Alright, you’ve picked up your guitar, you’re learning your new favorite song (or the one you’re guitar teacher thrust upon you), and you want to sing along with the track. You have the chord pattern memorized, and you try to start singing, but you keep tripping up on strumming anything other than an 8th notes strumming pattern. I’ve given a lot of excuses as to why I can’t play that part and sing at the same time. “Keith Richards played the guitar and Mick… Well, he never really played anything, so it was easier for him to hit those notes, right?”
Sure, but I have a trick that my good friend and heterosexual life partner/cousin (Spencer Jones) taught me, use this trick to help you learn the pattern AND sing at the same time!
The issue starts with trying to learn too many things at the same time. We’re expecting perfect form from something we’ve never tried before, and that’s just not reasonable at all!
“The way I break it down for my student goes as follows.”
- Chord shapes
- the strumming pattern
- Played together
- Learn the vocal melody
- Memorize the words
If we take each of these things part and break them down, then our body will have the time it needs to catch up with what our mind has learned!
We’ve learned the chords shapes and the pattern. Now we have to get that strumming pattern down!
Take the guitar and flip it around so your strumming hand is now your non-dominant hand (if you’re right-handed, this would be your left hand) is now strumming. Take your dominant hand and cover the strings, so all you hear are the muted strings.
This will feel INCREDIBLY odd.
Get the metronome out and for 2 minutes, set a timer on your phone so you don’t go short or long on time, and practice the pattern.
Watch this video for a quick visual tutorial.
That’s the trick! Try it out the next time you have a hard time keeping a new strumming pattern while singing! I have used this trick many, many times, and it has helped me to get that “Patting your head, rubbing your belly” feeling to go away.