How to Sing While Playing Guitar
First off, one of my students, who has been studying with me for about a year and a half now, came into her lesson last Wednesday, sat down and bolted out a beautiful rendition of one of her singing duo’s own songs.
I’ve watched this student grow from her beginnings, when she really couldn’t even switch through the most straightforward chord progression, to last Wednesday, where she was able to play some of the chords that previously gave her fits while singing.
It was astonishing–she’d not been able to do that two weeks prior, and then all of a sudden there she was doing a genuinely beautiful version of a song that really means a lot to her.
So if you are out there wondering what it’s going to take to get you to be able to sing while playing guitar, have faith. I have seen it work like this in my own life and in the lives of many of my students–it feels like you’ll never get there, like you aren’t even making progress toward your goal of being able to sing the simplest song while accompanying yourself on the guitar.
And then, all of a sudden, like some sort of musical mutation, it’s like you were always able to do it without batting an eyelash.
Of course, my student completely denied that she’d improved despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I wouldn’t let her off the hook, though. It was as if we had passed through a checkpoint on her road to playing the guitar. She won’t be able to go back to not being able to sing and play.
And then, today, I came across the most recent blog post by Jamie Andreas over at Guitar principles on Learning to Sing While Playing Guitar.
It’s another in a long line of grounded, demanding teachings by Jamie. If you’re trying to figure out how to combine singing with simultaneous guitar playing, her article will definitely give you some food for thought.
I sing while I play. This is one of my favorite things to do. It took a while to figure out, but now that I can do it, I love it and want to help as many people learn to sing while playing the guitar as possible.
So, here are my basic pointers for you if you are trying to figure out how to sing while playing your guitar.
First off, you need to have your guitar part completely mastered. Since bringing your voice into play will add a whole other instrument to the challenge you’re already encountering in playing the song on your guitar, you’ve got to offload one of the challenges. And the guitar is the one that has to come first.
If you’ve never been able to sing along as you played a song before, the first song will take you the most time to figure out. It’s an entirely new skill, and it’s just going to take you a little while to figure out. Accept that and embrace it. Stay focused on completely mastering your guitar part and then take it further than you’ve ever taken any other piece of guitar music, because you’re really going to need it mastered at the highest level possible.
Something you can do as you’re learning the guitar accompaniment to your eventual singing is to get in the habit of singing the pitches that you play on the guitar. You don’t need to sing actual words–just sing the pitches and work on training your ear to hear when you’re in tune with your guitar.
Music comes in baby steps until it suddenly clicks and you’ve leapt forward. Patience, patience, patience–get out of your own way, work hard on your fundamentals and, always, enjoy the ride.
Be sure to check out Jamie’s post for an excellent set of instructions on how to go about learning to sing while you play.
And, if you’re still working on making your guitar parts smooth, check out this lesson on learning guitar chords.