Strumming Exercises

Strumming can be a tricky technique to learn. The reason is everyone has their own approach to strumming, and there is no right or wrong. One thing we can do to improve our strumming is to work on our timing and coordination.

In this section I have put together a 6 step program that focuses on doing just that. It starts right from the beginning, and aims to gradually build up strumming technique.

All examples written in a bar of 4/4. This is because bars can be seen as repeated strumming blocks and 4/4 is the most common time signature you will encounter when learning songs.

Be sure to pay attention to your right hand and check that there is no tension while strumming. Your right hand should be completely relaxed during these excercises.

Step 1: Counting & Footwork

Before we begin to strum, let's not forget counting and tapping our foot along to the beat. This is very important and a lot trickier to do than most people think. This helps us internalise the tempo and as a result keeps our playing in time.

1234

Tap

Tap

Tap

Tap

Step 2: Down Strokes on Down Beats

The down beats are the timing anchors in music and usually coincide with down strokes. To begin our strumming journey let's strum a down stroke on every down beat.

1234

Step 3: Up Strokes on Up Beats

Up beats occur inbetween the downbeats and usually (not always) coincide with up strokes. Let's now strum an up stroke on every up beat.

1+2+3+4+

Step 4: Combining Down & Up Strokes on Down & Up Beats

Now it's time to combine the down and up stroke as it is the combination of down beats and up beats which makes a song rhythmic. Lets try combining both steps 2 and 3 to create step 4. Remember to strum steadily and evenily.

1+2+3+4+

Step 5: Repeating Rhythmic Patterns

Now it's time to introduce rhythmic patterns into our strumming. Rhythmic create a more interesting effect for the listener.

Starting on the Down Stroke

Let's begin with a repeated rhythmic pattern that starts on the up stroke.

1+2+3+4+
Starting on the Up Stroke

Now let's take another repeated rhythmic pattern but this time starting on the up stroke.

1+2+3+4+

Step 6: Putting it All Together

Now it's time to put it all together to play the most commonly played strum pattern. This step combines the examples in step 5 together to create a full bar rhythmic pattern.

1+2+3+4+