How To Play Guitar And Sing At The Same Time?


A lot of guitar practices these days are focused on shredding and working on technical skills. Many musicians seem to lack the ability to pick up the guitar and simply sing a song as they play! It’s not as hard as it seems and may even be easier than all the complicated picking that’s part of advanced playing. In this article we will go over some tips to help you succeed at playing guitar and singing at the same time.

Learn Basic Chord Progressions

Start out by playing common chord progressions used in most songs like the I-IV-V or the I-vi-IV-V. The best known keys are C or G so start with chords like C-F-G or G-Em-C-D. Don’t worry about lyrics at first, just sing your beat count on each guitar chord like this.

C 1 2 3 4
F 1 2 3 4
G 1 2 3 4
C 1 2 3 4

Try to match any tones in the chord and to keep your changes smooth, this is important as later when you’re playing songs you will need to be able to switch quickly. Notice where the chords have more tension at the G and back to resolution at C again. Your voice should match these ups and downs in the music. If you struggle with the key of C or G then use a Circle of Fifths chart to transpose or a capo to find a more suitable key. It will depend on your circumstances for which key is right.

Make Sure Lyrics and Syllables Are In The Right Place

After you have the chords and a basic strum to the song down, slowly start putting lyrics in the right place. Make sure to listen to the song you are trying to play and sing along with them to find where the lyric goes. This can be a very tedious process where each line of a verse or chorus is slowly broken down. Do not rush and hurry or you will never get far in practice.

Kids songs and 3 chord guitar songs are a great place to start for this as they usually use basic chords and have easy syllables sung at the chord changes. It’s too early to attempt to play a soul or funky song with potentially weird timings, just stick to the most basic tunes you can. Master the easy stuff and then build into more complicated pieces.

Rhythm Is Essential

Music is all about patterns, the pitches create emotion because of conflict and resolution, and the beat is the same way. There are downbeats, upbeats, syncopated offbeats and more. Music needs an established rhythmic pattern. If you just play chords and notes with no pattern, the music will be all over the place It will seem random and off. Even when you are doing beginner guitar exercises, keeping steady rhythm and timing is key.

As you play guitar you need to get in a rhythmic pattern that will allow your voice to easily tag along. Unfortunately there is no secret to getting better at rhythm except for slow practice with many songs and a metronome. Learn the timing of strums and chords on guitar first and then start to sing lyrics and syllables that fit into it. Rhythm is like juggling, it seems impossible at first but once you work on it for a while it will just happen.

Write Your Own Songs

Once you know some basic chord progressions you can work on writing your own music. Chord sequences, basslines, and drum pattern rhythms are not copyrighted, only the melody is. By repeating and playing a line like G-C-D you can start making up your own lyrics or even nonsense words to the music. It doesn’t have to make sense or sound amazing; it just needs to fit with the tension and resolution of the chords.

Sometimes creating your own music is the best practice as it lets you be yourself, instead of trying to copy another person. Scat, sing random sounds or even do vocal warm ups like lip trills as you slowly increase the speed of what you are playing. When something works, repeat it and do it again! This is another tedious exercise and can be frustrating if you aren’t making good progress but will pay off in the long run. It may seem like you are going nowhere but keep at it.

With writing songs, you don’t need to know specific techniques or how to do barre chords. Keeping things simple with open chords and easy rhythms is best. There are many examples of super simple songs that are some of the greatest in history!

Play The Songs You Know Best!

The number one method to learn to sing and play guitar is by using the music that you know inside and out. Think of your favorite songs from the past, the ones on the radio now, or any song that you can easily sing along to. Now go look up the chords and see which ones will be easiest to play. Beware that not all chords online are correct, sometimes you have to use your ear to listen for problems.

The songs that are the easiest need to be kept for future practice, preferably those that just have the same repeated chords. Learn those chords and a simple strum and then start working on the lyrics that you already know. Don’t worry about complicated singing techniques for beginners at first. Since you are already familiar with the song it will be easier to place where the right syllables and notes are to be sung. Do this process with every song that you know and keep at the ones that you have success with. Over time the concept of playing and singing will click and just like that it will get a lot easier.

There is no simple or quick trick to singing and playing the guitar at the same time, it is essential to practice at it daily. Work on the songs that you love and already know so all you have to worry about is your chords and rhythms. It is a process that many fail at because they stop when it gets hard or if they do not start improving. Music can be like a wall where you try desperately to climb and get nowhere! But with steady and slow work you will eventually find yourself over the hump and singing while strumming guitar. Just relax and play as many songs as you can until it gets better!

By Shawn Leonhardt for Guitar Tricks and 30 Day Singer