Not everyone is good at doing two things at once.
Multitasking requires divided attention and brain independence. It may seem efficient but in reality, it reduces your accuracy, attention and skill focus.
Even in music, you can’t play guitar 100% while singing and vice-versa.
So why do it?
It will be very advantageous for professional musicians, because instead of hiring two guys on a gig, organizers save money with just one.
In a more musical sense, playing guitar and singing at the same time will allow you to be more expressive of yourself.
We, humans, are programmed to progress. After all, we got artists like Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendez and John Mayer who can play guitar and sing very well at the same time.
And not just guitar in particular, there are also artists who play piano (Alicia Keys, Chris Martin of Coldplay), bass (Thundercat) or drums (Phil Collins, Karen Carpenters).
Everyone in The Beatles sings while playing their own respective instruments. There are also gifted artists like Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson who play instruments and can also dance while singing.
So How Do We Play an Instrument While Singing?
Let’s look at how drummers do their thing. All their limbs are working independently and playing.
So, when we’re talking about multitasking, drummers are the perfect example and probably, the smartest musician in the room.
We can also check out how piano players do it.
Their right hand plays differently than the left most of the time. It all boils down to mastery.
One should be at a very high level of mastery to perform two different tasks simultaneously.
This can be achieved by focusing and mastering one skill at a time.
In this case, mastering either the guitar or singing first, you need to choose one and then the other after.
Learning to play the guitar is already complicated. Don’t complicate it by adding other stuff to learn at the same time. This will lead to frustration, might end up being too overwhelmed and quit.
How to Sing to Incorporate It with Playing an Instrument
Singing is much easier to pick up comparing to other musical instruments.
We sometimes sing unconsciously while walking, cooking, washing the dishes and sometimes, while taking a bath.
Here are some tips the you can use right away to improve your singing.
Tip #1: Start with Intention
To order to improve in singing, you should have be intentional.
You can practice in karaokes while having fun. You can sing a tune while driving or in the shower.You can also join a church or community choir.
In other words, making singing a part of your life, and most importantly, enjoy it!
Tip #2: Use a Metronome
Most people don’t know this, but developing a sense of rhythm and consistent tempo is extremely important.
Most musicians use a metronome. Using a metronome would be of great help to sing or play in tempo.
It’s like fractionally putting notes in right sections or bars. It is measured by beats per minute.
Unlike the old times, metronomes can be accessed through apps and most digital keyboards have it.
You can even use your foot to tap consistently or clap to act as your own improvised metronome. Of course, you can’t use it live (most drummers do though) but it will help you work on your tempo because it provides a constant beat.
However, you should not rely on your metronome so much for it may decrease your capacity for self-expression.
The main goal of practicing with metronome is to develop an internal rhythm on any kind of tempo and find balance to keep your singing style interesting. Some singers are born with an innate talent for timing while others have real problems like singing off the beat, inconsistent rhythm, coming in at the wrong moment etc.
It is important to address these issues so you know what to focus on improving rather than adding more skills hard enough to utilize.
Tips #3: Learn the song by listening to it over and over again.
Proficiency is key.
Know the song structure, which parts are the verses, chorus, pre-chorus and how they started in the song and be sure that you memorize the whole song.
Some artists like to be creative with time and deliberately include off beats and odd timing. Indulging yourself with some musical theories won’t hurt.
This will help you not to be caught off guard if you come across these kinds of cases.
Music is always evolving. If you want to be a professional and make music your career, you should have deeper influences than pop.
Tip #4: Jamming with Other Musicians
Jamming with other musicians will also help you discover different kinds of feel and will teach you to adjust to different kinds of expression.
By learning to adapt, you will have frequent use of your internal rhythm and be familiar with the real sense of timing. These musicians are like mentors as well. You will learn a lot from these musicians, not just in the vocal timing sense, but in the totality of the craft.
Practicing with others will also gauge on how much you have improved in timing.
Tip #5: Dance to the Beat
Learning how to dance may sound odd but it will literally focus on timing and counting.
It may come in handy during performances.
This will keep you in the groove and you’ll really start feeling the music inside your soul.
How to Improve Guitar Skills to Go Along with Your Singing
Now this is the more crucial part.
To be able to sing and play guitar at the same time, you obviously need first to learn your instrument of choice (in this case, the guitar).
Learning the guitar would require more time than singing.
When we first started to speak as a toddler, we are already capable of sprouting tunes and most likely to sing but for guitar, our fingers should be ready to hurt a little before we can make a guitar sound right.
Some people who tried to learn to play guitar got discouraged after a month or two and quit, some learned basic stuff and decided to stop there, and there are a few who went through the miles to be better every day.
Unlike singing, playing the guitar is more technical because you have to learn what chords to play, how to hold the guitar, how to properly put your fingers to the fretboard, how and when to strum and pluck, how to hold your pick, how to tune your guitar and many more.
It gets more complicated but if we want to learn how to do both at the same time, we need to learn both skills individually.
Tip #1: Start with Easy Songs
We can start by keeping it simple, maybe a song with 3 or 4 chords will do and will be easy to sing along with since most of the songs these days, especially pop, runs in a 4-chord pattern.
Then gradually find a more challenging piece slowly.
Choose a song, not too hard to exceed your present skill level but not too easy to make you bored, uninterested and stagnant.
There are more complicated chords if you get deep. Be sure to practice the easy ones before getting into these. Don’t think ahead and expect too much because again, this will lead to frustration thinking that it is impossible to learn.
Allow yourself to commit mistakes because this is the only way to learn. We don’t need to be hard on ourselves.
Tips #2: Find a Mentor.
Find a mentor who will motivate and inspire you.
Negative critiques have its own way of training or torturing some of its students, but I believe that eagerness to learn comes from our own passion and interests rather than being afraid of our mentor.
Find a mentor who will always be patient with you. Let us also put his musical knowledge and wisdom into the criteria then, we will have a music career coach and a life coach in one.
Tips #3: Use Youtube Tutorials
Tutorial videos in YouTube will be enough to get you started in the absence of an actual mentor.
The good thing about YouTube tutorials is you can directly look for a specific method of playing you want to focus on with a list of qualifying teachers you can choose from.
Video tutorials on the internet have helped many musicians over the decade, and they are living proof that these tutorials are reliable and very helpful.
How to put both skills together
The oldest trick in all music advice is to practice and practice.
What we are trying to achieve by practicing is muscle memory. A long-term muscle memory is created through repetitions or by years of practice making a skill to be performed with little to no conscious effort.
This will require less attention from your brain allowing you to have the possibility to multitask or in this case, sing at the same time.
Both skill at a high level of mastery, muscle memory and accuracy being done by you almost unconsciously could takes years of practice and experience.
Remember, no one becomes great overnight. Achieving these goals requires hard work and patience.
Here are some tips that you can use in your daily practice:
- Try playing the guitar first and then, humming the melody until it feels comfortable, then try adding the lyrics.
2. Try not to be thinking too much, maybe practice while watching TV or play along with a song on the radio just to keep your mind out of what you’re doing.
This will help you be less self-conscious of what you’re doing and let things flow naturally.
3. Practice a song that you know very well, so you can apply what you’re doing to a new song you want to learn. You need to be comfortable with playing, strumming or plucking your guitar before you can sing with it.
While other people might seem proficient in playing the guitar and singing all together, they still practice on a consistent basis.
Music is an endless pursuit. You have to keep up in order to improve.
You Can Do this…
Knowing how complicated something might make us a bit discouraged, so we all need to have confidence and a positive mental attitude in everything that we do.
Nothing is too easy. If it is, we won’t put much interest and passion into it.
If we find something that we really love to do, we should dedicate our time and focus to excel in it.
It will make our musical life more meaningful and fulfilling.