You’ve probably realized already that it’s not easy learning how to play piano music and sing at the same time. But don’t worry! It’s not impossible. With a bit of effort, and maybe some help from a piano teacher, any pianist can get there.
Learning to play the piano and sing at the same time is very challenging, even with the help of piano lessons.
Here’s some advice and tips to help you learn to play piano and sing at the same time just like lots of famous musicians do.
Elton John is a master of singing and playing at the same time. (Source: Bectero)
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you want to learn to play piano and sing at the same time.
It’s even more difficult than playing the guitar and singing at the same time. However, nobody ever said that it was easy to learn to play the piano. When you concentrate on your piano playing (even with the help of private tutorials), you forget the words or mess them up.
Or maybe you focus too much on the singing and you forget the chords, your timing is off, you hit the wrong notes, or you play the wrong rhythm. How can you fix this problem?
If you’re reading this article, it’s probably because you either want to learn how to play piano while you sing your favorite songs or you’re a budding musician who wants to sing their own songs while they play them on a piano or keyboard.
When you learn piano, you tend to focus on music theory and technique rather than singing at the same time. When playing piano, a piano player is focusing on the keyboard (or trying to read music), coordinating their left hand with their right hand, and making sure their fingering is perfect.
This is enough work for your brain without trying to sing at the same time. However, with a bit of patience, practice, and following some of the instructions in this article, you can play piano while singing, too.
The goal is to get good at doing both at the same time. Our brain isn’t really great at doing two things at once. The best way is to first make everything second nature; learning piano parts and singing parts separately.
That’s why it’s better to master the singing part and then master the piano part before bringing the two parts together.
Before you can sing and play a piece, you have to be a master of the whole piece.
You have to know the whole song inside out. In fact, this is the same kind of technique you’d use when you learn to use your hands independently when playing the piano. You have to work on each part separately (left and right) before bringing them together.
Before you trying bringing the two parts together, try playing the song on the piano while humming the vocal melody. This will let you work on the rhythm and melody without worrying about what the actual lyrics are.
After all, the singing part is made up of a musical part and a literary part. This means that when you’re singing and playing at the same time, you’re actually doing three things: playing the piece, singing the melody, and saying the words. Without mastering each of these parts individually, you’ll never be able to do them all together.
One of the best techniques for learning how to play and sing a song at the same time is to listen relentlessly to the original version. Listen very closely to the studio version if you can and listen for how the singer weaves their voice into the song they’re playing. Try to use the original version as a model before you start making your own creative changes to it. Once you’ve mastered this, you can start adding your own personal touches. That’s the goal.
We play music to express our creativity even if that creativity sometimes has to take a back seat. Generally speaking, before we get to be creative in any art, we have to master the fundamentals, techniques, and rules. This is the same idea: before we can mess around with the song, we have to know the original inside out.
The best covers come from people who know the original version really well and can play and sing it almost as well as the original performer.
You’ll quickly see how much this will help you play and sing the song at the same time. Pay particular attention to how to two parts synchronize with one another. You should also pay attention to the intonation, intensity, and rhythmic elements of both the music and the singing. Force yourself to copy everything the singer does.
Once you’ve learned the original version by heart, you’ll know the song so well that you’ll perform it perfectly every time. Usually we think we know a song better than we do. Listening closely to song can reveal a lot of things you wouldn’t normally notice: silences, inflections, rhythmic changes, embellishments.
If you have any doubts, you can always ask your piano tutor for help.
If you’re still really struggling to bring the two parts together, you can always consider a version of the song that better suits your level. In this case, you should consider using a simplified version.
For most songs you can find several versions of the sheet music: the original version as used on the recording and a simplified versions with the piano chords, perfect for anyone learning the piano.
You can always start by learning the simplified version and then moving on to the original version. The simplified version can be useful as knowing the main chord structure will help you break down the song and analyze it.
Here are a few “tricks” for making playing and singing simultaneously easier:
Learn the piano part and try playing it while speaking instead of singing. It’s still not as easy as you’d think as you still need to know the song inside out. Imagine it as a test: you’ll find out how well you actually know the song (the instrumental part) and whether you can coordinate your mouth and your hands at the same time. If this isn’t the case, you’ll know what you have to do.
Break down the words into syllables and work out which syllable goes where. This will help break the song into milestones and help you synchronize the singing part with the instrumental part in terms of rhythm and timing. The hardest part of this exercise is putting those parts together. Make sure to focus on the key syllables.
When synchronizing the two parts of a song, make sure you’re using a metronome to keep your timing. However, the goal is to be able to perform the song without one. If you’re not using a metronome, make sure you’re tapping your feet to keep tempo. In any case, it’s really important to get the timing right.
You should also consider checking out this article on how to write music for the piano.
This may seem obvious but you should never forget it: always start by playing something easy to play and easy to sing. This isn’t the same as using a simplified version of a complicated song.
When it comes to learning, whatever it may be, you need to start simple and then work on more complicated things.
Skipping these steps can be detrimental and end up costing you a lot of time.
A simple piece is a piece that uses:
Simple chords and very few melodies. If you need to focus on complicated harmonies and melodies, your problems will only get greater once you add in singing. A simple song usually includes an instrumental melody that mirrors the vocal melody.
Simple chord progressions. In addition to simple chords, the progression also has to be very simple.
A simple time signature. 4/4 time, for example.
A simple song is a song that:
Is relatively slow.
Has a linear melody without octave jumps, etc.
Has very few changes in intensity.
Has very easy lyrics to remember.
For your first try, choose a simple song that you enjoy. It’ll be much easier to learn a song that you enjoy. That way you can combine work and play.
There are several ways to learn how to play the piano and sing at the same time. You need to find the best time to play the piano. You need to think of it in the same way as learning to use your two hands independently. You’ll see that playing and singing at the same time will get easier and easier the more you practice.