Learning the Celtic Strum

I have several students that are in various stages of learning how to play the so-called Celtic Strum.  If you’ve been around modern worship music at all in the last 20 years, you’ve heard this strumming pattern in hundreds of songs.  I’ve heard it called all kinds of things – the worship groove or energy groove – or even “that strummy thing.”

I was first introduced to the celtic strum via Paul Baloche’s original recording of Open The Eyes Of My Heart (Worship Leader’s Song Discovery Issue No. 5).  After that, it seemed like it was in every worship song – there have been countless others: Trading My Sorrows, Sweetly Broken to name a couple more songs that use this strum.

The Celtic Strum is a must-have for the strumming tool box for every guitarist.  Here’s how I break it down for the student:

The pattern is 2 measures long.  Starting with a down-strum, you’re strumming hand will move in a steady down-up motion for the entire pattern.  Every down-strum is an 8th note and every up-strum is an 8th note.  Here’s a PDF of the pattern in rhythmic notation:

Celtic Strum

The arrows show the direction of your strumming hand movement.  The numbers under the notes show you how to count out the rhythm.  Notice there are 4 groups of 3 and 2 groups of 2.  Counting this way will help you focus on the accents which will always fall on 1.  The key to the groove is getting those accents louder than everything else.

Get your strumming hand moving in that steady down-up motion while simultaneously counting out loud (making “one” louder than everything else): “One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two, one-two.”  Start out slow and as you gain confidence, speed things up.  You’ll notice that your strumming hand will be moving in the opposite direction for the first 4 accents or ones and then down for the next two accents.  When you get to the end, loop it around again and again.  One of my students used my phone to make a simple video demo of the accents this morning:

I’ll add more to this post in the future.  Click like to let me know if you found this helpful.  I welcome your comments below!  Happy strumming!

Free “Fingerstyle” Guitar Lesson

Here’s a free guitar lesson on how to play a fingerpicking pattern that you can play over any chord.  I learned this pattern as a student while taking lessons from Preston Reed in the early 90’s.  This is a 2 measure pattern that I’ve broken down into 4 segments of 2 beats each.  Learn each segment, then connect them for the full pattern.  Practice slowly and in control, then speed things up later.  I’m using a standard D chord shape in this video, but you can apply this pattern over any chord using many different combinations of strings.  I included the TAB in the video.  Let me know if you found this helpful.

Double Trouble

Here’s a FREE online guitar lesson on how to avoid “double trouble” on the worship team.  “What kind of trouble?” you may ask… If you have 2 acoustic guitarists on your worship team it can be pretty tricky to figure out a distinct part for each guitarist to play.  Especially if you’ve never explored the guitar south of the 3rd fret.  Let’s suppose your worship leader leads with guitar and they have the 1st position chords all locked up – like G, C, D, Em.  As the No. 2 player, you’re not sure what to play.  Do you just double up on the same chords, pick some lame arpeggio or play the tonic note once in a while?  Wouldn’t it be a better team approach if you could add your own unique chord voicing that fit beautifully with the rest of the band?  What if I told you that you could make your guitar sound almost like a mandolin?  Interested???  Click here to go to the Free Video Page on my new website.  Or you can watch the video right from this post.  Be sure to download the companion PDF!  Please let me know what you think of the lesson and if you found it helpful.  Blessings to you and your worship teams!  I’m leaving in the morning for NWLC 2012 – maybe we’ll see some of you in KC!