So you have bought your first acoustic or electric guitar.
You know how to play chords.
And deep down, you know you want to be able to sing and accompany yourself playing your first cover song to an audience.
So what happens now?
How do you actually learn your first song, and be able to sing and play guitar at the same time?
In this article, I talk about a simple five-step process on how to start playing guitar and singing at the same time.
Step 1: Learn Your Chords
Guitar chords can be both simple and complex, especially when you are practicing chord transitions. So it is very important that you know what chord shape to play, where to play it on the fretboard, and what fingers to fret on the guitar.
Step 2: Practice Chord Transitions
Replay the piece of music, and listen to where the guitar chord changes to another. Then mimic the same transition by using a metronome, and practice strumming from one guitar chord to another. Please take it slowly, especially if you are alternate picking each chord because you will need to be careful your upstrokes do not go on for too long and cut into the strings.
Step 3: Memorise Your Lyrics
I love to memorize lyrics by writing the first word of each lyric on the sheet of paper, closing the lyric sheet, and say each word out loud. Notice patterns of repetition:
- Does the singer hold the note with her voice?
- Does he sing in a sharp, accented manner?
- Does the chorus repeat itself, and is there rhyming?
Like a word sleuth, your role in this step is to see the bigger picture of the song from a singer’s perspective. The form of the song may contain very few sections (verse, chorus, verse, chorus), or it could be progressive.
Step 4: Practice Singing with the Lead Sheets (Slow)
Each chord sheet should have lyrics and chords on top of it.
Sometimes the chords are not on top of the exact lyric.
First start mapping/writing where each chord lands on the lyrics, and then practice that section slowly at your own pace.
To avoid frustration, I like to sing and play one line at a time.
Step 5: Perform a Run-Through
You’ve played guitar chords, maybe a solo, and sang at the same time section by section.
Now it’s time to do a run-through.
From the top of the song (start of the song) begin playing guitar and singing at the same time.
A performers’ tip: if you make a mistake, keep your strumming hand constant and pick up where you left off on the lead sheet.
It’s important to show the audience your mistakes, but even better to hide it, so they don’t notice at all!
And there you have it – you have played your first song on guitar, and sang at the same time!
Singing and playing guitar can be challenging at first, but many singer-songwriters never give up and keep persisting and performing.
Play your heart out this week!
Keep on rockin’