Playing a song is hard enough on its own – add vocals to the mix and you can find yourself struggling quickly.
Singing while playing guitar is a daunting challenge that requires excellent timing and rhythm as well as the ability to coordinate the two actions together. Like all your other guitar skills, with practice, it can be mastered.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
- Simple rhythms and simple rhymes. Start with easier songs that you know you can play. Starting with complicated songs will only be frustrating. Songs that have a few cords and a basic strum pattern are the best place to start.
- Know the basics. Get your guitar skills to the point where cord changes are effortless. This means one less focus while playing the song so you can concentrate on singing.
- Use a metronome. Improve your timing and rhythm by strumming along to a metronome. Just 10 minutes a day practicing a simple strumming pattern with the metronome will significantly improve your timing.
- Memorize the song. Play the music until you know it through and through. Being able to perform it fluently is vital. You know you have mastered a song when you don’t have to think about what you are doing, so you could play it while having a conversation or watching television.
- Memorize the vocals. Once you have the guitar part of the song down, memorize the tune and the lyrics. Start by ignoring the guitar and just focusing on your voice. Sing along with a recording, learn the words, the pitch and tone. Once you have that without a hitch, pick the guitar up again.
- Hum it. Start by playing the song on the guitar and humming the melody. This gives you the chance to match the cord changes with the song without having to worry about lyrics.
- Start slow. Go through the song slowly, measure by measure until you are error free, and then speed the song up.
- Change up the Key. If you can’t hit the songs notes, you can change up the keys to the guitars tone match your vocal range. Do this by moving the chords up a fret or two. Try singing again until you find a key which compliments your voice. Another option is to use a capo to alter the key and keep your original fingering.
- Practice! We all know this is the key to success. Practice the mix of vocal and guitar is ultimately the only way to get there. As you pick up harder and harder songs, remember to go back and follow these steps to help you master the combination.
- Fingerpicking. This style can be even trickier as your fingers need to work independently, as well as keeping your strum in time and hitting those vocal notes. A helpful hint is to start by using a basic strum pattern to play the chords. Once comfortable with this, move onto a more complicated strum pattern and then graduate to the original picking pattern.