There are few more enjoyable activities for a person than to interpret and create music by playing an instrument. And by far, the most popular instrument that people want to start to learn is the guitar.
The guitar can be heard in practically any popular and rock music recordings, and nearly all people are aware of.
It is an instrument that can be carried anywhere, and can be played for many kinds of music and songs. Whether you play the guitar with a band, a small instrumental group, or accompany yourself while singing, the instrument always delivers musical enjoyment.
After learning the rudimentary chords on the fretboard, the aspiring guitarist always starts to learn strumming so that he can carry a tune or song. Strumming is one of the most difficult parts of guitar playing for the beginner.
Many people still believe that the key to playing depends on learning to keep the strumming hand comfortable, flexible and moving fluidly. However, how the fretboard hand is used is just as important in strumming.
Included in this article is a very short lesson to illustrate and study different 1-bar strumming patterns that can be adapted and applied to songs that the beginning guitarist would like to play.
When playing the guitar in the example, or in any tune, it is very important to remember the following things:
- Do not tighten the muscles of your strumming hand, keep them very loose;
- When strumming, always use an up and down motion, (as one would when shaking hands), from the wrist up and down to loosen it up;
- When playing sheet or tablature music, and you encounter a muted chord (shown as notes or tabs with an “x” crossed over them), take the pressure off the strings that you are pressing, and strum the chord. You should hear just a deep scratch of the strings, with no notes ringing;
- If the chord includes open strings, you might have to block them out by very lightly pressing on them with your non-fretting fingers. You can also just take the side of your fretting hand and lay it lightly across all 6 strings, and strum the guitar.
- The muted chord is one of the most important aspects of strumming. In addition to stressing the rhythm of the song, the muted chord when strummed can aid a guitar player simulate a percussion instrument together with the regular guitar strumming.
First, lets pick three simple chords that you can interchange to practice strumming. These three chords have a structural relationship to each other and are usually found used together in one song.
Simple songs, such as pop or folk songs, are examples of songs that use these major chords frequently. The E major chord can be played with the open 1st, 2nd and 6th strings.
The 1st fret of the 3rd string and 2nd frets of the 4th and 5th strings are pressed to complete the chord. The A major chord is played with the 1st, 5th and 6th strings open.
The 2nd frets of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings are pressed to complete the chord. The D major chord is played by the 1st 4 strings, and the 4th string open.
The 2nd fret of the 1st string, 3rd fret of the 2nd string and 2nd fret of the 3rd string are pressed to play the chord.
Prepare by trying to get familiar with fretting just one particular chord (for instance, the A major chord). Practicing getting both strumming and resting hands in place for muted chords and then comfortably switching them back into the next position to play a chord.
By practicing a few times, you can do this faster with the fretboard hand. Soon you can alternate muted chords while continuously moving the strumming hand up and down at the same time. This will make your guitar strumming sound a lot better.
In the short sample below, the timing is in 4/4 measure, meaning there are 4 beats to a bar. Down arrows mean a down strumming stroke, up means and upstroke and an x denotes a muted chord.
Start slowly and complete the bars, then work up to a faster tempo when you are comfortable. Try to change the patterns and chords to develop your own practice sequence.
Afterwards, apply this to chords and bars of a song you know, and you are on your way to playing songs on the guitar. The pattern is: ? ? X ? ? ? X ?