Learning how to play guitar takes time, and learning how to sing takes time – but what about learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time? If you’re nailing the guitar parts, and you can sing your hear out, but the two seem to meet together in a train-wreck of missed cues and off timing, you’re in luck – here’s the best way to learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time.
The first thing you need to do is absolutely master your guitar parts so you can pump out the chords and riffs without a second through, and then adding in your vocal lines is a simple process of maintaining balance. Lets learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time.
Master your guitar parts
Memorising your guitar parts is easy to do, but is THE most important part of the equation that is playing guitar and singing at the same time. If you’re constantly looking down at your hands and searching for how to play the next chord (or the chord you just missed!), your singing will suffer greatly will effect your overall performance. By memorising your guitar parts and even learning how to play the full song with your eyes closed, or while watching TV, or while driving (I’m joking!), you allow yourself to focus on the balancing at that is singing in itself without your focus being drawn away from your breathing and pitch.
The best way to master your guitar parts in the process of learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time is to count out loud “One and Two and…” etc, considering the timing of the song you choose, so that your focus is on keeping time and counting rather than on chord changes and guitar licks. By counting and playing at the same time, you actually train the mechanism of balance between your fingers and your voice – master your guitar parts first for the quickest path towards your dreams of being a folk guitar master or screaming rock axeman.
Nail your vocal lines
The obvious next step is memorising your vocal lines so that they flow out without strain or too much thought. In the same way to counting will help you master your guitar parts, tapping along to the beat will allow you to connect the mechanism of your voice with your hands without too much effort. The more comfortable you are with your vocal lines and singing, the better the song will be when you bring it all together. If you’re struggling with the vocal lines, there’s a great free course and tons of free singing resources here.
Now that you’ve mastered your guitar parts and vocal lines respectively, it’s now time to bring them together with the central focus of timing. That means, when you play the guitar you focus on the timing in your head in the same way you do when you sing – this central point of ‘focus’ allows you to recall the muscle memory required in both guitar playing and also singing so that you can sing and play guitar at the same time with ease. Singing and playing guitar takes some time to master, but with this simple process you can shorten the learning curve and get started on the process of balancing between your axe and your voice.
5 Steps To Better Guitar Playing
If you’re having some trouble with your guitar parts and you feel like there’s just something you’re “missing” in the whole scheme of things, these 5 tips will absolutely change your life and change your guitar playing for the better!
#1 – It’s not a baseball bat
That’s right. Are you clamping the bejeezus out of the neck of the guitar when you play chords or attempt a guitar lick? Clamping hard with your hand puts strain on the thumb and engages your tendons in a way which really isn’t conducive to great guitar playing. Do you see Slash straining and flexing his arms when he shreds a Guns ‘N Roses solo? Of course not – because it’s a guitar, not a baseball bat. Stop clamping and release that thumb!
#2 – Foundation is key
In the same way I espouse the foundations of the voice for great singing, there are certain key fundamentals in guitar playing that you really should get down pat first before trying anything too strenuous. As un-Rock ‘n Roll as it is, posture and how you hold the guitar is an important part of learning to play guitar, along with how you hold the pick and general retaining a strain free and fluid posture. Is your foundation up to scratch?
#3 – Timing is key
Keeping time isn’t just the job of your drummer, it’s an important part of playing any instrument to a level of proficiency. If your timing is off, your playing will sound sloppy, and you will especially struggle when it comes to singing and playing guitar at the same time. Tap along with your foot if you have to, or buy a metronome, or even a metronome app for your phone and play, play, play!
#4 – Balance and Coordination
Guitar isn’t a muscular sport, it’s a process of balance and coordination that is similar to learning how to sing. You need to balance and coordinate both of your hands together in a fluid and well timed manner, not to mention timing and balancing your chord changes with timing, tone and timbre, volume, coordinating with other instruments and so on. Start slow and focus on balance between your left and right hands – a great guitarist controls their two hands individually but in a controlled and balanced way. If you’re getting out of time and there is fret buzz, string noise and a whole lotta sloppy mess when you play, it’s due to lack of balance.
#5 – Practice makes perfect
No really, it does. Continual practice is the only way to achieve mastery of your instrument, and guitar is no exception. I know, your favourite rock guitarists just threw on a guitar and played Stairway To Heaven perfectly the first time they tried, right? Wrong. Many famous guitarists often talk about the hours and hours spent, and lengths they went to to achieve the skill and ‘ease’ that you hear and see when you play your favourite records. Can you honestly say you’re investing enough time in your ability to play guitar and your ability to sing? You reap what you sow my friend, you reap what you sow.
Playing guitar and singing at the same time relies on every single step above, from constant practice right through to continually building your foundations. A great place to start is the free guitar foundations courses available here at Bohemian Guitar Studio which will show you how to balance your two hands while keeping two hands and ultimately achieve the tone and talent of your dreams.
If you have any questions about learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!