Bars & Strumming On 1

Strumming and keeping rhythm is usually the biggest hurdle for beginners after chord changes!

So, for your very first strumming pattern, we’re starting REALLY easy, with just one strum per bar. But first, let’s define some things.

What Is A Bar?

Most music has a regular and consistent pulse or beat to it. For instance, you might find that you naturally tap along with music, or maybe that you tap your foot or nod your head. A bar, also called a measure, is a way of dividing musical rhythms (pulses or beats) in a usually consistent form.

You may have heard people counting “1, 2, 3, 4” before starting a song. This likely means that each bar is to have four beats in it.

If you see any rhythms written down using traditional notation, you will see that bars are separated by “bar lines” but you won't see much of that in this course except for in strumming patterns - which in this beginner course will be just one bar long anyway! 

What Is A Beat?

A beat is the most basic musical measurement in music. They define the pulse and rhythm of the music.

The most common time signature in music is 4:4 (or 4/4), which tells us that each bar contains four beats.

Your First Strumming Pattern

Your mission this first lesson is to learn to strum ONLY on beat 1. This will give you plenty of time to make the chord changes.

To do this, you will strum down on beat 1 and then let the chord ring out until you need to change it. If you’re to play the same chord in the next bar, strum the same chord again on beat 1.

If you are having trouble with slower chord changes, it’s totally fine for you to take your fingers off of the strings earlier than you normally would to set up for your next chord. The most important thing with this strumming pattern is to strum the chord right on beat 1 – no sooner, no later – even if this means you can’t let the chord ring out for as long as you’d like to. This will get better the quicker you get at your chord changes. Be sure to keep doing your One Minute Changes exercise and tracking your progress – that will really help with this!

We'll be exploring many more strumming patterns in this course, but you have enough on your plate already. :)

Hints For Faster Progress

If you can count out aloud the “1, 2, 3, 4” as the music goes, this will help develop your sense of time.

Even better is to tap your foot along, as well, which we’ll actually be getting more into the next lesson.

If you have experience playing music or another instrument, it's fine to work with a metronome, but if this is all a bit new, I'd not worry about that for a little while.