Feel Good Strumming
When it comes to strumming, we’ve certainly covered a lot of ground. This is mainly because I’ve taught you the biggest secret of strumming – keep your arm moving!!
As a beginner, keeping your arm moving might prove to be quite difficult. Your arm might get tired easily, or maybe you’re preoccupied with mastering whichever strumming pattern you happen to be working on. The result is likely that your arm gets more and more tense the longer you practice, which can then result in a tense sounding strum. This is the opposite of what you want! You want your strumming to feel relaxed and effortless.
To help with this, play a pattern you’re already comfortable with along with a metronome. You should feel relaxed in your hand, arm, and shoulder, but also in your mind! Don’t underestimate the impact a busy or worried mind can have on your playing. Get out of your head!
Easier said than done, though, eh?
To get your head into a more relaxed and chill space, you’ve got to get into a happy headspace. What I like to do is to basically force myself to think happy thoughts. Also, I make myself smile! I know it sounds crazy, but I promise you – it really does work. You’ll feel yourself loosening up and not worrying so much about whether or not your strumming is perfect, and ultimately, your strumming will loosen up. Even if the song you’re trying to play is sad, you still want a relaxed strumming arm to get through it.
When practising this, the chords you play don’t matter, although a major chord might help to put you into that happy headspace a bit easier than a minor chord will. This is a great lesson in the feeling you bring to music! Yes, the technical side of playing guitar is important, but don’t forget that people listen to music because of the way it makes them feel.
This relaxed strumming practice is one of the key skills you should be working on and one that Nitsuj is very aware of when laying songs - especially at this consolidation stage you might find that you can relax your strumming when there are no chord changes going on, but when there's more to think about the tension creeps in - so stay aware when you're playing songs that you need the strumming to be relaxed and feelin' good.
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