Lesson 1: Holding and strumming your ukulele

So what is ukulele strumming? It is the rhythm that your songs are played to, Forget about learning chords and notes at first, we’ll get to them later. I think if you start off with strumming

So what is ukulele strumming?

It is the rhythm that your songs are played to, Forget about learning chords and notes at first, we’ll get to them later. I think if you start off with strumming you can be producing some music and feel like you are playing something very quickly and be encouraged to go on.

When you get the hang of some simple ukulele strumming techniques then you can go on to learn the notes and chords and play some great music. But first…

How to hold your ukulele

Hold the base of your ukulele against your chest with your right forearm between your wrist and your elbow. It needs to be held firm enough not to slip but gentle enough so as not to deaden the sound.

Your wrist should be free to move over the strings and should be kept loose and relaxed; the neck of the Ukulele rests in the crook of your left hand between your thumb and index finger.

The ukulele is held higher than a guitar, it makes holding the ukulele easier with the crook of your elbow and you can hear the music better while you are singing.

But I’m left handed?

Many left handed people are comfortable playing in the traditional way so my advice is to try it first and see if you are comfortable with it. It can make thing easier in the long run because unfortunately most chord charts are written with a right handed player in mind. Saying that

If you are really uncomfortable playing right handed your ukulele can be strung left handed.

That may seem a lot of information to take in but this video shows how to hold your ukulele properly:

Your first ukulele strum

Ok so let’s get started ukulele strumming lesson 1

So what is the first thing you need to know in your quest for great ukulele strumming?

You need to be able to count to four, simple.

Hold your Ukulele as described above with the fingers of your fretting hand gently resting on the strings; we are not worrying about chords for now.

Count to four at a steady pace; add an “and” after each count:

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Now tap your foot in time to your counting hitting the floor on each count:

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Now with your index finger pointing towards you gently move it down the strings with each count and foot tap. On a ukulele you do not strum over the hole but where the neck meets the body of the Ukulele.

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

There you go; you are strumming, to 4\4 time.

These are the down beats. So the strumming pattern would be:

Down, Down, Down, Down

Practice this for a while, it’s not how fast you strum that is important but keeping a consistent pattern to your strumming. This simple strum is the base to a lot of songs.

You will notice that every time you strum down your hand has to come up (on the and)

If you were to rub your finger against the strings when raising your hand this would be an up beat. Try it: you get a much faster rhythm.

A beat where you do not strum on the strings is called a ghost beat. By choosing which beats to strum determines the rhythm

Your second ukulele strum

Keep tapping your foot to help with the timing and try this strum

Down, Down, Up, Down, Down, Up

1, – 2, and, 3, -, 4, and

The lines determine a ghost beat; do not touch the strings on these,

This is a bit more difficult but with practice you should easily be able to get the hang of this strum and be making some music : )

When you can do this comfortably it’s time to learn a few chords.

 

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