How to Read Strumming Notation

2 Week ‘Kick Start’ Beginner Guitar Course
– with Mark McKenzie Part 3

“Learn How To Read Strumming Notation”

Probably the most popular method of notating strumming patterns is to use the characters D, U and . – these symbols are used to show a down strum, an up strum, and a miss.

Here’s an example of a strum notated in this way:

D . D U D . D U

In plain English this would be ‘down miss down up down miss down up’.

Watch the video to see how we actually put into practice on the guitar.



  1. Mike Owens

    It is absurd to use D and U for down and up strums. They are not the correct symbols. Guitar uses the symbols that have been used for hundreds of years for the string instruments: double bass, cello, viola, violin. There are far too many times in which some uneducated and untrained person tries to use different symbols or terms on the internet, and all that does is propagate incorrect studies. It is also incorrect to use down and up arrows for strum directions, because THEY ARE NOT THE CORRECT SYMBOLS. Take a music class, hire an instructor, and stop supporting these online unprofessional individuals who make up their own terminology! To Mark, who commented above: it doesn’t matter if these real symbols are odd. Many music symbols are odd. The only thing that matters is they are CORRECT.

  2. Moses

    I have watched the video on “how to read strumming notation” part 3, am gaining knowledge, am also practicing it, thanks

  3. Asase Daniel

    please i don,t have money to pay for the lessons so can you help me with the lessons?

  4. Rene Okeefe

    there is no sound when he explaines the part to learn today

    1. Jon Coursey Post author

      Hi Gene, that’s odd. Have you tried it again since? Seems to be working for me.

  5. Richard Weintraub

    All the strumming lessons would benefit from written notations

  6. anura

    Thank you very much for your effort. Dear teacher, you are a treasure for us

  7. Phil Higdon aka Silver Beard

    That’s how I like to teach my students strumming patterns. I then like to teach them how to listen to a song and recognize the rhythm enough to make their own patterns . I make sure they know basic patterns and then show them how to combine strumming patterns to fit a song. I like how you teach different techniques and skills so I study your style to broaden my way of teaching children and adults. I teach guitar / music classes at a non-profit music school. No one is turned away from any music class just because they can not afford our already low tuition. I receive a little pay but not much. Since I do not count on my pay for our budget I can afford to do it. Friends who rely on guitar lessons for part of their income cannot afford that. I’m not rich. I just have a disability insurance check each month because of severe medical problems. Guitar and music are about all I can physically do anymore. I’m an old Hippie folk musician whose music was a hobby until I had to quit working in January 2010. Now I study, teach and play guitar almost daily. I’m working on my performing and teaching skills/knowledge. I do a small amount of studio playing for friends who are working on their next album. I usually interpret the folk music written by others from years ago. I use a bit of history and stories about the music. Of course some refer to that as just doing cover songs. Others know it is much more than that for me. I am even a visiting artist for a guitar class in the music department of the local university. The professor refers to my performance as interpreting the songs I choose. Music is how I spend most of my life now. I’m from the United States and I like to hear your voice. Since the accent is very different from my southern US one I find myself being able to focus more to be sure I understand. Anyway, I enjoy learning from you. ……..Phil aka Silver Beard. …☮ph

  8. Blues tramp

    Mark, you are a generous man, a true gentleman

  9. Peter

    That’s cockin good. What’s next?

  10. charles whitaker

    After just a few days of your lesson on chords, I got 80% of them back in my memory, its been 30 yrs since I’ve played. now to my strumming, Thanks Mark.

    1. Mark McKenzie

      Glad to be of service mate!

  11. Steph

    Hi Mark,

    I’ve come across music that says “Strum line // v/v //” and i have no idea what it is trying to tell me. Is it D D . U D U . D D?


    1. Mark McKenzie

      Hi Steph, the method you mentioned uses slashes and V’s to indicate down and up strums. / for down and V for up. That pattern does seem a little odd. Where did you find it? Send me a link and I can take a look at it for you if you like.

      1. david payne

        i’v picked up more from u in a week than i have from another source in a month thanks Mark

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