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  #1  
Old 09-18-2017, 12:33 PM
KFP55 KFP55 is offline
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Default Singing while playing....

...feels like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. It throws everything off. Is this something that improves over time, or is it more of an innate thing?

For the past week I've been working on Ryan Adams' "Come Pick Me Up". The chords are super simple, but for some reason I've found it very difficult to learn. I started with the tab and then watched a good youtube demo (dozens of times so far). I then found a number of different versions of the song and listened to them carefully multiple times. I then played along with the studio version, the lesson, and the other versions (by Ryan and several other covers) for 2-3 hours straight for several days. I then put the guitar down, closed my eyes, and sang along with the various versions multiple times.

I've now gotten the guitar part down where I can play it while conversing with my kids and have the lyrics/timing memorized....but.....as soon as I try to do both together, it all comes unglued. I've found songs where the lyrics mirror the melody to be somewhat easier, but still I struggle with those. But this one....man....

I guess my question is "is this struggle a normal part of learning the performing process??" Any tips would be much appreciated....thanks!
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  #2  
Old 09-18-2017, 12:55 PM
pf400 pf400 is offline
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I first started singing out of the blue, just because friends asked me to try to sing along to my playing "Dark-Eyed Cajun Woman" by The Doobie Brothers.

How about trying other simple songs like "Kumbaya" or "King of the Road" or "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" or "Four Strong Winds" ?

Keep something moving to keep your mind in the beat...tap a foot or move your head, etc. I find this helps anyway.

Good Luck, wish I could offer more advice. It may just come naturally to you with practice and patience.
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:21 PM
sirwhale sirwhale is offline
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When I first tried singing while playing, I, like you, thought that the songs with the guitar melody following the singing melody were easier.

But I very soon learnt that they were harder, as it restricted my singing to be perfectly in time with the guitar. The other songs allow me to sing more freely.

I've learnt to play and sing many songs now (fingerpicking), and every time I have learnt to play a new song and then try to sing on top, it is hard. Only one thing will help you; practice. Focused practice. Step by step.
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Old 09-18-2017, 01:31 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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I think you have got it all backwards.

The point of the guitar chord progression is to accompany the vocals.

Tablature and such can be quite damaging to some - I'd never use it.

Hit that first chord to give you the key for the vocals - and sing the vocals adding the progression as and when necessary until you have developed your own style.
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Old 09-18-2017, 04:05 PM
BFD BFD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirwhale View Post
. . . Only one thing will help you; practice. Focused practice. Step by step.
In my experience bigger breakthroughs like this often don't happen incrementally as a result of dutiful practice. And psychologically, it's better to not expect them to. The reason being you tend to throw yourself at the task a bit too hard expecting results that don't come even though you're practicing your butt off! That can dampen your enthusiasm, which is THE MOST valuable thing you have. For me, a number of these kinds of breakthroughs have come somewhat unexpectedly, one day things just come together. This is usually after throwing myself at the task, not achieving the goal, and giving up - often more than once.
So the lesson is cut yourself some slack! You WILL achieve this goal! Certainly keep trying....make sure you're enjoying and giving yourself credit for what you can already do. If it get's frustrating, give it a rest; come back to it later (maybe days later). Remember, getting good isn't your job. Having fun is! Getting better will follow naturally.
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Old 09-18-2017, 04:25 PM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Tablature and such can be quite damaging to some - I'd never use it.
????
Could you 'splain what you mean? Maybe less graphic pics of the carnage and damage wrought by tablature (& such - meaning what, notation? Chord charts? Lead sheets?)

I normally learn songs by ear myself, and to be honest I never really got into tab as I read music notation myself, but how can it possibly "damage" anything to explore the various tools available?

To the OP I suggest just strumming out a very basic rhythm on guitar while singing. Play the first chord to set your vocal, then just sing (lead with your voice) and follow with the guitar.
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:10 AM
SunnyDee SunnyDee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFP55 View Post
...feels like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. It throws everything off. Is this something that improves over time, or is it more of an innate thing?

For the past week I've been working on Ryan Adams' "Come Pick Me Up". The chords are super simple, but for some reason I've found it very difficult to learn. I started with the tab and then watched a good youtube demo (dozens of times so far). I then found a number of different versions of the song and listened to them carefully multiple times. I then played along with the studio version, the lesson, and the other versions (by Ryan and several other covers) for 2-3 hours straight for several days. I then put the guitar down, closed my eyes, and sang along with the various versions multiple times.

I've now gotten the guitar part down where I can play it while conversing with my kids and have the lyrics/timing memorized....but.....as soon as I try to do both together, it all comes unglued. I've found songs where the lyrics mirror the melody to be somewhat easier, but still I struggle with those. But this one....man....

I guess my question is "is this struggle a normal part of learning the performing process??" Any tips would be much appreciated....thanks!

Ryan plays and sings this lots of different ways as you've noticed and, like Two, not on the beat. I think of it as letting the voice lead the guitar, sort of pulling it behind me. Sometimes, at least on Two, he doesn't change the chord till quite late, during the "silence," rather than on the melody. (I'm sure I'm not describing that properly.) At least, that's what I hear and how I do it. When I am singing, the guitar is following me, not the other way around. That being said, I find the acoustic version of Foo Fighters' Something From Nothing quite difficult to sing while playing.
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:11 AM
JerrysGuitarBar JerrysGuitarBar is offline
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I certainly don't claim this as definitive, but maybe something from this will help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRQjjzoaSf0
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:14 AM
KFP55 KFP55 is offline
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All great stuff, thanks everyone! This forum is the best.....

I'm really enjoying the process - never thought I'd even attempt any of it, so the fact I'm even close is thrilling. I don't want to give the impression I'm frustrated - I thrive off of working hard on something challenging - but I DO like to eventually accomplish it

Jerry - thanks for the link. I've purchased a number of your lessons (all great!) - do you ever take requests for new songs/artists? I'd love to see some Jason Isbell or Ryan Adams songs - that kind of stuff is more in my wheelhouse and I can't find much out there on the web.

Thanks!
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:37 AM
Mystery123 Mystery123 is offline
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For few songs I'm learning where I have trouble singing and playing, I do this:
Play the song in a player like phone/cd player etc... and just strum the guitar.
Once that's set, hum with the song and strum.
Finally sing and strum.
repeat...
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  #11  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:47 AM
RockyRacc00n RockyRacc00n is offline
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Looks like you've gotten some good advice here, including that excellent Youtube instructional.

I know you said in your original post that you are able to sing and play separately. The trouble comes when you try to do it together.

But have you tried singing over a recording of YOU playing the guitar? I would imagine you would be able to if the guitar part was in time. So, I wonder if singing over a recording of you playing might highlight something.

I do this often with syncopated or otherwise complex rhythms to help me be conscientious of where I am landing a certain syllable. And when I do that against a recording of the guitar part that I did, it helps me to be aware of the up/down motion that my strum was on that particular syllable. Once I am aware of this, then I can work on making it subconscious.

Something that worked for me when I was learning the strumming to Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.
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Old 09-19-2017, 10:54 AM
Mystery123 Mystery123 is offline
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Justin guitar has a longer process to sing and play:
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  #13  
Old 09-19-2017, 03:23 PM
tonyo tonyo is offline
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I'm an accidental singer. Started learning guitar and thought singing and playing would be too hard so just focused on the playing. My wife would sing along to the first song I learned and quite unintentionally I sang along on the chorus after perhaps 50 or more times of just playing it.

That was a eureka moment for me, I realized singing and playing at the same time wasn't all that hard after all and now I sing as much as I play and love it.

The justin guitar video posted in this thread covers the technicality of what happened to me, although in my case it was a far more casual experience.

At first I could only sing along to songs where the lyrics aligned with the chord changes. Over time, I learned to sing along to songs where the lyrics would kick in well before or well after the chords change. So choice of first song to sing in my opinion would be best if you stick to something simple. The goal is to get the confidence in your singing.

Jerry's guitar bar is also a fav of mine for lessons.

Just keep at it with the singing. Get really good with the song so you aren't thinking about the guitar and just sing sing sing. It's fun.
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  #14  
Old 09-19-2017, 05:18 PM
troggg troggg is offline
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1) Vocal lessons. Because you may or may not be totally confident at either singing or playing and singing is the more likely culprit. If you don't know where or how to breath, it's hard to pull a performance off.

2) Slowing way down when learning seldom hurts.

3) Visualization. If you can't see yourself doing it in your mind, you'll never do it in reality.

4) Relaxation. Trying less rather than trying more is often just the ticket.

5) Having your vocal coach also coach your performance when playing at the same time. Any decent one coaches performance as well as technique.

6) Ryan Adams comes off as kind of simple ... except he's not. Start off singing and playing something mindlessly simple like "Blowing In The Wind" or a similar easy folk song you already know before you tackle someone idiosyncratic like Ryan Adams.
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  #15  
Old 09-19-2017, 05:35 PM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KFP55 View Post
...feels like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. It throws everything off. Is this something that improves over time, or is it more of an innate thing?
I often explain that three things need to happen: learn the guitar part, learn to sing the song, then finally put the two together. Each is about the same level of technical effort and each must be mastered before you can do it all simultaneously. It gets easier with time and experience as your skills grow.

Consider the analogy of a Windows computer with two dozen windows open. It still works without crashing, but the performance of each program bogs down noticeably due to lack of computing horsepower and memory.
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