Many people choose to play the guitar so they can play and sing along, that is their goal, not everybody wants to play the guitar and become a virtuoso like Steve Vai and John Petrucci.
Guitar is a very versatile instrument, you can play on it many different styles, genres, classic and modern, with your fingers, with a pick, and it is probably the most popular instrument for playing and singing at th
e same time.
Much like the piano, the player have to synchronize both his hands together to play a piece of music, singing while playing the guitar requires the same kind of synchronization, and as such, the same amount of practice.
While singing can be treated as a standalone musical instrument (your own voice being the product of that instrument) much like playing on a regular instrument, if you want to learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time, you have to combine both your hands playing the guitar, with your voice singing, and become one instead of two separate “instruments”.
In the next section I will be offering several steps to help you achieve on doing that.
6 steps to help you achieve playing guitar and singing at the same time
- 1) I will assume that you are on a level that strumming is very easy and effortless for you, otherwise I suggest to continue practicing until you reach that level of playing, and then come back here. It will be much easier to add your voice and sing along if you don't have to worry too much on chord progression and switching between chords. This is a must first step.
- 2) Start with an easy song. A very easy song. May I suggest Let It Be by The Beatles? or Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley? Start with songs that have easy chords progression (skip the fingerpicking for now, concentrate only on chords), learn the chords well and the lyrics, and practice playing it until you stop making errors, and you are able to play it comfortably.
- 3) Instead of singing the lyrics, hum with the song. Humming will help you use your voice already while playing without worrying about remembering the words. It's best when you learn a new song and you still can't memorize all the lyrics easy enough. Humming will also help you further understand and learn the melody of the song over the lyrics, and make transitioning to using regular words much easier.
- 4) As with all exercises, start slowly and then start adding up speed as you improve. Getting an exercise done right in medium speed is far better than playing in full speed while missing half the notes. Same thing here. If you need help with tempo, use a metronome to help you improve your tempo and increase strumming speed gradually.
- 5) It's acceptable to change tuning to lower keys or use a capo if it makes it easier for your singing. If you are playing with a band, make sure to inform all your band members on the change in tuning, especially other guitarists and keyboards.
- 6) And finally, practice and practice. At the beginning it will be very hard to sing and play along, just like when first starting to learn to use both hands on the piano. But if you start with easy songs, slow tempo, hum before using words, and keep repeating and never stop practicing, you will eventually succeed and achieve your goal in playing while singing at the same time, just like countless of other known and unknown artists before you did.
As we mentioned earlier, singing and playing at the same time is similar to a beginner pianist trying to learn to use both his hands to play a song or piece of music. You must learn to practice the process of synchronizing your hands playing the guitar, with your voice for singing, following the 6 steps mentioned above.
You are already using both your hands simultaneously for playing the guitar, adding your voice to it is another step that you have to practice and master, and to eventually reach a point where it is natural for you to do, just like it is natural for an intermediate to advanced pianist to playing using both his hands.
Follow the steps above, and just keep on practicing, and if you are dedicated enough and set your mind to it, you will surely be able to achieve it with minimum time spent.