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Very difficult. Can I do this?...

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k5koy
(@k5koy)
Trusted Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 45
Topic starter  

Ok, I got this dillemma. I can play a few songs now, and am having a blast doing the whole guitar thing. I think I am advancing quite nicely. Maybe even way ahead of where I should be just 8 weeks into this journey. I have been learning a few Eagles tunes, the easier ones, and after a week of practice, I am finding that I can do "Peaceful Easy Feeling" all the way through with little or no mistakes, even able to jazz up the simple tab version quite a bit. So then I thought I would try to sing along with my playing. BRICK WALL! I dont know how anybody does this! Even with the dumbed down, simple tab version, Its very difficult to do! I either crap out on the playing and forget whats next, or do the same with the words. Is this something that not everybody can do? Will I ever be able to conquer this obstacle, or am I destined to just do one or the other?
I know a guy that frets with one hand, plays keyboard with the other and sings all simultaneously! I am AMAZED! He must have 3 brains! Any tips you guys willing to share?
Thanks,

Koy Carson
West Texas

**60th Anniversary American Strat
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**Arbor AJ145CR Jazz
**Fender Marcus Miller 5 String Bass
**Fender Geddy Lee Signature Bass
**Warwick Corvette 4 string Bass
**Tradition Fretless Bass
**Takamine Hollow body Bass
**Digitech JamMan

http://www.myspace.com/k5koy


The "PickPocket" The ORIGINAL Guitar Accessory
http://www.waxpatterns.com/customguitarpick.htm


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

I wrote an entire article about this very problem, "If I only had (another) brain"

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/if-i-only-had-another-brain/

It is hard to do. I still pick and choose which ones I am going to both sing and play when in a group. It's hard to divide your attention like that. I mean if you think patting your head and rubbing your tummy was tough, remembering words, chords, dynamics, strum patterns is a nightmare.

Anyway, the basic advice is slow it down. No slower. Even slower. Man I mean slow. Play one strum and sing half a word if you have to to get it right. Now add the next. Do this one phrase at a time until you get the whole song.

The answer to your question is, yes you can.


   
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k5koy
(@k5koy)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 45
Topic starter  

I wrote an entire article about this very problem, "If I only had (another) brain"

https://www.guitarnoise.com/lessons/if-i-only-had-another-brain/

It is hard to do. I still pick and choose which ones I am going to both sing and play when in a group. It's hard to divide your attention like that. I mean if you think patting your head and rubbing your tummy was tough, remembering words, chords, dynamics, strum patterns is a nightmare.

Anyway, the basic advice is slow it down. No slower. Even slower. Man I mean slow. Play one strum and sing half a word if you have to to get it right. Now add the next. Do this one phrase at a time until you get the whole song.

The answer to your question is, yes you can.

Ha! Whew...Glad its not just me...Great article Nick. Thanks..Guess I will slow it down and keep fighting the good fight!

Koy Carson
West Texas

**60th Anniversary American Strat
**Carvin AC175 Thinline Acoustic
**Ibanez EW20ZW Electric/Acoustic
**Arbor AJ145CR Jazz
**Fender Marcus Miller 5 String Bass
**Fender Geddy Lee Signature Bass
**Warwick Corvette 4 string Bass
**Tradition Fretless Bass
**Takamine Hollow body Bass
**Digitech JamMan

http://www.myspace.com/k5koy


The "PickPocket" The ORIGINAL Guitar Accessory
http://www.waxpatterns.com/customguitarpick.htm


   
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Minotaur
(@minotaur)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1089
 

Its very difficult to do! I either crap out on the playing and forget whats next, or do the same with the words. Is this something that not everybody can do? Will I ever be able to conquer this obstacle, or am I destined to just do one or the other?

I can't do it (yet), either. So far the only songs I can play the rhythm through (with some bumpy chord changes, like Fmaj and Bm) are Imagine, Heart of Gold (probably my best, and the easiest), I Hear You Knocking, Proud Mary. I can even play the rhythm along with the recordings, sort of. :oops:

But sing? No way. Of course, not playing with the recordings nor playing by myself. At this point I can either play or sing, but not both. I should probably start with the slower songs that have a more regular rhythm, and shorter lyrics phrases: Imagine and Heart of Gold. I mean, how hard can it be?
C Cmaj7 Fmaj7
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

F Am Dm C2*
Imagine all the people
G/B G
Living for today

*C2 - never heard of this one before, but it's
--------------------------|
------3-------------------|
--------------------------|
--------------------------|
------3-------------------|
--------------------------|

or
Em C D G
I want to live, I want to give
Em C D G
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
Em C D G
It's these expressions I never give

Um, pretty hard at this point.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


   
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David Hodge
(@davidhodge)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 4472
 

C2 is called (by most people) "Cadd9." It's a C chord with the D note (either the "2" or "9" of the C major scale added). So an easier way to do it is to play a regular C chord and just take off the finger on the D string:

x30010

Your version is certainly fine. So is this one:

x32030

As for the singing part, it's really like anything else in that it's all about practicing. Take things very easy and simplify your rhythm parts as much as possible. As silly as it may sound, a good way to get started is to take songs that you know cold, like childhood songs ("Twinkle, twinkle little star") or holiday songs.

Good luck!

Peace


   
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Minotaur
(@minotaur)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1089
 

C2 is called (by most people) "Cadd9." It's a C chord with the D note (either the "2" or "9" of the C major scale added). So an easier way to do it is to play a regular C chord and just take off the finger on the D string:

x30010

Your version is certainly fine. So is this one:

x32030

Thank you! I should have realized that because Cadd9 is in Dust in the Wind. And except for the E on the D string it's the same shape. I'm going to try the regular Cadd9 too.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

Singing while you play is something you get used to, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Just stay at it.

You might try simply humming the song at first, it's a little easier because you don't have to worry about the lyrics. And humming is good singing exercise anyway.

As others said, go slow and make it simple. Try just strumming straight quarter notes at first. As you get used to singing while you play, then you can slowly work in a more complex strum.

Just stay at it, you'll get it. :D

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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quarterfront
(@quarterfront)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 225
 

You might try simply humming the song at first, it's a little easier because you don't have to worry about the lyrics. And humming is good singing exercise anyway.

I still stink at singing and playing, but where I can do it I've gotten there by starting out humming....


   
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almann1979
(@almann1979)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1281
 

well let me put in my two pence worth :D

when i first started learning the guitar it was because of 2 reasons, 1) i wanted to be able to play the sweet child o mine solo (very childish i know), and 2) because i wanted to be able to play a good arrangement of "more than words" by extreme.

it took me a very long time to learn "more than words", (about 14 months and i practice every night for at least an hour - i was a slow learner) - and i did not think it was humanly possible to both play and sing it. i would have bet my house on it!!

Anyway, i then had a baby girl and at night i played it to her as part of her bedtime routine, and now she is 11 months old nearly and i still play it - every night as part of her routine (very OCD of me) - but guess what? i can now also sing to it, or even tell a bedtime story as i play it if i want- it has just become ingrained in my muscle memory as has lots of other songs/licks.

i could not tell somebody how to play it without a guitar in my hand, i cant remember it in that way, i would have to see myself play it first.

anyway, all of that means nothing because i have a voice like a cat with its wiskers in a mangle :lol:

seriously i suppose the point is, once muscle memory takes over, you can sing to anything.

"I like to play that guitar. I have to stare at it while I'm playing it because I'm not very good at playing it."
Noel Gallagher (who took the words right out of my mouth)


   
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Chris C
(@chris-c)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

Hi,

This is extremely common - basically because you're now trying to play two instruments at once - guitar and voice.

When I first tried it, the problem seemed to be mainly one of timing.If I only played it was was fine, if I only sang that seemed to be roughly OK too. If I played and sang together, I could kid myself that it was OK, if I knew the song and was playing alone, but in fact my timing went right out the window. I was changing the speed to give myself time to get in sync, starting a little off pitch and sliding up to the note, and making all the usual beginner errors.

The way I got around it was to treat the singing as a new instrument (which it was really) that needed a bunch of work, especially on timing. So I went back to playing a recorded backing track, following the bars and beats until I had a better idea of where I was a singer, and had improved the general control over the voice.

I also remembered the old saying “An amateur practises until they finally get it right, but a pro practises until they can't get it wrong”. So I put the time in to really learn both parts of the song properly. Then it all seemed to work fine. The only problem had been assuming that voice was something that I could just add in automatically without doing much if any focused work on it. Once I started putting time aside to do the practice , then the improvement in being able to hit the right pitches accurately, and also nail the timing, both improved pretty quickly.

Good luck with it all, I'm sure you'll be fine. :)


   
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Wes Inman
(@wes-inman)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5582
 

I agree with Chris, you've got to spend some time singing a song before you get it down. I sing most of the songs in our band, and a new song always sounds pretty rough. I personally need to sing the song at least ten times or more to really get the timing down. And breathing properly has a lot to do with your timing. The more often you sing a song, you learn right where to take your breath so you will have enough air for the particular phrase you are on. Your voice really is an instrument as Chris said.

You also have to think in terms of quarter notes, eighth notes, whole notes, quarter rests etc... You have to get the timing of your voice in sync with the timing of the music. There are actually some tricks you can use. I sing Sunshine of Your Love by Cream while playing. I think some folks would think it is very difficult to sing while you play single notes as opposed to strumming chords, but really it is not that difficult. You sing the notes in time with the played notes for the most part. It is something you have to think about at first and practice slowly. But once you get the synchronization down and practice it a bit, it seems very easy. In fact, you will have difficulty doing it wrong after enough practice.


Sunshine of Your Love

e--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
b--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
g----------------------------------------------------------------------------10^-------------------
d-----12----12----10----12---------------------------------------------12----------------12--------
a-----------------------------------12----------11---------10--------------------------------------
e--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
It's get ting near dawn When

e--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
b--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
g----------------------------------------------------------------------------10^-------------------
d-----12----12----10----12---------------------------------------------12----------------12--------
a-----------------------------------12----------11---------10--------------------------------------
e--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
lights close their ti---------red ey----------es I'll

Notice the phrases all start on the upbeat. That is a little difficult at first, it just feels opposite of what most folks are used to. You have to go real slow and get used to starting when your foot is coming up. Then you memorize this feeling. That is how I do it anyway.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Alan Green
(@alangreen)
Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

I'm regularly asked not to sing. Motivation is important too

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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Vic Lewis VL
(@vic-lewis-vl)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

I've found that, as my guitar playing's improved, singing and playing at the same time has become easier. The main reason is that I don't have to concentrate so hard on playing the guitar, I'm almost playing on auto-pilot, so I can put more into singing.

If I'm learning a new song, I'll concentrate on the guitar parts first, whilst humming, then mumbling - then when the guitar parts are fairly well entrenched in my memory, actually singing. The more I play a song, the easier it gets. That said, there are some songs I don't think I'll ever be able to sing and play at the same time - "Needle And The Damage Done" is one, "Sweet Jane" is another. Although the guitar parts aren't too hard (after a lot of practise!) putting them together with a good vocal seems to be beyond me. I've even tried slowing them down to a crawl, which works OK - but the second I speed them up a little, my timing goes haywire on them.

For the most part though, it's down to that same old thing yet again.....practise. The more you practise, the easier it'll get.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
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mmoncur
(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
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Posts: 168
 

It's very hard, so I've treated it as an "advanced" technique. As far as I can tell the secret is three steps:

1. Learn the lyrics so well that you can sing the song without your full attention. (Sing it while watching TV, while driving, etc.)

2. Learn to play the guitar part so well that you can play without your full attention. (Don't do this one while driving.)

3. Painstakingly combine the two with a few weeks of practice.

I've been able to sing and play "Knocking on Heaven's Door" so far, and almost managed "Saving Grace" by Tom Petty. It seems like singing each new song is a whole new challenge.

I'll tell you, if you asked me two years ago (before I picked up a guitar) I would have called a guy who could play simple Bob Dylan songs while singing "a beginner". Now I have great respect for every bar or restaurant guitarist/singer I run into...


   
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Nick Torres
(@nicktorres)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381
 

I thought about this a bit and really I think you are all wrong.,,,,including me in my first post.

It may seem hard, but it is a very simple thing to do.

If I gave you a new song to play with one or two odd chords that you don't really play often and a rhythm different to what you normally play, would that be very difficult? Probably not. It would take a little practice to get the chord changes under your belt, the same with the strumming, give yourself several hours or days of practice and you are good to go.

Singing while playing is no different than that. You just have to learn the part and put it together. Yes it takes a bit of time, but you probably have a lot more practice playing guitar than singing. That's why the guitar parts are easier.

Now that I've been doing the singing and playing thing for years,I can get to a basic level of competence doing both at once pretty quickly. Unfortunately that's about as far as I'm driven to go, but it ain't that hard if you put your mind to it.


   
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