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How to sing and play together fluently


When I began to write this article, I originally planned to focus it on bass players and call him “How to sing and play bass together fluently”, but I quickly realized that principles, which I will write about, are applicable for every instrument (electric guitar/acoustic guitar, piano,…).

Did you ever struggle with playing the song and adding the singing, so you made a mistake no matter if in the singing or playing? It´s natural and it happens to many musicians. But don´t be afraid. It can be learnt like any other skill and you can learn it too. In order to do that, it´s necessary to train your brain to do more activities at once. ​

Follow these steps and you will improve your ability to play your instrument and sing at once massively.

  1. Learn both parts separately. Before you´ll try to connect your singing and playing, be sure that you are able to play the part of your instrument perfectly as well as you are able to sing the whole voice part accurately and with no problem. It seems easy and obvious but it´s absolutely necessary to go through this step until you go further.

  2. Once you mastered step one, let´s add some level of difficulty. Play your part (still separately) and disturb yourself with some other activity. Begin with easy ones, for example play while you are walking in the room. If it´s easy for you, then play and turn on some music (not the same as you play, but something different in order to disturb yourself). Try to eliminate all the mistakes and play still 100% accurately. Very challenging is to play and talk to someone at the same time, so you may try to do it if you want to add more difficulty. Do this process with you instrument´s part and your singing separately (you can´t obviously sing and talk to someone else at the same time, but you can use all the other examples and you can think about your own examples of course).

  3. When you are ok with steps one and two, then you can try to sing and play together. At first, sing the melody and play simplified part of your instrument, for example play only chords without strumming, or even only basic notes. Do the same in the reverse order, I mean play the instrument´s part and sing the simplified melody.

  4. Once you mastered all the previous steps, it will greatly improve your ability to play and sing fluently. So now you can try to perform both parts together. It's totally ok, if it´s not 100% accurate for the first time. Be patient and persistent. If it´s still hard to do it, practice previous steps for some period of time (for example one week), and then try step four again.

You can definitely learn it as any other skill. ​

About the author: Tom Sklenar is the professional bass player and the teacher in the Guitar School of Chropyne (Škola kytary Chropyně), Czech republic. 

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