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  4. Strumming in Time and Counting

Strumming in Time and Counting

Putting the "Bum" into the Bum-Ditty

Strum the open strings with the claw shape formed. As the Strum is completed, let the outstretched thumb land and come to rest on the 5th string. We'll start out playing a whole note rhythm. Strike on beat 1 and let the notes ring through beats 2, 3, and 4 . We'll be keeping a steady rhythm by repeatedly counting aloud, 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4; etc. There should be no pauses in between counting sequences. Again, as you complete the strum, plant the thumb! Lift your hand on beat 4 to prepare to strike again on beat 1. Think not only about sound but about how all of this feels. How does your arm feel when moving, what does it feel like when you hit the strings with the backs of your nails, and when you plant your thumb? This is the "Bum" of the Bum-Ditty rhythm pattern. You can vocalize this as you strum after you get the hang of playing and counting out loud.

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When you try and play along with the tablature below, remember to listen as you play. This is an important skill to master early. Can you hear the low notes of the bass in the background? Listen closely, they sound on the same beats we've been counting. Listening to the bass is a great way to keep steady timing when you're playing in a jam or band setting.

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Master the whole note strums at a slow tempo before trying to go faster. Try to keep a nice steady rhythm while maintaining the proper arm and hand positions before moving on to the next lesson.