Learning to strum the guitar
Once we have a learnt a chord or two then it's time to learn to strum the guitar. It is our right hand playing the strings that generates the sound and rhythm of the guitar so it is important to work on the right hand as much as the left. Strumming the guitar is the moving of the right hand across the strings of the guitar.
In basic terms, we have a down strum (or down stroke) which is when we strum from the low (bass) strings to the top (treble) strings (thick strings to thin strings) i.e: we are moving down towards the ground. We also have the up strum (or up stroke) which is moving the hand from top strings to the low strings i.e: from the ground towards our head.
Typically, the up strums have less emphasis and are played lighter unless going for a specific sound (see patterns 11 and 12 below). Also strumming should be a relaxed movement involving the elbow joint and the wrist working together to get a smooth even strum.
Have a listen to the various patterns on this page and have a go at playing along. I've played the patterns using an 'E Major' chord so you can use this to play in tune. The term BPM is beats per minute and is a count of how many beats occur in one minute (or 60 seconds). So 60 BPM would be 60 beats per minute (1 beat per second). The higher the BPM, the faster the song. The rhythms on this page have been grouped into measures of 4 beats that repeat, once you get to 4 - start again at 1.
Note: it can be a bit confusing following the diagrams as a down strum is shown as an arrow pointing up the page. This is because the bass strings are shown at the bottom of the diagram so the arrow is pointing from low to high in pitch (thick to thin strings)
Tip - Play all four strums as evenly as possible
Strum Pattern 01 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 01 - 120 BPM
Tip - Make the up strums shorter and lighter than the down strums
Strum Pattern 02 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 02 - 120 BPM
Tip - Don't forget to miss out the up strum after the first down strum
Strum Pattern 03 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 03 - 120 BPM
Tip - Count the rhythm out aloud before playing it to get a feel for it
Strum Pattern 05 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 05 - 120 BPM
Tip - Be aware of the up strum after the 4th beat when changing chords
Strum Pattern 06 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 06 - 120 BPM
Tip - Count the pattern out aloud before playing
Strum Pattern 07 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 07 - 120 BPM
Tip - Try and keep the strums nice and keep relaxed
Strum Pattern 09 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 09 - 120 BPM
Tip - Emphasise beats 2 and 4 by playing longer strums
Strum Pattern 10 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 10 - 120 BPM
Tip - Keep counting aloud so you keep the emphasis off the beat
Strum Pattern 11 - 80 BPM
Strum Pattern 11 - 120 BPM