The mandolin is an instrument used in country and bluegrass music, and it is also used in pop and classical styles from time to time. When learning to play the mandolin, learning the proper strumming technique is one of the earliest steps, as strumming is one of the most common playing techniques used in many musical styles. Strumming a mandolin is similar to strumming a guitar or other stringed instrument, but requires a smaller stroke as there are fewer strings.
Press your fingers against the strings to form a chord. If you are right-handed, use your left hand to form the chord. If you are left-handed, use your right hand to form the chord.
Hold the pick in your dominant hand between your thumb and index finger so that the small end of the pick is pointing away from your other fingers. Grip the pick firmly enough that it won't slip out of your fingers, but loose enough that it moves slightly when you strum.
Place the pick above the top string and strum in a downward motion so that the pick plucks all of the strings in one smooth motion. Practice the downward strum several times, experimenting with different finger pressure on the pick and varying the speed at which you move the pick.
Place the pick below the bottom string and strum in an upward motion so that the pick plucks all of the strings in one smooth motion. Practice the upward strum several times with the same variation in speed and pressure.
Place the pick above the top string and strum downward strum, then immediately do an upward strum. Alternate between a downward and upward strum several times, aiming for a smooth even rhythm between the two.
Practice the up and down strum pattern while changing chords every four or eight strums. You have now learned basic strumming technique for the mandolin.
Tips & Warnings
- Experiment with different strumming patterns such as "down, down, up" and vary the rhythm of the patterns.
- Watch other mandolin players and try to emulate their strum patterns.
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