Playing guitar is just half the battle. The other half is singing. If your halfway talented you can play some guitar. You probably have a great voice for singing too. Now how do you put the two together?
So your wondering how to play guitar and sing at the same time? How to play guitar and sing at the same time. Can be summed up that you need to know the song inside and out. You need to learn every aspect of the song. From knowing what key the song is in. What chords are being played, down to the rhythm that is being played. Then know the song lyrics.
Which might seem easy enough in theory, but there are quite a lot of steps to get there. If your interested in learning how to sing and play the guitar. Then follow this step by step process laid out in this Ultimate Guide.
Finding the Right Song to Sing
First off you want a song that you know. You may not know per say, all the chords yet. But you know the song. You’ve heard the song on the radio. It has a nice beat.
For the first song you want to sing with the guitar. Try to have a song with an easy structure. Just to make it easy for you to succeed at performing the song.
Try to find a somewhat easy song to start with. Your not going to be singing, and playing Stairway to Heaven your first go around.
What do I mean by easy song? A song with just a few chord changes. A song with 3 or 4 chords would be relatively easy to learn. Find a song with a good strumming pattern. Maybe down up down up down, Or a song with all down strums. The first song should be in 4/4 time.
Finding the right song that you want to learn is the first step. The next step is you need to learn the song.
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To learn how to play, you need to listen to the song. No not just listen. Like you would when your in your car, driving down the road, and talking to the kids. Who are in the backseat. I mean really listen to the song.
Take the time and find a “quiet place”. Where there will be no interruptions.
Stop everything else, and listen to the song. Over and over again. You are listening for a couple of things. For one the lyrics.
Which is important, because you are going to need to memorize the words. Next thing is the chord progression.
When do the chords change? You may not know what chords are being played, but if you listen carefully you can hear when the chords change. By the sound or pitch. This might take some time to get used to learning to play by ear. The more you listen to music the easier it will become.
Just like listening to your guitar. If you play all the time when it is in tune. Then the minute you play a chord, and the guitar goes out of tune you know. Because your ear knows, what that chord is suppose to sound like.
What I like to do is take a blank sheet of paper, and write down the lyrics.
Yes, now a days you can get the lyrics and chords online, but there is something that happens. When you right down the words. You tend to remember them easier. That’s what we want to do. Remember the lyrics.
Usually learning the lyrics takes some time. Listening to the song over and over. Then singing with the song. To get the lyrics down. Use your cheat sheet to read while you sing. This will prevent you from improvising, and adding words that don’t belong.
After you have learned your lines it’s time to figure out what chords are in the song. Again you are going to need to listen to the song. This time the music. Below are instructions how to find the chords in the song.
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What Chords are in the Song?
Then you want to listen to the music in the song. To hear what chords are in the song. While your still listening. Get your guitar out. Start on the 6th string, and play a note. On the fretboard where you think you hear the same tone being played in the song.
While listening to the song. You should be able to hear the pitch of the note. Then also the pitch of the chord that is in the song. That you are playing. This may take picking the different notes a couple of times, and listening to the song. To find the correct pitch.
After you pick the string, or the note. You want to know is the note that you just played a higher, or lower pitch. Than the note in the song?
If the note sounds higher, then try another note on the guitar. One that is closer to the headstock. It will have a lower pitch. Is this the same sound that is being played in the song?
If the note is lower than what you are hearing in the song. Then move up the guitar fingerboard until you find the same chord.
When you are starting this process in the beginning before your ears are used to the different pitches, and sounds from the guitar. It will take a little bit of hunting, and pecking to find the notes.
But like everything on the guitar the more you practice, and in this case listen. It will become easier. Then you will know “oh that sounds like a C chord”. Then you will start picking the notes closer to the actual chord that is being played.
In this way you can find the different chords that are being played. Once the two notes (Tones) match. Then you have found the chord. Then you can try to find the key of the song.
How to Find the Key of the Song
To find the key of the song. Is to find the root chord, or tonal center of the song. In guitar the root is the 1 chord. The root is called the Tonic. This Root could be from the Major or minor scale.
They say if you can hum the song you can play it. So while you are listening to the song. Hum it to get a feel for the tone of the song. Then using your guitar find the notes that are being hummed. or that are played.
But how, you ask? With the use of the Major Scale. To do this you need to use the Major scale. Which is one of the most common scales used in music. Once you know the scale on the guitar it can be moved up the fretboard. When the scale is moved it changes the key.
The Major Scale
You may have heard this on the movie Mary Poppins. Do Re Mi fa so la ti & back to Do, or 1. The Major scale consists of 7 notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (8 or 1).
On the Guitar lets start at the 3rd fret. The 3rd fret of the 6th string is G. That’s the 1 and root. If you were singing the major scale “Do”. So the pattern for the major scale is shown below.
This is the G Major scale if you were to move a half step up or a fret. Then you would be playing the G# Major scale. A half step or fret up from G# is A. When you play the pattern shown above you are playing the A Major Scale. So you see how the keys move up the fretboard.
Play the tab above starting with your second finger on the 3rd fret. On the 6th string. Which you probably know is the thickest string. Then use your pinkie on the 5th fret. On the same string.
Move down a string. Your 1st finger is playing the 2nd fret. Play the 3rd fret with your 2nd finger, and use your pinkie at the 5th fret. Move down one more string. Use fingers 1, 3, and 4 on frets 2, 4 and 5. All on the D string, the 4th string.
Notice that there are 8 notes that are played. In the above tab the note on the 5th fret, and the last note on the 4th string. Are the same notes. In this case the G.
The note on the 3rd fret was G. Which is an Octave lower than the last note or G note. That is on the D string. Which is another lesson. But for now when you use the Major Scale listen.
Once you are hearing the correct tone. Now you have found a clue. Which note is it? Write it down or keep in mind what note it is. This is one of the chords. Keep listening, and use the same method to find the rest of the chords. Related Article: Christmas Songs on Guitar for Beginners.Shop our Discounted DIY Guitar Kits!
Finding the Notes
Remember Listen to the song, hum the melody, then with your guitar find the same sound that you were humming. When your ears get used to the different pitches. It will become easy for you. To know where to start on the fretboard. To play the note.
Humming makes it easier, but you can also listen to the song, and play a note on the guitar. Until you get to the correct pitch.
You can also use the 6th string to find the pitch, and what key the song is in. What you need to know is the notes on the fretboard. Because once you hear the correct pitch. What good is that if you don’t know what note you just played. Click this link to get a PDF with all the notes on the fretboard.
Once you find the key. Then to find if it is a Major or a Minor Key. Play your guitar with the song. At this point just play a Major chord and listen to how it sounds. If it sounds good then it’s in a Major Scale.
For Example If you have found that the song is in G. We can play a G Major chord with the song. Then Play a Gm Chord. Which ever sounds correct is the correct answer. There will be no mistaken the key. As you know the Major scale sounds “happy” and “bright”. Where as the minor scale is a sad tone.
Most often than not, the root chord or key is the first chord in the song. Still, you need to find all the chords. Once you have listened, and found all the chords. If you have any doubt what key your in. You can Use the Major scale to verify that the chords you are playing are in that scale. The next step is figuring out the strumming pattern and timing. Get a Free Cheat Sheet of the music Keys.
Practice Playing Guitar Chords
Now we know what chords are in the song. We need to make sure we can play the chords that are in the song. If you need help with how to make chords click this link for first position chords.
Not only know what position your fingers should be in. Also how to move from one chord to the next smoothly. If this is a problem then stop. Learn what chords in the song you are having a problem with. Practice until you can play them together, and move smoothly. From one chord to another.
Practice the chord progression. The chord progression is: The order that the chords are played in the song. Songs Usually have different parts such as:
- another verse
Songs may have all of the parts listed or just a few. Each section of the song may have different chord progressions. This is the order that the chords are played. Also there may be two different chord progressions. Like in While my Guitar Gently weeps. That song has two distinct chord progressions.
I would recommend taking each section of the song, and learn the chord progression.
Now that you have found the chords of the song. If you write them in the order that they are played. You will find the chord progression. You will see similar patterns in which the chords are played. All the way through the song. There may be different patterns for different parts of the song.
But also you will need to know what time the song is in, and the rhythm Pattern of the song.
4 /4 Time Explained & 3/4 Time Explained
Most popular music today is in 4/4 time. Which is 4 beats to the measure. Which is 1 2 3 4 , 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4. Listen to the song and listen to the beat of the drums. Start counting to see if the song is in 4/4 time. More than likely it is. Although another semi popular timing is 3/4.
3/4 time can be heard a lot in country music. But this is not to say you won’t hear it in some rock songs. Like Bob Dylan’s song The Times They are A Changin’. 3/4 time is like a waltz. You count to three. 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3. Listen to your song is it a waltz?
If you know what time the song is. Now we need to know what strumming pattern is being used. Some more listening is involved. There are several different strumming pattern. Click here if you wan’t to learn how to get better at strumming.
Now you have got all the chords, strumming pattern, and timing figured out. Start playing with the song. Practice playing the song with the chords. The ones that you wrote down previously. If there are just 3 chords, then it probably won’t be a problem to remember them.
However if there are different chord progressions and chords. You will probably want to practice with a “cheat Sheet” at first. Play the song a lot until you know it backwards. Lol, a lot!
Add the Guitar Chords to the Lyrics
Either write the lyrics to the song out on a sheet of paper. Or you could print the lyrics out. Then while listening to the song. Write the chord above each word of the song. Where the chord changes are. This might take a little bit to figure it out. But by now you should have listened to the song enough. To know where the chord changes are.
Yes of course you could print the Lyrics and Chords out. The chords may not be in the correct location above the words. Also they may not even be the correct chord progression. It is best that you take the time to figure out the chords on your own. So keep practicing to find the key and chords.
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- Right now you really need to know all the chords.
- Chord Progressions
- Know the lyrics
- Have the Lyrics & chords together on a cheat Sheet
Singing and Playing Guitar 101
Listen to the song, and play the guitar with the song. Now for the not so easy part. If you can chew gum, and walk at the same time you can do this too.
Using your cheat sheet that you created. Which have the Chords and Lyrics on it. You are going to play your guitar, and sing. 1 2 3 …
Take the song a little at a time. First start with the intro. Which depending on the song may be really simple, and have no lyrics. Hopefully this is the case. So you can start playing your guitar.
If the song starts right away with the singing. Then get to it! But what you need to do is break the song into pieces. Learn the intro. Sing and play it until you get it down.
When I say get it down, I mean. Singing and playing synchronized with no hiccups. If you find that something is off. Then slow the guitar down to give your singing time to get in sync again. Once you get the intro perfected. Play it again at full speed.
Then play the first verse. Practice playing the verse and singing the verse. Which may be different than the chords in the intro. Practice the verse until you can play with your singing.
Then practice playing the intro, and the verse. If you are having difficulty with it. Figure out what the problem is. Make any necessary corrections. Then keep playing, and singing the same part until it sounds good.
Continue on to learn the chorus, Bridge, and then the outro of the song. After you have all the peaces of the puzzle figured out. Try to play the song again all the way through. Remember you are using a cheat sheet.
In the future though. After you are playing, and singing the song with no problem. Then practice playing the song without the cheat sheet. This like everything else will take some practice too. Don’t let the cheat sheet become a crutch.
It’s good to keep the written lyrics and chords that you created. Keep them for future reference. You will learn songs. But your not going to remember every little part of every song that you have learned.
So by keeping a file of all the “cheat Sheets” you have created 3 years from now when you want to play Stairway to Heaven. All you have to do is go into your file of songs. Pull it out and review it.
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Easy Songs to Sing and Play Guitar at the Same Time
When you say easy songs to play and sing. You need a recipe for success. I would recommend starting out with songs that have 3 or 4 chords in them. Also a fairly easy strumming pattern.
When your learning songs. In the beginning you want a song with a slower tempo. These are easier songs to try to learn. Then after you have been singing, and playing a while you can start learning faster songs.
I have put together 11 easy songs. Which has 11 songs, the chords to the songs. The chord progressions, and the strumming pattern. There are even video tutorials.
Take a look at these 11 easy songs on guitar for beginners, and have a blast learning them.
Is It Hard to Sing and Play Guitar at the Same time?
What makes it hard to sing and play guitar at the same time is. You have to break it all down. You need to first learn to play the guitar. Then after you learn how to play the guitar and chord transitioning. Without a second look. Then you can take on playing the song and singing.
Since each action is independent of each other. You really have to be on autopilot with the guitar. So if you are having problems changing chords or strumming. Then it might be hard for you to take on singing at the same time. I would recommend learning to play the guitar first.
If you are confident with making chords and strumming. Then you need to pick a song. One that has 3 to 4 chords an easy song. Then figure out what key the song is in. Figure out all the chords that are in the song.
What is the chord progression. Learn all the lyrics, and where the chords change in the song. Once you have learned all of that then you are ready to start to sing the song.
Each task has it’s own complications. But with practice you will find it is not hard to sing, and play at the same. If you need some songs to choose. Have a look at the video lessons.
Why Can’t I Sing and Play Guitar at the Same Time?
Playing the guitar is a journey all to itself. One that can take a lifetime to master. Maybe even longer if you don’t practice often.
First things first, singing is independent from playing the guitar. You may have been singing one day after you learned how to talk. You probably sing in perfect pitch. So now you have a guitar, and you think no problem I can do this.
The problem is you now need to learn how to play the guitar as well as you sing. Before you can attempt to sing and play at the same time.
Which involves learning several techniques and basic skills. Such as
- How to hold a guitar
- Picking technique
- Fretting hand technique
- Muting the strings
- Reading chord charts
- Learning chords
- Chord transitioning
- Playing Songs
If you need help with any of the techniques have a look at 58 tips for beginner guitar players.
If you have already learned to play some chords. You know how to change between chords, and you still have a problem.
Then what you need to concentrate on is playing the guitar without having a second thought about what you are playing. This leaves your brain power to concentrate on the song.
At the same time you need to memorize the lyrics of the song. The best way to memorize the song is to listen to it over and over again. While you are singing with the song.
In the same way play the song on guitar again and again. Until you know it inside and out. Then try playing the song and singing it.
If you still struggle with it. Break the song down into chunks. Learn a piece at a time. Practice that portion of the song slowly. After you are able to play and sing that part. Then go to the next part and so on until you are able to sing the song.