Two Fundamental Ukulele Strumming Patterns

Two of the most common strumming patterns for ukulele are the Church Lick and the Calypso Strum.  Many beginners may have come across these strums before but know them by no name or different names.  If you wish to play with others or play more difficult songs it is important to know the name of the strum pattern being used.

Ukulele Mike has two good videos to demonstrate both of these strumming patterns and they are both in 4/4 time.  He also stresses that you must practice both using a straight strum and a swing strum, to the extent that your “muscle memory” allows you to play them both ways automatically.  Repetition is the key.

The Church Lick:

Can be written as:

  1. down-down up / down-down up down-down up /
  1. d.du / d.dud.du /

Ukulele Mike demonstrates this as a Straight 8th note strum and as a Swing 8th note strum.  This is also useful for changing chords within a bar (Ukulele Hunt).


The Calypso Strum:

Can be written as:

1.  / down-down up-up down up / down-down up-up down up /

2.  / d.du.udu / d.du.udu /

The Calypso strum is also known as the Island Strum or for guitar players the Rock Strum.  It is widely used in popular music and as Ukulele Mike explains in his video, can be played  as a Straight 8th note strum or a Swing 8th note strum.

Both songs,  He’s Got the World In His Hands and Jamaica Farewell, that Mike mentions as suitable for learning the Calypso strum are in The Ukulele Club Songbook.

Happy Strumming.


Bayside Ukes member.