VOICE TIPS FOR SINGING

How to sing and play an instrument at the same time

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Most people find it difficult to sing and play an instrument at the same time. But we just love to sing and we love to play. So let’s find out.

It would be great to be able to sing and play guitar, or to be able to sing and play piano or ukulele, whatever your poison is. Many of us entertain the campfire fantasy, just take out our instrument, play and sing and just have a good time.

Today we learn to play and sing at the same time. I give you my experience, my insights, what will help you to coordinate the instrument and your voice – and it’s not necessarily what you think 😉

The non-sexy (but effective) way to play and sing at the same time

We don’t want to admit it, but the simple truth is sometimes too simple, maybe even boring. In this case, the answer is boring, but the execution is not.

You can gradually develop your ability to play and sing at the same time. Here are the steps and why you need them:

  1. Create the game without singing

Multitasking has never been my favorite pastime or my forte. So I avoid it when I can. Unless you have the gift of sight reading and can do things at the same time that you haven’t mastered yet, you’ll need to take some time to know what you’re playing. And if you feel comfortable doing it, at least to some degree, then add one more endeavor to the mix.

  1. Establish singing without playing

When you sing and play you can’t really focus on the quality of your singing. Especially if you’re trying to improve your singing or to overcome a specific vocal difficulty in the song, you might want to focus a bit on the voice itself.

  1. Combine singing and playing one verse/chorus at a time

This is a pain in the ass. You can’t just do the whole song at once! Why not? Well, because then that means you can already play and sing and you don’t have to read this. If you need help with this coordination, you also need to break down the song. Concentration is magic, believe me, it will take you far.

  1. Start slowly and gradually increase the speed

It’s psychologically difficult to slow down. But ironically, it will be so much quicker. If you try to attack everything at once, it won’t work. I can’t prove that to you, I haven’t researched it. But you will prove it if you try 🙂

Ok, you’re mad at me now, I see. Really? This is the best you have? No magic tricks? Wait, this is just the beginning.

The sexy way to sing and play at the same time

So you have some basic security in your guitar/piano/ukulele part and have practiced a little non-instrument singing. Now it’s time to let the two elements interact.

How about I teach you the following:

  • Use your musical instrument to check your posture
  • Use your musical instrument to amplify your vocal resonance
  • Use your musical instrument to become familiar with your voice

Interested? OK let’s go.

Use the tool to check your posture

When we sit down on an instrument to play and sing at the same time, we tend to bend forward, hunch over, and get tension in our throat. Good luck singing freely this way.

But we can use our new position to support our voting alignment. How? Use the instrument as a reference point. Here is the guide:

Piano

A little Alexander Technique might help here. Use these Directive thoughts, don’t try to actively fixate Your body parts stay in place:

Sit so that your lower legs and thighs are at a 90-degree angle (it’s okay if your right foot has to go slightly forward to pedal). The same goes for your thighs and upper body. Elbows relax down, back of head goes up and away from keyboard, chin towards keyboard.

So you’re using the piano/keyboard as a reference point to get a nice, long, open vocal instrument! As in this neat X-ray:

The left skeleton is flexed. Right Skeleton does it right!

“Use your instrument as a reference point to align your stance, enrich your vocal tone, and soften your high notes.”

Tip when singing: If possible, drop your chin toward the space between the keyboard and your torso with each note.

guitar/ukelele

Feel your sit bones in the chair or your heels in the floor when you stand. Let your chin point down towards the border between your body and the body of the guitar/ukulele.

Don’t put your head in front of the guitar body! This leads to neck tension. Keep the back of your head off the guitar/ukulele. It might feel like looking over a cliff.

It looks something like this:

Tip when singing: Try dropping your chin toward the space between your body and your guitar on each note.

Would like make yourself comfortable carry out?

I have a stage class

With instant access to a performance platform

Here is a great example of a master at work – Jeff Buckley. The legendary (and sadly deceased) performer knew exactly how to get the guitar alignment right and watch his jaw drop!

You can learn more about posture in my article on the Alexander Technique.

Use your instrument to improve your vocal resonance (better tone).

Sometimes playing and singing at the same time can make you push yourself too hard in an unhelpful way. Because we are doing two different jobs at the same time. It requires focus and coordination (which, to be honest, not everyone naturally has, I know I don’t).

So if you define the two missions of playing and singing as one task in your head, it can make the task easier – and there is another side effect: it will make you sound better! Here’s how:

Piano

As you sit at the piano and get ready to sing, remember to breathe in towards the direction under your chair. Alternatively, imagine the piano filling up with air!

Then, as you sing, fill the space of the piano/under the chair with your sound (in your head, of course, this is a brain trick).

guitar/ukelele

As you breathe in, think of the air that fills the body of the guitar/ukulele, or the space in your body that is behind the guitar/ukulele.

Then, as you sing, imagine your sound filling the space you previously filled with air.

What are you talking about, Linor? Why is this even helpful?

Admittedly, it’s a little strange, but this trick lets you breathe more deeply without lifting your pecs/shoulders too much. This gives you more open resonances in your body, and your tone gets richer. Try it!

Use your instrument to become familiar with your voice

This works similarly for all instruments.

Before singing and/or playing, find out how your sit bones feel in the chair (or your heels in the floor if you’re standing).

When singing, especially on higher notes, imagine the sound going to your sit bones or heels. This goes hand-in-hand with the drooping of the jaw that we talked about in the posture section above. The jaw drops and so does the sound. It’s a trick – try it.

What does that do

This act of pretending your tone is going down distracts you from the idea that the tone is being generated from the upper part of the body, which can lead to overexertion.

Sound is generated from almost your entire body! So use the instrument you are playing to feel the sensation of your whole body and it will help you relax muscles that would otherwise strain your voice.

Whatever you need to learn and practice, make sure you do it with some structure so you don’t lose track. you can check out my fun exercise method here.

You’ve learned a lot – time to put it into practice. Let me know how it went or if you have any questions!

Linor

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