Yesterday, I worked with a brand new student. She was such a natural with guitar that I barely had to help her learn strumming. She was so able to get into the flow of strumming that all I ended up doing was simple:
- Show her the strumming pattern
- Play the mp3
- Play along with her
In a matter of an hour, she went from never having played a song to playing Tugboat by Galaxie 500. It was a blast!
So, what does that have to do with strumming in general? For many of us, strumming can be a challenge. When strumming does become a challenge for you, I have a couple of suggestions:
- Play the strumming pattern at a slightly lower tempo. If you play it well, take it slowerthan that.
- When you get as slow as you can go and you're close to making a mistake, stay at that tempo. That tempo is where you'll get your best practicing in.
- Take the strumming pattern faster, and faster, and try to top it out at just a little faster than the original tempo.
Strumming need not be hard, but one mistake that many beginners make is the idea that it must be fast, right out of the gate. Don't do this! Take your time and slow down, more, and even more. This helps you get your mechanics together. Then, once you speed it up afterwords, you'll get your flow. Finally, when you play the strumming pattern at the desired tempo, it'll be with mastery.
Not all of us are naturals like my student was yesterday, but that doesn't mean we have to struggle with practicing. Adjust your approach, and you'll learn quicker.