Reading The Strumming Patterns

For some reason, mastering strumming patterns isn’t considered to be a big deal. People envision virtuosic performances when thinking of picking up a guitar or ukulele. You need to practice to get somewhere, right? Why skip the fundamentals, and the most basic fundamental is reading the strumming patterns? 

Reading the strumming patterns can be intimidating at first, but it’s a vital skill to have. Especially for lead players. Strumming can enhance your performance. Learning how to read a rhythmic note can make your music more interesting to listen to. It’s applicable for ukuleles too. 

There is no right or wrong way to strum a song. The pattern just needs to complement the music. By learning how to read strumming patterns, you can master difficult songs in no time. This helps you do justice to the chords. You’ll learn how to focus on the right beats too.

How to Strum Notations and Patterns

Strumming patterns essentially provides the information you need to know before you play. It doesn’t have to highlight individual notes you see in musical sheets. You get to see the chord slashes instead. They come in vertical lines. Let’s take a look at the differences. 

You strum every time you see the lines with a tick on top. They’re called slashes. The slashes are categorized into different groups. These groups are called bars and they aim to make the music easier to follow. You can recognize them through a designated vertical line. 

You can find the chord names above the slashes. You need to play the same chord until the next one pops up. The count can be found below the slashes. Read them out aloud to maintain the rhythm. It’s easier to ingrain it in your muscle memory this way too.

Finally, the direction can be found below the count. The small letter ‘d’ means you have to strum downwards. While the small letter ‘up means upwards. You’re not obligated to follow this all the time. Your hands are in constant motion. Add a few ups in between downs to make your music interesting. 

This is also called alternate picking. It’s important to make use of this technique. You’ll be able to strum basic patterns more easily this way. You’re wasting energy otherwise. Beginners tend to go back to the starting position. Why not make use of that constant up and down motion to create a more rhythmic track?

Focus on Time Signatures

You’ll notice two numbers on the left side of a music sheet. The combination of numbers varies. Let’s use 3/4 for easier understanding. The top box (3 in this case) refers to the number of beats. The bottom (4) refers to the value. So it means three fourth notes per measure. This tells you the rhythm the piece should have.

Invest in a Metronome

Metronomes refine your technique. Once you get a better idea about strumming, you can fix your beat with this tool. You can challenge yourself by adjusting the tempo. Start slow and increase the speed to improve your efficiency. Practice makes perfect. You can also look for apps on your smartphone.

Learn by Observing

Looking and listening can help you significantly. Strumming patterns are challenging. Especially if you want to pick them up from the paper. However, they’re easier to listen to. Whether you want to pick up a ukulele or a guitar, you should start observing other players. 

Trust in the process and you’ll go a long way. Reading strumming patterns is a nifty skill to have. However, it’s hard to master it without witnessing it. To immerse yourself in the world of music, you need to start by imitating others. Just to get the basics right anyway. You can adapt more as you gain more experience.

Do Strings Matter?

Read Strumming Patterns

Photo by: Samuel Ramos

There are so many things involved with strumming. Nothing is as important as rhythm and strumming directions, of course. The rest are adaptable. You can change them once you master the basics. It’s pointless to focus on it otherwise. The rest results from experimenting. 

You can consider paying attention to the strings though. This focuses on the strings to strike while you’re strumming. They had texture to your strumming pattern. There are typically four strings. All strings, bass strings, middle strings, and treble strings. 

It’s okay to ignore this while learning. It adds finesse, yes. You can just do it once you gain a little more experience. It’s best to do it once you gain a little confidence. Add string variations once you master a song. You’ll sound like a professional with just a little practice.

Quick Tips

There are some things you should pay attention to master strumming. One is the position of your hands. Keep a loose fist. Bring it to the center of your chest. Point it towards the left. Right if you’re left-handed. Have your thumb steady the strumming finger. 

Constantly moving your arms up and down can be tiring. Try to use your wrist instead of your whole arm. It feels like a workout otherwise. Use your nail when you’re strumming downwards. Try using the fleshy tip of your finger while moving upwards. 

Try to funk things up by breaking the pattern. Once you’re a tad more confident, incorporate your styles. Hit the strings with the underside of your hand. The percussive sound adds an interesting element to an otherwise predictable rhythm. Or you can suddenly lay your fingers across the strings. Shake things up a little.

Final Thoughts

The benefits of reading the strumming patterns outweigh the drawbacks. Strumming patterns are great for nurturing consistency. You can offload the rhythm to your hand. 

Ingrain it to your muscle memory so you can focus on singing along with playing the ukulele. You can learn different rhythms and songs easily too! All it takes is diligence. Master this and start your journey as a musician.

You can also head into our tips for playing the D chord on ukulele.

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