When strumming guitar, there are three motions to keep in mind.
Proper strumming uses all 3 of the below motions at the same time: However, try practicing each motion individually, and then combining them after.
1) 1st motion - arm movement. To practice arm movement, try keeping your wrist stiff and inflexible, only moving your arm. Of the three motions involved in strumming, this is the most important motion to create a strong strum pattern. However, the following two motions are also important in creating a balanced and well-rounded strum.
2) 2nd motion - wrist movement. To practice wrist movement, do not move your arm. Rather, practice strumming the strings only with movement from your wrist.
3) 3rd motion - “Turning the Doorknob”. To practice this motion, do not move your arm or your wrist. Rather, turn your hand as if you were opening a door. This helps you angle the pick properly.
Of all of the above motions, the first motion of using the arm is the most important for strength. However, the other two motions are essential when creating a warm, rich strum.
Here are some things to remember when strumming.
- Keep relaxed. Don’t get too stiff. Allow the pick to “glide” over the strings.
- When you strum chords, you want to strum the strings not as six individual strings, but as one group of strings.
- To avoid creating a sound that has too much treble, strive for hitting the correct bass notes.
- Choose your pick carefully. A stiff pick is not very flexible. A medium pick has some bend to it. For most strumming, you will want a thinner pick because it isn't as rigid. The flexibility of a thin or medium pick helps it glide easier over the strings.
- When strumming, strum through the strings. In other words, don’t stop the motion of the pick at the bottom or the top of the strings. Usually there will be at least a few inches of motion even after you have finished strumming all six strings.
- Make sure you don’t “tail” your hand off at the end of the strum. If you tail your hand away at the end of the strum, this will keep you from hitting the bottom strings. Rather, it is better to keep a vertical motion throughout the entire strum.