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Singing while playing

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by xtelesquirex, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. xtelesquirex

    xtelesquirex Tele-Holic

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    How? I can't make it work. I either focus on trying to sing and my playing goes out the window or focus on my playing and can't sing. How can I break through?
     
  2. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Afflicted

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    Go slow.
    Really slow..

    Break it down so that you are just working on a couple lines with a few simple chord changes.

    I started playing at age 30, so it took a while longer than it would if I was a kd.

    But now it is second nature. I play fingerstyle and sing easily.

    Go slow, like 30 bpm. And keep your sessions short but frequent. 10 minutes a couple times a day if possible.
     
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  3. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    Practice one Easy song for a good while. Put the lyrics and chord changes in front of you. Play just guitar till you got it down good. Then alternate concentration between singing and chording during this song. Keep practicing this one song.
     
  4. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Anyone that says it's easy has been doing it for a while.

    It's certainly not easy when first starting out, because it's exactly like rubbing your stomach while patting the top of your head: the more you practice, the easier it gets.

    After years of doing it, I can play guitar and sing well enough. But play bass and sing? Impossible! o_O

    The reason it's impossible is because I have not done much of that at all. There's always so much more to learn.

    Pick a few favorite three-chord tunes and practice them slowly. Use a metronome. If you mess up, it is critical that you don't stop and start the song over; instead, gut right through the goof-up and get yourself back on track. This technique will help you improve more quickly. As you get better at singing on pitch while strumming or fingerpicking, increase the speed on the metronome by about 10 BPM and try again. Continue this method until you're up to speed.
     
  5. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I'd bet your fret hand and pick hand were disgustingly out of sync when you started playing. I'd also bet they're (at least) reasonably coordinated now.

    This is the same thing. Jus tone more layer of complexity. One more thing to coordinate. It just takes time and practice.
     
  6. loco gringo

    loco gringo Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Totally agree about a metronome. It can really help you work things out.

    Also, listen to the song and count the beats out loud 1 and 2 and etc. It will show you whether the vocal phrasing starts at the end of a measure or the beginning of the next measure. Sometimes there are pickup notes before the 1 beat on phrases with more words.

    Also, if you can play the song using simple alternating bass chord style, the beats are right there. It is stripping the song down. This can help you get the phrasing right. You can then add strumming patterns or embellishments later, after the phrasing is kind of ingrained.
     
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  7. eddiewagner

    eddiewagner Poster Extraordinaire

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    And you need to have the lyrics totally under control.
     
  8. Pualee

    Pualee Tele-Holic

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    Work on the hard parts, not the whole song.

    Don't practice wrong for the sake of getting through it.

    Play with the recording until you have it close. Then turn off the recording and make sure you have it.

    For me, it feels like playing both hands on the piano. It is not twice as hard as 1 hand, it is much worse than that. You have to learn each part individually and be comfortable enough that the parts are 2nd nature.

    You are really playing 2 instruments at once, not playing and "and singing".
     
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  9. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It’s always come easily to me. From day one. But... I have never tried to *just* play guitar. The whole reason I picked one up was to accompany myself singing, which I’d already been doing since I could talk.

    I didn’t have any interest in playing electric guitars, or solos, or anything like that when I started out. I wanted to be Jim Croce. So I never played a guitar without singing along with it. The way I learned to play was to play along with myself singing from the first moment.

    Playing bass while singing is harder. By a good margin. I actually have to practice that to be able to do it. But once I’ve got a song, I’ve got it. Usually takes about a half dozen run-throughs to start making it stick good. Although once I learn a pattern I can apply it to anything. For instance most country style I-V bass lines, and walking lines I can sing along with no problem. It only gets sticky these days if it’s not a repeating pattern or if it’s syncopated.

    FWIW, I have never had to learn how to use my right hand. My strumming/picking hand just does what I want it to without me even thinking about it. It always has. I’ve tried to teach people guitar and I can’t. Because there are some people I can’t teach right hand technique to. I don’t understand how to get their hand to play the rhythm pattern or a style it’s supposed to, because I never learned that. I just hear it in my head and hand does it. With click track worthy meter. I’ve had students ask me how to figure that out, and I honestly don’t know.
     
  10. oldgofaster

    oldgofaster Tele-Meister

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    Practice. No shortcut.

    Someone on here once said to sing everytime you play/practice. It. Is. Hard.

    It is taking me years to get "decent". Years.

    Good luck and have fun.
     
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  11. Texicaster

    Texicaster Tele-Afflicted

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    You have to have your guitar parts down pat! You don't want to be thinking about your guitar work. Of course you need the lyrics down as well but I find singing takes a concerted effort. Some may be the opposite; but think about it. Guitar is just playing the chords you don't have to think about tone per se whereas in singing you HAVE to have the lyrics down AND sing melodically IN TUNE! Way more room for error in singing!

    Guitar should just rolling along in the background as you sing. If you try to adjust both; you're screwed.

    Learn some super simple I-IV-V tunes with an acoustic guitar.

    Try a tune like Friend Of The Devil that has simple chord changes that are real cues as the lyrics really follow the melody.

    Some simple tunes have slight twists that will drive you nuts! I can't seem to nail Little Feat Willin' there's something in the timing that is just a bit off the normal beat... If a certain song is giving you fits move on for now.

    Relax and have fun! Put your own twist on songs and don't feel you have to be faithful to the original; that usually ends up boring or lame or both!
     
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  12. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Afflicted

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    It's tricky, I only know one person who can do it well and I don't think it's a coincidence that he's also the best guitar player I know.
     
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  13. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Three things:

    1. Right hand
    2. Lyrics
    3. Melody

    You need to be in command of all three.

    1. Right hand: never stops moving up and down. Generally thinking 8th notes. Down on beat. Up on upbeat. That doesn't mean you strum the strings every time. But your right hand has to move up and down automatically the whole time. That helps put it on autopilot. If you are like a lot of folks who developed a habit of only moving the right hand when you are actually strumming, that gets in the way of singing while playing. But it only takes a few days to unlearn that habit and then everything becomes easier. Watch some Neil Young videos. He's capital at this. This point also includes knowing the changes and rhythm cold.

    2. Lyrics. You have to know them cold. Often this is a stumbling block.

    3. Melody. You have to know it cold. Not just the notes but the timing. Often this is a real stumbling block.

    If you just KINDA know 2 and 3, you can't combine 1, 2 and 3 effectively.

    Now it is second nature but even now if there is something really tricky, I break 1 apart from 2 and 3 initially. I learn 1 really well and then play the song on autopilot, listening only to 2 and 3. Then I start to sing 2 and 3 in my head. Then I physically sing.
     
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  14. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I do have my guitar parts down.



    And don't call me Pat.

    :twisted:
     
  15. etype

    etype Tele-Afflicted

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    Are you just working on simple cowboy chord changes? Or much more complicated rhythm stuff? If the former, make sure you have the strum pattern and beats down for each measure. Then add singing. I find that with practice, that works pretty well if playing alone. Adding in other players means I have to work with a metronome to really lock in the beat. That is what ups the difficulty for me. Then when I actually do play with others (and we cannot really practice much), I need a "lead sheet" in front of me to keep on track with everyone.

    And +1 to @MilwMark for noting you have to keep that right hand moving all the time. I find that getting my foot tapping in time with the beat AND my right hand helps to keep time.
     
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  16. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    do it over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and...........

    Some songs are easier than others, start there. Rifs etc are harder than chords...
     
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  17. Leon Grizzard

    Leon Grizzard Friend of Leo's

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    What everyone else said. Sing the song a thousand times in the car, so you can't cheat by looking at the lyrics, and play it on guitar a thousand times, then put them together.
     
  18. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Just so you don't get discouraged - the "sing it a thousand times" and "play it a thousand times" only applies to getting this skill to work the first time.

    Once you have it and it clicks, it's easy to do going forward.
     
  19. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Two thoughts: I find it very important to identify exactly which syllable or word falls on the first beat of each measure. This is really important when the phrase starts before the 'one'. I find that having some 'markers' for guitar and vocal timing in mind really helps. It's sort of eye opening in some tunes how the thing comes together when you pay attention to that.

    The other idea is to start the process by playing only the most dead-simple chords, e.g. one per bar, at first. Then work up to what you want to be playing while singing. (Others mention this, too, so it must be good!)

    Okay, third thought... As far as I can tell, most people in the audience key into the vocals far more than the guitar parts... so I'd prioritize getting the vocal right and sacrificing the guitar part, rather than the other way around. And, if you're in a band, you can drop out completely for some parts on guitar.
     
  20. Pineears

    Pineears Tele-Afflicted

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    I hate Metro Gnomes, get a free drum app for phone.
     
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