Have you ever wondered how people play the guitar and sing at the same time? If not, you may not have realized that it looks a lot easier than it actually is.
If you want to play guitar and sing along, or you happen to be in a band, learning to play guitar and sing simultaneously is a skill that you will need to learn. It won't just come naturally for most people.
So, to get you started, here are 10 tips to help you learn to sing and play the guitar at the same time:
1. Know How To Play and Sing Individually
If you want to start singing and playing the guitar, you need to make sure that you have the basic skill requirements to do them both separately. In other words, you need to know your songs and be able to sing them without the guitar and vice versa. If you can’t sing or play them on your own, then that’s what you need to start learning before you even think about doing both together.
2. Sing or Play While Listening to the Song
Listening to the song you want to learn is obviously helpful, so practice until you can sing along with confidence.
Then do the same but with the guitar. Play the piece along with the music until you can strum the chords without having to think about it.
Then turn the music off and try singing it alone, after which you play the guitar piece alone. Then put it all together, try sing and play simultaneously.
Don’t think about it too much and just let your muscle memory take over. If you need to, play the song slower than the original pace, and once you have gotten the hang of it, you can speed it up again.
3. Use a Metronome
A great way to help you get into the rhythm of things is to practice using a metronome.
Pick a simple song with some easy chords, and when you're ready, set a metronome to 4\4 time and start playing the while singing one, two, three, four, while using the metronome as a guideline. Then, when you are comfortable doing that, try singing the song again in 4\4 time, but singing the words instead of counting. Keep on listening to your metronome as you sing.
4. Practice Your Multi-Tasking
Try practicing chords or songs while concentrating on something else, like watching TV or chatting to someone. The goal is to take your attention away from your playing so that it becomes more natural and automatic.
5. Break The Along Up
Every time you choose a new song to learn, make sure you learn the words and the chords separately. Sing the song without the guitar until you get it right and vice versa. Instead of tackling the entire song as a whole, think of breaking it up into sections of your choice. Maybe learn half now half later, or learn it in thirds even. This takes a lot of the pressure off trying to get the song right as a whole piece.
It will also help if you are struggling in certain places, you can just pick that section and practice it until you get it right before moving on. Then when you are ready you can put the whole song back together again.
6. Start Humming Before You Sing
When you are familiar with the chords in the song, practice humming the tune along with it and then maybe throw in a few words here and there as you become more comfortable. You may find that the humming\singing might distract you from playing, so at that point just go slowly, and if you have to, stop singing until you get the next chord, strum it, and then carry on singing. It may seem slow going at first but if you keep practicing you should start to get it right.
7. Practice More Than One Song
Split your practice time between two easy songs that you have picked to practice with. As you get the one song right, move along to the next one and if you find yourself stuck and frustrated, change back to the first song. Jumping to and fro between the songs should minimize frustration while you are learning. Learning two at once will also distract you from the parts of the songs you may be struggling with, so when you go back to it, you should find it easier so get right.
8. Pick An Easy Song!
Do yourself a favor right from step go, don’t pick a difficult song. If you do, you may struggle more and become frustrated. Remember, you are not trying to improve your guitar playing or singing skills individually here, but simply trying to learn the guitar and sing at the same time. This is a whole new skill.
9. Know How To Play the Guitar
This may seem a little obvious but, if you don’t know how to play the guitar at all, then you surely cannot learn to sing and play the guitar at the same time. This being said, if you are a beginner and it’s something you want to learn, take a beat and practice your guitar playing first. You cannot be thinking about what chord is where while attempting to sing at the same time, so learn your instrument first.
The key to success is to practice, practice, practice…But always remember that quality time spent practicing is always better than forcing yourself to train repetitively for hours on end. In order to master the fine art of singing and playing the guitar at the same time, you need to do it at every day for at least half hour if you want to improve.
Once you get the hang of singing and playing the guitar at the same time, you can start learning increasingly difficult songs as you go. You may find that even though the songs get more difficult, learning to sing and play them at the same time will get easier and easier. Keep practicing and don’t give up. It is a wonderfully rewarding feeling once you get it right.
About the Author: Joseph Evans
My name is Joseph Evans and I am a guitar playing, freelance writing, online teaching music lover based in Seattle, WA. Growing up in a musical family naturally lead to obtaining my Bachelor of Music (BM) in Composition & Music Theory degree, after which I taught and traveled my way across Europe for 7 years before returning back home to settle in beautiful Seattle. On a typical day, you would find me playing my guitar, pottering around in the vegetable garden, going on long hikes, reading and/or writing.