classical guitar strum

How to Strum Guitar Songs

Recap of video:

  • To practice, mute the strings with your left hand by lightly touching the strings.
  • Use only one finger (not the thumb) to strum.  It sounds better this way and allows to to build on it later.
  • Move up and down through the strings from the elbow.
  • Count: 12345678-12345678 etc   (Remember: 1 is always a downstroke.)
  • Decide on a number, and don’t let that number sound (but still move up or down as usual)
  • Switch up numbers so that you are good at all of them.  Start to speed up.
  • When you are ready, choose two numbers to take out.  Practice as above.
  • 2 and 5 are the most common pair to take out, so be sure to master that one.
  • Each pair has it’s own character.  Notice which ones you like.
  • As you speed up, you can stop counting and just listen to the pattern.
  • Counting is a way to remember and start a strum.  Eventually you will rely on it less and less.
  • The biggest pitfall you may encounter is your arm stopping on the silent beats.  Keep moving!
  • As you can, play chords with the left hand.  Eventually, switch chords while keeping the strum in time.

allen mathews classical guitar

About Allen Mathews

Allen Mathews learned guitar as an adult, and has been a full-time guitar teacher for almost two decades to students age 4 to 96.  He has taught classical guitar at Reed College and Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has been a guest lecturer and clinician at schools and universities throughout the U.S.  Allen is often praised for his creative teaching abilities, and his dedication to helping adults learn classical guitar.  He has a popular Youtube Channel offering regular classical guitar tutorials, and has gained fans worldwide for his weekly emails and articles at

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