beginner strumming

Wildcat
Wildcat
@wildcat
one month ago
22 posts

@spotter DITTO!

spotter
@spotter
one month ago
3 posts

Many Thanks to all your replies. Its much appreciated. Its a beautiful instrument and I just need to get the fundamentals correct before racing off. Thanks again.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
one month ago
2,233 posts

I started as an 'in' strummer mostly because i saw that Jean Ritchie was mainly an in strummer when playing in noter style. (though of course Jean was talented in other styles as well, and also a good guitar player)

My 'in' strum is much more strong and assertive sounding than my out strum. Part of this is because I angle my force downwards as i strum in, and upwards as i strum out. This enables me to choose whether or not to hit the middle and bass strings as I'm playing melody notes on the melody string. I often would play a run of melody notes in an 'in/out/in/out' motion, but while playing only the melody string. Of course one can do this same technique of angling to avoid bass string whether one is an 'inny' or an 'outy'.
Dusty makes a good point that the sound of broadly strumming back and forth on all strings all the time creates a rather overwhelming sound that can not only quickly become tedious but can drown out the melody. Only time and practice can get one better at making your pick 'dance'.

On my noter drone blog, I have quite a few instructional posts with videos geared towards helping beginners improve their strumming skills; https://dulcimer-noter-drone.blogspot.com/search/label/strumming




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/25/24 12:15:27PM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one month ago
2,103 posts

Basic rule of dulcimer -- There is No Right Way or Wrong Way to Play the Dulcimer -- there is only what works best for You.
Never let anyone -- teacher or friend -- tell you that you MUST play a given way.

I spent decades strumming "outie only".  Then one day, for some unknown reason, I back-strummed.  And it didn't sound bad. So I did it again,  And again.  And suddenly I was strumming both ways.  Today I still tend to be an out-strummer, especially on slow songs.  But I also strum both ways.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@nate
one month ago
229 posts

In my opinion, in and out strums sound very different, especially if you strum slower. I feel that they have different energies. An in strum feels passive and calm whereas an out strum feels engaging and sharp. I think that a melody note after a bass note feels cradled, whereas a base note after a melody note feels like an echo. So I think it would benefit you to make sure you play plenty with both in and out strums, and feel the subtle difference. 
Good luck and have fun
Nate

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
one month ago
1,712 posts

There is no music you cannot play.  There is only music that you cannot play yet !

One thing I forgot to mention is that you can practice your strumming without playing songs and worrying about left-hand fingering.  Just lay your left hand over the strings to stop them from vibrating but not so hard as to get a tone out of them, and strum with the right hand.  Put on your favorite music and strum along with the beat.  You will just be making a percussive scratching noise with your dulcimer, but you will be able to concentrate solely on the right hand.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Wildcat
Wildcat
@wildcat
one month ago
22 posts

@dusty said: You're not there yet, but you will be soon! 

I appreciate for the encouragement and the tips!

spotter
@spotter
one month ago
3 posts

Thanks a lot. I know it takes time. 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
one month ago
1,712 posts

The short answer is "yes."  You should strum inwards and outwards.  But you are right to ask because you will want to start in one direction until you get it steady, and then you can strum in both directions.

There are both "in" strummers and "out" strummers, but what that means is which direction you strum on the main beat.  Most of us who started on other instruments such as guitars or ukuleles are "out" strummers, whereas many who started on the dulcimer are "in" strummers.  Neither is better than the other. What is important is that you develop a steady beat and that you eventually learn to strum in both directions.

Start by strumming once per quarter-note beat:  1 - 2 - 3 - 4.  Whichever direction you choose, do that for every strum.  Do not change direction.

Once you can do that steadily and smoothly (which may take an hour or may take 6 months), you are reading to add strums in the other direction.  Now you will count 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &.  You will still strum in the direction you chose on all the numbers, but you will strum in the opposite direction on the &s.  Again, do not vary.  Either go out-in out-in out-in out-in or in-out in-out in-out in-out.

Eventually (as in years from now) when you are really smooth with that eighth note strumming patters, there will indeed be exceptions when you can vary from this pattern, but for the foreseeable future, stick to the pattern.

Let me add that while it is important for you to learn to strum steadily--first in one direction and then in both--that does not mean that when you play a song you have to strum on every beat.  You should be able to do so, but you will also want to skip beats to vary your playing.  You're not there yet, but you will be soon!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty: 01/24/24 01:27:58PM
spotter
@spotter
one month ago
3 posts

Hi. Would you suggest strumming inwards or outwards as a beginner?