Whether you’re a guitar player who wants to start singing, or you’re a singer who wants to be able to accompany yourself, this guide is for you! When it comes to learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time, I have some great tips that will help you break down the individual components, master them, and then put them all together to achieve success! Let’s break it down!
Focusing on Guitar
There are a few main concepts you need to master on guitar before you can start learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time. The basic principle here is to make the guitar playing so automatic that you focus primarily on the singing part. That way you can pay attention to the rhythm, melody and emotion of the vocals which will have a big impact on your audience.
Let’s take a look at some individual components to focus on when it comes to the guitar.
Guitar Chords for Songs
When you learn a song, chords will be the very base of your learning process. Obviously you need to learn the chords of the song if you are to play the song so let’s take a look at how to effectively learn them.
Make sure you can play each chord cleanly and consistently. If you can’t, I would recommend taking a look at my lesson on a great method to play cleaner chords. You can find that lesson by clicking right here.
Once you can play all of the chords that you’ll need without issue, it’s time to start putting them together!
Take a look at the chord transitions you are going to need for the song. Consistently playing these chord transitions with minimal mistakes is going to be paramount later on when we combine all of the moving pieces.
Go through each and every chord transition that you will play and make sure that you can make that transition 4 out of 5 times without hesitation and with minimal mistakes. If you need help working on your chord transitions, I would recommend taking a look at my lesson on a Simple Solution to Clean Chord Transitions.
Once you have played all of the transitions and you’re comfortable with them, it’s time to put them into the bigger picture. That’s right, I’m talking about chord progressions.
Chord progressions are the culmination of multiple chord transitions. Many songs have the same one or two chord progressions repeated throughout the song so getting a handle on this will be relatively easy. Work on playing through all of the chord progressions and most importantly, memorizing them.
Make sure that you can play through multiple chord progressions. The entire song will consistent of multiple chord progressions all in a row, so being able to play entire progressions back to back to back is very important.
Once you’ve got your progressions memorized and can play them multiple times in a row with minimal mistakes, it’s time to add in our last key guitar component, strumming patterns.
When learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time, one of the biggest obstacles will be strumming patterns. Strumming patterns are tough because usually the rhythm of the strumming patterns will be different than the rhythm of the vocals. It’s important to be able to get your strumming pattern down so that you can focus on the vocals later on.
For a full break down on mastering a strumming pattern, check out my lesson on the Three Simple Steps to Learning a Strumming Pattern.
Here is the cliff notes version:
To start, play the strumming pattern while only fretting one chord.
Once you feel comfortable with that, play the strumming pattern with individual chord transitions.
After that, play the strumming pattern over the chord progression(s).
Take it in small steps and work your way up to full progressions. There is no need to rush as this is one of the most important parts of learning how to play guitar and sing at the same time!
Let’s take a look at some strumming techniques for guitar that will help you achieve success in your songs.
Strumming Techniques for Guitar
As you are learning these strumming patterns over the chord progressions, there are two really important techniques to be thinking about.
The first technique is to be able to sing the rhythm of the strumming pattern in your head without even needing the guitar. If you can memorize the rhythm and clap along with it, you’ll be able to convert that into a strumming pattern.
The second technique is simple: always keep your strumming hand moving. That’s it! That’s all there is to it! If you want to become more natural with your strumming patterns and strumming techniques on guitar, this is the most important one.
Both of these strumming techniques for guitar will help you become a smoother and more natural sounding guitar player overall, not just when you’re trying to learn how to play guitar and sing at the same time.
Let’s take a look at how to combine these steps with singing.
Focusing on Singing While Playing
When you are combining guitar and singing, make sure that you have all of the singing parts memorized. I go much more in depth in this in my guide, “Your First Open Mic” – A Comprehensive Look at How to Play Guitar and Sing at the Same Time.
Now before you go rushing into singing over the guitar part, let’s take a little bit more time to jump into it.
Singing Over a Recording
I would recommend that you make a recording of your guitar part on your phone and then sing over that. This is good practice because you won’t be able to rely on the full song with the vocals to help carry you through the rhythm and melody.
This might be a little tough, but once you get it down, it’s only a couple more steps until we can put everything together!
Talking While Playing
After you feel comfortable with singing over a recording of the guitar part, pick that guitar up and start playing the chord progressions with the strumming patterns. While you’re doing this, try to talk out loud.
You can say anything that you want, but try to talk normally like you would if you were having a conversation. If you notice that your guitar playing gets off track, try to jump back in where you made the mistake and then keep on talking.
This will help you develop muscle memory on guitar and have the guitar playing become more automatic. Once you’re feeling good about that, it’s time for the final step!
Final Step: Combining Playing Guitar and Singing
It’s the time you’ve been waiting for!
Go ahead and pick up your guitar and start playing. Now it’s time to start singing over the guitar part and see how it goes!
I would suggest breaking the song down into small chunks instead of trying to tackle the entire thing all at once. This way you can work on smaller parts and then put them all together just like we did with all of the other moving parts in this guide!
This is definitely not a skill that you will be able to pick up overnight. It takes hard work, dedication, time and practice! I strongly recommend that you work on great practice techniques and if you need help with that, check out my Guide to Better Practice where I teach you how to help break up your practice time into very efficient segments utilizing techniques that all of the pros use!
If you’re interested in mastering some other great techniques on guitar, I would strongly recommend that you check out my Free 5-Day Course which will guide you through a behind-the-scenes look at playing better chords, making smoother chord transitions, learning the fretboard notes and even how to solo!
All it takes is your email address to get started and I promise I will never spam you!
Best of luck working towards becoming the guitar player you want to be and now that you’ve taken the leap to play guitar and sing at the same time, welcome to becoming a better musician!