The learning of “rhythm”, as an area of instruction on the guitar, is very hit or miss for lots of students. On the internet, you will have no trouble at all finding teachers who will show all manner of technique- like how to make chords, how to change chords, how to play a song, how to choose what scale goes over what chord. These are important topics for sure but the simple fact is…you’ll see more of this stuff (the “let me show you” stuff) than you will see a definitive exploration of how rhythm actually works. This, to me, seems very odd as rhythm (or rhythm as applied to strumming skills) is completely central to a great musical experience. You could have the most impecable technique and yet if your rhythm is “off” your audience will definately be thinking “That guy is not really a good player”.
I think rhythm skills in “guitar world” are generally left to chance. You either get it upon demonstration or you don’t. Teachers simply enjoy teaching technique more because it’s tangible, observable and somewhat measurable- more meat ‘n potatoes if you will. But teaching rhythm is much less tangible. We use such terms as PULSE, FEEL, VIBE, TIMING, all of which must be more internally and quietly experienced by the guitarist. Because of this, I consider rhythm training to be a DARK ART. As teachers we will have to use words and phrases like ” Just try to feel the beat” or, “Keep repeating it and you’ll get it”- much more vague than teaching technique. Helping a student to feel rhythm in their body (other than those who have a natural inclination for it) is a daunting task. Afterall, a human makes rhythm-not a guitar. So to really help students understand the skills of strumming a guitar, the experience of rhythm (and the logical structure upon which it is built) needs to be explored and ultimately FELT.
In this video, I ask the question “Which strumming pattern appears correct with respect to the movement of the strumming hand?”. As I am dealing with art here, “correct” might not be the best term. Perhaps, “efficient” would be a better term. Still, there is a structure to strumming that the student can understand and apply it creatively to their own strumming solutions instead of relying on “canned strumming patterns” for longer than necessary.
As always, leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
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