Caught in a Trap? How to sing and play guitar at the same time!
Here are some quotes from the comments left on Justin Sandercoe's popular video How To Sing And Play Guitar At The Same Time on Youtube. I've corrected a few spelling mistakes.
- "I've been playing for about 1 year and the song I want to sing I can play with my eyes shut and in the dark though the second I start (to) sing I lose it :("
- "you can't teach this to someone"
- "Still having problems in singing and playing at the same time! :-( Is it possible for every guitar player?"
- "I'm not a beginner but not I'm not Hendrix either and I just can't play some songs and sing! It's the rhythm I think? My brain can't seem to do both..That said I can play Stairway and sing at the same time! So why can't I play Wonderwall and sing?"
- "it's that the guitar and the vocals are 2 different rhythms and its hard for me to connect those 2 together and how they work together"
If singing while playing guitar seems out of reach to you then keep reading! This is a skill rather than a talent, meaning you can learn to do it. Today's challenge walks you through the five steps that guarantee you success in singing while playing any guitar part, however complex!
You can walk out! Let Taplature guide you!
We'll use a simple example, the first line of Elvis's "Suspicious Minds" to demonstrate this powerful approach that you can use to master any problem you'll ever come across relating to combining a guitar part with a vocal line.
Click to play ... Disclaimer: There's a reason my vocal "skills" are usually confined to backing duties only. Ride at your own risk!
The five steps to success. Here we go!
Make sure that you understand exactly where the syllables of each word fall in relation to the beat. Write them out on a line of Taplature. This can be the toughest part for some and can often throw up a surprise or two!
In our example each syllable falls on a foot tap or up foot (beat or offbeat) though this isn't always the case in other songs. Your first challenge is to get so you can sing the bar repeatedly with just your foot tap for company!
See video (1:00)
Add the guitar part to the Taplature. Here I've added a standard "basic strum" pattern (D-DU-UDU) also known as a "campfire strum" or "island strum". We'll look at something more complex later in this article but this strum always makes for a good initial test with any song you're learning to sing.
(see video 02:04)
All the instructions you need to follow are now in place and the temptation is to jump right in to try the whole bar. Unless doing so is instantly easy however, you'll benefit greatly by following through the further steps described below.
Make sure you can execute each beat in isolation, to a level strong enough that you can loop it perfectly in time with a metronome!
In the accompanying video you'll notice I'm speaking rather than singing the words. At this stage we're focusing purely on their timing. If you prefer to sing in pitch that's fine too!
Beat 1 (see video 03:12)
Beat 1 is the simplest of the four. Tap your foot while you strum down on the beat then lift your foot while you "ghost strum" up
(a "ghost strum" is moving your arm just as if you were strumming but without hitting the strings).
Beat 2 (see video 03:29)
Beat 2. Tap your foot while strumming down, then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "We're".
Beat 3 (see video 03:45)
Beat 3. Tap your foot while you ghost strum down and say "caught", then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "in".
Beat 4 (see video 04:04)
Beat 4. Tap your foot while you strum down and say "a", then lift your foot while strumming up and saying "trap".
Once you're happy that each beat functions correctly on its own you can start building them together. First we'll pair beat 1 with beat 2 giving us the first half of the full line and beat 3 with beat 4 giving the second half. Now it's important to begin singing rather than only saying the words.
1st Half (see video 04:29)