Playing & singing at the same time – tips & tricks

Playing & singing at the same time – tips & tricks

For many people, playing guitar is easier while singing than playing bass. Singing and playing drums is even harder for some but playing the keyboard is a breeze. Mastering instrumental multitasking is a challenge for most musicians. However, the exception proves the rule. Some make it look so easy: Paul McCartney, for example, plays complex bass lines and sings beautifully while always making it look effortless. But for mere mortals it’s all about “practice makes perfect“.

Autorin Catharina Bouthari, photo: Inga Seevers

Training without any problems can work for some, but with a calculated system the results come faster. Here are some suggestions and thoughts from our author Catharina Boutari*, who will give us some tips & tricks:

Einfach drauflos trainieren kann klappen, mit System kommen die Erfolge aber schneller. Hier ein paar Anregungen und Gedanken von unserer Autorin Catharina Boutari*, die euch weiterhelfen:

Get the basics down first!

Learn both parts separately.
In singing, that means:

  1. Memorising the text.
  2. Go through the melody thoroughly and note any difficult parts. Learn to overcome these “stumbling blocks” intensively.
  3. Get the arrangement, i.e. the sequence of the individual song parts, memorised.

With the instrument, just like with the vocals:

  1. Master the technical difficulties you encounter: motor and general rhythm techniques.
  2. Make sure you can play the chords or the accompaniment without looking at your instrument!
  3. Play the song without errors (challenge yourself and try to do it 10 times without a single error)
  4. Play the song instrumentally with the band!

Get in shape rhythmically!

All variations of quarters, eighths, sixteenths and triplets should be able to groove and in general should not be foreign lands for you. Practice clapping with your hands, on the instrument, or making beats with your mouth for constant practice.

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Practice instrumental multitasking like a partner dance!

Understand how the song and instruments are interwoven. Which words are used for which chord movements, which are in between? Go through the song at a snail’s pace, part by part, and practice the whole choreography. Difficult places are approaching their cycle by cycle until they run smoothly. Only when this groundwork has been done will you pick up the pace in small steps. This requires patience, but this is the only way to eliminate all sources of error. My tip: Use your feet as a connecting element. If it goes quarter or eighth, the instrument plays to it. Sing along. Do both together over your walking feet.

Be efficient!

Leave enough room for your performance! If parts are too heavy and don’t work despite intensive practice, look for alternative ways. Can the phrasing be simplified? Can someone else in the band take the part and you play something easier? Are there any instrumental alternatives? Don’t be vain. Let yourselves breathe so that you can be confident on stage. That deserves the most applause! 

About the author

Catharina is a singer, songwriter, session musician, live artist and works as a vocal coach. She worked as a stage musician, music director and opera director at Hamburg‘s Thalia Theater. Since 2012, Catharina has been touring solo under the name Puder.

Click here for Catharina Boutari’s website

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Do you have any tips and tricks for the community? We look forward to your comments here on the blog or on our Facebook page!  ✍

Author’s gravatar
Joe has been singing since he can remember and started playing guitar when he was 10. He's been using it as a songwriting tool ever since. He is passionate about melody and harmony and admires musicians who create these in unique ways. Check out his alternative / indie projects Best of Feelings and Zef Raček.

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