Strum in which direction?

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Strum in which direction?

Postby wjhorning777 » Sat May 28, 2016 10:30 pm

Hi I am self taught and own mcspadden mtn dulcimer. Have been practicing with all the great beginner books and enjoying it so much. One question; is there a right way to strum? I practice back and forth but I prefer sound I get when strumming away from my position. I want to practice what is right.
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Re: Strum in which direction?

Postby KenH » Sat May 28, 2016 10:40 pm

AS with so many things involving the dulcimer, there is no right way, or wrong way to strum. There is just YOUR WAY!

I was self-taught 40 years ago when there was only Jean Ritchie's book, and for 30+ years I only strummed out. Then one day, I accidentally strummed back in, and it sounded OK, so I started strumming in both directions for a few years. These days I do what feels good -- mostly strum out -- as it fits my personal playing style. I also don't strum a rigid metronome tick-tock (metro gnomes are little blue guys in the city!). I strum to the rhythm of the words. This works well as I mostly play alone, rather than with other instruments like guitars, and I don't play for dancers (who also want a steady beat)...
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Re: Strum in which direction?

Postby strumelia » Sun May 29, 2016 12:00 pm

HI WJ,
It's great that you are practicing both in and out direction strumming, because having that ability will give you lots of options later on for getting various sounds and for being able to play fast if you like. It can help with getting a smoother sound especially on brisk tempo tunes. But as Ken said, there is no actual right or wrong, and you get to choose YOUR favorite ways of playing! :D
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Re: Strum in which direction?

Postby wjhorning777 » Sun May 29, 2016 12:48 pm

Wonderful. I was hoping that was the consensus because right now I play a little better strumming out. I think cause I'm still learning my strumming isn't as smooth and even when I strum in both directions. However, I will keep working on varying it because that seems to be the advice. Thank you so much!
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Re: Strum in which direction?

Postby strumelia » Sun May 29, 2016 2:26 pm

Here are a few blog posts I made with videos, concerning beginner strumming (in one and in both directions), beginner strum tips and advice:
http://dulcimer-noter-drone.blogspot.com/search/label/strumming
I hope you find some of them helpful. :)
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Re: Strum in which direction?

Postby Robin the Busker » Mon May 30, 2016 12:04 pm

Strumelia has some EXCELLENT information and drills in her blog to help develop strumming skills 8)

Regarding which direction to strum? - well: both (sometimes), outward on its own (sometimes), inward on its own (sometimes). Your strumming creates the 'feel' of your music and it is yours alone - it is your signature on the piece you are playing - it is your chance to be creative with your sound.

To help get your strumming smooth I would suggest singing a tune while clapping along, start with a steady clap on the beat and then try variations. Once you've had a play around with that then mute your strings, sing the tune and strum the rhythms you've just been clapping. After that, try playing a few phrases from the tune using those clapping/muted strumming rhythms. Gradually fit more of the tune to your strumming. Usually, we learn tunes the wrong way around!!!! We learn where the melody notes or chords are and then try to fit our strums to those. I would always recommend starting with the rhythm and then adding the tune. By doing so, your right hand will get a higher percentage of your practice time, which is the correct balance if you want to develop your musicality with the instrument.

Just for info: When folks say they are 'out-strummers' or 'in-strummers' they are not talking about just strumming in that one direction. What they are talking about is the direction they strum on the beat. So if someone says they are an 'out-strummer' it means that they strum away from their body on the first beat of the bar although they will stroke the strings in both directions depending on the rhythm they are creating - the reverse is true of someone who is an 'in-strummer'.

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