If you want to sing and play guitar, it doesn’t matter if you want to rock out on stage or sing a slow loving ballad to your spouse, you’ll need to have an understanding of how guitar lyrics and chords work together the way they do. A good way to start is by using songbooks.
Guitar songbooks are a singer’s best friend. They give you the sheet music benefits of notes and well-written lyrics, while also placing chords on top of the music. It’s everything you need to sing correctly. If you don’t have a songbook or a local music store nearby, then websites like neatchords.com and a video or audio version of the song you want to sing will work just as well.
In order to play the song chords, you first need to understand how the song works. Listen to an instrumental version of the song or fingerpick the notes while humming or singing to yourself. You should be able to hear the notes and match the pitches with your voice. Doing this exercise and singing along with the melody will get the right pitches and tunes into your head.
Then you can look at the guitar lyrics and chords, and start strumming away. Since you’ve got the melody down tight, you’ll be able to have a better understanding of when to switch chords and how to keep the tempo going as you play. Songs all have beats, and the most common is 4/4 time where there are four beats per measure.
So, you’d count “1, 2, 3, 4” and strum that same amount for every measure. As you go through the melody, you’ll instinctively feel when to switch chords, and will be able to keep the song going. If this process sounds long, it is. You’ll need to have a basic understanding of the workings of music, but if you are serious about playing, then it’ll be welcome.
Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you can sing pitches by ear and you won’t need to go through such a long process to find song chords. But for now, taking the extra time to dissect the song and really understand it will go a long way towards your overall musical development.
Plus you’ll be able to sing to your audience with confidence, and no matter how big the audience is, confidence is always the key.