Some guitar players can do it all. They can sing, play the piano, and write songs to boot. Others are focused solely on the art of guitar, and dedicate all of their practice time to becoming better guitarists.
What you have to keep in mind is that it takes deliberate effort and dedication to learn more than one instrument. It doesn’t happen by accident.
If you want to build up your skill in multiple areas, then you have to structure your practice time in such a way that you can invest into your growth in each of those disciplines. As you can imagine, this adds a layer of complexity to scheduling, and it also requires more focus.
Take some time to think over the following points if you’re thinking about becoming a vocalist in addition to a guitarist.
Consider Your Destination
The guitar is a great instrument to use for accompaniment. There is a reason why there are so many songwriters and musicians that use a guitar to accompany their voice when writing or performing a song.
If you’re debating whether or not you should learn to sing, take some time to think about where you see yourself in five, 10 or 15 years. Can you envision yourself becoming the front man of a band? Do you see yourself performing as a singer/songwriter down the line?
If you can’t sing, it won’t necessarily prevent you from joining a band or recording instrumental albums. However, it could limit your options. Even if you aren’t the lead singer in a band, many of them require harmony and backup vocalists as well.
A Skill Worth Having
Even if you don’t end up singing in whatever musical situation you find yourself in, there really isn’t any harm in going ahead and learning anyway.
If you understand a singer’s needs, you can probably learn to play in a way that compliments their voice better. If you know what their strengths and limitations are, you can adapt the key signature or find a different chord structure to compliment them.
In other words, you can become a more empathetic player. It’s one thing to play great riffs, shred solos, and show off your skills. It’s quite another to be sensitive to the rest of the band, and more importantly, the vocalist.
If you can sing, you can also communicate melodically. You could say to a singer, “try this instead”, and give them an idea of what you’re hearing in your head.
Ultimately, there isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. However, there is a right answer based on where you see yourself going.
For many, music is a hobby they enjoy on the side. A hobby is meant to be both challenging and enjoyable, and music certainly fits the bill. A hobbyist can develop their skill to any level they choose, because there are no marks to hit or people to please except for themselves.
On the other hand, a professional might be required to sing backups, know music theory, be able to sight-read, transpose on the fly, and so on. If that’s what you want to pursue, there is no harm in absorbing as much knowledge as you can.