beginning strumming

Now we're gonna have some fun! As I said a few lessons ago, most of a guitarists life is spent playing chords. Much of the time playing chords is spent strumming. Therefore, developing solid strumming is key to survival.

The trick is to keep your hand moving up and down constantly. This seems very odd at first because sometimes your hand will be moving without hitting any strings, which would appear to be a waste of motion. Really, though what this does is turn your strumming hand into a rock-solid pendulum which cannot and will not be swayed from it's mission of keeping steady time.


The above diagram will look familiar if you spent enough time on
Lesson Five. We're going to talk about eighth notes, the one furthest to the right in the diagram. When they are by themselves, they will appear as above, with a flag on the end of the stem. More often, however you will see them grouped together, in which case they will be tied by a beam, looking like this:


As we now know,
quarter notes are played one note per beat. Eighth notes are played at exactly twice the rate of quarter notes and are counted by saying "and" in between each beat, Like this: "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and". Beats 1, 2, 3, and 4 are to be played with a downstroke, while “and” is played with the upstroke. This steady down-up-down-up motion is the essence of smooth, effective strumming. Here are the symbols for downstrokes and upstrokes:

Down & Up

In the exercise below you will also see eighth note groups that are bound together using what are called “ties”, resulting in something that looks like this:

Tied Eighths

What you do here is play the first quarter note on beat 1 with a downstroke. On beat 2 you play another donwstroke. Next comes an eighth note on the "and" of beat two, which is played with an upstroke, and is tied through beat 3, so the next one we hit is on the "and" of 3. Finish up by hitting two eighth notes starting on beat 4 with a down and an up. The chord progression in the example is G-C-G-D. Good luck and have fun!


This is what you want to shoot for. Enjoy!