When people first take up the uke they often ask (and worry) about strumming and so I’m putting down my (and I emphasise my) personal opinions on this topic. Others may feel differently and are welcome to comment with their views.

For me, strumming is the part of music that comes from the soul, heart, or whatever you want to label ‘within’, that is, it’s a heart-, not head-action. The chords, lyrics and melody are head-actions and set by someone else. And aren’t these 3 things enough for any beginner to be grappling with without adding “do I strum up or down on this beat”?

I don’t want my head anywhere near my strumming as, for me, the strum is personal and is what allows me to put me into a piece of music for me. I would hope the strumming of others is what puts them into a piece of music for them. When I’m asked how I strum a particular piece I have no idea…and if I try to analyse I totally lose the plot!

So my advice (for what it’s worth) is to just relax about strumming and try not over think it. Just try to maintain the rhythm. If it’s too fast, strum every 2nd beat (just as Bruce Springsteen’s wife often does on stage…and he’s as proud as Punch of her!). As you progress, I’m sure you’ll find strumming comes quite naturally anyway.

Having said all this, if anyone does want strumming advice, there is a legion of websites with instruction for strumming. I just googled “how to strum a ukulele” which returned “about 454,000 results”. “About 159,000 results” came from the same search at YouTube.

Also, members can practise strumming at home by accessing the practice audio files on our Yahoo website (Files>mp3 Recordings). These are just recordings of us jamming on Monday nights…not too specky but a helpful resource when practising alone.

Like I said…my opinions only. Others are welcome to disagree…or simply ignore…but debate is good! And if you want to debate, click on ‘COMMENTS’ above.



Performance songs

One thing I really love about HUG performing is the range of abilities amongst us from the two Bruces down…must be something in the name Bruce? The fact that we’re a community group, not a professional ensemble like UOGB, means that wherever you are on your ukulele journey you can enjoy delighting a crowd.

However, this is precisely why the choice of songs is very important. Not being a professional ensemble and with such a range of abilities we’re not likely to engage an audience to sit attentively and applaud politely at the end. We need to enthuse an audience into participation…whether that be dancing, singing or clapping…or all three! Our best audiences have been those that participate in some way. And when the audience is enthused…like the girls from Sydney at MONA…it gives us a real high and we perform better.

So I guess what I’m saying is, when choosing songs it’s important to think of the audience and what they will respond to. Not just personal favourites or songs we find easy. And if you find certain chords a bit difficult, it’s really easy to bluff…by air playing, tapping your uke like a drum, or whatever takes your fancy. Do it with aplomb and it will appear ‘meant-to-be’! And always remember, however new you are to ukulele you’re way ahead of probably 99% (or a high % at least) of the audience.

Feel free to comment – click on ‘Leave a Comment’ above.


Performance attire

For those considering performing with us for the first time our theme colour is red. You don’t need to be head to toe in red…but simply red knickers won’t cut it…unless it’s all you wear! Neither will a sting of red beads or a pair of red shoes. See our header pic for ideas. Feel free to express your own personality to the max. Go as wild or be as conservative as you like. Check out op shops for red novelties!