Introducing 16th Note Strumming

In the foundation stage, we are going to explore 16th note strumming. It's no harder than 8th note strumming but is often used in different ways, the most common being to strum every note and use accents (more on that next lesson!). In this starter, we're going to check out the difference between 8th note and 16th note strumming and give you an exercise to get you going the right way!

Those that completed Really Useful Strumming Techniques 2 will already be familiar with this technique, and can skip this lesson, those that completed Really Useful Strumming Techniques 1 will have had a little look but will probably find this lesson simple, but useful. To get really into 16th note reading during the course you might want to look at Understanding Rhythmic Notation as well, but it's not necessary at this stage... that would be for those technically minded folk among you! :)

So enjoy the video and then check out the notes below!

8th note vs 16th note strumming

So lets quickly revise 8th note patterns. We always:

• Strum down on the beat (1,2,3,4).
• Keep our hand moving evenly and consistently.
• Strum up on the 'ands'.

8th Note Strumming

The basic rules for 16th note strumming are as follows:

• Strum down on the beat (1,2,3,4).
• Keep our hand moving evenly and consistently.
• Strum down on the 'ands'.

As you can see the big difference is what is happening on the 'and', in 8th note strumming this was played with an up strum and in 16th note strumming it is played with a down.

16th Note Strumming on 8th notes

So when playing 8th notes, the difference between 8th Note and 16th Note Strumming is purely down to if we play a down or an Up strum on the 'and'!

Having a down strum on the beat and on the off beat means there must be an up in between each, so there are now two more divisions of the beat - giving as a total of 16 possible strums in a bar (hence 16th note strumming!).

16th Note Strumming

Important points

Make sure you only tap your foot on the beat
Many people struggle with this one at first but it's REALLY important to get used to the idea of just tapping your foot on the beat

Playing with the metronome
Getting this in the groove with your metronome is a very important skill as well. Really try and tune your ear into your playing and how it is 'sitting' with the metronome, can you feel if you start to rush or lay back off the beat? If you do try and steady yourself and lock in, get 'in the pocket'.

Accenting the beat
Once you have that down start working on getting your beat accented. This is sometimes easier to work on without the metronome to make sure you are doing a good accent (sometimes the metronome can make the accent and trick you!). Make sure the accent is even too, evening increased in volume. You will probably play about with the amount of accent you use when you do it for real (you'll just do it, not think about it too much) but as an exercise just try and get it reasonably consistent! 


The best practice you can do now is:

1. Practice playing 16th note continuous strumming tapping your foot on the beat.
2. Once you can do the above, put it to a metronome (SLOWLY say 60 bpm). 
3. Practice making your accent on the beat each time and making it a lot louder than the other strums.

That is it for now - you will find that it's quite a lot. Easy to do it badly but to keep it locked into the beat (with your metronome) the divisions even and with the volume consistent (accents louder of course, but evenly so!) should prove to be at least a little challenging!

Next lesson is on finding the notes on the neck!

Further Information on 16th note strumming

If you want to get into your 16th note playing, then check out my series Really Useful Strumming Techniques 2 - it covers them in a lot more detail than I do in this course and has 24 of the most common patterns. Many of my students say that my two strumming series changed how well the could play rhythm in a very short period of time, even those who struggled with it for many years and I believe them to be the most important of my teaching products. Worth a look me thinks!


Intermediate Foundation 1