If you are just a casual spectator, watching those popular artists like Paul McCartney or Elton John plays the piano while singing at the same, you will surely remark that those artists are doing it pretty effortlessly. Yes, their performances may seem effortless from afar, but upon closer scrutiny, their individual piano performance is harder to do than it may appear to be. If you know how to play the piano and sometimes play it while singing, you would surely realize that singing while playing the piano is not an easy thing to do.
To perfect such performance, you need to make extra effort in developing your piano-playing skill and singing skill. You also need to be cognizant of some simple tips on how to sing well while playing the piano.
1) First, Improve Your Piano-playing Skill
If you are just a mediocre player of piano, you would surely find it hard to play the piano while singing. Moreover, you will never perfectly perform in front of an admiring audience if you are not well-versed with piano playing. Hence, the very first prerequisite for you to be able to sing and play the piano well is to enhance your piano skill and make sure that you can play the piano without looking at the keyboards.
2) Begin with the Right Posture While Playing the Piano
Singing while playing the piano sometimes becomes difficult if you don’t sport the right posture. Your back should not be too curved while playing the piano because you need to let yourself breathe properly while singing. Good posture definitely translates to good breathing. With good breathing, you can project your voice properly, and your voice would sound great. You should also maintain the flexibility of your spine whether you are playing the piano standing or sitting.
3) Make Sure that You Have the Right Position of the Microphone
At the onset, you should ensure the most comfortable position of your microphone because the way you position the mic will surely affect your breathing and your posture. Avoid positioning the microphone too far away from your mouth so that you would be required to lean too far forward just to be near the mic. Make sure that the mic is at the same level as your mouth and that it is neither too far nor too close to your mouth.
4) Try to Play and Sing Separately at the Onset
Singing while playing the piano often requires perfecting the individual skills of playing the piano and singing. Hence, at the onset, it would be good to focus on a specific skill before you diversify to the other skill. It would be good to master first the act of playing the piano without singing the tune of the song. Once you have mastered playing a song using the piano, you can then start inserting some vocal melodies to your piano tune. You can also play a pre-recorded piano track of the song and practice singing the pre-recorded track. It’s like singing a cappella until you get the hang of the song.
Afterward, you can proceed with playing simple chords while you focus on honing your singing skill. You can then focus on playing the piano while you sing quietly. Keep singing quietly until you become confident of singing while playing the piano. Then, slowly increase your vocal level while you play the piano until you achieve a certain level of confidence in singing and playing the piano.
5) Make Sure that You can Sing While Playing with Both Hands
If you are always playing the piano, playing the piano would surely become second nature to you. Since playing the piano requires you to use both your hands, it would surely become very difficult to sing if you haven’t mastered the art of playing with both hands. The left hand usually takes care of the bass notes, full chords, and melodies. The right hand, on the other hand, plays the chords and the melodies. With this bi-manual focus, you may get confused while singing.
Hence, you need to make the playing of the piano with both hands second nature to you so that your hands will move naturally while you belt a song. At the onset, it would be good to start with simple chords and melodies until you get the hang of playing the piano with both hands while singing.
6) Draw the Power of Your Voice from the Lower Part of Your Body
There is usually a tendency for performers when playing the piano while singing to tighten their shoulders and necks. However, this may hamper their singing and playing abilities. Hence, it would be good to practice centering your energy and control at your lower body right on your pelvic floor. This will enable you to sing properly while breathing properly. Moreover, this will open up your throat to allow you better vocalization. If you are playing and singing while seated, you need to sit at the very edge of your seat and let your body press down against the seat. However, if you perform standing, you should position your legs shoulder-width apart so that you can draw power from your firmly planted feet.
7) Learn to Play with Light Fingers
There is a tendency for a piano player to play tight when performing for the first time in front of the audience while singing. Make sure that you learn how to play the piano with light fingers. Of course, playing with light fingers isn’t easy for it requires mastery of the piano skill. But with constant practice, you can keep your touch with the keyboards light and your wrists very flexible. With light fingers, your entire body will be more flexible and open.
8) You Should Engage in Regular Practice
Nothing is perfected without sacrifice. Similarly, singing while playing the piano doesn’t come naturally; it usually comes only after constant practice in isolation or together with someone else. If you really want to sing and play the piano well, you need to practice at least half an hour every day. You should also try to record your performance so that you can figure out if you are improving. If there is a remarkable difference in your performance in each practice, it means that you are really improving and you’re on the right track of mastering both skills.
Other Additional Pointers
Choose Songs Within Your Vocal Range
Our natural voice is usually pegged at a certain range. Hence, if you want to sing well while playing the piano, you should choose songs that fit well your voice. Even if you are a good piano player, if you are choosing songs that do not fit your voice, you may end up not performing well. Hence, it is really a good idea to find songs that fit your vocal range so that you can sing well within your vocal range and play piano at the same time. You surely don’t want to be straining your vocal cords and taking up more energy in singing that would eventually detract from your playing the piano well.
Make Use of Metronome
The right way to master the art of singing while playing the piano is to have a subconsciously-playing metronome. Subconsciously-playing metronome means that you have in your mind the accurate metronome to guide you while playing the piano. Getting this type of metronome requires a constant awareness of the metronome that is behind a particular song. If you constantly practice singing with a metronome background, you will end up subconsciously imbibing the accurate metronome for each song. Using a metronome also allows you to stay on the correct beat. Developing a complete awareness of metronome also requires excellent practice. Some people are gifted with the remarkable skill of recognizing the right metronome easily. While some people must still exert extra effort in perfecting the accurate metronome for a particular song.
The goal is to make the metronome your guide while playing the piano. With the mastery of the right metronome, you will surely not get lost while playing the piano while singing because you can easily correct your beat to avoid a drag in your act of playing and singing.
Try to Hum while Playing the Piano
The vocal chords and your hands sometimes have their own mind. Because of this, it is not natural for us to sing while playing the piano. It requires developing excellent piano skill and singing skill to master singing while playing the piano. Hence, at the onset, it would be good to use humming to accompany your piano playing. In this way, you will get a feel of how it is to use your vocal chords while playing the piano. It also allows you to vocalize the right tone while playing the piano. As you get better in humming while playing the piano, you can then switch to the use of actual lyrics while playing the piano. Practice this often, and you will end up becoming a better performer while playing the piano.
Make Sure that You are Focused on What you are Doing
If you are just practicing for your actual performance in front of an audience, an occasional loss of focus would surely be forgivable. But during your performance, it would be unforgivable to lose focus while performing. Hence, during your practice session, it would surely be good to develop at least the habit of always maintaining your focus while playing the piano and singing. In this way, you will be able to develop the habit of intense focus that would carry over to your actual performance.
It requires multitasking on your part. Your brain should be so trained in such a way that it could command both your hands and your vocal chords to be in synchrony while performing. It is easy to lose focus while multitasking. Hence, it is better to develop intense focus while still in your practice sessions. Make sure that your eyes are no longer looking at your playing fingers. Lastly, you should apply all the above-mentioned tips to ensure that you can render an excellent performance to your audience.