When you’re learning to play guitar, the natural next step is to play and sing your favorite songs. This can be a big challenge for new guitar players.
As guitar players, we’re constantly multitasking. Our left hand and right hand are doing different things. We’re thinking about the next chord or phrase. We’re trying to stay in time. And that’s all a big challenge in itself.
When you add in a vocal melody with a different rhythm it all becomes a daunting task. And a lot people get discouraged and stop trying altogether.
The Hard Way
I think that most people just try to “go for it” without any thought or strategy. Keep trying until they can do it. This is an admirable approach for sure. But it’s also a harder approach that can take much longer.
Think about it: We have a structured and well thought out approach to learning guitar (or any skill). So why not have the same strategic approach to singing and playing at the same time?
The Better Way
Aimee Fields joins me to share her simple step by step approach. It’s all about small and manageable steps. Just like learning guitar, we’ll take it one step at a time. This makes the process easier and develops confidence as you go.
A Helpful Tip: Before trying to sing along, make sure you have the guitar part down. If you don’t have to think about the guitar part it frees your mind up to focus on singing.
Pretty soon you’ll be able to do both without thinking about either!
Singing and Playing Together
We’ve broken this down into 6 easy to digest steps. Taking this one step at a time allows us to understand each part without getting too complicated. Once you’re 80% there with each step, move on to the next! The more comfortable you are with each step, the less you have to think about it on the next.
Step 1 - Get Your Chords Down
This is probably the biggest key here. If you have to think about singing, AND think about the chord pattern, it can make for a tough time.
Step 2 - Simple Down Strum Saying A-B-C-D....
The ABCs you know and love! This is a great exercise because you know the ABCs without having to think about it. It will warm up your mind for multitasking.
Step 3 - Strum and Say the Lyrics in Time
It’s helpful to get a sense of the vocal rhythm before trying it over the “next level” strum pattern. You don’t have to worry about vocal pitch here, just the timing.
Step 4 - Say Lyrics And Strum “Next Level” Strum
Now add in the strum pattern with the vocal rhythm. Try strumming for a few bars before saying the lyrics in time. This will imprint the strum pattern on your mind and make it more natural to play.
Step 5 - Sing “La, La, La” With Melody While Strumming
Before singing the lyrics, “La, La, La” the melody over the strum pattern. Singing “La, La, La” in place of the lyrics let’s you focal solely on pitch. And it will also prepare you for the last step...
Step 6 - Putting It All Together… Add the Lyrics
Add the lyrics and sing and play your heart out!
Don’t worry if you get off time, or flub a chord or two. This skill takes practice to get comfortable with. Take your time with each step, and remember to have fun!