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I've reached a point where I need to sing so I can enjoy my guitar journey. My problem is I feel my voice isn't good enough and to coordinate both singing and playing is still an issue unless I'm singing along with chords and lyrics of a song, mostly covers by some other guys. How do I develop independence so I can sing on my own?

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    By "singing along with chords and lyrics of a song, mostly covers by some other guys", do you mean karaoke or that you're playing the chords?
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 9, 2022 at 15:49
  • I go to YouTube and search a song which has transcribed lyrics and annotated chords in specific lyrical lines Mar 9, 2022 at 17:13
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    Practice practice practice. Write your own songs tailored to your range and how you want to sing. Transcribe the covers you are playing. Try putting a capo at the third fret. When you get stuck in a rut, sit down and play a few chords at the piano.
    – ToastMan
    Mar 9, 2022 at 18:32
  • I still don't understand "unless I'm singing along with chords and lyrics of a song..." Are you trying to distinguish simple chord strumming with other guitar technique like fingerpicking while singing? Like CCR Have You Ever Seen The Rain versus The Beatles Blackbird. Mar 10, 2022 at 14:22
  • @MichaelCurtis, it's a little easier to sing along when I'm watching cover on YouTube which has lyrics and chords. Mar 12, 2022 at 9:56

6 Answers 6

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The process you have to go through is very hard, like automatisation of driving a car, like the independencity of the hands and fingers when playing piano.

  1. Try to hum along the melody when playing guitar (the guitar playing must be on a high level.
  2. Sing the song with lyrics only clapping with your hands (this will already be a pretty effort!)
  3. Sing along with the Guitar accompaniment only strumming the strings.
  4. Sing also off-beat and in free rhythm (groovy) when strumming on the Guitar.
  5. Try to sing with finger picking and arpeggio accompaniment (humming and then with lyrics).
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I know it might not be what you want to hear, but all it takes is practice. Every musician goes through a phase of being bad at something until they break through it with practice. Just never give up, and you'll be where you want to be.

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    I would add that if you get frustrated, stop. Do something else with guitar and/or singing that you have already succeeded with. Then return later in the day, or the next day, to the frustrating exercise. Your progress this way will be faster and more enjoyable than grinding away without success.
    – wabisabied
    Mar 9, 2022 at 18:12
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    Yeah. Getting frustrated makes you play worse. Taking a break doing something else, even on your instrument, is very important.
    – saturnuts
    Mar 10, 2022 at 16:40
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You say you can sing and play at the same time when doing covers. Maybe this means that you're simply more familiar with the covers than with your own songs, and just need to keep playing them more?

Also, "my voice isn't good enough" is somewhat a different issue. If you mean "I can sing with a projection and tone that I like when I'm not also playing," then that makes sense, and will benefit from all the exercises Albrecht suggests. If you just mean that you don't like your voice in general, then feel free to seek improvement and growth, but you might also need to simply learn to love your own voice. I would argue there's no such thing as "not good enough"; it sure never stopped Bob Dylan! Every voice is distinctive, and finds its own audience. No harm in cultivating and training your abilities, but at some point, your own sound is the product of the vocal cords, lungs, and sinuses you were born with, and your commodity is yourself.

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If you don't manage to play guitar and sing at the same time with the songs you're currently trying, try it with simpler songs. If it still doesn't help, try it again with even simpler songs.

If it's a song with only 1 or 2 chords, and simple strumming on each beat, so be it! You'll have plenty of time to try more complex songs once you master the easiest ones.

The first song I played and sung at the same time was from Juno soundtrack : "Anyone else but you", with G and Cmaj7 chords.

You might find that some complex songs are somehow easier for you than for other people, so keep on looking for songs that seem natural to you! There are many songs which have distinct rhythms for guitar and lyrics, and it's a real struggle to play them (e.g. Alabama Song - The Doors, Forever - Ben Harper, or Do I wanna know - Arctic Monkeys).

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Singing loudly in a large space where you want to make yourself heard is much, much easier than singing quietly in a confined space where you don't want to disturb the neighbours. Even in performance conditions, singing quietly is much harder than singing loudly. That's because to sing well, you need to breathe deeply, and it's much easier to control the flow of air when you're projecting your voice well. The problem if you "think your voice isn't good enough" is that it probably means you are trying to make sure you aren't overheard, which is the opposite of what you should be aiming for.

Another problem might be that you're recording yourself and listening to the recording. If you have a sensitive ear, you're almost certainly going to hear that your voice wasn't very accurately pitched. But that can lead to a spiral of decreasing confidence. A singing teacher would work on your pitch by working on your posture, your relaxation, and your confidence, not by telling you you're getting it wrong. They would also work on exercises explicitly designed to improve your pitch, for example by modifying the vowel sounds. It's hard to replicate that if you're working on your own.

My advice would be, don't do this on your own. Sing with others, ideally with a teacher, in an environment where you can make a noise and not be embarrassed by it.

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I wasn't making much progress on singing until I started working with a teacher. But it must be the right teacher. If you want to sing pop music and your teacher wants to teach opera, that's not going to work.

Also, my teacher had to struggle to learn how to sing. It didn't come easily to him at all. Someone like that will be much more understanding of your difficulties with the basics. That was just what I needed.

You may have to try several teachers before you find one you like, and where you feel you are making progress.

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