Learn The Bluegrass Strum On Ukulele With Matt Hicks
Try out more ukulele lessons and tips with Yo! Kulele here
Here are some top Yo! Kulele tips to help you along with Matt’s lesson, so grab your ukulele and start strumming some bluegrass music!
Having a good sense of time is the first step to sounding great with all music, but especially in bluegrass where there aren’t drums. Practicing with a metronome is the easiest way to improve your timing, and you will see results pretty quickly. There are many free and cheap metronome apps for your Smartphone these days, or alternatively, get that foot tapping!
Learn It Slow
Always learn to play a new strum slowly, with or without the metronome. It’s much better to play even excruciatingly slow but in time, rather than speeding up and slowing down to get through a song. If you do it slowly and commit it to muscle memory, it will be much easier to play the passage fast later.
Rhythm Is King
In a bluegrass ensemble, laying down a good solid rhythm is important, a solo might take up three percent of a song, which means that 97 percent of the time our job is to play rhythm.When you can play great rhythm, trust me, people want to play with you!
Bluegrass ukulele is particularly physical, so it’s important to keep your muscles relaxed. This includes not only your hands and arms, but also your shoulders, neck, back, and mind. If you are feeling tension build up in your forearm—let’s say it’s at seven out of 10—try tensing up those muscles to 10 for a few seconds, then relaxing them. You should be able to feel the tension come down to a manageable level. Also, make sure you are breathing, which will aid in relaxing.
Playing smooth runs at fast tempos will sound better when you are more efficient with your motion. Try not to pull your fingers off the fretboard too much, and try not to over strum with your right hand. You can try to break bad habits by practicing very slowly, then increasing the tempo while always keeping tabs on your movements.
It’s very difficult to fully analyze your own playing while you’re in the act. For a better perspective, record yourself and listen back. You’ll be able to hear problem areas, as well as identifying things that are sounding good. It’s important to understand your playing from the listener’s point of view. You’ll be surprised how different it sometimes can be.
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