mapped all the down movements of my hand to numbers, all the up-movements to &'s, and counted numbers only.

Hope i'm making some sense, some terms/descriptions are a bit clumsy :-)

For a fancy patterns, i just learn them first with no sound - muting all the strings with my fretting hand. This helps to concentrate on the strumming, and no stress with chord changes and fingers swapping etc.

WCBarnes
03-08-2017, 03:54 AM
You have already received a lot of good advice/options. I will throw in one more that I have used when helping beginners before. First find I song that you know well and like and play that song on your iPod, YouTube, whatever your music player of choice. Then just strum along to to the beat. Don't worry about matching the chords/notes. If you want to hold a chord, hold a C, G, or even mute the strings. This exercise is about getting you to feel the beat and transferring that to your strumming hand. You can also tap your foot. As bikemech said, keep your hand in sync with your foot. Think of it like there is a string attaching your hand to your foot. When your hand goes up, so does the foot. When the hand goes down, so does the foot.

bikemech
03-08-2017, 04:18 AM
You have already received a lot of good advice/options. I will throw in one more that I have used when helping beginners before. First find I song that you know well and like and play that song on your iPod, YouTube, whatever your music player of choice. Then just strum along to to the beat. Don't worry about matching the chords/notes. If you want to hold a chord, hold a C, G, or even mute the strings. This exercise is about getting you to feel the beat and transferring that to your strumming hand. You can also tap your foot. As bikemech said, keep your hand in sync with your foot. Think of it like there is a string attaching your hand to your foot. When your hand goes up, so does the foot. When the hand goes down, so does the foot.

This is exactly what I am trying to teach my wife now. Listen to a song and just focus on hearing the rhythm or the beat of the song, any song. You can do it while your driving around in your car listening to your tunes. Soon you will be able to identify the downbeats in the song. It's the part of the song where you just naturally tap your foot or bob your head toward the floor. That's the beat of the song and that's the down strum.

kohanmike
03-08-2017, 06:17 AM
One more suggestion; go slowly, and if necessary, very slowly. And I second the suggestion of choosing a song you know very well.

Kayak Jim
03-08-2017, 06:34 AM
Don't get hung up on patterns (DDUUDU huh?) but strum with the natural flow of the song.

See Guido Heistek's material on this, starting with "Paper Strum"

http://ukuleleinthedark.com/category/strumming/

acmespaceship
03-08-2017, 08:47 AM
Don't get hung up on patterns (DDUUDU huh?) but strum with the natural flow of the song.

See Guido Heistek's material on this, starting with "Paper Strum"

http://ukuleleinthedark.com/category/strumming/

+1 (but watch out for paper cuts!) Strumming is a natural extension of tapping your feet, snapping your fingers or nodding your head to the beat of the song. The important thing is to feel the rhythm and strum with it. Try playing along with recordings that have a loud clear steady drum beat. There are only two strum patterns to learn as a beginner. Start with:

1 Down
2 Down
3 Down
4 Down

It will not take you long to notice that, in order to play the next "down" stroke, you have to bring your hand up again between beats. Start counting that movement as part of the beat so you're strumming 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and. In other words:

1 Down
& Up
2 Down
& Up
3 Down
& Up
4 Down
& Up

If you're playing a waltz then it's 3 beats, not 4. Your hand goes down, your hand goes up. That's all you need to know. This is the basis of all strumming patterns. Don't even think about those meshuggeh UDDUDU patterns until you've got the basic DU DU DU DU so solid you can do it in your sleep to any song you hear.

When/if you're ready to try other patterns, watch the demo videos closely and you'll see the player's hand keeps moving DU DU DU DU forever. The only difference between DUDU and DDU is that on the first upstroke you don't touch the strings.

Jim Yates
03-08-2017, 08:44 PM
I agree with the other posters who have said "Down on the beat and up on the off beat" or "Down when your foot goes down and up when it comes back up".
You can add syncopation by omitting strums, especially on the beat. Keep your hand moving up and down for each of the 1&2&3&4& (in 4/4 time), but miss the strings on certain strums. 1&2&3&4& Hit the strings on the bold red counts and miss on the others. Of course this is only one example of a syncopated strum. Make up some of your own.

ksiegel
03-09-2017, 10:38 AM
Don't get hung up on patterns (DDUUDU huh?) but strum with the natural flow of the song.



I have to go with this. I generally don't pay any attention to strumming patterns, much to the consternation of many folks I play with.

I just play what I hear in my head. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

For example, I can't do a triplett, no matter how hard I try.

Then someone watching a video i did told me that I was playing tripletts. Who knew?

I say just go with the flow. The more you play with other people, the more you will pick up their strumming patterns, too.


-Kurt