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An Introduction to Strumming
One of the first skills a ukulele player learns is the art and craft of strumming – playing rhythm. This refers to an accompaniment technique suitable for the singer, singer/songwriter or someone who plays a support role for another instrument.
A Strum is the execution of a specific rhythmic pattern, at tempo in a particular style.
Strumming requires a specific set of skills. They are:
- Memorization of chords
- The ability to switch chords smoothly and
- The ability to choose and execute a suitable rhythmic strum
- And, most importantly do ALL of this in tempo.
Though strumming looks natural to the casual observer, it is anything but natural to the beginning ukulele player. Even experienced players have difficulty in identifying and executing certain strums or rhythmic patters. Though this is one of those topics that is typically taken for granted, there is much to learn about rhythmic feels, accents, dynamics, strum direction, feel, percussive accents, idiomatic styles and tempo variation.
First and foremost, the subject of strumming is inseparably linked to rhythm. Read that last line again. First and foremost, the subject of strumming is inseparably linked to rhythm. Though an ability to read rhythm is helpful, it’s not necessary to profit from these lessons.
Many people fall into the trap of mixing up play by ear with learning by ear. Learning by ear is a hit and miss, hunt and peck proposition with more misses than hits.
The goal is to play and perform with the inner ear in control - that is “Playing by Ear”. Learning is better suited with a system and plan of attack.
I've seen it way too many times with my own private students. They insist on trying to learn a specific strumming pattern by their intrinsic stroke directional pattern - the down and up pattern. For only the basic, simplest of strums this might work at times. But, it falls apart for really learning rhythm, which is directly linked to strumming. It is helpful when training the strumming hand to place to emphasis on the downbeats or pulse of music with a down stoke.
Cutting to the chase - You CAN learn any rhythmic pattern by it's standard music notation and the counting pattern used to recreate the sound of the pattern.
For years, early in my development I had several teachers that tried to teach me the quarter note triple rhythmic pattern by rote. I'd get it in the lesson and 20 minutes after the lesson - at home I wouldn't be able to duplicate what I had learned in the lesson. No fault of the teacher, they just didn't have a system for effectively teaching rhythm and give their students the ability to accurately reproduce any rhythmic pattern on their own without needing a teacher or coach or to even have to hear it first.
Then finally studying with Chuck Anderson the creator of the Modular Phonetic Rhythm System I now use. In 30 seconds I could play the quarter note triplet and more importantly reproduce it myself - on-demand when needed. Plus even teach it to others. It's all based on learning any rhythmic pattern by knowing how it relates to the beat and the subdivision of the beat. It's actually that simple. The hard part is getting the hands and fingers to get with the show.
End of Lesson - Thanks, Hope You Enjoyed It!
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Modular Phonetic Rhythm, The Foundation and Workbook 1
Modular Phonetic Rhythm represents a significant advance in the teaching and application of rhythm. Eliminating many inefficient aspects of rhythm education, Modular Phonetic Rhythm streamlines the traditional educational approach, resulting in a reflexive reaction to rhythm.
Basic Lessons for Getting Started with Ukulele
These are the ukulele lessons that every ukulele player just starting out a bit seasoned should take a look at.
Even seasoned player should take a look at this series of lessons. You'll probally pick up a few things you didn't know or remember that would be very helpful when teaching beginners just get started.
Brown Eyed Girl
Brown Eyed Girl is a song by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. Written and recorded in 1967 by Van Morrison and produced by Bang Records chief Bert Berns, it was first released in May 1967 on the album Blowin' Your Mind!. When released as a single, it rose to number eight on the Cashbox charts, and reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. It featured the Sweet Inspirations singing back-up vocals and is widely considered to be Van Morrison's signature song.
Hey, Good Lookin
**Hey, Good Lookin' **is a song created and recorded by Hank Williams as a variation of a song of the same name, similar lyrics, and similar melody written by Cole Porter in 1942. Williams version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. Since its original 1951 recording it has been covered by a variety of artists.
Oh! Susanna is a minstrel song by Stephen Foster (1826-1864). It was published by W. C. Peters & Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1848. The song was introduced by a local quintette at a concert in Andrews' Eagle Ice Cream Saloon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 11, 1847. Foster was said to have written the song for his men's social club. The name Susannah may refer to Foster's deceased sister Charlotte, whose middle name was Susannah. Glenn Weiser suggests the song was influenced by an existing work, "Rose of Alabama" (1846), with which it shares some similarities in lyrical theme and musical structure.
Old MacDonald Had a Farm
Old MacDonald Had a Farm is a children's song and nursery rhyme about a farmer named MacDonald (or McDonald, Macdonald) and the various animals he keeps on his farm. Each verse of the song changes the name of the animal and its respective noise. In many versions, the song is cumulative, with the noises from all the earlier verses added to each subsequent verse. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 745.
Red River Valley
Red River Valley is a folk song and cowboy music standard of controversial origins that has gone by different names—e.g., "Cowboy Love Song", "Bright Sherman Valley", "Bright Laurel Valley", "In the Bright Mohawk Valley", and "Bright Little Valley" — depending on where it has been sung.
You Send Me
You Send Me is a song by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released on September 7, 1957 by Keen Records. Produced by Bumps Blackwell and arranged and conducted by René Hall, the song was the A-side to "Summertime". The song, Cooke's debut single, was a massive commercial success, becoming a number one hit on both Billboard's Rhythm & Blues Records chart and the Billboard Hot 100.
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