How To Sing and Play: A Strategy

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by Jake Hahn | artist development

Singing and playing at the same time is no easy task - it remains a challenge even after you've grown to a point where you can do it fairly well.

Even though there are no real "shortcuts" to making it happen, there are certain ways you can structure your practice to make progress during every practice session.

Picking up (or sitting down to) your instrument and simply chugging away at it bit-by-bit CAN actually help you, however - if you have an understanding of WHY it's difficult on a physiological level - then you can take a strategic approach that will significantly cut down on the time it takes to improve.


(choose now whether or not you can and/or will exercise these two psychologically challenging things)

If no - that's cool.

If yes - here's your strategy.

Step 1: choose one area of a song. Verse, chorus, bridge, etc...

Step 2: play that section 6 times while looking at your hands.

Step 3: play that same section 6 times while looking AWAY from your hands. Yeah you'll make some mistakes - keep  going.

Step 4: play that same section 6 times while watching TV or some other distraction.

Step 5: play that same section 6 times while reciting the alphabet out loud.

Step 6: play that section 6 times while speaking the lyrics out loud.

Step 7: play that section 6 times while now attempting to add the actual vocal melody line(s).

The chances of you getting it down the first time are typically slim to none. But what you've done at this point is hammered that song into your subconscious mind 36 times in 6 different ways.

Neurologically you've begun to create a whole new nuero-pathway in your brain - as well as (the most important part) begun to solidify that pathway with myelin.

Myelin is a substance in the white matter of your brain that literally coats and insulates that newly created nuero-pathway you just created.

Now - the next time you practice these steps you will be strengthening that pathway and literally increasing the thickness of the myelin coating - allowing the information to travel easier and easier - faster and faster. Ultimately making it "effortless"/"second nature".

Overall it takes lots and lots of repetition. But when you aim to perform those repetitions in a very specific way, you can rest assured you're making deliberate progress and not just spinning your wheels and wasting your time and efforts.

By the way:

These steps can be condensed down to 3.

• play the song section 6 times w/ no vocals

• play the song section 6 times with a distraction (don't look)

• (attempt to) play and sing the song section at the same time.

Remember this - your goal is to create a new physical connection in your brain that will allow you to play and sing simultaneously.

Again - This takes work. This takes repetition. This takes time. But now you have a particular strategy that you can trust will get you there faster and more efficiently based on the specific way your brain and body work as opposed to just taking someones word for it.

I believe it's important to know exactly why you're doing a particular exercise. That way you know why it works, and how it will help you progress.

- jake

The Answer To: How To Sing And Play Guitar At The Same Time

Friday, August 26, 2016 by Jake Hahn | artist development

The Scenario...

 You grab your guitar (or whatever instrument you choose) and sit down on your couch. You choose a song and decide to give it a shot. 

Have a little fun, right?

As you start to play, everything is going just fine, but then, right as you start to add in (or even THINK of) the vocal part...it all falls apart!

(okay...this is a bit extreme, but it's not too far from the truth of how it feels, am I right?)

So you gather your composure and give it another try! (because you're on a mission - and you just like playing music of course.)

You start strumming away. Everything is fine again - then boom!!...adding the vocal line brings it all to a disjointed, rhythmically messy hault.

Now, when all you really want is to express yourself and simply enjoy playing a song - this can be a real drag.

I can appreciate that, because I've been there. Hell...I STILL struggle with it at times!

So what's the deal?! 

Why is playing and singing so hard to do??

The Issue...


Multitasking has been proven to be a myth, and what you're doing while playing and singing sure seems to be a lot like "multi-tasking", doesn't it?


So if multi-tasking is a myth, then how do you do multiple things at once??

Enter...the Reticular Activating System -or- R.A.S.

The R.A.S allows you to rapidly "flutter" from one thing to another. The issue is that you can only "flutter" between so many things at once. 

Here's a quick example: right now - think about your pinky toe on your left foot. 

I'm willing to bet - unless you're currently clipping that nail or getting a pedicure - that toe was one of the last things on your mind.


It's unimportant at the moment so your R.A.S puts your focus on what IS important to you in the moment.

So when you're playing guitar your R.A.S is predominantly focused on the things that allow you to play that guitar.

Strumming. Chords. Rhythm. Notes. Tempo. Feel. Etc...

Add to that remembering the lyrics, melody, vocal tone, vocal technique, "sounding good", etc...and at this point your brain is totally confused.

 It doesn't know what aspect to focus on, and/or the level of importance for each of those aspects.

Here's a mind-map I made showing you this process/issue:

(this mind-map is a part of a course I've made to really dig into all of the details and answer your questions to this whole "sing & play" thing once and for all)

Sooooo....what can you do?

The Solution...

Divide and conquer!!

You'll need to drill the instrumental portion of the song down deep passed conscious thought and into your sub-conscious behavior. 

This will free up space for the R.A.S to focus on other aspects of the song!

The brain is just awesome.

For example: Drill in a G C D chord change. It's crucial to play it the way you'd like it to sound between 12 to 16 times.

That amount of repetition is the least of what is required to make this happen. 

Remember! You have to play it THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO SOUND.

You can't half heartedly play through a dozen times with a bunch of mistakes and expect the result to be anything other than messy.

This doesn't mean "perfection" (perfection is an illusion)

Simply play it as well as you can!

After 12 to 16 repetitions - pause and recite a portion of the lyric at least 6 times.

After you've done this - it's time to put them together.

Don't be too put off if it doesn't happen on this first attempt. Just take a quick break and repeat this cycle.

I promise ya it'll take hold ;)

- jake 

Please feel free to send me an email or contact me via Facebook. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you're interested in my full "Sing & Play" course and would like to receive updates.

Your Voice

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 by Jake Hahn | artist development

It can be easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to artists that we love.

After-all, we wouldn't be listening to them if we didn't think they had a great sound, right?

But if taken too far, we can lose ourselves in the imitation of these artists, which can cause us to lose sight of why we want to make music to begin with.

Don't get caught up in "sounding good".


 it's not really the sound of your voice that's appealing...

it's the sound of what's inside your voice.

Don't imitate.

Stay in-the-moment with your voice.