Welcome back! Are your fingers sore yet? If you’ve made it to this point, you’re a trooper. So far we’ve done the D chord, the Cadd9 chord, and G chord.
In lesson 9, we’re going to add strumming guitar. While you’re working on your strumming, you’ll also be practicing the D, Cadd9, and G chords.
Getting Started Strumming Guitar
Start off by grabbing a pick (or you can use your fingers or thumb). Now make a chord with your left hand and just do a simple strum straight down. (We’ll add some pizzaz later).
Start with the D chord. Try to put all of your fingers down at once. If you still need to place them one at a time that’s fine too.
Now strum the D chord four times. Aim for strumming only the first four strings… but don’t worry if you accidentally hit the fifth and sixth.
Now move over to the Cadd9 chord. Remember, we’re aiming for getting those two fingers over to the 5th and 4th strings, and getting that pinky down. Strum this chord four times.
Next, we hit the G chord. Move your first and second fingers over to the sixth string and the fifth string. Both at once if you can. It’s okay if you still need to do one at a time. Then strum all six of the guitar strings.
Then you start over… four strums on D, four on the Cadd9, and then four on the G.
Getting Into the Groove
Here’s a helpful tip: try just making the chords with your left hand without strumming guitar. Spend just a couple of minutes transitioning from chord to chord without strumming to help smooth out the left hand. Then come back and try it with the strum again. Try and alternate between the two for 5 to 10 minutes.
Now let’s add a little bit of groove to that. You’ll want to learn to be steady with our pulse. The key is to start off very slowly and steadily. It’s also helpful to count out loud to help you keep your beat.
Start the chord progression again (a series of chord changes is called a chord progression) and strum each chord four times. Just straight down for now. It’s okay for the first few times to have a little pause between chords. But the goal is to keep the beat steady with no extra breaks between chords. Be sure to count the strums as you play them:
How did you do? Ready to try it again? This time, try to play this without the pause between chords. If it’s still too tricky, go back and practice transitioning chords without strumming.
Tricks and Tips
Practice putting your pinky down before you start changing chords. It’s best to anticipate the changes so you can get ready. When moving from D to Cadd9 put the pinky down before you change. It won’t hurt the sound even though technically it’s a little early.
Another trick is to take all your fingers off the fretboard and put them back down on the next chord with a little space between the change. Even if there’s a little gap between the chord change it’s okay. Nobody will notice a small gap, and it makes it easier to get to the next chord on time.
I know it's time to make this a little more interesting.
Adding the Pizzaz
Now that you’ve got the basic down strum, let’s add some pizzaz to it! We’ve talked about how to hold the pick and the basic up and down motion. Now I want you to strum this chord progression both down and up.
Let’s start by warming up. Lay your left hand fingers over the strings on your fretboard to mute the guitar. (we’ll add chords in a minute). Start with a strum down… then try strumming up. Don’t worry about the chords yet.
Each strum down is a number (1-2-3-4) and each strum up is an “and”. It should look something like this:
Now you can try adding the chords. Remember, each chord gets 4 beats, or a total of 8 strums (4 down and 4 up).
Go ahead and practice this.
The hardest part for most students is moving to the next chord while strumming guitar without slowing down or speeding up. The key is to start slow… slow enough to be able to change on time. Then when you can do it at the slow speed you can pick it up little by little.
Be patient, and remember, a little each day works best.
Next lesson we’ll learn a little bit about fingerstyle guitar.
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