Christmas has Arrived
Legendary Christmas has Arrived

Back and better than ever... Our Annual Holiday Event is here. New, exclusive, and Free Guitarist Toolkits synergize with our best prices of the year.

Palm Muting and Separation (Guitar Lesson)

What are you waiting for? Get your membership now!
Mark Lincoln

Palm Muting and Separation

In lesson 11 of his performance series, Mark discusses the palm muting technique and how to separate your singing from your playing.

Taught by Mark Lincoln in Guitar Performance seriesLength: 23:30Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (03:40) Introduction Review
- Warm up the body.
- Single note hum.
- Three note hum.
- Hum "me-me-me-me" to "mah-mah-mah-mah" to "me-ma-me-ma-me."
- Wake up the breath with "sah-sah-sah" etc. long and sustained then five times staccato.
- "Sah" in five-note descending scales, then five-note ascending scales.
- Work these scales faster and faster, then louder and louder.
- Practice singing along with rhythms that we’ve been working on in the last few lessons.
- Practice singing single note hums first. Then, as you get more warmed up, sing a melody line that you think might work well with the chords.
I just want to mention to all of you aspiring singer/songwriter/guitarists that although the review section may seem to be redundant, it is of the utmost importance that you properly warm up your voice. This is not only important to reach your maximum potential as a performer but even more important: to avoid harm! Proper warm-ups will relax the vocal chords, which in turn will help you to avoid straining them. So heed my warning, my friends! Do the review! Okay, I’ve taken my meds and calmed down now, so let’s continue!

Switching between openly strummed chords and palm-muting is an effective way to change the dynamics of a song. There are a number of ways to combine the two elements, and we’ll discuss some of those in depth. For those of you who may need to review chords or other fundamentals of the acoustic guitar, please feel free to peruse my Intro to Guitar series.
Chapter 2: (03:33) Exercise 1 We’ll use three open chords to begin with: Am, G and Dm.




Palm muting can be defined as “a means of quieting or muting the strings with the goal of creating a softer sound; changing sound dynamics by covering strings with the palm of the performer's hand.” The palm muting technique is not difficult to perform once the basic mechanics of it are understood. The rhythm hand (usually the right for most) can be placed lightly over the width of the strings with the pick being held slightly above. This is actually near to the opposite of how the strum hand is usually held with the pick held more closely and the palm further away. Watch me in the video for more on this technique.

Exercise 1
Practice palm muting by playing through the three chords Am, G and Dm. Play the rhythm or "down, down, down" and strike the tonic or root note (the lowest note in the chord in this case) on the first strum of each chord. Play the chords in this order: Am, G, Dm, and Am. Pay attention to the sound coming out of your guitar. Does it sound like the normal sound that you usually get when you strum? If it does, then you need to seat your hand further down onto the strings. Is your hand muting the strings completely? Then you need to lift your palm slightly in between strums. Watch me in the video for more on this.
Chapter 3: (03:57) Transition Strumming Transition Strums
Transition strums are strums that can be used to link strums and chord progressions together. In our exercise, we used simple down strokes, but what do you think would happen if we threw another strum or two into the mix in between our regular strums?

Exercise 2 Play the same chords in the same patterns and strums as explained above, but this time, play the rhythm like this: or "down down down down-up." The down-up strum on the end is the transition strum and should be played as a snap strum in one smooth continuous motion (see also my Intro to Guitar series). Play the progression slowly at first until you get the hang of it and then faster and faster as you become more comfortable with it. What do you think of the rhythm with the transition strums? Without them? Do you think that the transition strums make the chords sound better together and more like a “real” song?
Chapter 4: (05:34) Separation Separation
What does it take to separate what your mouth is singing and what your hands are playing? Do you tend to start singing what your hands are playing? These are perhaps the most important questions when it comes to singing and playing at the same time and the most difficult to answer. How do you separate the two actions?

Practice, Practice, Practice
Continuous and dedicated work will hopefully help you to improve the synthesis of playing and singing. Even the most gifted of performers have to log countless hours of practice and performance before they can reach their full potential. This is a good start.

Learning from people who have some important skills can be very helpful even though this usually can’t be substituted for personal dedication and practice.

There is no doubt that some people are just more adept at learning to sing and play at the same time. There seems to be evidence of a genetic predisposition towards music that can be handed down from parent to child.

Despite the fact that your father wasn’t a concert pianist and your mother wasn’t a Viennese Opera singer, you should be able to acquire some or all of the skills necessary to sing and play. We here at JamPlay are dedicated to passing on the insight and exercises necessary to help you become a better performer.
Chapter 5: (07:33) Humming and Playing Exercise Exercise 3
Play the chords as explained above, but this time, hum along with them. Can you make up a melody line that you think might go well? Do you find that the transition strums make it more difficult to sing along? Try the chords without the transition strums and see if that makes it easier for you. Once you’ve got a better handle on it, try to play it again with the transition strums.

Now, we’ll play the next three chords without palm muting. Pay attention to the change in dynamics as well as how volume changes in the song change the overall emotional tone of the song. The next three chords are F, C, and Dm. Watch me in the video for more on how to make clear and distinct changes between the section that is palm muted and the section that is played with an open strum.

Chapter 6: (02:19) Final Exercise and Closing Exercise 4: Singing the Notes
Humming the notes in a particular chord can be very helpful when trying to find the connection between strumming and singing. What I mean to say is, listen to the notes that you are playing in a particular chord, and try to hum them as you go. If it helps you, pick each of the notes in the Am chord (for starters) and hum each of them as you play. Start slowly and then pick faster and faster as you go. Once you feel more confident and warmed-up, then go back to strumming and listen to how the notes in the chord can be translated into hummed notes. Watch me in the video for more on this!

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

Islander268Islander268 replied on July 24th, 2014

Mark, Your lessons are outstanding. Thank you! Steve

Islander268Islander268 replied on July 24th, 2014

Mark, your lessons are outstanding. Thank you, Steve

ciaran_welshciaran_welsh replied on April 14th, 2010

Hey Mark. First of all nicely done, great lesson series! Just a quick question though ... When you palm mute, are you palm muting the whole chord or just the tonic when we striking twice?

nikolai1024nikolai1024 replied on October 16th, 2009

What did he say at 1:10? I think there maybe an a small editing issue here.

nessanessa replied on October 16th, 2009

Oh, he just misspoke. He said people give him funny looks in the line at the cleaners. :)

infiniteguitarinfiniteguitar replied on May 10th, 2009

I wish more teachers would teach songs through their lessons. Good job Mark!

eguitardudeeguitardude replied on July 23rd, 2009

Mark your lessons are great and the singing lessons need to keep comin' ...Thanks!

Mark.LincolnMark.Lincoln replied on July 26th, 2009

Hey Guitar dude, there's more on the way so stay tuned! Mark

Guitar Performance

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Performing live or in a studio situation is a goal of many aspiring guitarists. Vocal training and the ability to sing and play at the same time are skills that will help in this endeavor.

Lesson 1

Introduction to Singing

Mark introduces you to the wonderful world of singing.

Length: 15:12 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Vocal Exercises

Mark Lincoln guides you through stretches and vocal exercises to warm up the voice.

Length: 23:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Vocal Vibrato

Mark continues to discuss vocal warm-ups and exercises. Then, he moves on to explain vibrato.

Length: 23:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Warming the Breath

Mark covers some singing terms and teaches an exercise that is used to "warm the breath."

Length: 19:10 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Singing and Guitar

Mark Lincoln talks more about vocal exercise and warm-up. Then, he moves on to discuss singing and playing at the same time.

Length: 26:12 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Singing Exercises

Mark Lincoln provides more singing exercises to practice while playing your guitar.

Length: 26:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 7

Singing and Playing Revisited

Mark returns to singing and playing. Mark teaches proper form while singing and playing, cognitive exercises, and chord progression basics.

Length: 17:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Anatomy and Dynamics

Mark Lincoln discusses song dynamics and the anatomy of songs. He also explains more about singing and playing.

Length: 23:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Rhythm in Music

Mark Lincoln explains how rhythm is used in music.

Length: 15:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

Technique Applied

Mark Lincoln applies singing and playing techniques to the Doors song "Riders on the Storm."

Length: 17:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11

Palm Muting and Separation

In lesson 11 of his performance series, Mark discusses the palm muting technique and how to separate your singing from your playing.

Length: 23:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 12

Picking Vs. Strumming

Mark discusses how alternating between arpeggios and strummed chords can add contrast and flair to your music.

Length: 15:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Silence Is Golden

Mark discusses silence in music and how it can transform a piece. Additionally, he explains how to use silence effectively in your playing.

Length: 16:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 14

Warm-up and Practice

In this lesson, Mark Lincoln talks more about warming up your voice and walks you through a few exercises that will aid this process.

Length: 16:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Preparations for Playing Live

Mark provides a lecture on items you should do and think about to become a proficient live player.

Length: 20:57 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Voice and Guitar

In this lesson, Mark delves into the concept of combining both your voice and guitar into one neat little package you can deliver to your listener.

Length: 21:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

A Day in the Life

Mark Brings us Lesson 17 today to explain the preparation that goes into a performance. Mark tracks back up to 36 hours in advance, and shows us some routines to prepare for a great show.

Length: 19:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 18

The Dynamics of a Song

In this lesson, Mark teaches all of the diverse parts to a song with regards to dynamics.

Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 19

Proper Breathing Routines

In this episode, Mark talks about proper breathing techniques and routines. He gives us eight points to work off of when singing and playing together.

Length: 23:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 20

Play Along with Mark Lincoln

Mark Lincoln brings us a great play along opportunity. Mark provides lyrics as well as the chord progression for this play along. He also breaks down key elements such as palm muting, hammer-ons, bending,...

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 21

Palm Muting Technique

Lesson 21 is a repeat of lesson 20's content only with a whole new set of chords and techniques. The"chords de jour" will be a little simpler than lesson 20's and will also include a much more in depth...

Length: 20:05 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Mark Lincoln View Full Biography Mark Lincoln was born in S. California but was raised near Portland Oregon in a town called Beaverton. When he was twelve years old, he began his journey into the realm of the creative by composing poetry and was later published in a journal called "In Dappled Sunlight." He wrote for four years until his older sister blessed him with his first guitar, an old beat-up nylon stringed classical guitar. Mark played that guitar for five years, continuing to compose his own lyrics and starting the process of matching his own words with chords that he was learning on the guitar. He learned to play chords from his friends and from music books that he both bought and borrowed. Mark cited his four biggest influences, at that point at least, as The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Rolling Stones.

Mark cites his most current influences as Radiohead, U2, older music by REM, and Peter Gabriel amongst others. He performs with two acoustic guitars, one being a six-string M-36 Martin with a three-pieced back for increased bass response, and a Guild Twelve-string which is his most recent acquisition. Mark is fond of saying that the twelve-string guitar is better because you get two guitars for the price of one, but he still plays his Martin equally as much and with the same passion.

Mark ended up in Fort Collins Colorado where he currently lives, works as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and continues to write, teach and perform music. He currently performs with a group called "Black Nelson" as well as with a number of other seasoned professional musicians including his cousin David, a virtuoso lead-guitar player. Mark has performed in many of the smaller venues in Denver and Boulder, as well as some of the larger ones including the Fox Theatre, The Boulder Theatre, Herman's Hideaway, and also at The Soiled Dove where he opened for Jefferson Starship as a soloist. Some of Mark's originals are also available for your listening pleasure on MySpace.

Acoustic Guitar Lessons

Our acoustic guitar lessons are taught by qualified instructors with various backgrounds with the instrument.

Randall Williams Randall Williams

In this lesson Randall introduces the partial capo (using a short-cut capo by Kyser) and talks about how it can make the...

Free LessonSeries Details
Freebo Freebo

In this lesson, Freebo covers the basics of right hand technique. This lesson is essential for all up and coming bassists.

Free LessonSeries Details
Kaki King Kaki King

In lesson 6, Kaki discusses how the left and right hands can work together or independently of each other to create different...

Free LessonSeries Details
Erik Mongrain Erik Mongrain

Erik expounds on the many possibilities of open tunings and the new harmonics that you can use in them. He explains what...

Free LessonSeries Details
Tyler Grant Tyler Grant

Tyler Grant is back with an introduction to his new series "Classic Country Chops." In this series, Tyler goes in-depth...

Free LessonSeries Details
Don Ross Don Ross

New fingerstyle instructor Don Ross introduces himself, his background, and what you should expect in this series.

Free LessonSeries Details
Marcelo Berestovoy Marcelo Berestovoy

Marcelo teaches the eight basic right hand moves for the Rumba Flamenca strum pattern. He then shows you how to apply it...

Free LessonSeries Details
Mary Flower Mary Flower

Mary talks about the key of F in this fantastic lesson.

Free LessonSeries Details

Electric Guitar Lesson Samples

Our electric guitar lessons are taught by instructors with an incredible amount of teaching experience.

Joel Kosche Joel Kosche

Joel Kosche talks about creating and composing a guitar solo. He uses his original song "Sunrise" as an example.

Free LessonSeries Details
Larry Cook Larry Cook

In this lesson, Larry discusses and demonstrates how to tune your bass. He explains why tuning is critical and discusses...

Free LessonSeries Details
Andy James Andy James

Get an in-depth look into the mind of virtuoso guitarist Andy James. Learn about Andy's early beginnings all the way up to...

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve Smyth Steve Smyth

JamPlay sits down with veteran fret grinder Steve Smyth of Forbidden and The EssenEss Project. He talks about how he got...

Free LessonSeries Details
Nick Greathouse Nick Greathouse

Nick starts his series with Alternate Picking part 1. Improve your timing, speed, and execution with this important lesson.

Free LessonSeries Details
Steve Stevens Steve Stevens

Steve Stevens shows some of his go-to licks and ideas while improvising over a backing track he made.

Free LessonSeries Details
Will Ripley Will Ripley

Join Will Ripley as he gives us all the details of his series, "Rock Guitar for Beginners". You'll be playing cool rock riffs...

Free LessonSeries Details
Danny Morris Danny Morris

Hone in on your right hand and focus on getting in the groove. You'll only play one note during this lesson, but it'll be...

Free LessonSeries Details
Brendan Burns Brendan Burns

Brendan demonstrates the tiny triad shapes derived from the form 1 barre chord.

Free LessonSeries Details

Join over 527135 guitarists who have learned how to play in weeks... not years!

Signup today to enjoy access to our entire database of video lessons, along with our exclusive set of learning tools and features.

Unlimited Lesson Viewing

A JamPlay membership gives you access to every lesson, from every teacher on our staff. Additionally, there is no restriction on how many times you watch a lesson. Watch as many times as you need.

Live Lessons

Exclusive only to JamPlay, we currently broadcast 8-10 hours of steaming lesson services directly to you! Enjoy the benefits of in-person instructors and the conveniences of our community.

Interactive Community

Create your own profile, manage your friends list, and contact users with your own JamPlay Mailbox. JamPlay also features live chat with teachers and members, and an active Forum.

Chord Library

Each chord in our library contains a full chart, related tablature, and a photograph of how the chord is played. A comprehensive learning resource for any guitarist.

Scale Library

Our software allows you to document your progress for any lesson, including notes and percent of the lesson completed. This gives you the ability to document what you need to work on, and where you left off.

Custom Chord Sheets

At JamPlay, not only can you reference our Chord Library, but you can also select any variety of chords you need to work on, and generate your own printable chord sheet.

Backing Tracks

Jam-along backing tracks give the guitarist a platform for improvising and soloing. Our backing tracks provide a wide variety of tracks from different genres of music, and serves as a great learning tool.

Interactive Games

We have teachers covering beginner lessons, rock, classic rock, jazz, bluegrass, fingerstyle, slack key and more. Learn how to play the guitar from experienced players, in a casual environment.

Beginners Welcome.. and Up

Unlike a lot of guitar websites and DVDs, we start our Beginner Lessons at the VERY start of the learning process, as if you just picked up a guitar for the first time.Our teaching is structured for all players.

Take a minute to compare JamPlay to other traditional and new methods of learning guitar. Our estimates for "In-Person" lessons below are based on a weekly face-to-face lesson for $40 per hour.

Price Per Lesson < $0.01 $4 - $5 $30 - $50 Free
Money Back Guarantee Sometimes n/a
Number of Instructors 92 1 – 3 1 Zillions
Interaction with Instructors Daily Webcam Sessions Weekly
Professional Instructors Luck of the Draw Luck of the Draw
New Lessons Daily Weekly Minutely
Structured Lessons
Learn Any Style Sorta
Track Progress
HD Video - Sometimes
Multiple Camera Angles Sometimes - Sometimes
Accurate Tabs Maybe Maybe
Scale/Chord Libraries
Custom JamTracks
Interactive Games
Learn in Sweatpants Socially Unacceptable
Gasoline Needed $0.00 $0.00 ~$4 / gallon! $0.00

Mike H.

"I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar!"

I am 66 years young and I still got it! I would have never known this if it had not been for Jamplay! I feel like a 12 year old kid with a new guitar! Ha! I cannot express enough how great you're website is! It is for beginners and advanced pickers! I am an advanced picker and thought I had lost it but thanks to you all, I found it again! Even though I only play by ear, I have been a member a whopping whole two weeks now and have already got Brent's country shuffle and country blues down and of course with embellishments. Thank you all for your wonderful program!

Greg J.

"With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace"

I'm a fifty eight year old newbie who owns a guitar which has been sitting untouched in a corner for about seven years now. Last weekend I got inspired to pick it up and finally learn how to play after watching an amazing Spanish guitarist on TV. So, here I am. I'm starting at the beginning with Steve Eulberg and I couldn't be happier (except for the sore fingers :) Some day I'm going to play like Steve! I'm self employed with a hectic schedule. With Jamplay I can fit in a random session when I have time and I can go at my own pace, rewinding and replaying the videos until I get it. This is a very enjoyable diversion from my work yet I still feel like I'm accomplishing something worthwhile. Thanks a lot, Greg


"I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students."

I am commenting here to tell you and everyone at JamPlay that I believe this is the absolute best site for guitar students. I truly enjoy learning to play the guitar on Yes, I said the words, ""enjoy learning."" It is by far the best deal for the money.

Join thousands of others that LIKE JamPlay!