I remember when I was first learning to play guitar wondering how on earth people could sing and play at the same time. Heck..it was hard enough learning guitar, never mind learning to sing and remember all those words and a melody too!
It wasn’t until around 5 years ago that I ever really started doing it seriously and I was kinda pushed into it too. I set up a guitar/keyboard duo initially as a little bit of fun and as the keyboard player wouldn’t sing then I ended up doing it, and I have to say I now love it!
Without blowing my own trumpet I can pretty much now play and sing anything ( including sing to simple lead licks too ) so here are 4 simple things that I found have helped me along the way:
1) Start with very simple, strum-along songs. A real easy one would be something like Summer Of 69 – Bryan Adams or Father & Son by Cat Stevens – Just give it a go!
2) Learn to play the chords first.
3) Learn the lyrics thoroughly – This for me is the key. If you are having to read or trying to remember lyrics you will really struggle. I’m never comfortable until I have the lyrics nailed down.
4) Don’t worry too much about being word or melody perfect – I sometimes find that rephrasing the tempo of the lyrics fits better with the guitar rhythm so make the song your own!
The great thing is that you will also find that learning curve is very quick. Once you can perform just a few songs then many more will follow easily:)
Here is something else that I’ve found interesting and may give you some confidence too:
*Probably the single most fear as a performer is hitting that mental block, where you forget either the lyrics or the chords and make a total idiot of yourself in front of an audience. It has affected many a career including Barbara Streisand who famously went twenty-seven years without facing the audience.
Well here is something we singer / guitarists can take some heart from:
I actually find it easier now to play guitar and sing than I do to just either sing on my own or play guitar on my own now.
Yep it’s true. If you asked me to just sing some of the songs I play without my guitar in hand I would probably struggle, and here’s why:
*The chords you are are playing will trigger off the lyrics and equally the lyrics will trigger the chords you need to play. It’s almost like auto suggestion but it really does happen and so it almost becomes impossible to get it wrong. In fact the only time I now ever sometimes drain of blood, turn white and consider heading for the exit is right at the start of a song, maybe where I haven’t hit a chord yet I…but once I’m up and running and into the song I very rarely forget how to play it!
Hopefully, using these tips you’ll be exactly the same:)