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Kalimac
05-20-2011, 06:32 AM
I've been trying out my ukulele for almost a week and I'm having the hardest time with strumming. I can't seem to get into any sort of rhythm and it's getting frustrating. (I have the same problem with guitars, too)

Are there any tips that you can give me to maybe make things click in my head?

UncleElvis
05-20-2011, 06:45 AM
ichadwick's advice for any of this is:

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice


For strumming, start with Down, down, down, down on every beat, then down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up.

Do those until you don't have to think about them any more. It's boring, but absolutely necessary.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
05-20-2011, 06:56 AM
Count out loud. Tap your foot. Play along with other people. (And what UncleElvis said, too.)

If you're getting frustrated, take a break. But TRY AGAIN sooner that later. It'll come at some point.

quiltingshirley
05-20-2011, 06:59 AM
I'm a beginner or sorts and although I can strum, I seem to have trouble getting the tempo and strums right. A couple of evenings ago I was at a local Jam session and of course didn't have a clue to many of the songs being played. A great guy, John, showed hubby and I how to "air strum". By the end of the night I was strumming along in time and even sometimes still in time when I was really strumming without muting the sound. (I often had to slow down to locate some of those not so easy chords.) I'm sure some of you more advanced players can explain the "air strumming" but it did help me.

Kalimac
05-20-2011, 07:14 AM
Yeah, it will take lots of practice, I guess I was just hoping that someone would give me some magic tip to make me an incredible player in a matter of seconds. ;)
I'll also try counting out loud.
Thanks for your tips, everyone.

UncleElvis
05-20-2011, 07:35 AM
Doing it like that WILL make you a pretty good player in a matter of about 5 seconds.

The problem is that the first second will be in May, the next one in June, the next one in October, the next one in 2012 and the final one two Christmases from now.

(Sorry... a take on an OLLLLD joke:
Doctor: I'm sorry to tell you that you only have two weeks to live.
Patient: Fine, I'll take a week in August and a week in November!)

Uncle Rod Higuchi
05-20-2011, 08:33 AM
OK, how are you in terms of familiarity with your chording? Are you able to recognize the chords by name and have you been practicing changing from chord to chord at a regular tempo? See my Ukulele Boot Camp link below my signature.

If you are still learning chords and still have interruptions changing from chord to chord at a regular tempo, then you really can't concentrate on strumming because as the chords in the song change, you'll be interrupting your timing to make the changes.

OK, let's say you got the chords and chord changes down cold. Now it's a matter of timing. Try to figure out how many beats there are in each measure for the song you're playing. Probably 4 strums to the measure (4/4 time) or 3 strums to the measure (3/4 - waltz time). It's important to know this because your strumming, in the big picture sense, must match the timing of the song.

If you're playing "Happy Birthday to You", that's 3/4. It starts on the up beat (3rd beat "Happy...") of the intro measure and then the down beat (1st beat of the measure = ...Birthday"). You might get thrown off when it comes to the name of the person since we tend to hold out the time. But then we will go back to the 3/4 to finish out the song. If you tried to play this song with 4 beats per measure... well try it. It's not the same because you'll have to hold out "Bir-earthday" every time.

For "You Are My Sunshine" although it's in 4/4 time, the first beat is 'empty' after the first "Sunshine": 'You are my Sunshine (stop) my only Sunshine (stop) you make me happy (stop) when skies are grey...

Anyway, know the number of beats per measure, and start with simple down strums or regular up-and-down strums.

I say that working on 'performance' strumming should always come LAST after you've got the chords, chord changes, lyrics, and melody down pat with plain strumming. Once you can play the song well with plain strumming, then you can begin to try to make the song sound like what you first heard that endeared it to you.

Clear as mud? I hope not. But it does take time and practice. Remember, chords and chord changes first, then lyrics, then strumming (the way you want to perform it).

Keep uke'in',

PhilUSAFRet
05-20-2011, 09:34 AM
Similar problem here not too long ago. Get a tuner with a metronome. Get in the habit, even while watching TV of muting the strings and practicing your strumming techniques. If you know someone who plays fairly well, ask them to observe you and make sure you are using sound techniques, correct fingers, holding uke properly, arm/wrist relationship, etc. Gradually, in time, it will just come to you.....trust us. with some it comes quickly, with others, slowly. The metronome will help you develop proper timing...some folks just need one to "train their brain."

hoosierhiver
05-20-2011, 09:44 AM
I think I made progress with just constant strumming of nothing in particular for long periods.
Just strum and strum, you eventually get kind of bored and develop different up/down patterns without really trying and your hands get a good feel for the strings.

UncleElvis
05-20-2011, 09:52 AM
Best way to get better?

COME TO UWC! *grin*

ConspiracyUkeist
05-20-2011, 10:17 AM
I was in despair over my strumming, or lack thereof, too. It just seemed like my fingers wanted to tangle in the strings, not strum them, and certainly not smoothly. But, as I go over Uncle Rod's practice sheets OVER AND OVER again, I find myself, over time, relaxing, and trying different strums here and there, first the nice quiet thumb-strum, that's the old standby, but then I'm starting to use my index finger nail here and there, experimenting with a louder sound (which I'll need for busking).

Just practice practice practice

hotnuma
05-20-2011, 11:55 AM
Watch these lessons :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYzf6cFSD9E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-X_FxbUJZM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_dIPS9R8kU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwy6ODTb2yY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wdjy5CuAno
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8iNZ-f_SzM

It seems weird at first glance but you'll succeed.

:)

mm stan
05-20-2011, 01:02 PM
Practice, Patience, and Perseverance...=ukulele Passion... Period....

andre66
05-20-2011, 01:05 PM
Watch these lessons :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYzf6cFSD9E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-X_FxbUJZM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_dIPS9R8kU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xwy6ODTb2yY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wdjy5CuAno
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8iNZ-f_SzM

It seems weird at first glance but you'll succeed.

:)

This is helpful, i've made a youtube playlist with these videos so i can have them readily available.
Thanks

Kalimac
05-20-2011, 02:52 PM
I just downloaded the Ukulele Boot Camp stuff today. I've been working on a few chords, and I'm able to change those particular chords pretty well so I don't hesitate when changing. Still, I may be putting the cart before the horse by focusing on strumming so much already.

I already have a metronome, so I'll also try using that to get the rhythm.

And of course, I'll keep practicing.

Thanks everyone, this has all been extremely helpful!

savagehenry
05-21-2011, 02:22 AM
Try muting the strings with your left hand. Put on your favorite cd and play along. Don't worry about chords, treat your uke as a percussion instrument, strum out rhythms with the song. This will help you get better very fast if you practice it often.

OJB
05-21-2011, 02:30 AM
Start simple I say. Begin basically strumming the beat on muted strings and then slowly increase the complexity. And just like everyone else is saying "Practice!"