How to Sing While Playing Piano: 5 Tips

Lisa Witt  /  Articles / Apr 13

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Learning how to sing while playing piano is honestly one of my favorite things to do! It’s helped me stay motivated at the piano when things have gotten tough. Yup, even the most passionate piano players feel demotivated sometimes!

But singing and playing at the same time is harder than it looks! It’s like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It really challenges your coordination and it can even feel like learning how to play with a third hand!

Yet learning how to sing while playing piano is super useful. You’ll be a delight at parties, leading your friends and family in Christmas carol sing-alongs. Or you can give back to your faith community by accompanying a worship service. Here are five keys to learning how to sing and play:

  1. Know your song well
  2. Keep the accompaniment simple at first
  3. Hum along
  4. Practice talking and playing
  5. Make yourself a backing track

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How to Sing While Playing Piano

1. Know your song well

Before you put singing and playing together, master doing these things apart.

But how do you know when you’re ready? One way to tell is to see if you can sing your song without lyrics or accompaniment without making mistakes. Then, see if you can play the piano part easily, without any mistakes.

Once you’re confident doing these things separately, it’s time to put them together!

2. Keep the accompaniment simple (at first)

When you’re just starting out, keep things simple. Avoid riffs, fills, reharmonized chord transitions…all that fancy stuff can come later!

Instead, play basic chords and simple left-hand bass lines. Use an easy, repetitive, quarter-note strumming pattern, or even play and hold whole notes. Sing along to this until it feels easy. Then, gradually add in your fancy frills, one by one.

3. Hum along

For real. You might feel a little silly, but not only is this an excellent way to warm up your voice, it will give you the simplest template for singing and playing.

Humming brings singing to its most basic form. It takes the work of remembering and forming words off the table. Now you can develop muscle memory and get used to how it feels to sing and play. Because trust me: forming words and playing music at the same time is hard!

4. Practice talking and playing

Speaking of talking and playing…that’s something you should try. I dare you!

Carrying a conversation while playing an instrument is tough, but it will really help you develop your coordination. So, invite a friend into your practice area and start talking!

5. Make yourself a backing track

No, you don’t need to be a music producer to do this. Just use the voice recording app on your phone and record one hand playing the song. Then, sing and play the other hand on top of your recording.

This breaks the process down into more manageable bits.

Songs to Sing While Playing Piano: For Beginners

Remember: learning how to sing while playing piano isn’t just for professional vocalists. It’s a ton of fun and it builds important skills. Besides, we all have an instrument built inside of us: our voice! So bring some playfulness and humor into this, throw caution to the wind, and give singing and playing a try 🙂

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some popular songs that are wonderful to sing and play along to:

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for 19 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others.

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