Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ukulele Week #3: Strumming

After carrying the uke and holding its body up to the heart, the next thing to teach is how to strum the strings.

Assuming everyone is playing right handed, it will be the right hand that strums. The left hand fingers the fret board, and we'll get to that later. We can leave it a while because the ukulele sounds okay with all strings open. (We'll get to tuning later, but actually, it's the first thing you need to do.)

Kids really don't know how to do it. And there are, actually, many many ways to strum. For me the hardest part about playing the uke is learning to be skillful with that right hand.

But to begin all that we need is a simple downward stroke strumming across all four strings (not too hard) from the one nearest your nose to the string closest to your feet.

The thumb seems to be the easiest part of the hand to use for strumming. The fleshy thumbprinty part of the thumb is what contacts the strings.

Here's Elena, showing how.

Bigger people should strum across the strings higher up—where the neck meets the ukulele body.

For young children I've found strumming over the sound hole works okay especially if they're wearing long sleeves. The sleeves tend to muffle the strings if they strum the strings where they sound the best—farther up the neck.

Tomorrow we'll look at that left hand on the neck.

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