Tips for Strumming & Singing at Same Time

Lesson #478 • Mar 10, 2023


In this video I’ll answer what’s probably the most common question folks send in — how to sing and strum at the same time! This can be enormously difficult, especially as you’re learning new strumming patterns. I’ll share with you the 4-5 most important tips on this topic, each of which I consider essential to include in your practice toolkit.

Video timestamps:

  • 0:52 Examples of this Question
  • 3:02 Isolate
  • 5:50 Simplify
  • 7:22 Slow Down
  • 8:48 Repetition & Consistency
  • 10:10 Playing Along
  • 13:03 Final Advice

Examples of This Question

Here’s a few example of this question, as sent in by members of the Song Notes community. I’m sharing these because I think it’s helpful for you all to see the exact way people word this question.

The most recent submission was sent in by Bill:

I really struggle with strumming patterns and keeping time. For example, in your recent song "Don't Think Twice", I have a very difficult time keeping a steady beat tapping my left foot and playing that rather simple strum pattern. I would like to take advantage of the many different strum patterns to enhance the music.

But when it comes to singing, changing chords and tapping my foot for the timing. I always seem to end up with a boom chuck or just straight up down strumming with the beat. Can you recommend any exercises to separate my tapping left foot from my right [strumming] hand?

And another example from Marc:

I was wondering if you've ever made any lessons about learning how to sing while playing guitar. I didn't find any on your site. I can usually play the more advanced versions of the guitar patterns for your various song lessons. But I'm trying to experiment with singing some of these songs. I have no singing experience whatsoever.

When I try to sing and play at the same time, I find it very hard to stop my strumming hand from abandoning the strum pattern and following the rhythm of the words. It's a bit easier with the most simple strum patterns, but still challenging. Anyway, I don't know if this is an issue other people have raised.

And one more, this coming in from Jim:

I have got the strum pattern and chord changes and lyrics memorized. My current challenge is to actually sing the lyrics while “automatically” strumming and making chord changes. I am struggling a bit with this. I think it is kind of like rubbing your tummy and the top of your head at the same time. I couldn’t find any hints on your website. Anyway any help would be appreciated.

My Previous Video On This Topic

A few years back, I answered this very same question! There’s definitely a lot of overlap in this older video vs. my new one – but are definitely some unique nuggets in this older clip. So, I’m sharing it here! Check it out if you’re interested. And wow, my beard used to be long!

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