I’m going to be starting a new initiative here: if there is a skill or idea that you need help with, want to know where to start or how to attack, or just have some questions on, reach out to me either by email or on Twitter (@jsguitarlessons), and I will try to answer your question on here.
With that in mind, here is a lesson inspired by @shell_tony. Follow him on Twitter!
Learning to effectively sing and play at the same time
Now, I would never sing and play guitar to any of you – I respect you all as readers too much to make you suffer this singing voice – but it’s actually a relatively easy skill to learn, provided you know how to attack it.
There is a general 5-step process to learning out how to play guitar and vocal parts at the same time:
1) Learn both parts independently.
2) Using a metronome, find a slow enough pace where you can manage to play both at the same time, without issue.
3) Set the metronome up 5-10 bpm, so that it is difficult but not impossible to play both parts together.
4) Keep playing both parts at this faster pace until it is no longer difficult.
5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’re at the desired speed.
Here’s the idea – although it can be nauseatingly boring to play the parts at a slow pace, it allows you to feel the two parts at the same time, and see how they interact. You notice where the guitar plays and the vocals sit out, and at exactly what point the two start playing together again in sync. You notice how when the two parts switch, they do it in a way where the two are actually harmonizing with each other as part of the same chord. And as you hear these and other things working together, you start innately feeling the song as a single whole rather than as two separate parts.
Once you start feeling it, it’s just a matter playing the song faster and faster until it’s up to speed. Note though that it’s important to speed up slowly, because if you speed up too fast, you’ll lose the feel for the song – it’ll go back to being two different parts being played at the same time, because the two parts won’t feel connected. This is why when you set the metronome up 5-10 bpm, you need to keep repeating the parts together until it is easy, and you have that feel down. This way, when you raise the speed again, that feel and mental connection between the two parts is still there. You need that mental connection for it to stick.
So again, the key ingredient is to play it slowly so you can feel how the two parts interact, then slowly speed it up so you keep that feel going until you’re at the final speed.
I realize this is boring, and it will take time. But know that as you do this more and more, you’ll start naturally seeing patterns more and more quickly, and it will take less and less time to synchonize two different parts. Over time, you’ll be able to stop relying on this technique, and will be able to play two different parts together from the get-go. It just takes time and dedication, like everything else.
@shell_tony, I hope this helps and gets you on the right track. Good luck and let me know how it goes!