View Full Version : Strumming Patterns ???

03-24-2011, 04:22 PM
Hey (:
So im trying to learn a few songs. One of them is Naturally by Selena Gomez. I can't figure out a good strumming pattern (and, well, i dont really know the chords either...)
I found this youtube vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YZe2aqTOQ
I want to be able to play it like the girl in the video. Does anyone have any tips ?

I also want to learn Baby by Justin Bieber.
Here's a vid I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpZ0r5lh2YA&feature=channel_video_title
I really want to learn this. I can't figure out the strumming pattern, though !

Suggestions, tips, video tutorials, and anything else would be wonderful !
Thanks (:

03-26-2011, 12:35 AM
There's plenty of strumming pattern tutorials for guitar (try google) which you can use. After learning a couple you can easily recognize them or invent your own. Usually the trick is to keep a steady rhythm with your right hand but not hitting the strings every time. You can get the percussive beats by dampening the chords with your left hand or hitting the body of your ukulele with your right hand during the strumming.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
03-26-2011, 05:27 AM
Welcome to the UU family!

I would suggest that you learn the chords and their progression through the songs (see Free songbook link below for the general method), and then practice making the chord changes WITHOUT reference to the melody... for now. that is, play each chord 4 times/strums then move quickly to the next chord - focusing on making a smooth transition within a steady rhythm that you've set up (slowly at first to accomodate the unfamiliarity of the chords).

The Boot Camp method, also a link below my signature, will help you get a handle on various often-used chords and provide you with some practice sheets to work on moving from one chord to the next.

After learning all the chords and becoming quite proficient in moving from chord to chord within the tempo you set, start reducing the number of strums per chord from 4 to 3, to 2, to even 1. Again, this is to be done WITHOUT reference to the melody of the song.

When you can play through your practice sheet at 2 (steady) strums per chord (without error and without looking at your chord-forming hand/fingers), start adding in the melody. this will mean that you'll need to strum differently from your practice because now you'll be governed by the actual melody of the song, so a steady 4 strums, or 3, or 2, will NOT match the melody in most cases.

OK, now we come to strumming! As you can see, I believe that BEFORE you concern yourself with the way you will eventually want the song to sound, you should be working on learning the chords and practicing the chord changes. To me, strumming always comes last. It's like tweaking the song to make it sound the way you want it. But that means you can already play the song without any kind of fancy strumming patterns.

I find that at that point, learning the strumming pattern, for me, is a matter of copying what I think I'm hearing. Your first video example tells me that that performer generally uses that strum for all her songs. This is not unusual as most of us find a pattern that fits most of the songs we like to play and so we use it often or always. In time, you'll be able to hear how she's doing her strum. Then it's mimicking that sound. even if it's not perfect, the end product could be that you sound just like that.

In your second video example I thought I heard a rather straight-forward and regular (down-?) beat for most of the song.

Again, I suggest that you work on the song first, chords and chord changing, then melody, then lyrics, THEN strumming. When one is learning a new song, not to mention a new instrument, trying to do everything all at once becomes overwhelming and sets one up for frustration instead of satisfaction. Divide and conquer, and soon you'll be able to attack learning songs with all your hard-earned practice/experience.

The neat thing about regular ukulele practice is that once you learn something and keep practicing it, you generally never 'lose' it! It becomes foundational to all you future ukulele-playing efforts!

Long response. Sorry. Keep uke'in',

03-27-2011, 08:05 AM
I've had my first uke for over a week now and found the Ukulele Boot Camp. Wow. I'm still on Practice Sheet 1 but what a difference it's making. I've never played anything with strings before and I'm finding it much harder than the piano ever was. (Maybe if I had some extra fingers to hold down those strings) When I finally get to the use of strums, is there a "boot camp" for those too? It seems like I'll need something to accent each measure but something I can work at so that my fingers don't get stuck in between those strings. (It's hard enough now just strumming down) Thanks for all the help this site is giving. One more thing -- where do you put your left thumb, pointed to the top or bottom? Behind the "neck" or in front? I guess you're not to use it as an extra finger for those cords?