Getting over the hump of singing while playing

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by InTooDeep, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. InTooDeep

    InTooDeep Out Lobstering...

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    Short Story:
    If I try to sing while I play, my strumming pattern falls apart. If I try to fix my strumming, i stop singing! Was there anything you did to train yourself past these sort of issues?


    Long story:
    I feel like this forum is a great place to get some constructive advice and insight so I figured I would ask this here! So I have been playing guitar for about 18 years now (dang! I should be better haha!) I have seen many people who can pick up and instrument and shortly after sing while playing it, and others that can hear a song and learn to play it before the 4 minute song is over. I have been neither of those. I had a few lessons early on here and there but nothing too consistent. My learning guitar looked like this:
    Pick up a guitar want to play it, learn 2 chords, put it down for a year
    I did this 2 or 3 times
    Then when I was about 15 it dawned on me, everything i liked doing was fairly "uncool" and I needed to dig in and learn something cool like guitar haha!

    I got my own guitar, a basic ESP/LTD because I wanted my own, even though my dad gave me full access to his Gibson SG that played way better!
    I took a few lessons, but I didnt want to play "oh when the saints go marching in". I wanted to play ROCK!
    My parents got me the tab book for Creed's My Own Prison album. The first song I learned was Ode.
    My goal was really to memorize guitar parts and play them in order start to finish through songs.
    Eventually I learned quite a few songs that I could play all from memory.
    But I had a tough time playing with anyone else, because I knew how to play notes, not necessarily when to play them!
    I attempted to play and sing Nutshell by Alice in Chains a few years later with mixed results. Mostly the issue of when I try to sing while I play, my strumming pattern falls apart. If I try to fix my strumming, I stop singing!
    So I can play and sing really basic stuff if the guitar rhythm is basically on the downbeat and the vocals match haha.
    I have a renewed desire to take a serious crack at this again. Not that I have a voice that is pleasant to human ears, but to grow and develop further eventually to lead small groups of people in singing together.

    I know the basic answer is PRACTICE! Was there anything you did to train yourself past these sort of issues?
     
  2. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Not really.... you just gotta put in the work, unless you’re naturally talented, which I am not.
     
  3. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Practice. Record yourself, and listen to those recordings.

    Practice. Play along with CDs/mp3s. Use one or two or three favorite songs. I must have played Wish You Were Here and Comfortably Numb a billion times while in college.

    Practice. Jam with others. Let someone else do the lead vocals and you do backup vocals during the chorus or something.

    And oh yeah:

    Practice.
     
  4. Chops

    Chops New Member

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    Start with something simple and build from there.
     
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  5. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    My recollection is that it was much easier to start a song singing while playing (meaning sing it while playing the first or second time), than to learn to play and then try to add singing.

    I think a big part of this is that if I just play, I tend towards a more complicated part than I can manage while singing.
     
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  6. Boogie

    Boogie SuperD

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    For me, it’s like playing piano...each hand doing something completely different yet very similar at the same time. Mind numbing! Pick a song where the guitar rhythm follows the vocal cadence closely. Then play it a gazillion times.
     
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  7. Ovibos

    Ovibos Unsure why all necks aren't rosewood

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    The more you do this, the more you appreciate players like Sting, Jack Bruce, and Geddy Lee who sang while playing intricate lines.
     
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  8. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    What I found is that I HAD to get either the singing, or the strumming down pat first. Either one.
    If you're struggling with both you're screwed.
    Mostly I'd get the guitar part down first, then add the vocal over that.
    Just make sure one of the parts has become a no brainer before tackling the other.
    Now I can play rhythm and sing, and I can drum and sing, but don't ask me to play bass or lead and sing. The single note stuff screws me up.
    We all have different ways to learn!
     
  9. gush

    gush She said "huge bag of dibs".

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    This is some of the best advice ever. I used to record shows once in a while and make copies for everybody.

    Recordings don't lie!!!!
     
  10. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    What they all said.

    Oh and practice lots!
     
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  11. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Another thing that helps me is to listen to the song I want to play multiple times in a row.
    Like on my way to practice in the car I'd play the song, and repeat it until I got to my practice studio.
    Burn it in... burn it in...
     
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  12. GrumpyOldDba

    GrumpyOldDba New Member

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    As a step on the way to "singing" while playing one can practice "counting" out loud all the way through songs at speed.

    Even if one can count silently while playing it is different doing it out loud.

    Obviously singing has different starts and stops and at times is out of time against the beat ...

    But counting and even singing the count while playing starts getting closer to the goal while making it somewhat easier ( maybe ) to keep your playing and strumming or lead parts going.
     
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  13. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    I think practicing the guitar part until you can play it without thinking is imperative. Then layer the voice over the top.
     
  14. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    One of the hardest songs for me to learn on rhythm guitar and lead vocal was Alert Status Red by Matthew Good.
    Getting the cadence of the lyrics over top of the guitar right was brutal because they have little in common time wise.
    It took hours... but getting the guitar part down first was essential, then I could concentrate on the vocal.
    Matt Good... UGH!:mad::D
     
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  15. Alnus Rubra

    Alnus Rubra Loving nature’s wonders

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    Try “The Wall” Dave! That’s one that will mess with your head.
     
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  16. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Challenge accepted!:eek::D
     
  17. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Ha, interesting you mention that song - we wrote a song recently and I came up with the the guitar bits, which sounded remarkably inspired by that song's rhythm guitar part (which at the time is kinda weird, I hadn't listened to MG in a long time). Tone wise too. Not sure how that happened...

    I think (!) that I'm not playing it exactly the same - different chords, and slightly different inflections, but Alert Status Red is most certainly the closest of any song I know to our new(ish) song. I need to review our chords/arrangement to make sure it isn't too close, though.

    The main melody is completely different, fortunately.

    I can't remember if I've ever seen a video for Alert Status Red (certainly never seen a live performance, unfortunately), so perhaps MG doesn't play guitar, just does the vox.

    EDIT: watching video now, he plays guitar while singing...
     
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  18. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    Plagiarism!
    [​IMG]

    Interesting... I'll be interested to hear how close you think you got!
     
  19. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    It is the gritty intro that I am closest to - the regular verse sections not so much. And now that I am actively re-listening to it, the chording is similar (3 out of 4 same chords - MG plays Em, C, G, C partial chords, I play Em, C, G, D), but the arpeggiation (?) is different, especially the staccato repeated note with run down at the end of the pattern. But the feel is certainly similar, completely unintentionally.
     
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  20. Axis39

    Axis39 New Member

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    I practiced slide... and singing. Somehow it was easier for me to sing along and play slide.

    I struggled a lot because I had played for almost 30 years before I ever really sang while playing. Then, it just became pressure of having to do it. It started when I lost the singer in the band, and had to step up.. I sang, then played for a while, then sang again. Then, picked a simple song or two to start trying to play and sing at the same time. I am still not 100% able to do it all, and there are a bunch of songs I still BB King it. But, the more I do it, the easier it is.

    Someday, maybe I'll do it well?
     
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