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I'm interested in learning guitar, but I doubt it would be useful to play guitar without singing. Is it necessary to learn to sing in order to play guitar?

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    sneha - are you asking if singing will help guitar playing? Or if you can do both at once? – Doktor Mayhem Apr 20 '15 at 7:26
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Both are independent instruments and as requirement for learning the other, no related at all (just as you can learn to play piano without knowing how to play viola, and learn to play viola without knowing how to play timpani).

You can learn to sing without knowing guitar, and you can learn to play guitar without knowing how to sing.

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Playing guitar without singing is still a lot of fun and very rewarding. I played guitar for years without singing and loved every minute of it. I hated singing for most of my life.

All that being said, when I was finally forced to learn to sing, not only did it open up a lot of possibilities with my guitar playing (like being a one man band and playing and singing songs on an acoustic), it also added to my appreciation, enjoyment, and understanding of music in a way that I just couldn't overstate. I think everyone should learn to sing. I don't mean every musician, I mean literally everyone in the world. It should be required in public schools from the very beginning through at least sixth or seventh grade.

So my answer is, no you absolutely don't need to sing to learn and enjoy guitar. But you should strongly consider forcing yourself to at least learn a little singing.

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If you are concerned about singing, take up an instrument which involves using the mouth, such as trumpet, clarinet or sax, then that problem is solved. Some folks like to play guitar, some like to sing, and some can do both at the same time. One MAY help the other, but it's not necessary to be able to do both.

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I agree with Todd Wilcox on this. I'll add a couple of more points though.

  1. Singing will dramatically increase your rate of progress on guitar or any other instrument.
  2. I can't think of one successful singer or songwriter who cannot play at least some guitar or some piano. These are the two dominant instruments in modern popular music, because they can play both single notes and play chords. You are not always singing the root of the chord, so having an instrument you can play chords with is essential for ear training.

I was originally taught that playing and singing simultaneously was a matter of perfecting each part separately, then putting them together. Years of playing and teaching has convinced me this is not the best approach.

You should instead put the two together from the very beginning, by simplifying the strum down to outlining the form (i.e. strumming only where the chords change, or a bar starts) and singing along gaining an awareness of where the changes in the vocal melody match up with the changes in the harmony (chords).

  • I very much agree with your second paragraph. The more you do at once, the simpler each needs to be, while learning. I find when I don't know a song that my guitar playing reduces in quality in 3 steps: once when I add "la-ing" along to the song, once when I add the actual lyrics, and once more when I try to sing the lyrics well :) – Whelkaholism Apr 21 '15 at 11:18
  • Stone cold memorizing the lyrics to at least one verse and chorus helps a lot. I find the "la-ing" gives you a big edge with the guitar leads as well. – Jay Skyler Apr 21 '15 at 14:48
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Playing the guitar well takes a lot of practice and hard work. The quality of the sound depends on the manufactured quality of the guitar and proper tuning. Singing is different. It still requires practice and hard work but the quality of the sound is not manufactured. It depends on the basic instrument supplied by nature and proper tuning.

Too many guitarists think they can sing when they do not have the basic musical instrument, the voice. Another problem is the audiences. They will tell you how wonderful you are because they want to be nice to you. Don´t believe them!

If you want to be a professional guitarist/singer rather than a guitarist, then go to a reputable singing coach before you spend your money on an expensive guitar. Tell them that you want them to be brutally frank with you about the quality of your basic instrument. I have been in the business for 50 years and more. Too many self delusional struggling performers.

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Obviously a lot of (in fact most) singer/songwriters are more the average kind of guitarist. Whereas famous non-singing guitarists again are always extremely good guitarists. So, if your question in fact is, whether you will be able to make a living being a non-singing guitar player: A lot of very talented children work hard to become a new Messi, but you never know where it all ends up... If your questions is just, whether it is fun to play guitar without singing: Yes, it is!

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I believe it is. The guitar is a great choice for introducing once self to musical performance. There are numerous resources available to help you learn, you can play by yourself or with a band, and many guitarists write and perform music that do not include lyrics, as well as accompanying other singers.

After learning to play the guitar, I very quickly learned to play Piano, as my experience with guitar taught me a lot of fundamentals that are universal to many other instruments.

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