“Strumming Etude” – Rock Class 101

Below is the lesson for “Strumming Etude”.

Helpful Tips

This piece is a boot camp for strumming that introduces the thumb as a viable tool for up-strums. This etude is broken into 4 sections:

Melody A & B: Strumming Focus
Intro & Melody C: Fingerpicking Focus

This song uses what is known as voice leading. Think of voice leading as transitioning from chords 1, to 2, to 3, and so on, in the smoothest way possible. To accomplish this, we continually transition to chords that contain notes in common and use as little movement as possible. Our A Melody is full of voice leading; take for example the first two chords in this section: Em to Em (Maj7).


Theses two chords contain three notes in common: E, G, B. When we transition to Em (Maj7), we move back by a half step on the third string to introduce a new (D#) note, thus giving us a new chord. This is voice leading in a nut shell.

Getting back to the strumming lesson… Throughout the A and B Melody, we will be strumming down with the nails of our index and middle or middle and ring fingers, while strumming up with the nail of our thumb to play a single note. Take a look at the tab, every time you see a chord (in the A and B Melodies) strum down, every time you see a single note, use your thumb for an up-strum. It’s a weird technique at first, but allows us to play quick strumming patterns that highlight single note melodies.

Lastly, the intro uses a 4 finger approach to fingerpicking, while the C Melody uses a 3 finger approach.

Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson

Part 2 – For Premium Members


Tab Play Along