- by Kevin Deal
Have you ever wanted to learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time?
I remember, when I started to learn how to play guitar, wondering how on earth a person could sing and play the instrument at the same time. In fact, it was hard enough learning to play, let alone learning to sing and remember every word and melody!
Nonetheless, I eventually learned how to do it. It may sound difficult for you as it means mastering two skills, but the tips I am going to share with you will get you going.
Master Your Guitar Basics
Trying to think of how to pick a B7 chord while singing, will make singing simultaneously challenging. Your guitar playing should be at a level where changing the chords is effortless. In other words, you should be so comfortable with your playing that you don’t even need to think about it. In this way, you will be able to focus on singing.
Keep the Strums Simple
Complex fingerpicking and sophisticated strums are unnecessary when you are still learning to sing and play simultaneously. You will realize that many bands have a rhythm guitar and lead guitar player. Normally, it’s the rhythm guitarist that does the singing, often playing the song’s basic chord progression. Why?
This is because it’s quite difficult to sing and play an intricate passage altogether. In that light, a simple pluck of the main chords is all you need when playing and singing. However, you can go a step further as you practice and advance.
Simple Rhythms and Simple Rhymes
You should not complicate by picking songs that are above your skill level. In fact, doing so will only leave you feeling beaten and discouraged. It is advisable to start learning easy songs that you understand and love. The songs should have just a few chords, a simple fingerpicking pattern as well as lyrics that are easy to remember.
Be an Attentive Listener
While you may think this is obvious, I have realized it is quite easy NOT to listen keenly. Likewise, it is easy to want to get into singing and playing at the same time quickly. Often, we sing songs that have been written by others. In light of this fact, it is imperative that you take the time to listen to the song you are trying to sing, lest you end up practicing mistakes.
By practicing mistakes, you will be learning to sing the wrong way. Take it slow and listen carefully to every single bar of the song. After careful listening, you may discover some singers coming in right before or after the beat. Discerning such details without intimately listening to it is difficult.
Compose Your Songs
Composing your tunes is one of the best ways to play the guitar and sing at the same time. Just choose a standard chord progression in an appropriate key for your voice and start composing. With this, you won’t have to replicate any other style or range.
The melodies should remain simple and don’t forget that an ordinary human voice can jump only a few notes at any given time. Find a quiet place, sit down with your instrument and start strumming a chord progression up to the time some words fall into place.
The more tunes you compose, the more refined you will be. The verses should be in the same chord progression. Likewise, the chorus should always remain the same, and consider mixing it up a bit at the bridge. The goal here is to play and sing as many progressions and chords as you can until you figure out what sounds best for you. After you‘ve come up with a beautiful piece of music, you should now focus on practicing and singing with confidence.
Memorize the Melody
You could start by singing on a neutral syllable, like “la.” It is imperative that you ensure your sense of pitch is perfect. To achieve this, simply sing without accompaniment. Try to assign yourself an opening pitch on a pitched instrument and sing the melody all through to the end. Then, test yourself by assigning yourself the melody’s closing pitch. It is advisable to always sing with a metronome to uphold an accurate sense of time.
Learn to Multitask
You should focus on improving your multi-tasking capabilities in the course of learning how to sing and play at the same time. Consider distracting yourself by watching TV while playing the guitar and singing the music slowly. When you shift your focus elsewhere, you minimize the chances of getting tripped up, and it will turn into a more natural feeling.
Change up the Key
If hitting the song’s notes proves difficult, consider changing up the keys to your instrument’s tone to match your vocal range. To achieve this, simply move the chords by 1-2 frets. Try to sing again until you get the key that compliments your voice. Alternatively, you can use a capo to change the key and maintain your original strumming.
Learning to sing while playing your guitar is not an overnight thing – it takes time and practice. Even after mastering the necessary skill, you will continue to add more songs to your portfolio. Some of these songs may have complex rhythm combinations that could trip you up. In such situation, consider breaking the song down into smaller parts. You can then work on the problematic parts just like you did when you were learning to play and sing simultaneously.
Playing the guitar and singing at the same time usually sound complicated as it involves mastering two skills. It is, however, easy to learn if you diligently follow these tips, like I did.
If you have any questions or any useful ideas about playing and singing at the same time, please leave a comment below. Also, don’t forget to share this article with others if you found it useful- it can be beneficial to your friends as well.