This ukulele strumming patterns PDF will help you build up your ability to play interesting strumming patterns on the ukulele. Each pattern builds off of each other to eventually allow you play the universal strumming pattern. (A fun rhythmic pattern that works on most popular songs).
- Each pattern can be used while playing popular songs.
- If you’re having trouble singing the lyrics of a particular song with strumming pattern (#4 or #5), then try working through the song using pattern #1.
- Use the nail of your index to strum down. Like the picture above:
- Use the nail of your thumb to strum up.
For the following exercises, use the chord of your choice. To make things easy, try using the C chord. Click here to learn how to play the 4 basic ukulele chords.
*To challenge yourself, Practise the strumming patterns with a harder chord like the G. This way you can hit two birds with one stone.
-> Sign up for an online ukulele lesson with me. for help with this material.
Each ukulele strumming pattern explained
- This first pattern is made up of only down-strums. Make sure to count 1,2,3,4 when you first start working on this.
- In this next pattern, we’ll introduce the up-strum. This strumming pattern is counted 1+2+3+4+. For the down-strums that fall on the number, use the nail of your index. For the up-strums that fall on the +, use the nail of your thumb.
*Practise switching from strumming pattern #1 to #2 without stopping.
** Challenge yourself by working on this pattern with the 4 basic ukulele chords.
- In this next pattern, we’ll play only the up-strums. Make sure to count out loud 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +, so that the strum falls on the +.
*This pattern is used in reggae music. For now, we’ll mainly use this as an exercise it to help you practise your up-strums and to help you understand how to play silent down strums.
- In the this pattern, we’ll keep our hand flowing with the same up and down motion as before, but now, we won’t play the up strum of beat 1 or the up-strum of beat 3. *This pattern is similar to Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole Somewhere over the Rainbow.
- We’ve finally arrived at the the universal strumming pattern. I call it this because it works on so many popular songs including Country Roads, Let It Be, I’m Yours and many many more.
*If you’re having difficulty playing this pattern, work on beats 1 and 2 only. After this is comfortable, try playing beats 3 and 4 only. Then, see if you can bring the two together again.
Strumming Pattern for Rip tide (Vance Joy)
It can be tricky to sing the lyrics of this song while playing this pattern. If you are having trouble with it. Try practising the song with pattern #1 of the ukulele strumming patterns PDF.
I’ve written the song out in this simplified format: Riptide PDF (Easy)
Universal Strumming Pattern (with a swing feel)
Many popular songs use a “swing feel”. The steps below explain how to develop a swing feel.
“Swing” means the rhythm is based on triplets.
The universal strumming pattern played normally, looks like this:
Straight (eighth note subdivision)
With a Swing feel (triplet subdivision), it looks like this.
To better understand this, practise counting (1-tri-plet, 2-tri-plet, 3 tri-plet, 4 tri-plet) while clapping the rhythm. Once you can do this, try to do this on the ukulele.
Notice the bouncy, swinging feel of it.
Singing a Phrase
A more intuitive way ”hear” the swing feel, is to sing a phrase while you play.
Eat good cake, I like to
Eat good cake, I like to
*I invented this phrase for this exercise, but you can come up with another one if you wish.
This swing version of the universal strumming pattern sounds great on country songs like Country Roads by John Denver.
To compare, I’m Yours by Jason Mraz uses the straight pattern version of the universal strumming pattern.
Once you are comfortable with all the patterns on Ukulele strumming patterns PDF, then you are ready to play tuns and tuns of awesome popular songs. But first, you’ll need to master your 4 basic ukulele chords.
-> Sign up for an online ukulele lesson with me for help with this material.
- To find a ukulele teacher in Montreal, visit: Ukulele lessons Montreal
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