GUEST POST – Learning to sing can be a tricky task at the best of times, but when you also add playing guitar to the mix it’s easy for your playing or singing to go a little haywire as you focus on those fancy licks or that high note. This tutorial will show you a foolproof method for developing balance and control when you sing and play guitar at the same time.
Remember, both singing and playing guitar require balance and control – not muscular force or brute strength. Make sure you brush up on your guitar skills first while continuing to develop your vocal technique for the best chance at developing a steady ability to sing and play guitar at the same time. Lets get started!
Nail Your Guitar Parts
Nailing the guitar parts is the first step in learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time.
If you’re searching for the notes and struggling to make chord changes, you’re not going to do yourself any favours by adding your voice into the equation. Make sure you are mastering the guitar parts and your licks and chords are performed from memory with ease before trying to sing at the same time.
Look for any source of strain and tension in your playing – any physical tension you experience when you play guitar will be amplified when you sing at the same time. A great singing voice occurs when the body is free of strain, so make sure the guitar is an extension of your body, not a dead weight holding you down.
Some of the most common reasons for strain while playing guitar are:
- Clamping the neck (it’s an instrument, not a baseball bat!)
- Incorrect holding of the pick (or in the case of fingerstyle, playing incorrect finger position and tension in the wrist).
Brushing up on all your foundation guitar techniques is the very first step in learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time
Master the vocal lines
If you’re straining to hit the high notes or you’re out of breath after every phrase, no doubt diverting your focus to your guitar playing isn’t going to make the process any easier. By developing proper vocal technique and a solid approach to every aspect of your voice, you will ensure that you can hit high notes without strain while maintaining consistency and a pleasant vocal tone throughout the whole song or set.
Some of the most common reasons for issues while singing include the foundation elements like:
- Placement, and
- Vowel shaping
Along with the more advanced steps of:
- Vowel modification and
- Developing a connection between chest and head voice.
If you’re pushing your chest register or flipping up into falsetto – this is a result of poor vocal technique and you need to spend some time building your range more efficiently.
A great place to start is the foundation basics of posture, breathing and resonance.
This is even more important when you add a guitar into the mix. Good posture in singing involves keeping your head high, shoulders back, chin parallel with the floor and of course release of any tension. You need to learn how to engage the diaphragm effectively to breath efficiently for a resonant sound when you sing. Make sure you’re not skipping the basics or forgetting the important foundation elements of your voice when you start learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time. Your singing voice will only ever be as strong as the foundation it has been built upon, so make sure your base is rock solid!
Timing Is Key
Timing is key to tying your voice and guitar playing together.
The first step is to count out loud while playing the guitar lines from memory. Counting out loud “One and Two and Three and” while playing your lines will help you focus on the central timing rather than on your fretting hand or strings and allow you to recall from memory all the times you’ve played and practiced the song before. The more you focus on timing, the better you will be at singing and playing guitar at the same time.
The second step is to do the same thing with your vocal lines. Obviously, you can’t count out loud while singing, but you CAN tap your hands on your knees or on a table “BAH da BAH da BAH da” etc, just like you did with the guitar timing. Again, this focus on the central timing will help you tie your pipes and axe together with ease. Practice this daily for some time until you can recall the guitar parts form memory without focusing on your hands, and you can also sing the vocal line while focusing only on tapping out the time with your hands or feet.
Tying It All Together
You’ve already proved that you can play guitar while focusing solely on timing, and also sing the vocal line while focusing on the timing too – so all you need to do is focus on the timing in your head or when you tap your foot while recalling the guitar parts and vocal lines from memory.
The first few times you try this, you’ll notice that the only time you go out of time or miss a note, or flub a chord is when you actually divert your attention from the central timing – pretty cool, right?
Timing is absolutely key to learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time. Just like any musician learning and honing their craft, timing is just as important for melodic instruments like the voice and the guitar – it’s not just the drummer’s job to keep time, developing a solid ability to keep time will actually make you a better guitarist and better singer, and ultimately allow you to perform both actions at the same time with ease!
Kegan DeBoheme is a professional Voice Coach at Bohemian Vocal Studio, the premier singing studio for powerful and resonant singing. Grab his free Foundations 101 singing course at www.bohemianvocalstudio.com
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