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Playing Piano And Singing At The Same Time

Many great pianists are also regarded as great singers.

People like Ray Charles, Elton John and Billy Joel can play piano to a high level and also sing just as well.

I think it’s pretty difficult to play piano and sing at the same time. 

Of course the artists I mentioned make it look easy. 

There are several ways to go about your practice to be able to sing and play at the same time.  It takes lots of time and practice. 

Some people may find it easier than others, I personally find it quite hard to sing and play the piano at the same time. 

The most difficult part is that as soon as you start to concentrate on one thing the other one seems to go a little wrong.  You know, if you concentrate on the singing, the hands get out of time and if you concentrate on the piano part, the voice starts to fade.

So the best way to practice is to learn each part independently. Start by learning the piano part so you can play it well and then do the same with the singing part.

The idea is to gain independence. 

This is a term that's used a lot in regards to piano playing.  Independence of each hand is very important in playing piano.  Sometimes one hand will have to play something quite contrasting, rhythmically or otherwise, to the other hand.  This idea of independence can also be applicable to singing and playing simultaneously. 

You need to be able to get independence from your hands. 

It's important to be able to sing something regardless of what your hands might be doing. 

Practice Tip

A good way to try this out is to try singing and washing the dishes at the same time.  Keep your hands moving while singing a song.  Remember to keep your hands moving the whole time you are singing.  

For some people this might come very easy.  It can be quite interesting trying to concentrate on one thing while letting something else be independent.  This usually requires that at least one of the things you are working on to be almost instinctive.  This way you don't have to concentrate on too many things.  Say if your piano part is memorized, then you're free to concentrate on singing.  Some pieces are harder to play and sing at the same time. 

When more advanced syncopation's and rhythms are employed in the piano part, it's harder to think about singing at the same time.  Of course as you get better at playing the piano and better at singing you will naturally find these things easier.  It's important not to get to frustrated … take your time. 

If you’re having trouble with the piano part, take the time to learn it thoroughly, even off by heart, and be patient. 

The same goes with if you're having trouble with the singing part.  Again, take the time to learn the singing part separately and thoroughly, and then try putting the two together. 

Go over any bits that you are finding difficult and just keeping repeating them until things start sounding unified.

The best thing to do is to find a song that is simple. There are many songs that have very easy piano parts and vocal parts.  Begin with easy songs.   Play as much and as often as you can.  As you get better, try playing more complicated songs.

 

 

Author Biog Box

Graham Howard ukpianos.co.uk editor

My name is Graham Howard. I'm a piano advisor and author of "7 Things You MUST Know Before You Buy A Digital Piano",
and "Which Digital Piano Is Best To Buy?". I hope you found this article useful.
 Here's some more of my free stuff:

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Talk with me on www.twitter.com/grahamhoward, or www.facebook.com/ukpianos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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Comments about this article

Hi Graham,

I'm pleased to say I'm back to practice again and have added a drum kit
to me arsenel of things to annoy the neighbours with.

I like this article very much. Here's my 2p worth.

I've always approached musical performance with the notion of playing
live. Even though this is rarely the case these days, I still play and
practice as if I've got a gig the next day.
I've always found it gets me
through a song quicker. When learning a new song I nearly always try and
include vocals, or at least have the vocals in mind because it's nice to
be able to play songs that people recognise. Playing the vocal melody
alone is usually enough to get people to join in too !!

The points I would like to raise are practice and familiarity….. and
maybe a little bit of cheating !!

Practice

There is no shortcut to successfully playing and singing at the same
time. I learned most of the technique from playing guitar. When I began,
I was "going to be a rock star !!" (ha !) so I had in mind that I'd be
playing on stage one day. I couldn't go on stage and mess it up, so I
had to get it right.

(I'm still not a rock star, but a fair amount of live experience certainly
helped me learn). The main stumbling block for me was timing. I would
start off ok, but more often than not ended up singing the words to
the time of the instrument part. This lead to some very strange vocals
for a while !! However, over time my brain began to seperate the two tasks.

I didn't wait until I could play the piano / guitar part perfectly either.
As soon as I have the basic chords and song structure nailed, I add
the vocals. I print out a lyric sheet and read that while I'm playing
the chords, just thinking the vocals through a few times to see if
there are any potential tricky parts. Then I just have a go and
make a complete hash of it. This is normal when you're learning
anything.

It's a good thing. Jump in, have a go, mess it up, jump in again….

Also I learn a lot of songs by ear.

I will often hear a song I like and will dash through and see if I can
work it out straight away. The only reference I have is usually the
vocal melody of the chorus, so I will sing that over and over while I
find the right chords for the chorus. After playing that a few times,
I'll move to other sections (if I can remember them!) and if I still
want to be able to *perform* it I'll get the lyrics in front of me and
learn the whole thing. After this, it's the 3 P's. Practice, practice
and practice……

Familiarity

Learn songs you know well at first. The better you know the lyrics to a
song, the less time you will have to spend thinking about the actual
words. One less thing to trouble your brain with !! Twinkle Twinkle
Little Star is enough to learn the basics of doing two things at once.

Cheating

Ok, it's not really cheating, but try and learn songs that have very
very simple chord progression during the vocal sections. Also, learn
songs where the vocals are more important that the instrument, so you
can drop out occasionally and it won't matter too much.

If you're not very good in a certain section, just hold the chords you can manage,
sing the section like you're accenting the song with the vocals and move
swiftly on to the next song before anyone notices what you're doing !!

Once again, it's all linked to live performance. When playing live, you
can't just stop and repeat a section over and over. You have to play the
song as a whole, mistakes and all. I have always played like this and it
allows me to get the basics of a song down quickly, then practice lets
me fill in the missing parts and improve on those basics.

My next task is to learn to play the saxaphone and sing at the same
time. Now that's going to be tough !! ;-)

All the best,

Mat Howlett


Hi Graham

I have not given up the piano, I did not do any for a couple of weeks then I started again doing the usual practice to get used to the up and down
notes, trying to improve as well as trying to read the notes without writing on top of each one.

I am determined to learn to play well eventually. At the moment I am learning the bass guitar as I am in a group.

I have been playing for the last two months. It is my husbands group, he is teaching me. I can play Walk don't run, Perfidia, Diana, Dance On,
Boogie 12 bars, Be bop a lula, etc. Only been playing for two months and have learnt a lot through your notes learning the piano.

I am going to put this evert into the piano at a later date. I really enjoy my piano. I cannot sing, cannot keep in tune and I sound terrible, but would love to learn how to sing. I am enjoying the up and down notes on the piano, with two hands obviously.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Lindy

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