Strumming and Rhythm Guitar Lesson

Part 1 :  Learn some basic rhythms and a fun strum pattern!

Before watching the video you may want to take a few minutes to get a basic understanding of rhythms and how they are written and talked about.

The information to go with video is below and marked with the reference times!

First let's start by looking at the time signature that helps us understand how to count and divide up time!

To the right we have the staff with a treble clef and time signature.  In this example it is called Three Four time.

The top number is going to tell us how many beats we can have in a measure.  More on this below.

The bottom note will tell us what kind of note gets the beat.

You can also think of the bottom note to represent the value of the whole note.

If we had a key signature (flats or sharps) it would go between the clef and time signature.  More on this later 🙂

C represents Common time which is also known as 4/4.  The measure to the right has a whole note rest in it to signify not to play anything for 4 beats (in this case 1 measure) and has a final bar line at the end to signify the end of a piece of music.

In this example we have two measures divided by a bar line with each of these measures having a whole note rest in them.  So in this example you wouldn't play anything for 8 beats (in this case 2 measures).

Whole Note

Worth 4 beats in 4/4

0:18 - 0:44
The whole note is held for the value of the bottom number in the time signature. In 4/4 or Common time the bottom number is 4 and so the whole note is held for 4 beats. Because the top number is also 4 we can only have 4 beats in a measure. Since the whole note is worth 4, we can't fit anything else in this measure.

Note on staff is a G (3rd string open)

Whole note on staff

2:14 - 2:22
To the right is a whole note written for a chord chart.  In 4/4 time we will hold this for 4 beats.  So without a chord written above we don't know what to play.  Only that whatever it is will be held for 4.


Half Notes

Worth 2 beats in 4/4

0:45 - 0:52
The half note is worth half of the whole note.
So if the whole note is worth 4 beats, the half note is worth 2. As long as the top number is 4, we can have 4 beats which means we can put 2 half notes in the measure.

Half notes on staff

2:23 - 2:28
To the right are two half notes worth two beats each in 4/4.  So in this case we will hit them  on beat 1 and 3.


Quarter Notes

Worth 1 beat in 4/4

0:53 - 0:58
The quarter note will be worth half of a half note. So in the case of 4/4 where the half note was worth 2, the quarter note will be worth 1 and we could have 4 in a measure.

Quarter notes on staff

2:29 - 2:32
Next up is our quarter notes worth one beat each in 4/4.  So in this case we will play then on every beat.

Eighth Notes

Worth 1/2 a beat in 4/4

0:59 - 1:08
The eighth note is worth half of the quarter note. Which means it is only worth half of a beat. 2 connected together would be worth 1 beat and we could put a total of 8 in a measure.

Eighth notes on staff

2:33 - 2:43
Next up is our eighth notes worth half a beat each in 4/4.  So we will play 8 notes in one measure and count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  In this example we will play up and down strokes.  So note that when you were playing quarter notes you were playing all down but you had to come back up in between the down strokes.  Now you just have to catch the strings on the way back up.

Sixteenth Notes

Worth 1/4 a beat in 4/4

1:09 - 1:16
The sixteenth note will be worth half of an eighth note. So a single sixteenth note in 4/4 time would only be worth 1/4 of a beat. You could play 4 sixteenth notes in one beat and 16 in a measure.

Sixteenth notes on staff

2:44 - 2:47
So now we will play sixteenth notes which means we would need 16 in to fill one measure.  One 16th notes by itself in 4/4 time would be worth 1/4 of a beat.  Now we are playing a note in between the 1 and the & and we are calling them the e and a.  So we will count one beat as 1 e & a.

Pattern 1

3:54 - 4:34

Now let's take all this above info and learn a strum pattern!  This is an easy one with two quarter notes on beat 1 and 2 and then four eighth notes making up beats 3 and 4.

Pattern 2

4:35 - to end

This pattern is similar to pattern 1 but we have now moved the four eighth notes to beats 2 and 3!  We will work on speeding this pattern up.

Easy strum pattern for guitar

Keep It Going!

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How did you do?

If that was fun and you want more then click the button below for the next 3 parts of this series.  It's free and each part expands on the last, reinforcing the material and ingraining the muscle memory to make these strum patterns become a part of your regular playing.

My name is Teague Purtell and I am a professional musician.  I love music and I love sharing my knowledge so others can experience the joy that playing guitar can offer.  I started Musiclearning.Com in 1999 with the goal to create fun online guitar lessons that provided direction and would help with focus and consistency.  Over time it became a complete guitar method designed to help everyone from beginner to seasoned players.  In 2007 I started a youtube channel and began adding videos to the lessons.  Little did I know that my lesson videos would get to 26 million views and counting.  All this to say I have figured out how to teach guitar online and what works for people so they feel they make the progress needed to want to keep playing and growing on the instrument.

So if you want to work on your strumming and rhythm playing:  This Free Series is for You 🙂

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