How to Strum a Guitar 

I'm sure you've heard it said that "It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

It's true, the rhythm of a good song might make you want to dance, tap your foot, or drum your fingers on the tabletop.

That's the rhythm. 

Let's try some guitar strumming exercises before we complicate things with finger positions.  We'll start with everyone's favorite,  AIR GUITAR!

Use these click tracks to develop timing when strumming your guitar. The tracks will loop and continue to play as long as you want.  You'll find these click tracks with each chord lesson.

60 BPM - 4/4 Time

120 BPM - 4/4 Time

60 BPM - 3/4 Time

120 BPM - 3/4 Time

Strumming a Guitar With Rhythm 

Don't pick up your guitar just yet,  we have few things to try without it. 

Turn on the click track 60 BPM 4/4. 

Tap your foot along with the beat and internalize when the clicks are coming. 

Count evenly with the clicks: 1 - 2  -3 - 4 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 as you're tapping your foot.
You're aiming to get your foot to tap precisely on the clicks. Some people always tap their foot when they play. For them, it helps to keep an even tempo.

Rock your hand at your wrist at the same even pace, along with the ticks.  Twist your hand counter-clockwise down the strings for each click.  

Strum steadily and evenly.

Don't use your arm to strum,  and keep your up and down motions SMOOTH without stopping between beats. What you are aiming for is even timing. Spend some time with the up and down wrist rotation until it becomes natural.

Now that you have a feel for the strumming motion, we're going to imagine strumming in both directions with a steady stroke.

Turn on the click track 120 BPM 4/4  

Count with the clicks 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 1, etc.  Strum down on one click and up on the next click, and keep counting.  

Relax, and allow your wrist to rock naturally.

It's time to pick up your guitar and grab a pick; hold them both as I showed you in the previous lessons.

We are not learning any chords right yet (but it won't be long), just developing a smooth, steady downward strum on the open (not fretted) strings.

Strum downwards just as you were with the air guitar, and remember to rotate your wrist instead of moving your arm.  Count STEADY 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 -1, etc., as you only strum down the strings using the click track: 60 BPM 4/4.

Keep practicing until you strum the strings exactly on the clicks. You should aim to strum precisely at the click, not a millisecond after.

After you've been at that for a little while, use the click track "120 BPM 4/4",   and Count with the clicks 1 - and - 2 - and - 3 - and - 4 - and - 1, etc.  Strum down on one click and up on the next tick, and keep counting. 

A Few Guitar Strumming Tips

Make sure you are holding your guitar in the same comfortable position each time you play. 

Steady the guitar with your forearm on the guitar. Position your forearm so that you have easy access to all six strings, and that you have enough reach to strum easily.

Take your time and strum smoothly down and up with the rhythm. Don't use your pick too deeply or hold it too stiffly. You want it to glide over the strings.

IMPORTANT! Move your fingers and forearm as little as possible.

Keep your arm rested on your guitar and twist your loose wrist the least amount possible to still strum all six strings. 

Conserve as much range of motion as possible to develop precision. 

Music is precise. With repetition, precision becomes natural.

Aim for all six strings in this session, but if you don't hit all six strings when you strum, don't obsess. It's also more important to hit the first strings when you start the strum, not so much the last couple. 

When you learn the chords, it is essential only to hit the strings which belong in the chord. Hitting strings that don't belong in the chord sounds terrible.

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