Many famous singers who play guitar and sing on stage…
Make it look effortless.
But when you try it out yourself, it’s a lot more difficult than it looks.
And it’s difficult because you have to:
- Stay on pitch…
- Play the guitar well…
- And have the right rhythm…
All at the same time for the entire performance.
Now in this guide, I am going to show you how to cut down the learning time so that you can effortlessly play guitar and sing at the same time without even needing to think about it that the pros learned to do.
So let’s get started.
1. Start With An Easy Song
When you are learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time…
You want to start with the basics.
And this means choosing a song that is easy to play and easy to sing.
For example, the way to choose an easy song is to make sure:
- The guitar chords are easy to play with…
- The song is within your vocal range…
- And the song has a simple rhythm that doesn’t jump around too much…
What most people forget, though, is that you can change it so that it is easier for your voice and guitar skills.
For instance, let’s pick the example song All of Me by John legend below…
Now, I just googled the first chord sheet, and this came up here.
Now we can see that it requires twelve chords and it might be difficult hitting all those high notes with your voice and switching to falsetto while playing the guitar when you are a beginner, so what you can do is change it so that it’s easier for you.
For example, we can switch so that instead of playing those barre chords we can just play 4 open chords throughout the entire song like this tutorial I found on Youtube below…
And to change the voice, it’s difficult for a baritone singer like me who has difficulty reaching those high notes so what I can do is I can sing those top parts with my falsetto, or just sing the whole song in my lower chest voice.
It’s all about making the music fit to your voice so that you can perform your best.
Now, if you pick an easy song like “Happy Birthday” you probably don’t have to change as much.
But I highly recommend practicing with an easy song so that it becomes easier learning the harder songs that you enjoy listening to.
2. Practice Counting Beats Out Loud
This is something that seems embarrassing even when you are alone but is incredibly important when you are first learning how to sing and play guitar at the same time.
Because if you are already a musician, it seems a bit too basic to just count the beats out loud like you are a little kid.
But what happens when you count beats out loud instead of in your head is that you are forcing yourself to stay on rhythm by slowing down.
And when you are counting it out loud while playing the guitar, then that means that you either:
- Have to make sure your guitar is being played with muscle memory…
- Or have super split-task concentration skills…
It’s also incredibly helpful when you’re singing, and you are getting the rhythm wrong.
Plus, learning how to count out loud already forces you to move your mouth in sync with the guitar and is the very first step before you add lyrics.
And when you’re slowing down you also start to automatically adjust things like:
- Proper breathing…
- Timing your breaths…
- And timing your strums…
So that it all sounds in sync with each other.
Don’t underestimate counting out loud since rhythm can challenge many musicians starting out.
3. Be Able To Play The Guitar By Itself Without Singing
When you are learning how to combine things, the first thing you need to do is to learn them individually first.
And thus, the first step is to play the guitar without singing.
So this means that you already:
- Know the right chords to play…
- It’s already feeling natural to your fingers…
- And you can play the guitar without needing to look as much on the fretboard…
You want to play the guitar song so effortlessly that it really doesn’t require you to think much when you play the song.
That’s the stage that you want to be in before you learn how to sing and play guitar at the same time.
Now, if you aren’t at that stage yet, all it means is that you just have to put in the repetitions so that it develops into your muscle memory.
For example, let’s say the chord progression is C, D, G, and E.
Here’s how to slowly develop the muscle memory:
- First figure out where exactly your fingers are for the chords…
- Then figure out for each finger how they move when the chord changes…
- Then slowly speed it up….
And just continue that until you can play at original speed comfortably.
While you’re at it and slowly get the hang of it, challenge yourself with memorizing the lyrics and even humming the correct pitch while playing the guitar.
It’s all about taking baby steps towards the goal of playing effortlessly for the songs you want to play.
And depending on the stage where you’re at, you will need to work on different things.
4. Learn How To Sing On Pitch Without The Guitar
Now that you can play the guitar with little effort, the next step if you want to learn how to sing and play the guitar at the same time, well then you want to sing on pitch without the guitar.
If you don’t know how to sing on key, then you can check out this quick guide here for beginners.
You want to be at the stage where you can sing the karaoke version of the song effortlessly without thinking too much about staying on pitch.
For example, if I’m going to do a karaoke song on a hard song like “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble, I want to be sure that I can hit all those rapidly changing notes on key without even thinking about it.
If you aren’t at that stage yet, then what you want to do is you want to:
Slow down the song so you can hear the notes properly…
Sing along to the song slowly with the artist…
Speed up the song until the original speed…
Then sing the karaoke line one by one, making sure that you are on pitch without the artist.
You want to sing this song without the artist because when you sing along with the artist; it makes staying on pitch easier.
And when you play with the guitar, you are probably going to perform by yourself.
So that’s why it’s important to stay on pitch singing with no help except for instrumental backings because that’s what your guitar is for.
And of course, it becomes harder when you try to play the guitar while you’re doing vocal riffs and solos.
And our solution is just slowing it down and hammering it with quality repetitions.
Pro tip: If you really want to solidify your pitch then sing acappella where there is no backing track to make sure you are comfortable singing that song on pitch before you add on the guitar.
You can even change the key so that you change the song to your voice. Just make sure when you change the key that you can play the chords of the guitar in that certain key.
5. Play And Sing The Guitar At The Same Time Very Slowly
When you are learning how to play and sing the guitar at the same time at full speed what’s going to happen is that:
- You sing off pitch…
- You play with a different rhythm…
- You forget the chord changes…
- You look down at your fingers while singing, making your voice exhausted…
- And it just doesn’t sound good…
Which is all completely normal when you are starting out.
It’s like learning any skill for the first time,
For example, let’s think about the piano.
When you are learning how to play the piano as a beginner, you will not see the sheet music and play at original speed, getting most of the notes wrong.
What you would do is you would start slow and once you felt comfortable, you increase the speed by working on small phrases at a time.
You want to do exactly that when you are learning how to play and sing the guitar at the same time.
That’s why when you start out, you want to start very slowly.
This means dropping the speed to 25% of its original speed with a metronome below…
You can use the Google metronome or what I like to do is play the original song on Youtube at 0.25 with the playback speed set to 0.25.
This does two things:
- It helps work on your coordination with singing and guitar…
- And it gives you time to change chords while singing on pitch at the same time…
If you can already sing and play the guitar well, then what you need to work on is the coordination.
And what you want to do is you want to do this multiple times until you feel comfortable before you speed up the process.
6. Start Speeding Up The Song To Original Key
Now that you have played the song, what you want to do is slowly start speeding up the song to the original key.
If you are actually following this (👏 bravo 👏 for making it this far…) then what you can do is you can slowly increase:
- The metronome
- Or the actual song
Increasing the Speed Via Metronome
When you are using the metronome you want to slowly increase the tempo.
This is incredibly important because you want to make sure that you are staying in rhythm while you are singing.
So let’s say that you started at the metronome speed of 30 BPM.
So for each note you would strum every time it clicks.
And then you try to sing along to the line while being on pitch slowly.
Then once you feel comfortable, you increase the BPM making sure that it lines up at 5 BPM.
And you keep doing this until you go to the original speed of the song.
Increasing the Speed Via Video
This is what I do to make sure that I am singing along with the artist and making sure I’m on rhythm.
I like this way since it’s easier to stay on pitch when you are singing with the artist.
What I do is once I feel comfortable playing at 0.25 I jump right to 0.50 with the Youtube Playback settings and try to recreate it.
If it’s too fast, then I go to the metronome to work in between before I work on the actual song.
And you keep practicing and adding quality repetitions until you reach the point where you sound good at original speed.
7. Start Performing In Front Of Friends And Family
Now I’m sure that you eventually want to perform in front of your friends and family if you’re looking up how to play and sing the guitar at the same time.
Maybe you even have fantasies of performing live for a small gig or even in front of a giant audience.
The reason it’s important to perform in front of others after you feel comfortable with yourself is because the added pressure might make you play differently.
When you have pressure in front of you, your nerves might get to you and you might play slightly faster or sing on pitch or play the wrong notes.
And it happens.
That’s why to get used to this pressure you want to perform in low stake areas like your friends and family first.
Then once you feel comfortable, it’s less unlikely that you will make mistakes when you’re performing in front of others again, like in front of strangers in a local gig.
Pro tip: Decide if you are going to do your performance standing or sitting. What I’ve found is that sitting makes it easier to play the guitar but harder to belt those higher notes, while standing forces you to get used to playing the guitar in a different position. Experiment and see what works best for you!
In this guide I showed you step by step how to play the guitar and sing at the same time.
First you want to isolate and make sure that you can sing comfortably by itself before combining it.
Then you want to slow down and keep going till original speed and then finally perform in front of others so that you get used to the pressure.
It can get boring when you are constantly repeating the same things, but it’s through these quality repetitions that will make you look and play like your favorite artist.
And it’s a skill that you build up over time where you are constantly getting better.
Let me know in the comments of your first song that you learned how to sing and play the guitar at the same time below…