That simple up-and-down stroke you make across the strings of your guitar, with your fingers or a pick is called strumming – a guitar technique that is important but often underestimated. It doesn’t matter if you are a pop, metal or a rock musician – at some point you are going to want to strum the guitar. The truth is also that it is relatively simple for most guitarists with even just a bit of playing experience to learn specific strumming patterns and with some practice they come very much in handy when a certain song or style requires it.

A good strumming technique is definitely a skill in the toolkit of every pro and hobby guitarist so why not add it right away? Below you will find everything you need to kick off your strumming for free – essential tips for getting the most from your strumming exercises, a worksheet with exercises for all levels and a video tutorial where you can hear and see for yourself.

So here is how you should start:

1. Get some picks.

Unless you insist on strumming with your bare fingers, you’ll need picks. They vary in thickness so it will be best if you buy a multipack with varied ones, to choose the one that suits you best personally. Once you settle on what’s most comfortable, I suggest you get some extra picks of that thickness, because you are going to lose some for sure!

It is also CRUCIAL to hold the pick right. But we have you covered on that too – here is a video on how to hold your pick that will teach you all you need to know!

2. Loosen your wrist

In order to strum the guitar correctly you should make sure you are not locking your wrist: remember always not to strum just from your elbow. You need to relax and use some wrist motion. Otherwise you risk causing yourself an injury to the elbow, or just getting tired faster.

3. Don`t stop moving your strumming hand

Your strumming hand needs to be moving at all times, even when you’re not hitting any strings for a couple of beats. This way you will save yourself a lot of worrying about whether you need to move your hand up or down next as it will already be in the correct position. It will be much easier to be in rhythm and will save you some space in your mind to think about other components of your performance.

4. No need to hit all the strings every time

Don`t let worrying over how to hit all the correct strings get you all worked up and stressed when strumming. You might think you need to hit all the strings from a chord with every strum, but that’s not the case. Just remember that less strings is always better than hitting the wrong ones and aim for the higher strings. Remember that your main job is to keep up the groove. Don`t worry, you will get it with some practice!

5. Get excited!

Yes, that’s right! More than any other guitar technique, good strumming depends on enthusiasm. The simplicity and immediacy of strumming needs a bit of enthusiasm to really bring to life any melody. If you don`t believe that, try it for yourself – once you’ve roughly learned how to strum a song, record yourself playing it. Now put the guitar down and watch a live performance of that song – one that would really inspire you. Now get back to the guitar and pour that energy into your next performance and record it again. Can you hear the difference? Now that is the enthusiasm!

Now that you know all of that you are ready for some exercises! GET THEM HERE. And do not worry on which step of your strumming journey you are – the levels here vary from 1 to 7 so there is something for you in there for sure!An image is a worth a thousand words they say, so how much would a video be? In any case, here is also a FREE video lesson on strumming to top off everything you learned so far:

Want to learn how to play the guitar? Understandable. Who doesn’t want to play the guitar solo from their favorite track or serenade a dear person with a special song? In addition to being a lot of fun, playing the guitar comes with a bunch of other benefits that you shouldn`t neglect. Such as…

  1. Reduces stress

You are having a tough day? A walk along the guitar fretboard can make you feel much better. Immersion in an activity that is enjoyable – like playing a guitar, will make you forget all the worries. Health benefits from spending some time with your guitar have also been proven – the Harvard University Health Center conducted a study on the effects of music on patients undergoing cardiac surgery and found out that ballads do indeed reduce nervousness.

2. Make friends

With a guitar in hand, you will certainly make a lot of new friendships too. Playing in a band or participating in a jam session (a concert where all the musicians present can take part and improvise) is a great way to meet new people. The common passion will bring you together with the right people – even if you don’t play together, music is a great topic for conversation that will surely bring you closer to like-minded people.

3. Become the life of the party!

With a guitar in hand and even beginner’s skills, no party will be boring if you are there! Live music makes every event special. This way you will not only provide entertainment for yourself on every occasion but also for the rest of the people.

4. Improves math and English skills

Yes, that too! Music theory is based on mathematical concepts, including how scales and chords work. So even the brief playing of several chords actually sharpens basic arithmetic skills. Reading music is also similar to a language, and in turn sharpens your comprehension skills. Furthermore, if you are looking for information on the Internet – you will find it mainly in English, which will inevitably expand your English vocabulary. But if something is not clear, you can always send a message or email – just follow the links below. 🙂

  1. Develops multitasking skills

While playing, guitarists not only develop their musical skills – they also train their ability to multitask. To be a good guitar player you will need to be able to simultaneously:

  • Read notes, chords, or tabs;
  • Listen and analyze sounds in real time;
  • Keep rhythm;
  • Play the right strings with one hand…
  • While with the other you press the strings for the right tones or create chord shapes.

And when you get to the stage, you’ll have to keep track of what’s going on and around it… Your ability to multitask will develop at the speed of light and quickly talking on the phone while stirring a pot on the stove will be child’s play! 😀

It doesn’t matter if you are in London, New York, Hong Kong, Sicily, Cairo, Sydney, the other end of the world, or near me in Sofia, Bulgaria, to start studying! Sign up for a lesson live or online here. You can also start with some of Neli Music’s free YouTube tutorials like this one and this one.

Taylor Nylon String Guitar, Guitar Lesson

When I started out teaching, I was quite lost on what to do during a guitar lesson with a new student. Over the years I have devised a method, which I wanted to share with you in case you are wondering where to start. I offer the first guitar lesson for half price as I get to know my students and the way they learn during that time. It doesn’t really take me any time to prepare as I just ask them some questions and use the materials I’m about to share with you below. I use these steps and their order can of course be changed (apart from tuning I guess – it is the most important thing tot each in my opinion).

  •  I make sure they know how to tune their guitar – with a tuner and if I have time – by ear. For that they also need to know the names of the open strings.
  • I teach them the Chromatic Scale (or a part of it), so I can evaluate how all of their fingers work independantly.
  • I see what chords they already know, and if none, then I show them some basic chords and explain how to read fretboxes.
  • Find out what music they like. This is the second most important thing. There are MANY ways in which you can learn the guitar. What better way to do it than with the songs and artists you LOVE? I believe that’s why my students progress quickly.

Here are the 2 compulsory sheets I give my students in the first lesson:

If you’d like a consultation or you simply want to start your guitar lessons, feel free to CONTACT ME with any questions.

Hope this helps and wish you a lovely day!
All the best!
Neli 🙂