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Trying to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time.


Joined: Oct 26 2010

Hey guys. I've always just played fingerstyle arrangements and I'm going to be honest, my sense of time/keeping time is horrendous. I never play with other people nor do I really play sing+strum so I mostly just play stuff for my own amusement with a reckless disregard for keeping time.

That being said I'm trying to learn to sing a song I like (Matilda by Alt-J). It's pretty simple and the guitar part is simple but even with that I have trouble trying to keep a steady chord progression going for my guitar while I sing over it or keeping time either on vocals or guitar.

Is there some sort of trick to mentally keeping track of both going on at the same time and keeping them in time?

Sorry for rambly nature of post I don't know how to articulate my problem any better.

Re: Trying to learn to sing and play guitar at the same time.

tiger child

Joined: May 31 2012

you could try playing along with the record. and getting to the point where the strumming just comes naturally and you dont have to think about it. practicing singing along and playing at the same time. like training wheels on a bicycle. then when you feel like you're ready, stop the track, spread those wings and ascend to the heavens.

michael - you were flying today, buddy.
buster - yes, but a little too close to the sun.
lucille - you let him go near the sun?!


this music is my greatest accomplishment
-brick road

Break it down


Joined: Sep 04 2014

When it comes to singing while playing you should concentrate on the guitar-work first. You want to know the picking and fretting so well you can do it practically from muscle-memory. If you have trouble keeping rhythm you should practice along with the song or tab. You can also try playing with a metronome or drum track. Just try and build a healthy habit of playing at your preferred rhythm.

Next comes the words. Memorize the words and syllables that fall upon the start of each measure or downbeat. These are important! Play the song and only sing/say these 'important' words at first. Then you can gradually add in more words and syllables before and after the important ones.

Just like Johnny Flynn said
The breath I've taken and the one I must to go on
Put the grenade pin in your hand, so you understand who's boss
My defeat sleeps top to toe with her success

^ Take the first verse of the song you're playing. Break it down and play and sing "Johnny Flynn said", "taken", "one I must", "on", "pin in your hand", "you understand", etc. You should become used to where your hands should be at and what they should be picking as you come upon the words. After you're comfortable add more words to your practice and gradually fill out the song.

That's what works for me and it's all the advice I can offer. Hope it helps and happy practicing.

One trick I find is just not


Location: Manchester, UK

Joined: Jul 06 2015

One trick I find is just not to think about it...if your mind gets in the way then you end up second guessing yourself. Just know what you want it to sound like then take small steps to get it there. Try singing with the guitar in your hand stroking the chords first then work up to rhythm. Also getting used to standing or sitting is important, if you only play \ sing sitting it may become harder to do it standing and the guitar lower down. Practice with both varieties and you will get it eventually, if everything else fails just try and fall into the passion of the music and see what comes out...there are no wrong answers, you just need to find what works for you.

I'm going to be honest with


Joined: Nov 07 2011

I'm going to be honest with you. Learning to sing and play is the most frustrating yet awesome thing ever. What I usually do is I try to get the timing down with the song. Once I get that down, I keep playing until I don't even think about where my fingers are. Then I try singing along with me playing. Sometimes I'll just start singing and playing, sometimes it works, sometimes not. Keep it up though! I know you'll get it down!