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How to improve at guitar ... forever!

Country Roads Guitar Lesson: Sing while Playing!

How to practice singing and strumming at the same time to get John Denver's classic campfire song running smoothly enough to delight your audience.

John Denver Country Roads Guitar Lesson
John Denver - A Fine Singer-Songwriter!

Today's Challenge: Singing While Strumming

Here's the first line of Country Roads drawn out in Taplature along with a standard campfire strum. Putting together the strum pattern and lyrics at the same time can cause major problems for many. In this article we'll look at the requirements to make doing so easy, in the shortest time possible!

Country Roads Guitar Lesson: Sing while playing guitar
Click to expand image

The Steps to Success ...

1. You'll need to be able to play the "basic strum" pattern shown effortlessly. Click below for a crash course/overview:

lesson: how to practice strumming a guitar

2. You'll need to be able to change into each chord used, the right way! Click below to learn the secrets of perfect, easy chord changes:

lesson: how to practice changing guitar chords

3. You'll need to be able to put each syllable of the lyrics on the right parts of the mechanical movements shown in the Taplature above. Click below for a detailed examination of how we make that easy, fast!

lesson: how to practice singing while playing guitar

4. Once these 3 are in place throughout then you have a fully working version of the challenge at hand. Now we can focus on bringing it up to speed, keeping an eye out for problems creeping in along the way. Be sure to monitor your progress; how else can you be sure your practice is working? Click the image below for an overview of how we can do that.

lesson: how to practice guitar effectively

5. Whenever you hit a snag call for these guys:

lesson: 3 principles of correct practice for guitar

If you're not using at least one of these 3 principles in your practice then you're probably hoping, rather than expecting to get better. As a guitar teacher it's always preferable to replace hope (and frustration) with expectation (and results)! Examining the individual lines, bars and beats makes you pick up on all the details required to make things strong enough to hold up under the pressure of performance. There are many ways of zooming in to strengthen this (and any other guitar part) which are the focus of this website.

It's harder than it looks, until you can do it!

Singing while strumming a simple, consistent rhythm at the same time is known as "easy guitar" but there's plenty of hidden skill required to get even a basic singalong like Country Roads to sound the way you want! Once you've got it all working well for one song though, you'll find that others get easier and easier to learn as you'll be coming across the same patterns again and again. See how many of the same rhythmic patterns appear in this looped section of the chorus to "Country Roads" as we already saw above!

Strumming while singing country roads guitar lesson
Click to expand image

Each time you learn a new combination of guitar pattern and vocal line you've added to what I call your "rhythmic vocabulary". Keep adding to it and you'll eventually have exhausted all the patterns that might cause you trouble!

If you're having any problems with this (or with any other combination of guitar part and vocal) then please join me in the comments below or here in the Taplature forum.


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