The aim of this exercise is to return the strum to its basic, simple, vanilla form, to make it easier to cultivate a steady strum. If you are playing or singing a song, a busy or interesting strum can distract the listener from the song itself, especially if one tends to speed up or slow down in the course of playing a song.
A steady, even strum, in theory, is boring. If all you do is strum a single, unchanging chord, you might find it lacking in expression and interest. You might be tempted to vary your strum, to add dynamic interest by accenting some beats of the measure, maybe even leaving a stroke unplayed. I’ve identified a particular strum pattern that I hear in every ukulele club, and it’s much more prevalent than it is apt. When it becomes a player’s default strum, it prevents other, more subtle rhythms from developing, and I do grieve the loss of those potential sweet sounds.
Some interesting strums cause the player to stop and start arm movements and interrupt the basic pattern. Strums like this make it more likely that the tempo of the performance will speed up and slow down.
I can’t stress enough the value of keeping a gentle, uninterrupted pulse in the strumming side of the body for the duration of each song. This is the means by which we can fascinate and charm the listening ear.
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