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Old 05-27-2019, 10:21 PM
Dawgrit Dawgrit is offline
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Default Does singing and playing at the same time get easier as you learn more songs?

Say I have 10 similar songs of the same difficulty. I work really hard on the first one and master it. By the time I get to the fifth song, will it be a bit easier for me to sync everything together? Or will the difficulty remain the same for each new song? Thanks ya’ll.
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Old 05-27-2019, 10:52 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Sure. The more you do it, the easier it'll get.

When I was first starting to sing and play at the same time, I would play whatever new song I was working on over and over and over again, so that it got to be sheer muscle memory. The way I would progress on it was this: first I would play the accompaniment pattern while silently "singing" the song in my mind, usually while reading the words at the same time.

Over and over again. Then I would start to sing the words.

Something that I found to be vital was to keep playing the accompaniment part even if I stumbled over the words. Don't stop. At this point, the words aren't as important as being able to keep going playing the chord progression. So if you mis-phrase something, don't stop. Keep going. Sing "la la la" nonsense syllables if you have to, or just hum, or whatever. But keep your hands going, then jump back onboard and start singing the next time the words come around.

What I always taught my students is that the biggest mistake you can make when learning a piece is to stop when you make a mistake. You need to keep it rolling so you can try to get it right the next time it rolls around.

The natural instinct is to stop, then start over. But all that does is reinforce the mistake, not correct it.

So keep going. Don't stop, no matter how badly you muffed it.

Sing the words in your mind as you play the chord progression over and over, then start singing as you're able. Pretty soon it won't be nearly as difficult.

You can expect to play these songs for twenty, thirty minutes at a time as you're getting used to them. Which can obviously drive the folks around you straight up a tree. But the more you do that, not only will the song become ingrained, but the less you'll have to do that with other songs.

Pretty soon it'll come close to being automatic.

But at this stage repetition is your friend. So play the songs over and over many, many times until you get them.

One last thought - particularly when I'd gotten past the very beginner stage but still wasn't as musically accomplished as I'd later become - one of the most valuable times for musical improvement would come when I was exhausted and ready to sleep. Right there at that cusp of unconsciousness, when your brain is almost totally disengaged but you're still (barely) conscious, you can make great strides musically.

So what I'd often do, when I'd practiced a piece that was giving me trouble but hadn't quite ironed out all the wrinkles, just before I went to sleep I would grab the guitar and play the whole thing through two or three more times.

It was often right then that I'd make the breakthrough I needed. The next day when I picked up and tried it again, I'd often have it down cold.

So those are my recommendations: practice and keep in rhythm even if you make a mistake, just keep going, while you "sing" the lyrics in your mind. After a while start to actually sing it, but keep the accompaniment going even if you mess up the words. Substitute "la la la's" if need be, then sing the words again the next time the chord progression comes back around.

Don't worry about expression or musical interpretation at this stage, just keep going over and over on the song. I find that, past a certain point, it even helps to think about other things as you're singing and playing. Just keep going, regardless.

Then later, when you're tired and really should go to bed, try playing the song a few more times. Let physical exhaustion disengage your brain while you play the song - it's amazing how helpful that can be and how much progress you can make.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller

Last edited by Wade Hampton; 05-28-2019 at 01:00 AM. Reason: Corrected a typo
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Old 05-27-2019, 11:58 PM
Sax Player Guy Sax Player Guy is offline
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Great question and great answer! Thanks to both of you.
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:18 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Wade's response is right on! Wow! Great response!

To Dawgrit -- It does get easier with practice and experience! Hang in there and keep at it!

- Glenn
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:59 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Well, that’s how I taught myself how to sing while playing, Glenn, so maybe some other folks can use those ideas.


whm
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Old 05-28-2019, 01:24 AM
Dustinfurlow Dustinfurlow is offline
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Agree with Wade, it seems like such a daunting task at first but you just have to remind yourself frequently that it will NOT sound amazing at first and be kind to yourself and don’t set expectations too high.

I’ve been teaching my girlfriend simple folk tunes for a bit and have noticed she nails new songs (or at least large portions of them) when she is relaxed and not thinking too hard about what she’s doing. Especially with complicated chord changes.

Repetition is the biggest thing though, don’t ever forget that! I sing Going to Carolina from James Taylor and Hotel california from The Eagles while reading captions on bar TV screens nowadays so believe me - muscle memory and repetition lead to success!
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:33 AM
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Yes.

Everything tricky gets easier with practice.
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:54 AM
perttime perttime is offline
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Yes.
My playing while singing got properly started after quite a bit of time singing at church youth meetings. At some point, I started bringing my guitar. I sucked. But it got better pretty quickly.

I'm sure knowing the songs well, before adding the guitar, helped me.
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:27 AM
lowrider lowrider is offline
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Another thing; When you're starting out singing and playing, keep your playing simple. You can play an intro and something in the break and a closing, but while you are singing just strum the rhythm. No one will mind and you'll sound great!

And use a metronome. Timing is most important. You can do a lot wrong but if you sing in tune and on time, it will all sound good!
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:09 AM
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Goat Whiskey Picks Goat Whiskey Picks is offline
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Excellent suggestions here and I'd like to offer one additional. The natural tendency for a guitar player is to focus on the guitar part until you have it down and then learn the lyrics. Most people feel like the lyrics are the easiest part and put them last. Well, if you're really focused on playing the guitar parts, then lyrics that aren't ingrained into your memory are hard to recall. What works for me is to spend time in the beginning getting the lyrics down cold and where the chord changes occur in the lyrics until that part comes natural. Then it's automatic for me to sing the lyrics without much thought while I concentrate on the guitar parts.

Everyone comes up with the system that works best for them, it's just important for you to figure out which system is best for you. Good luck on your journey!!
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:38 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post

One last thought - particularly when I'd gotten past the very beginner stage but still wasn't as musically accomplished as I'd later become - one of the most valuable times for musical improvement would come when I was exhausted and ready to sleep. Right there at that cusp of unconsciousness, when your brain is almost totally disengaged but you're still (barely) conscious, you can make great strides musically.

So what I'd often do, when I'd practiced a piece that was giving me trouble but hadn't quite ironed out all the wrinkles, just before I went to sleep I would grab the guitar and play the whole thing through two or three more times.

It was often right then that I'd make the breakthrough I needed. The next day when I picked up and tried it again, I'd often have it down cold.
...

Then later, when you're tired and really should go to bed, try playing the song a few more times. Let physical exhaustion disengage your brain while you play the song - it's amazing how helpful that can be and how much progress you can make.

Wade Hampton Miller
I whole-heartedly endorse everything else Wade said in his original reply to your post, but have not found this to be true - for me.

I always have a new song or three that I am learning. Some of course come easier than others, but most come along pretty easily now that there are many hundreds that I play. Practice makes it easier for any new stuff as well as for something you are working on. The time it takes at any level of difficulty keeps decreasing.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:24 AM
bufflehead bufflehead is offline
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In terms of things getting easier, yes. But age becomes a factor at some point.

I have to work a lot harder, in my sixties, to memorize lyrics than I did in my twenties. In that sense, it has gotten harder.

On the other hand, it has gotten easier, over the years, to play a song at tempo. In my twenties I needed a metronome. Or a drummer. In my sixties, the metronome is built in.

If I'm learning a new song with difficult chord progressions, I try to perfect them before I start worrying about words.

I try to work on a new song every month, but often it's every other month. I'm no longer trying to keep a repertoire of hundreds of songs active. It's good to allow some songs to retire.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawgrit View Post
Say I have 10 similar songs of the same difficulty. I work really hard on the first one and master it. By the time I get to the fifth song, will it be a bit easier for me to sync everything together? Or will the difficulty remain the same for each new song? Thanks ya’ll.
HI Dawgrit…
Most repetitive things in life get better the more we do them.

I remember my Piano Proficiency class in college (as a music major). My teacher saw me struggling with scales which the left hand played downwards while the right hand played upwards.

She said one hand has to be automatic, so I could pay attention to the other and that I needed to practice scales till one of the hands doesn't require thought to make it happen. She was right…I'd say it's pretty similar with playing and singing.

I started as a singer who learned to play guitar to accompany myself, so early on the singing had to be on auto-pilot so I could think about playing. As my skill as a player caught up with my singing, then I could choose which to be automatic, and which to concentrate on.


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Old 05-28-2019, 08:37 AM
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schneidan schneidan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat Whiskey Picks View Post
Most people feel like the lyrics are the easiest part and put them last. Well, if you're really focused on playing the guitar parts, then lyrics that aren't ingrained into your memory are hard to recall. What works for me is to spend time in the beginning getting the lyrics down cold and where the chord changes occur in the lyrics until that part comes natural. Then it's automatic for me to sing the lyrics without much thought while I concentrate on the guitar parts.


I'd have to agree with this as well. If the songs I'm working on are other people's, I'll make a playlist - no more than 5 or 6 songs - and put it on shuffle/repeat when I'm on the car and sing along, over and over, before I start working On the accompaniment. Knowing the words cold makes them easier, and learning the melody solidly helps me anticipate the chord changes better right from the first time I try it out.

As said above, in all things, repetition is the key.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:39 AM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Another tidbit I'll share from experience: When I am learning a song, I will inevitably come up against what for me is the most challenging section to play. It might be a chord change, it might be the phrasing of a lyric. Once I am able to listen and become more aware of what is happening at that point in the song, then I isolate that passage from just before and just after and work on it until I get it down more smoothly and then go back to playing the whole song and re-integrating that passage.

I have learned for me that developing my listening skills and recording as I practice can really help me identify areas where I need more work before they get too grooved into my muscle memory. Of course, the way each person learns can be different but I have found how I listen and how I practice to have an impact on the success of the end result.

Best,
Jayne
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