Any guy – yes, even you! – can pull off a serenade. The key is to not take yourself too seriously. And to follow the advice of these experts.

Know your limits

Take it from a pro who knows: “ If you can barely play guitar, don’t try to tackle a Hendrix song. If you can barely sing, don’t try to be Sinatra. Keep it simple – and show some confidence, regardless of your vocal abilities. “Most women just want you to own the moment that you have created for them,” says Corbin.

But maybe learn guitar

Mastery of an instrument can imply mastery elsewhere, says Moushumi Ghose, a sex therapist based in Los Angeles. “Women really crave someone who is fearless and who can manoeuvre through the world,” she says. Your obvious choice: guitar.
“The acoustic guitar evokes a lot of emotion,” Ghose says. “It’s a stripped-down instrument – there’s not a lot of frills.” Nearly half the women surveyed said it’s the sexiest instrument (followed by piano at 26%).

Choose your setting carefully

Spare her the bedroom serenade. What Corbin suggests: build a backyard braai after dinner one night and fire up your vocal cords then. That way it feels less like an awkward musician-audience scene, and she won’t feel pressure to nod or sing along as she listens. And don’t freak if the lyrics suddenly escape you. “Just hum the tune. It’ll still go over well with your girl,” Corbin says. Romance covers all flaws.

Have her join in

A 2009 study in BMC Neuroscience shows that when people played music together, their brain waves synced up. “There’s tremendous intimacy in making music together, and making music is very physical,” says Meghan Hinman, a psychotherapist who practices music therapy with couples.Music engages your limbic brain, or emotional centre, and can help you express your feelings, she says. Bonus (maybe): “music is often a mirror for what’s happening in the relationship.”

Stop worrying

Our survey reveals that it really doesn’t matter if you don’t sound like a pro. What’s important is that you don’t make the performance too intense. Likewise, Corbin says,
“Don’t choose a song that’s too serious. Go with one that reinforces your feelings for her, without being a clichéd wedding song.” Ghose concurs: “be truly genuine and honest about what you’re singing. That’s what can make a connection happen.”

Take it on the road

Harness all that emotion and physicality and go public at a friendly karaoke gathering.
“There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with being in front of a crowd,” Hinman says. That makes for a great memory, and the thrill can carry over to the bedroom.
You can be Marvin Gaye to her Tammi Terrell – try “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” a crowd pleaser that builds to a, well, climax.
– Laura Roberson and Julie Stewart