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Thread: Strumming suggestions?

  1. #1
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    Default Strumming suggestions?

    I suppose the easy answer is PRACTICE! And GO SLOW. And I'm trying to do both of those things.

    But I'm still having major issues with keeping a consistent strum pattern when I switch between different chords.

    I've started taking lessons from an actual teacher (which is exactly what I need--face to face is way better than YouTube or a book) and he's been great helping me to start basic finger picking and learning little bits of theory. (We're using Lil Rev's Method Book One as our text book.) But the strumming is not coming to me nearly as well as the other aspects. It's like I can't get all three "parts" working--fretting, reading the music and strumming. Whenever I change chords (especially if it's a chord I still struggle to form) then I lose the strum pattern. And even if I'm doing it for the hundredth time that session, I lose the count.

    So, any tips/ideas/wisdom for maintaining a consistent strum pattern throughout a song? The other stuff IS getting a bit more automatic, but not the strumming.

    Thanks for the help.
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  2. #2
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    Of course, practice and time, but most everyone will tell you that it's important to slooow down. If you are pausing at chord changes, then you need to practice JUST making those chord changes, however slowly you need to do it to keep a constant strum. I would not get involved in any strum "pattern" just D-U, until you can get those smooth chord changes slowly up to speed. Like in Uncle Rod's boot camp, just write out the sequence of chord changes and slowly go through the above process.Once you have that, you can slow it down again and work on the changes with a different strum pattern. It will come easier since you've done the groundwork for really smooth chord changes.
    Last edited by bunnyf; 10-10-2015 at 07:23 AM.

  3. #3
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    I suggest you get a metronome. There are several online ones you can use. Start off playing extremely slow so that you can make the chord changes smoothly. Then just move the tempo up a few beats per minute as you get better at it.

  4. #4
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    Some folks need a metronome to "train their brain". Check out some of Lil' Rev's stuff for strumming: https://www.youtube.com/user/lilrevdotcom/videos

    Strumming is a skill that requires correct practice. When I started to play more seriously, I made the mistake of trying to strum too fast for my skill level. I had to slow down and master the strum just as I had to master the finger positions on the fretboard. Speed comes with practice and cannot be forced.
    In the future, you will learn things more quickly, but for now, go as slow as you need to in order to master it.
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 10-10-2015 at 12:54 AM.

  5. #5
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    For just strumming I'd try and memorize the chords, so you can skip the reading (of the chords at least), which simplifies it a little as it's one thing less that you need to pay visual attention to. As the others have said, a metronome will greatly help, and you can start very slowly. For iOS, I really like the metronome that comes with the "Tunable" app (bought it for tuning kalimbas, since clip-on tuners don't work well with them, but now I mostly use it as a metronome for ukulele playing). I find it helpful even to just listen to the metronome while I'm doing other things.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preacher View Post
    Whenever I change chords (especially if it's a chord I still struggle to form) then I lose the strum pattern.
    That says to me that you really need to get these chord changes worked out, so they just happen, without the struggle. Just sit there for 10 minutes changing from F to Gm or whatever it is. Don't even strum - just change the chord, backwards and forwards. Then start strumming slowly, and change every 4 beats. Then every 2. Then every beat. Do this often enough and you WILL get there. The key to it is getting those chord changes so they just happen.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by bunnyf View Post
    If you are pausing at chord changes, then you need to practice JUST making those chord changes, however slowly you need to do it to keep a constant strum.
    This is great advice. If you're slowing down between chords, it's your left hand that needs work, not your right (strumming) hand. Once you get these chord changes down pat, you can introduce more complicated strumming patterns. But until your left hand is capable of making the chord changes in time, you won't be able to employ any strum pattern well.

    Happy chord changing!

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