Many Beginner to Intermediate Guitarists struggle to learn and improve their Strumming skills to their satisfaction. This begins with the challenges presented by the right hand not being in sync with the fretting hand that is playing the chords.
What most beginner guitar players fail to understand is that it’s the easiest thing to learn and develop on guitar, if you pay dedicated attention towards it.
Whatever is your method to work on your strumming skills, you can fasten the learning process if you just remember a few key principles every time you practice strumming.
This would begin with a conscious process of reminding yourself about these key elements, but soon it’ll become automated and you’ll internalize the activity of strumming faster.
- Keys to Great Strumming
- Grip on the Pick
This applies to guitarists who use a pick to strum the Guitar. Ensure that you hold the pick firmly enough to not drop or twist it in the process of strumming. This strength should only come from your fingers and not your entire wrist or arm.
You can practice this even when you are away from the Guitar, by just pressing on the Pick firmly with your Thumb and Index finger of the strumming hand and keep holding onto it for 5 to 10 secs. Relax after that and repeat it as many times as possible.
Remember that you’ll only apply strength from the fingers here.
- Loose and Free Flowing Wrist
This is slightly challenging, because it’s contradictory to the motion described in the previous step. However, it gets easier and easier the more you do it consciously. For best results with Strumming in the initial days, it helps to keep the wrist loose and free flowing in both directions. You can imagine as if there’s something on your wrist that you are flicking away.
- Downstroke and Upstroke
Keep your downstrokes accurate. E.g. If the chord requires you to Strum only 5 strings, then try to start your downstroke at the 5th string and only hit 5 strings. As you go along, you’ll develop high levels of accuracy with this, but do not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen the first few occasions. You’ll become completely accurate and also utilizing muting the strings in future to enhance this further. This can be developed slowly, but doing this consciously will help you get there quicker.
Your upstroke will be completely opposite of the downstroke and here you don’t need to focus on Accuracy. You can hit any number of strings on the way up, as far as you don’t play the strings that are not required. E.g. For a chord that you had to hit 5 strings on the way down, it would be fine even if you just hit the 1st 2 to 3 strings on the way up. Your goal here is to be care-free with your upstroke.
- Zero Hesitation
This is the part where people struggle the most. During initial days of learning to strum, you tend to think a lot about downstroke and upstroke. This worry goes to the extent of you stopping in between the strums and analyzing whether the last movement was a downstroke or an upstroke and try to decide what should be your next movement.
In real music, there’s no time to think about any of this, and there’s hardly any value for the listener to your struggles with remembering your last movement while strumming.
After you practice slowly a few times using these principles, you should shift your focus towards making this a carefree activity. Do not hesitate even if you miss a few downstrokes and upstrokes, move ahead and just keep playing.
- Continuous down-up motion
This is the biggest key to great strumming, and the sooner you realize and practice this, the faster you’ll master the art of great strumming.
Think of your hand as a wiper on your Car. Once you turn the wiper on, and it swipes in one direction, does it wait for the windshield to get wet before it comes back ?
No, Right? Similarly, your hand should not stop even if there’s a missing downstroke or upstroke. It should make a continuous down-up motion regardless of the pattern that you are playing.
So your hand doesn’t stop neither at the end of a downstroke, nor an upstroke, irrespective of whether you are going to hit the strings on the way back or not.
- How to quickly develop strumming skills?
Whenever you practice strumming, keep the principles described here. Ask your guitar teacher to help you with this.
Be patient with the process, as it may seem difficult in the beginning, but you will see gradual improvement at first, and then fast improvements later.
Start practicing very slowly with something as simple as playing whole notes strums, and then slowly move on you other rhythmic values.
Don’t increase the speed unless you feel absolutely comfortable with zero hesitation at a slow speed.
Apply the strumming exercises to practicing easy chord progressions or songs, but only after you have practiced it in isolation for a while.
Tell yourself that it’s the most basic activity for any guitarist, and there’s no way that you are not going to learn or master this skill.
About The Author:
Dhanesh Sarangadharan is a certified guitar teacher from Pune,Maharashtra India, who is passionate about coaching students to progress faster on Guitar.
He’s also specialized in coaching kids to learn Guitar faster while having lots of fun through the learning process.
If you are looking for expert Guitar coaching in Pune, that will transform your Guitar playing and help you reach higher levels faster, then click on https://www.guitarteacherpune.com/freeintro and book a Free Trial Lesson Now.
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