How to Play Piano When Singing

I can't read sheet music, and don't really want to have to learn. But I do sing, and can play the piano well....if someone teaches me the song (not sure if that makes sense). I want to be able to play the piano along with a song I'll be singing for the church (I Can Only Imagine - By: Mercy Me). I have the sheet music for the song, and am looking for the quickest/easiest way to learn to play the song while I sing it. I'm struggling my way through teaching myself the notes, but something hit me -- am I even supposed to be playing the right-hand/melody-line if I am singing? Doesn't my voice take the place of that portion? On the other hand, when I see people singing while playing, it seems like they are indeed using both hands. I'm confused and aggravated (and obviously showing my ignorance when it comes to all this). Any tips?

Something to consider is: that I'll have the CD (instrumental) playing through the sound system anyway (which of course HAS the piano portion of the song being played), so I'm only playing the piano myself for general effect/mood/etc. Therefore, it's not like I have to be playing it perfectly, but I'd like (nevertheless) to be able to control and/or emphasize certain notes during the song (either for effect or to supplement and accent my voice). Am I going about this all wrong?




Hi "Me"--

You are absolutely asking all of the right questions--just a little guidance and you will be on your way.

In general, the easiest way to accompany yourself or any other singer on the piano is to play the chords with your RIGHT hand and play some sort of a bass line with the left hand. Normally, you would want your left hand to act as the bass player, but since you will have the CD going, you could get by with just playing the Root of the chord with your left hand or you could add a 5th here and there in a compatible rhythm.

You might want to voice the RH chords so that the melody note that you are singing is the highest note in the chord (using chord inversions). That lends a little extra support to your vocals.

If you would like to brush up on any aspects of piano playing--chords, scales, key signature, chord inversion, etc., please visit our Absolutely Free Piano Lessons.

Best Wishes for your church performance!


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