Tips for Learning to Sing While Playing an Instrument

Many people practice away at their instruments, and get quite good at playing them, but are at a complete loss when they try to sing while playing. Whether the instrument's guitar, bass, piano, or something else, there's definite rhythmic difficulty in doing two things at once. However, everyone's capable of singing while playing an instrument, it just takes a bit of work to get down.

Here's a guide to learning how to sing while playing any instrument.

1. Drag out the metronome. Essentially, the problem you're having when you can't sing while playing an instrument is a rhythmic one. It's kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach; your brain's not putting together how to manage the rhythm of each simultaneously. In order to learn the talent, you've got to practice with a strong rhythmic partner. This is where metronomes enter in. In my opinion, you should practice all music with a metronome, but especially when you're trying to learn to sing and play at the same time.

2. Pick a song. Try to find something that's simple, at least for your first few practice sessions. Set your metronome to a low tempo, and begin to play the song on your instrument. Stop playing. Now, sing the song. When you've memorized the lyrics, start playing your instrument again. If you have trouble, set the metronome lower. When you're able to consistently keep the rhythm on both your instrument and in your singing, advance the metronome. Don't shoot up to a fast tempo right away; these things take time. Move up by about 5 BPM and keep trying. When that becomes easy, keep advancing. When you can play the song at any speed, pick a new song and repeat the process.

3. Be consistent. You won't help anything with an hour of practice one day, then no practice for the rest of the week. Singing while playing an instrument has to become natural. Practice for at least a few minutes every day. Try to sing more and more often while practicing your instrument. You'll gradually feel it become natural. If you ever have to play a complex part on your instrument, though, be ready to go back to the old metronome and slowly advance again.