Playing and singing

From various sources I’m warming to the idea that one should work on one’s greatest weaknesses, and for all the difficulties of various picking techniques/sweeping/string changing/chordal knowledge/etc etc nothing is as hard for me as playing and singing at the same time. Infact, I can’t even talk and play at the same time.

Has anyone gone from incompetent at this to blasting out Battery at full pelt with all the vocals like a rampant Hetfield? Anyone watch the Molly Tuttle video and go “oh yeah, of course I can crosspick AND sing beautifully at the same time”?

Where do I start? I guess I’ve never been into the sort of strummy-open-chords thing that might be the best gateway into this.


I’m definitely not a singer in any way, but from the “singing” I’ve done while playing some songs (after I made sure nobody was around to hear it :smiley:), I found out that it’s just about learning to do one thing without having to think about it and then focus on the other. Simple songs where you just strum a few chords are perfect for this, Metallica riffs probably aren’t. :slight_smile: I’d say it’s exactly like learning to drive a car. You first need to completely focus on the individual parts, but after some time it becomes automatic and your brain is free to process other things.


I sing lines using (chromatic, moveable do) solfege away from an instrument, every morning. I sing better when relaxed, not limited to a key, and not trying to fit within the bounds of anyone’s expectations. If you don’t know how to comp four to floor using shell voices, I suggest that. Those “strummy-open-chords” have never been the way as far as my development and teaching are concerned. I’d try to keep things simple to where the voice and the guitar aren’t that different, just two elements in your “kit.” If you are able to accurately sing in unison with your guitar lines, it follows that you’ll have a better chance of handling counterpoint… Furthermore, if you are getting into the full on rock singing, training in bel canto technique (also see, speech-level singing, for the more modern take on similar) is advised for vocal health. Good luck, and please share what ends up working for you! Cheers, Daniel


Probably the best way to learn it - to learn some “easy” songs

As you can guess, when you use simple downbeat pattern, you can easily talk a little bit, maybe sing, because downbeat are easy for brain automation

But when you begin to use up beats or off beats - you begin to stuck and hate yourself. You can’t count difficult lines authomatically

Second problem is what you sing not automatically…
When you trying to sing and play at the same time, you use your brain for one of them. It means what you alternating between two processes

Solvation is to get half of the guitar playing process automatically, and for vocal line - same, get some easy moments and train your brain to do it automatically

And third problem is synchronization between them. Because if you will sing faster than guitar like twicely, you will be looking like a “rock rapper”

So, there’s some really “easy” songs which are perfect for getting this skill

Come as you are - Nirvana (because it’s syncopated riffs)
TNT - AC/DC (off bit here)
Highway to hell - AC/DC (off bit again)
Through the never - Metallica (it’s downbeats here but they’re fast, really fast)
Rusty Cage - Soundgarden (it’s one of the hardest songs for singing and playing at the same time, because a lot of time signatures and changes, but if you get it, I guarantee what you will increase your skill)

One cool stuff what in these songs hardest stuff is to play alternate picking stuff with singing, or it’s the off bit stuff, which is hard to count and staying groovy

By the way, these songs are amazing and cool, but only for my opinion, so check them all

P. S. Don’t hate me, all my language mistakes here because I’m not native English speaker, just learning language, so, wish me luck :rofl:


I concur wholeheartedly with the observation that being able to sing and play Rusty Cage would be a marker of increased skill :smiley:

Playing needs to be automatic. Singing too.
Then it’s a juggling act to link them together. You won’t pull it off well without having the playing automatic and the singing automatic separately first.

There’re different things: to sing with chords (which is everyone can do I believe) and play with melodic pattern. My guess that you’re concerned more about latter.
I’m not a singer ( and I prefer not to be)) ), but seems like musical school gave me an ability to sing and play at the same time… though not very complex pieces. So I guess standard solfeggio training makes sense.

Hence you play scales, sing scales, play and sing scales. Then you play arpeggios, sing arpeggios, play and sing arpeggios. Then you start noodling (slowly) while singing every note you play (it’s worth to do even if you’re not going to be a singer).

Next you sing intervals. Just singing intervals is boring so it’s better to play scales and arpeggios while singing 3rd above or 5th above (these are the easiest). Then noodling with interval singing (harmonizing with your guitar). If your guitar is nowhere near your you may try to sing intervals in your head (it helped me a lot back then). Two simultanious voices are easy to imagine with some practice.

Then you choose some simple repeating pattern while singing the lyrics you know well, like good old ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ ))
Here musical imagination plays an important role. When I’m singing (in my head) a song I really like I try to imagine not just a melody but other instruments as well. It works best with violins for me, but I guess it’s because of orchestration lessons.

Oh, yes, I forgot. Sightreading without an instrument helps a lot, like A LOT. So you can grab some piece you’re not familiar with and try to reproduce the sound in your head.

Yep. To make it work you have to know voice melody and instrument melody really good, so you don’t have to think like ‘what note I must play next?’