Have you always dreamt of having the confidence of performing a guitar solo or being such an accomplished guitarist that your instrument just naturally supports your singing?

If you are still learning guitar, like any new instrument it usually requires patience, practise, and concentration.

Having said that, learning how to play guitar chords is not very difficult and if all you want to do is strum away and not concern yourself with music theory or mastering a guitar solo, you could be playing in no time.

The same cannot be said for singing!

Being able to play a guitar solo is not the same as having the coordination and skill to work a fretboard and sing at the same time.

Actually, even though we see it all the time, playing the guitar and singing at the same time is really not as easy as it sounds. It’s a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same. It’s like pitches and rhythms which are different but happening simultaneously.

Once you have basic guitar and singing ability, you will need to learn to synchronise both the vocals and the guitar at the same time. To do this, you need significant vocal ability in order to be comfortable covering several octaves.

Similarly, with playing guitar, you will need to master a few basics and know how to play guitar chords before you choose easy songs to play on the guitar to sing along to.

Unfortunately, if you are not yet a guitarist and if your rhythmic base is unstable, your singing or guitar solo will fall flat.

Before You Sing and Play Guitar Together

In order to play and sing at the same time, it is vital that you choose easy songs to play on guitar. To be specific, 4/4 on a metre and possible to sing along at normal speed with easy melodies like Stealer’s Wheel or something from the Beatles, would be a good place to start.

Take care not to push yourself too hard, to begin with as by making it complicated, you might put yourself off further practise.

Practising the Guitar Solo and Vocals Separately

When it comes to methods for learning how to play guitar chords and sing simultaneously, there are none.

The best advice is to learn each skill separately and combine them when you feel at ease.

Signing up for a guitar tutorial as a first step is a really good start. Always start with your weaker skill, if you are a singer, sign up for a guitar tutorial. If you are a guitarist, look for a singing tutor!

The Art of Listening Before Playing

This is such an important step, but because it seems obvious, many people neglect it. Just because you have heard a song a dozen or more times, doesn’t mean you have heard the highlights, chord changes, toned accents, and different tones. This is really where your teacher can help if you have signed up for a guitar tutorial.

Remember that if some phrases are longer than other ones, this could vary the tempo as well as change the melody.

woman sitting beside friend and playing guitar
At first, choose easy songs to play on the guitar to sing along to. (Source: Unsplash)

When you listen to the song, pretend you are playing it yourself, this will train your ear and also provide you with a fresh perspective for the piece.

Fundamentally, knowing how to play guitar chords beautifully and singing at the same time is actually about the art of listening. Do this and you will soon be singing and playing a guitar solo at the same time.

Practise Singing

As you play the guitar and sing, the sound of your own voice is important.

Singing is made up of rhythm and syllables to create a melody. It’s important that when changing this rhythm, it does not destabilise the whole song.

On the other hand, the guitar is less restricted when it comes to rhythm, you could play fast or slow, add riffs, remove riffs or run notes together. It’s easier than singing.

When Tablatures Can Help

Remember to choose easy songs to play on guitar. Then begin by selecting just a portion of the song to learn – it could be a verse. Then look for how the lyric syllables relate to the rhythm. Using tabs makes this so much easier as they highlight where the lyrics are in relation to the notes and rhythm.

The next step is to warm up your voice with a few vocal exercises. Once you feel warmed up, sing a cappella without the guitar.

Base Your Vocals on the Guitar Rhythm

Once you feel that you have this in hand, you could try some of it on your chosen guitar.

First, plan your movements with your left hand and then actually play it with your right. Try not to play with one hand only.

By preparing yourself with this exercise, you will begin to sing easy songs to play on the guitar at the correct rhythm which will provide a reference for the rest.

Sooner or later, you will begin to feel the song and, provided your guitar is properly tuned, be able to play the first few chords.

woman singing and playing guitar in a field
Keep practising; it takes focus to become a guitarist and vocalist. (Source: Unsplash)

As you progress, you might find it difficult to keep your chord changes consistent with your singing, but again this is where your teacher will be able to help you at your guitar tutorial.

If you feel like you have mastered this step, your next one is to establish the rhythm and practise the guitar.

Practising the Guitar

If you are a vocalist, knowing how to play guitar chords is the grounding for your song (remember to choose easy songs to play on guitar). Another tip is to avoid simplifying the piece by using the back and forth strumming technique, as this will lessen the interest of your piece.

The Progression Method

Understanding rhythm is one of the most important things you can learn. If you want to follow a more gradual approach, take the rhythm of a piece, during or after your guitar tutorial and practise it until you have mastered it. Your command of rhythm will ultimately dictate how well you sing and play without missing a beat and needing to think about it.

Your next step would be to start singing in your mind without actually making a sound. You will notice how the level of concentration differs when needing to play at the right rhythm.

To truly be a vocalist and guitarist requires much focus so keep practising these techniques until all of this feels natural.

The Importance of Rhythm

As you have gathered, rhythm is fundamental to keep a song from falling apart. So practise this until you have it right.

Breaking Down Syllables

So now you have the rhythm of the song as well as the rhythm of the guitar – all that’s left is to synchronise them. This is one of the first aspects covered in a guitar tutorial – you will break down lyrics by their syllables and work out corresponding notes or strokes.

While this is an academic method, it will help you to work out each step of the piece. You’ll also be able to memorise the different phases of the song and score.

Using Instinct

Some people prefer to pick out the most important syllables that coincide with the main guitar chords.

The accentuated notes correspond to syllables and this method is useful in keeping time. In this way, you can establish reliable benchmarks without a strict methodology.

Either way, you will need one of these methods to learn your piece. The more you practise, the more natural your synchronised vocal and guitar skills will become. Eventually, you will be able to call yourself an accomplished guitarist.

man sitting on bench playing guitar
Understanding rhythm is one of the most important facets of singing well while playing the guitar. (Source: Unsplash)

Alternate Between Guitar and Vocals

It’s not easy to keep your voice and your guitar playing in tune. Practise emphasising each one until there is a smooth balance between both.

Once you have mastered each art separately, try playing and singing together, but almost monotonously. Keep repeating this. Keep practising.

Vary Intensities

Finally, practise varying your simultaneous guitar-playing and singing intensity.

Start softly, go to a crescendo and then play at maximum intensity. Keep repeating this exercise and then try it in the opposite direction until you are almost singing and playing at a whisper. This is a great way to get a feel for the phrases and nuances of the piece.

Another excellent exercise is to try playing hard while singing softly and vice versa.

By doing these exercises, you will discover rich aspects of the easy songs to play on a guitar that will greatly improve your performance.

All of these exercises can be discussed in your guitar tutorial and your teacher is bound to have other important exercises to help you singing and playing your guitar at the same time like a pro.

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Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.