Put some “feel” into your strumming!

I will return to a topic that I find the MOST important about playing music – the feel.
You can know a hundred chords, but if your feel is bland – so will your playing. But, if you have a good feel, then you can impress everyone and yourself with just ONE chord!

To start, let’s forget about playing a “song” and just concentrate on the strumming. Mute your strings with your left hand’s little finger. Just lay it across the strings just hard enough to dampen the sound, but not so hard that you are playing anything.

Count “one-and-two-and-three-and-four-and” over and over, setting up a rhythm with JUST YOUR VOICE.

Tap your foot on ONE and THREE.

Can you do just that?

Now, vocally – accent the TWO and the FOUR. (An accent means that you say or sing (or play) a little louder on that particular note or count.)

Doing all this vocally at first lets you concentrate on the mechanics of this lesson.

Vocally, you will be saying in rhythm: “one-and-TWO-and-three-and FOUR-and” over and over, while tapping your foot on ONE and THREE. Yes, it takes a little practice to get the two things happening at once, but do it slow until it becomes more natural.

Then I want you to add your uke, but just strum MUTED strings. No chords yet. Just set up a nice rhythm until you got it down!

Then add a chord… ONE CHORD ONLY to start. Remember, the name of this blog is “All in Good Time”, which in this case refers to patience. The idea here isn’t to play a song (yet) but to simply learn how to play a rhythm with feel.

Work on that and let me know how you are doing.

Here is a video demonstrating this concept.


9 Responses to “Put some “feel” into your strumming!”

  1. PLUCking Ukes – Rhythm Without Blues « People of Lewisham's Ukulele Club Says:

    […] also his lessons on: Put some “feel” into your strumming!; How to be a better “strummer” – […]

  2. David Says:

    Hello Rhan. Another great lesson. I took stand up bass lessons for a year or so, and that foot tap thing was the most important and hardest thing to learn. Now branching out to other instruments, but the TIMING and beat are THE most important concepts to grasp. This is a great exercise. Thank you, and Happy New Year 2012. // David, Portland, or.

  3. William Kelly Says:

    Firstly, Thank You for taking the time to post these very helpful blogs and you tube videos.
    I am 52 years old, never so much as picked up a musical instrument in my life. As for singing, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But for some reason lately I have really been feeling that I am missing out big time. Most of the people I know have drums, like the Djembe. I like them for a little bit, but can live with out them at the same time. In my quest for an instrument, I came across the Ukulele. After watching countless videos, watching and listening, I discovered that some of my most liked songs are in fact that of Ukulele. Seems to me that everyone that has one has great amounts of fun playing them. After whipping off a couple of emails to Uke players and discussing whether I am too old to start or how difficult it would be for me not having any musical back ground at all and everyone says go for it, it not only is fun, but not all that hard to learn.

    Anyhow probably enough babble.

    I bought myself a Kala KA-S the day before Christmas. Of course there is no one in these parts that offers lessons, so I am doing this totally on my own with the help of the internet and wonderful folks like you.

    Although I find it confusing at times, I think I am getting a little bit of progress. I have learned the C, Am, G, F, B chords, also a few ways of strumming. Today I found your wonderful contribution for my learning experience. I really appreciate your taking the time to go into better detail with strumming methods.

    I do have some problems with some of the chords, not being nice and crisp. Take the B for example using my index finger to cover 1st fret A and E strings, middle finger to get the 2nd fret C string and ring finger 3rd fret G string. I have a really hard time getting the notes to come out with out being muffled. I don’t get how to hold my fingers so they are not touching anywhere that they are not suppose to. Any suggestions?

    Again, thank you so much for taking the time to give to so many that want to learn.
    In your opinion am I just yanking my chain here thinking that I might be able to actually do this?


    • Rhan Wilson Says:

      Thank you for the kind comment!
      Let me start by saying that you are absolutely NOT too old to start to learn to play, and that the uke is the perfect instrument to start with.
      It’s easy to begin making beautiful music and there seems to be no limit on how good you can get on one. And, you have stumbled into one of the most supportive and forgiving communities I can imagine, at least as I know here in Santa Cruz, CA. (Where are you from?)

      I like your suggestion of offering some tips on how to better play a B chord – I will think of ways I can make that a little easier. Once you master that simple chord, you have opened yourself up to several others that go with it.

      But a simple C, F, and G will get you deep into several hundred possible songs – so you already know enough to move forward.

      Please keep in contact and feel free to suggest lessons I might present – you know far better than I what you (and others) need to work on.


      • William Kelly Says:

        Thanks for your vote of confidence!!! I hail from a small town (Bowmanville) in Ontario, Canada.

        I have picked out my next Ukulele, this will be a gift to me down the road when I have actually attained the ability to play a little and actually have fun with it. Mind giving me your impression on my pick?


        Again thank you, off to shovel snow.


      • Rhan Wilson Says:

        People may think I am crazy, but one of my favorite things to do when I travel to PA, is to shovel the snow.
        Okay, back to your request. I am answering your request to review your uke choice here on the blog because I think my comment will be helpful to others as well.
        The one you have chosen seems to be fine. The real test is whether or not it feels good to play.
        I have two ukes. One, a Bushman soprano that was sold to me for $100. It feels a bit small now and then, but I play it just fine. My other one is a baritone that I found in a junk shop in PA one early morning, all covered with grime, for $40. I cleaned it up, put new tuners, a pickup and strings on it, and it sounds heavenly.

        So perhaps my esoteric answer is that the best uke to have is the one in your hands.

        Happy playing!

  4. ukulele4kids Says:

    Like it, clearly explained and the video helps too – thanks!

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