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If You Say It You Can Play It

There are two tips I learned when playing guitar that I think are the two most important things I ever learned. Fortunately for you guys these lessons translate perfectly to ukulele and are simple enough to get to grips with.

Today we’re going to be looking at the first of these tips. The title of this post should tell it all. When you’re working with a complex rhythm that you’re struggling to get to grips with its a really good idea to say that rhythm out loud. Count the rhythm like this – 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & dropping either the numbers or the ands to fit the rhythm that you’re playing.

Here’s a few to get you started (just say them out loud)…

  • 1 2 3 & 4
  • 1 2 3 4 &
  • 1 2 & & 4

Once you get to grips with these, take a look at my PDF download of 32 strumming patterns and work your way through them.

It doesn’t matter how many times I explain this in person to people that I’m teaching, more often than not they won’t do it. I think it’s because it feels a bit strange and depending on who can hear you, it can be a bit embarrassing. The best thing I can say to help with this is that benefit far outweighs the pain. The sooner you start to do it, the sooner you can get on perfecting your rhythm.

By counting the rhythm out loud you’ll find that your hand will quickly follow. There seems to be some natural association between your mouth and your strumming hand. I’ve struggled with rhythms for what seems like ages only to learn them really quickly once I start counting them out. Try it, see how it just seems to work.

It’s a technique I still call upon even after years of playing. I don’t know about you but I’m prepared to look a bit foolish to become a better player!

Grab my free Ukulele Go! beginners pack.

2 thoughts on “If You Say It You Can Play It

  1. You speak the truth on many matters. I would be lost without counting the rhythm, but to convince others is so very difficult. I teach children (and always include one parent) basic ukulele technique and they count aloud with me, but when I stop, they stop. They call me the Count and, for some reason, it sounds derisive when they say it.

    I find It nearly impossible to play with those beautiful people who are non-counters.

    1. Hi Don, thanks for the comment. I think it’s difficult to believe how important it is to count. Only really when you do it and hear the benefit does it start to make sense.

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