Singing While Playing Guitar

author: SocialismCross date: 04/01/2009 category: correct practice
rating: 8.7 / votes: 51 
Hi there everyone. In this lesson, I'll be trying to help you on singing while playing guitar, whether you know nothing about singing, or can sing but having difficulty singing while playing. Note: This is not a singing lesson, it's not how to do a vibrato by your vocal chords or a vocal training, so if you're looking for that, don't waste your time on this. Here it's only about how to get your singing and playing synchronized. In other words, how to control your singing to go with your music beat by beat & note by note. (Please be aware that this is not anything I've been taught academically or even in private lessons. I have been playing guitar for 2 years and more without being able to sing along, so that's what I came up with accumulatively to help me). Well, to start off, you have to abandon these ideas: 1-I sing well, and I can play guitar, so at some point after regular practice, it will naturally happen that I can sing while playing along. >>No, this won't happen because singing while playing is a practice itself. 2-I gave up on that, I can't sing while playing, there are some people who are gifted by that and can do it, but I'm mentally unable to do it, I always screw up while trying to separate between what I'm speaking and what my hand is doing on the neck of the guitar. >>Not true, it's just that you don't have the key thing, when it's so simple. One of these two things (or both) may happen when you try singing while playing: 1-You screw up the lyrics, and may even speak nonsense words. 2-You screw up the music, and at times when you have to change chords, you just keep singing, with the same previous chord which sounds like something is terribly wrong. Here's what i think to be the key.

Part 1.

Things to do before even touching your guitar: 1. Sing the song for few times and try to be louder than the singer. 2. Read the lyrics if you can't figure them out, and it'd be better if you know them by heart (memorize it), but you can print it out or look at it on the computer while singing. 3. Master the song, and what I mean is that you sing it without having to think about it. Example: If you are singing this: "So close no matter how far It couldn't be much more from the heart Forever trusting who we are And nothing else matters Don't hold your guitar when you are still at the level of "Damn I forgot what comes after the 1st line!" "Was it much more from the heart, or much from the heart?" If you are still at that level, then keep practicing the song. Because that will absolutely make you screw up while playing, because you will start to think about lots of things at the same time, and you won't be able to focus. If you sing "much from the heart" instead of "much more from the heart", and you are following some chord progression, you will jump to the next line that may have different chord that should be played, but you are still on the same chord, because that line in the original song is longer. So master the song (lyrics wise) before trying to do both singing and playing at the same time.

Part 2

Do these before starting to sing along. 1. Of course make sure your guitar is tuned the correct tuning for the tab you are looking at. 2. Make sure you know how to play all the chords properly(technique wise) and having no problem with changing from one chord to another.

Part 3

Important practice.(It's better if you have some chord and music theory to totally make advantage of this part) First of all, think about your voice as another instrument, let's say a lead guitar. And all what you are going to do, is to play that guitar. So you have to play the proper note, and beat for the song. If your voice is an instrument, you have to practise it. Here are some ways: 1. Play a note on your guitar then, try to sing it. 2. Play some scale like the E major scale (Do this on the E string) E--0--2--4--5--7--9--11--12 1st try to sing each note after playing it once. After that, try to sing the whole scale outloud without playing anything, but only the 1st note of the scale (the E note, for the E scale, the A note for A scale, the C note for C scale... Etc) And keep altering things that, play a note like the 2nd fret, then do the 4th and 5th by your own voice. That helps A lot to get a control over your instrument (your voice). Do the same with minor Scale E--0--2--3--5--7--8--10--12 Sing each note after everytime you play it on the guitar for few times. Sing a note that's the next one after a note you played. Example: play the 5th fret ("A" note) then sing the 7th and 8th by your voice, and if you get it wrong, play them and do it again. That will help you control how to jump by your voice from a note to the CORRECT next one, and if you can't do that, you will never be able to sing. 3. Use your voice to produce a chord. You can't of course sing two notes at the same time, so play a note on the guitar, for example let it be the C note (The 3rd fret on the A string) Then you sing the E note (The 2nd fret on the D string). That will really help because most of the times, what you are doing when you are singing along with playing some chord, is that you are singing a note that the chord you are playing contains. Example you are playing Am chord, and what you are supposed to sing, is a word with the note C, which is a note in the Aminor chord). Now try it for different chords
E minor: e--0
         B--0
         G--0
         D--2
         A--2  
         E--0
pick the 1st 3 strings, then try to sing the note "G"(the 4th open string).
F major: e--1
         B--1
         G--2
         D--3
         A--3
         E--1
Pick the 1st 3 strings, then try to sing the note "A" (The 2nd fret on the 4th string) Do the same for different chords, then try to play a note, like F, then sing the whole other notes that make up the major chord. Then do same for minor. Now try to do things like these. Play a note then sing the note that makes the power chord for the note u played. Example:
A---5 (Sing this)
                 E---3 (PICK IT)
Play a note then, sing the same note but an octave higher (If it's an E, sing the next higher E).
Example  e--                           e--3  (sing this)   
(E and   B--                           B---  
an       G--                           G--0  (pick this open string)
octave   D--2 (sing this)              D-- 
higher 1)A---                          A-- 
         E--0 (PICK IT)                E--
                                       (G note and an octave higher 1)

Part 4: Singing Along

Two things you need to figure out before singing while playing guitar. First: Figure out the 1st note you are going to sing. (That will be the problem because once you have done the previous practice tips a lot, you will be able to jump from some note to the correct one) But now you will have to figure out the very 1st note just to start. You will know the attack time and the 1st note by your ears. Just listen carefully, and if you can't figure out the 1st note, try all the notes in the chord till you think that one is it. If you can't still find it, try all the notes that in the scale that the Chord is from.( example: Try C, D, E, F, G, A, B for C major chord). Second: The attack time of your singing. You need to know when exactly you are going to start singing. Don't just play some chord and sing anywhere. If you get this right, you most likely won't screw up with timing for the rest of the song if you know the song well. And it will be easier to change the chord in sync with changing the notes you are singing. Few examples: From the Song "Rain" by Breaking Benjamin look at the link if you don't know these chords.
  C            Fmaj7sus2           
  Take a photo-graph
The 1st note: is the 2nd fret on the D string. The word (Take) and the (PHOTO) part, are in E note (2nd fret on D string). The attack time: You play the C chord once, then you start singing right at the same time you strum the chord again. Then, another attacking time (you will get this by instinct if you get the 1st attack time, and 1st note right) is when you start saying (-graph), you switch to that F chord at the same time you start saying (-graph). And the note of (-graph) is the G on the D string (5th fret on D). From the song "Unforgiven II" by Metallica
Am           C  G  Em                      Am
   Lay beside me, tell me what they've done
(Assume you are playing it on standard tuning) The first note: the E note on the D string. The Attack time: the 1st one is so easy, but time to switch can be little tricky: So here's how I sing it:
Am          C       G   Em                   Am 
   Lay bes--ide me--ee, Tell me what they've done
  
Lay bes-- (E note (2nd fred, D string))
--ide me--ee (D note (open D string)
So the word "me" is all sang in one note(D), but you only switch chords. I hope that helped, it's long and boring, but it will help if you were stuck.
More SocialismCross lessons:
+ Things To Be Aware Of And Useful Tips Correct Practice 10/14/2008
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