Do You Really Have A Problem With Your Strumming?

by Maurice Richard
Senior Instructor at Halifax Guitar Lessons

You’ve made some good progress on guitar and figured out some chords and can change between them ok.

It all works fine until you try to play a song and add some strumming to the chords and then everything falls apart.

The strumming gets choppy, you miss some beats, you make some mistakes changing the chords and it all comes out a big sloppy mess.

You work on it over and over again and try to make it work but you do not make any progress and it seems to be no use even trying.

It’s frustrating and definitely not fun. But what can you do?

frustration learning to strum on guitar

Too Much At Once

The good news is you are human and this is a typical problem for many people who are first learning to play guitar.

If you can change chords at a certain rate with a simple or no strumming and you suddenly try to add a more complex strum pattern things are likely going to fall apart.

That’s because you are doing more than your brain can handle all at the same time so something has to give. Either your chord changes have to suffer or more likely your strumming does in order to get it all in.

This is why practicing the same thing over and over again at the same speed will not likely fix the problem but make it worse because you are now training yourself to play that way.

But why is this so common?

Playing Songs That Are Above Your Abilities

I am sure there are many reasons why this happens to people but the most common factor that I have seen is that we try to play songs that are above our abilities.

This is exactly why I struggled for many years trying to play smoothly and strum properly.

The point of learning guitar is to play songs we like and since we are not trained guitar teachers it is difficult to know if a song is too hard for us or not.

And sometimes it’s even simpler than that. Maybe the song you are trying to play is well within your abilities. You know all the chords, you can change between them no problem.

But when you try to play it with the strum pattern and at the speed of the song, it all falls apart. It’s totally frustrating!

There is a better approach and will help you fix very quickly.

Break The Problem Down

The first thing you should do is find some songs that are slower and have simple strum patters.

However, these songs are not always ones that you like so it is not as much fun. This is still a very useful way to learn and get your skills better. Do not underestimate it.

You are still going to want to work on other songs that are likely more complex. That’s ok, what you have to do here is apply some patience.

Instead of learning the whole thing at song speed with the most complicated strum pattern you can muster slow it down to a speed that allows you to do everything properly.

It does not matter how slow it is, just find that speed and start there until you have some success to build on. Then gradually increase the speed over time making sure you stay consistent.

It will take some time but you will get the song up to speed and you will be able to conquer it.

overcome strumming problems on guitar with trained teacher

Find A Certified Guitar Teacher To Speed Up The Process

Sometimes following the advice above is still not enough and maybe it will take longer than you really would like it to.

You may think a song is within your abilities but you could be wrong. How would you know anyway, you are not a trained guitar teacher?

There may be simple technical issues with your playing that can be fixed that would solve the problem as well. This is common.

Most people who teach themselves or use online guitar teachers develop bad habits that lead them to frustration and hold them back from reaching the playing level they want to.

The best and fastest way to overcome problems with your strumming is to find a certified guitar teacher in your local area.

They are highly trained and will understand exactly what to do with your specific problem with strumming, find and fix any technical issues that need to be addressed and help you reach your goal faster!