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learning to sing while playing


kelly campbell

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Hello, Please forgive me for being so elementry but I have a problem singing and playing at the same time. Now don't get me wrong I am still reletively new to this by comparison to those on the board,So I also do not play well or sing well so trying to put the two together is proving to be rather difficult for me. My question is, are there practice techniques to help this problem specifically? Is it simply a matter of just keep doing it? Thanks for the patience and info.

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Hello, Please forgive me for being so elementry but I have a problem singing and playing at the same time. Now don't get me wrong I am still reletively new to this by comparison to those on the board,So I also do not play well or sing well so trying to put the two together is proving to be rather difficult for me. My question is, are there practice techniques to help this problem specifically? Is it simply a matter of just keep doing it? Thanks for the patience and info.

 

I don't play and sing well (or either one done by themselves) but I still do it. About a year or so ago I was determined to get better at singing, and singing while playing. Honest answer is just keep doing it. Let's say you say to yourself today that you suck and there's no way you'll get better, and as a result do nothing about it. Well, a year from you you'll be in the same place, and you'll still suck. But if you just suck it up and practice a ton in a year you'll be way better than you are now. It's just one of those things you just have to keep plugging away at to get get better. Like everything else, some things come more naturally and more easily to some people, while others have to work harder at it. If you want to get better at it, just keep doing it. I also found that singing lessons helped me a lot. It's like when you start learning to hybrid pick. At first you're like, there's no way Ill ever be able to do this. Next thing you know you're learning the rhythm for Susiq Q, and then after that you're able to actually play the rhythm AND sing it! Keep at it!

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Kelly, let us know what music you gravitate towards... who you like. Let's see if we can then make some pointers. I know that I am the king of playing something about 85% correct... enough to get the jist and be able to sing along... frustrated my hugging buddy lots. He likes precision.

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I suspect you are focusing on the guitar and not the singing. Remember, you are playing guitar to accompany your singing not singing to accompany your guitar. Singing to accompany your guitar playing is a common beginner mistake. Easily rectified by remembering your are singing first and your rhythm guitar playing is solely to provide a rhythm background to your singing.

 

Think about if you sang while driving a car. Your singing would take place and your driving your car would be automatic. That's how you need to work/practice with your guitar (not while driving.). Work to get your chord changes to be automatic behind your singing. That takes practice practice practice. If your chord changes are not yet fluent, keep singing and as you are singing take the time to finger the chord while you are still singing even if the chord change takes an extra moment. It will happen. Practice practice practice while you are focusing on primarily singing. Not visa-versa.

 

It takes time. Remember, playing guitar should be a long thing. Not a rushed thing.

 

Hope this helps.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

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I suspect you are focusing on the guitar and not the singing. Remember, you are playing guitar to accompany your singing not singing to accompany your guitar. Singing to accompany your guitar playing is a common beginner mistake. Easily rectified by remembering your are singing first and your rhythm guitar playing is solely to provide a rhythm background to your singing.

 

Think about if you sang while driving a car. Your singing would take place and your driving your car would be automatic. That's how you need to work/practice with your guitar (not while driving.). Work to get your chord changes to be automatic behind your singing. That takes practice practice practice. If your chord changes are not yet fluent, keep singing and as you are singing take the time to finger the chord while you are still singing even if the chord change takes an extra moment. It will happen. Practice practice practice while you are focusing on primarily singing. Not visa-versa.

 

It takes time. Remember, playing guitar should be a long thing. Not a rushed thing.

 

Hope this helps.

 

QM aka Jazzman Jeff

Kelly - this post is outstanding! Oh, and by the way QM aka JJ, this is an outstanding post!!

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Thanks for the answers so far, and you other members who have idea's please post them. Sal I play or try to a lot of the classic rock/folk/country. I like the Beatles and the song I am currently working on is Blackbird. I think I almost have it down on the guitar but the vocals are another thing all together, when I start to try to sing with it my timing is messed up and surprisingly my vocals tend to want to blend in with the note being played and it too becomes way out of tune. I know that maybe Blackbird is not the easiest song for a beginner but it one of my all time favorites ever since its release in 1968.

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Justin is spot on with his step by step process for learning the guitar part first and then learning the singing part and then putting them together. For me, for most simple songs, this doesn't take a long time and I can get a simple strumming song under my hands and singing it (with reading lyrics) in under a day.

 

However, those songs that are guitar intensive with a vocal over top take a lot of practice with the guitar first. The absolute worst songs to sing and play are those that were created by two different people; one on guitar and one singing. Led Zeppelin is like this. It is kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Try playing AND singing "Over The Hills And Far Away"! It is a monster. I learned to do this when I was very young and it has stuck with me through the years, but the guitar part is highly syncopated with the vocal.

 

Then there are those freakishly talented singer/guitarists like Paul McCartney. Blackbird isn't that bad because the vocal falls in with the steady pace of the guitar part. However, how many of us have ever tried to play the syncopated guitar lick from "Day Tripper" while singing the lead? Paul does this kind of sh*t in his sleep. That guy pisses me off.

 

The key is, get the guitar part into muscle memory first and then sing the song through over and over without playing the guitar and then put them together.

 

One tip that helps me is to practice the guitar part until I am good enough to record it, then sing the song over the guitar track over and over until I'm good enough to record the vocal track. Then put the two together after having worked on both parts for a few days.

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Justin is spot on with his step by step process for learning the guitar part first and then learning the singing part and then putting them together. For me, for most simple songs, this doesn't take a long time and I can get a simple strumming song under my hands and singing it (with reading lyrics) in under a day.

 

However, those songs that are guitar intensive with a vocal over top take a lot of practice with the guitar first. The absolute worst songs to sing and play are those that were created by two different people; one on guitar and one singing. Led Zeppelin is like this. It is kind of like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. Try playing AND singing "Over The Hills And Far Away"! It is a monster. I learned to do this when I was very young and it has stuck with me through the years, but the guitar part is highly syncopated with the vocal.

 

Then there are those freakishly talented singer/guitarists like Paul McCartney. Blackbird isn't that bad because the vocal falls in with the steady pace of the guitar part. However, how many of us have ever tried to play the syncopated guitar lick from "Day Tripper" while singing the lead? Paul does this kind of sh*t in his sleep. That guy pisses me off.

 

The key is, get the guitar part into muscle memory first and then sing the song through over and over without playing the guitar and then put them together.

 

One tip that helps me is to practice the guitar part until I am good enough to record it, then sing the song over the guitar track over and over until I'm good enough to record the vocal track. Then put the two together after having worked on both parts for a few days.

 

 

Thanks, I have actually thought of recording the two seperately but would like to try to do it at once.

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One word: repetition.

 

Know the guitar part like you know how to breathe. When the guitar becomes automatic you will then be free to vocally deliver a lyric and melody like you mean it. You will also be able to "play" with the vocal.......alter the phrasing, change pronunciations, move breathing spots around.......make it your own. I find this quite fun, exploring different ways to sing out a melody. Don't give up! Repetitions!

 

(....reminds me of this thread from a few weeks back....)

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Always hum the lyrics in practice. Your phrasing will develop without having to worry about reading. Lyrics will be the second process. Eventually it will come naturally, but it's not easy to coordinate two new learning paradigms simultaneously.

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Kelly...

Blackbird is one of the most stunning songs of all time. And it isn't easy. It's one I have down "85%". Excellent taste my friend. When you get it down though, you MUST post it.

No advice there!

Maybe start with George Thoroughgoood Bad to the Bone :)

 

 

By the way, when I started singing more a few years back, I played with a lot of Chris Isaak tunes. For example, there is a real simple song called Waiting. Maybe 2 or 3 chords. Walk before you run. Blackbird is RUN!

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Hello, Please forgive me for being so elementry but I have a problem singing and playing at the same time. Now don't get me wrong I am still reletively new to this by comparison to those on the board,So I also do not play well or sing well so trying to put the two together is proving to be rather difficult for me. My question is, are there practice techniques to help this problem specifically? Is it simply a matter of just keep doing it? Thanks for the patience and info.

 

 

 

Keep doing it!

 

PLUS... [biggrin] (with guitaring, there is always a 'but' or a 'plus' or: fill in the blanks..........).

 

 

At your stage now, it is essential to listen - go to a live gig, go to a blues jam, open mic, all of them - sit and watch and LISTEN.

 

Because, if it is IN your head, it is way easier to get something out with your voice and fingers.

 

I use to go to everything going on, and head for the front near the stage, listen and watch - better if you love the music or band or artist, but not that important who, go see your friend's band or their friend's. Get out there.

 

Next is to listen to the recordings, next - because you have now seen and heard lots of people doing it live, picked up a whole range of things and you can imagine what they are doing on the record a bit better.

 

 

The rest is practice - I think to learn guitar can take about....10,000 years and to learn to sing....10,000 years and to do them together...another 20,000 years....

 

 

BUT, the beauty of guitar and vocals is you can start simple NOW. And then enjoy the ride.

 

I play and fingerpick together, a bit harder still, but I can do things now I never would have believed possible but that has taken err....53 years so far....I hope there is a reincarnation and we start where we left off! [mellow]

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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I'll add stuff I teach, maybe it will help.

 

Play while walking around the house. Play songs while stepping over the cats and going from room to room. Get used to the idea that most of the time when we play these things, acoustic or electric, John Denver or Robin Trower, we are doing something else while playing. I know most acoustic folks are sitting when they play, but they need the same diversity of motor skills to pull off what they do too. So walk around, play songs. Pretty soon you will be walking around, playing songs, and singing them. Once your hands can do what they do while your feet and head keep you from falling, you'll get subtly better at singing at the same time.

 

Good luck. Over and over and over. And then go rehearse with the band and play them over and over and over.

 

rct

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I'll add stuff I teach, maybe it will help.

 

Play while walking around the house. Play songs while stepping over the cats and going from room to room. Get used to the idea that most of the time when we play these things, acoustic or electric, John Denver or Robin Trower, we are doing something else while playing. I know most acoustic folks are sitting when they play, but they need the same diversity of motor skills to pull off what they do too. So walk around, play songs. Pretty soon you will be walking around, playing songs, and singing them. Once your hands can do what they do while your feet and head keep you from falling, you'll get subtly better at singing at the same time.

 

Good luck. Over and over and over. And then go rehearse with the band and play them over and over and over.

 

rct

 

 

 

Thanks RCT sounds like a good idea.

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I can't really sing or play, but here's my nickel's worth of advice. As previously mentioned (and the importance cannot be stressed too much)---do it over and over and over. When it starts to get boring, keep doing it over and over...... Keep it pretty simple at the start. Just the songs you know inside-and-out: the stuff you grew-up singing. Three chords and a cloud of dust with a melody you've known for years. And take it slow.........Don't hesitate to sing/play the song in a different key from what it may be in a book you are using. Don't try to sing in Dylan's monotone or Cash's baritone if you simply can't do it. Sing it in whatever key works for you. And none of this amounts to crap if you don't do it over and over and over. ,,,,,,,,,,And when it's really getting tough and discouraging, ask yourself how many singers actually have great voices. Just play the right chords for the key that works for you....Don't forget to let us hear you when you're ready. [thumbup] [thumbup]

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I can't really sing or play, but here's my nickel's worth of advice. As previously mentioned (and the importance cannot be stressed too much)---do it over and over and over. When it starts to get boring, keep doing it over and over...... Keep it pretty simple at the start. Just the songs you know inside-and-out: the stuff you grew-up singing. Three chords and a cloud of dust with a melody you've known for years. And take it slow.........Don't hesitate to sing/play the song in a different key from what it may be in a book you are using. Don't try to sing in Dylan's monotone or Cash's baritone if you simply can't do it. Sing it in whatever key works for you. And none of this amounts to crap if you don't do it over and over and over. ,,,,,,,,,,And when it's really getting tough and discouraging, ask yourself how many singers actually have great voices. Just play the right chords for the key that works for you....Don't forget to let us hear you when you're ready. [thumbup] [thumbup]

 

Thanks for your nickels worth Larry and you do just fine singing and playing.

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Kelly, I think you know my abilities pretty well, and that I'm not really fit to give advice, but I'll try anyway. First of all, whatever happens don't let anybody tell you you can't do it. If you are determined and invest the time, it WILL happen. It simply is a function of practice and time, no matter inate abilities or starting point. Pure mathematics, given your goals are reasonably realistic of course.

 

Do you "feel" the beats/bars when you are playing? For instance, if you are trying to sing along while strumming chords in say 4/4 time, do you feel where the one of the bars go, in relation to your singing? If not, it will be hard to sing along without doing a very basic and repetetive strumming pattern, at least that has been my experience. I started with a simple strumming pattern, only one bar long, and kept the same exact pattern through out the song, while singing. That takes away most of the need to focus on the guitar. When doing songs now, I still strum or fingerpick very basic stuff, but I don't really have a set pattern. I sort of make it up as I go along, and it kind of works because I know whete the beats/bars are by instinct. Feeling the beats was the key for me. So I think simplifying the strumming/picking patterns for a while might help you along.

 

Best of luck, and please post your efforts whenever you feel you want to.

 

Lars

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Kelly, I think you know my abilities pretty well, and that I'm not really fit to give advice, but I'll try anyway. First of all, whatever happens don't let anybody tell you you can't do it. If you are determined and invest the time, it WILL happen. It simply is a function of practice and time, no matter inate abilities or starting point. Pure mathematics, given your goals are reasonably realistic of course.

 

Do you "feel" the beats/bars when you are playing? For instance, if you are trying to sing along while strumming chords in say 4/4 time, do you feel where the one of the bars go, in relation to your singing? If not, it will be hard to sing along without doing a very basic and repetetive strumming pattern, at least that has been my experience. I started with a simple strumming pattern, only one bar long, and kept the same exact pattern through out the song, while singing. That takes away most of the need to focus on the guitar. When doing songs now, I still strum or fingerpick very basic stuff, but I don't really have a set pattern. I sort of make it up as I go along, and it kind of works because I know whete the beats/bars are by instinct. Feeling the beats was the key for me. So I think simplifying the strumming/picking patterns for a while might help you along.

 

Best of luck, and please post your efforts whenever you feel you want to.

 

Lars

 

 

Thanks Lars, I would be elated with your abilities.

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I remember struggling with this also years ago

The driving analogy is a good one as it is a little like that , think think think and then one day it all just clicks and the brain doesn't need to be telling the body what to do

 

Justin is a good guy for lessons in all avenues

But ,much as I hate to say it , practice 😩

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I am a huge Beatles and Paul McCartney fan since forever....[thumbup]

 

One big reason Paul is so competent is his natural and 'trained by experience' rhythm skill....he played drums on some Beatles' classics like 'Back in the USSR'....

 

Other 'greats' like this include...

Don Henley

Levon Helm

Jeff Beck

Stevie Wonder

Karen Carpenter

Eddie Van Halen

 

Rhythm is the key.....putting 4 on the floor guitar chords whilst phrasing words to the song.....[thumbup]

 

Much Rock 'n Roll, Blues and Country is fairly easy to phrase vocally

 

And 3 chords can go a long way....[biggrin]

 

I cover Blackbird and Lady Madonna and they were fiendishly difficult initially.....taking months to polish.....

 

Jambalaya only has 2 chords....[thumbup]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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For the vocal side, it was recommended to me many years ago that a glass of Port puts a lining on the throat and you sing like an angel! Unfortunately, 2 Ports makes you sound like a chicken with its foot caught by a fox and I can personally attest to the effect of 3 extremely expensive local Ports - can't hold the guitar up and the legs went rubbery but I sang the best I ever had....... [biggrin]

 

 

 

BluesKing777.

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