How to Play and Sing at the Same Time

Playing and singing at the same time is usually a challenge for the beginner, and sometimes the professional as well! The secret is Rhythmic Independence. When you know how to develop this, singing and playing at the same time becomes doable; and the better your rhythm is, the easier it will be.

Each instrument has its own type of learning curve, but the procedure I lay out below is the method to follow. Once you get used to this procedure you can learn to sing and play almost anything! Really. However, as I stated above: the better your rhythm is the easier it will be, and the poorer your rhythm is the more difficult it will be. If your rhythm isn’t good you’ll just have to work a little longer on the procedure.

Make sure that each step is easy before going on to the next. If Step #1 and Step #2 aren’t easy, Step #3 could be impossible. If a step becomes too difficult just go back to the early steps and work on those. That’s the secret to this: if something is too difficult go back to an earlier step. You should also use a metronome. You can do it without one, but it’s best to use one. There are many online metronomes if you don’t have one.


1. Play the instrument part evenly while counting aloud, i.e., 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &, or whatever the count of the song is. Get used to deliberately placing your rhythms in time. (The steady flow of beats.) Don’t add the vocal yet. If the instrument part is tricky or difficult, play a simpler one. Align what you are playing to the count. If you can’t count while playing, at least get a feel for the exact placement of your instrument part to the flow of beats.

2. Speak the lyrics of the song in time. Deliberately place the rhythm of each syllable in time. Be as exact as possible, and exaggerating the rhythmic placement is very helpful. Make each syllable short and precise. You might feel a little silly doing this, but you need to develop rhythmic precision and this is the way to do it. (If this is difficult you could use some private instruction with rhythm.) Quite often, the rhythm of the melody “floats” a bit and is not strictly in tempo. If this is the case, I suggest varying the rhythm a bit so it’s easier to understand and duplicate.

3. Begin to combine the speaking-vocal and the accompaniment—VERY SLOWLY. Unless the song you are working on comes quickly, you MUST GO SLOWLY. I’ll repeat that: YOU MUST GO SLOWLY. I’ll repeat that again: YOU MUST GO SLOWLY. The only way to really nail something is to go slow enough to coordinate the rhythmic placement of all the elements. GO SLOW!

Independence is a skill that needs to be developed. To gain control over physical motions, you need to go at a speed at which you can actually DO what you need to do. And until you gain control over each specific placement of each vocal sound and instrument motion you have to go slowly. I repeat over and over because THIS IS THE REASON WHY PEOPLE HAVE DIFFICULTY DEVELOPING INDEPENDENCE, AND PLAYING AND SINGING AT THE SAME TIME. Imagine driving around a corner too fast… you can screech and crash. Why? You lose control. Imagine running down steep steps too fast… you can trip and fall. Why? You lose control.

Think of something you can do well with your body. Take a minute and look this over. Now, why can you do that well? It’s most likely because you have control over whatever it is. You can only develop increased rhythmic ability by practicing something at a speed at which you can actually DO what it is you want to do. There is no way around that.

I stress this point because this is the hardest thing for a beginner or a novice to accept. A pro has learned that this is the ONLY way to go.

Enough said.

Marty B.Email
http://Personalized Music Lessons Facebook Page

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