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  #16  
Old 05-28-2019, 07:45 AM
Everton FC Everton FC is offline
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"Does singing and playing at the same time get easier as you learn more songs?"

I sure hope so!

I struggled with this, as well. I found remembering my own lyrics to be a struggle, so I used Wade's approach and have been more successful. I tend to find getting the lyrics finished, my greatest hurdle - I always have pieces of songs in my head that simply need bridges and lyrics to put it all together.
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  #17  
Old 05-28-2019, 07:59 AM
Paddy1951 Paddy1951 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
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
Ditto for everything Wade said Especially concerning stopping.

Your audience often won't even realize small gafs and if they do, they usually just let things go by if you don't bring attention to them, ie. Stopping.

In addition to playing and singing a tune over and over, I record the guitar part. Then if I can do the singing of lyrics but not play, I have the recorded music to sing to.
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  #18  
Old 05-28-2019, 08:10 AM
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Everything hard gets less hard with practice. I'm a terrible singer and a mediocre at best guitarist, but I've been doing both together for quite a while now and I don't really suck at the combination, given that I'm nothing to write home about at either discipline.

But it also depends on what you're going for. I'm just now learning to fingerpick and the idea of being able to fingerpick and sing along is beyond laughable to me at this point. There are a lot of rock rhythms on electric guitar that I couldn't pull off and sing at the same time. And others that just fall right into place.

All I do is strum the chords and sing along. But over the years I've gotten a lot better at mixing up the rhythms, blending in some arpeggios, doing a lot of little hammer-ons and suspensions, etc, such that now when I sing and play I really kind of like my playing. And my singing is getting very slightly less terrible every decade or so...

-Ray

Last edited by raysachs; 05-28-2019 at 08:19 AM.
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  #19  
Old 05-28-2019, 10:40 AM
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Woooow! Invaluable information. Thank you everybody. This skill as a whole is something Im hyperfocusing on right now. Biannual motor skills, (patting head and rubbing stomache). I started doing practices on the keyboard for using both hands at the same time. Also an app called synchrony is pretty wild. But al this info is more than I hoped for, awesome. Im definitely going to push myself to play a couple rounds while half conscious. Sounds like a great mental trick, playing while your brain is on another level. Thanks again.
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  #20  
Old 05-28-2019, 07:49 PM
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Yes. All has been said in posts preceding mine.

I will say that it took me about a year to play (finger picking) at a level I enjoyed playing at. Then, frustratingly, it took another 6 months before I could sing over it. But, that's all in the past now. Practice.
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  #21  
Old 05-28-2019, 09:57 PM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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What Wade said. Very good advice here. I would only add that it might be useful to decide whether you are a guitar player or a singer. I used to spend way too much time working on the guitar and less on the feeling and meaning of the song. A song is a piece of art (to me) and it deserves the thought and practice to make it communicate feeling to the audience. In the end they will pay more attention to the singing than the picking. Of course, your picking should not suck...
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  #22  
Old 05-28-2019, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfirob View Post
What Wade said. Very good advice here. I would only add that it might be useful to decide whether you are a guitar player or a singer. I used to spend way too much time working on the guitar and less on the feeling and meaning of the song. A song is a piece of art (to me) and it deserves the thought and practice to make it communicate feeling to the audience. In the end they will pay more attention to the singing than the picking. Of course, your picking should not suck...
Interestingly I had this conversation with my teacher this afternoon. How being a singer who plays guitar is different from being a guitar player who sings. How each requires a different approach, a different focus. A singer may be focused on singing, delivering emotion, feeling, invoking a sense of character, a sense of place. The accompanying guitar becomes simply a place setting, somewhere for the singing to exist. It does not have to be fancy, just consistent.

The guitar player is more focused on the setting, crafting a complex world of feeling and emotion in which the singing can sit.

The best, though, often switch roles throughout, often bar by bar. Providing a simple setting for the singing, but evoking time, place, character and emotion in the interludes between the words.

Or something like that...
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  #23  
Old 05-29-2019, 01:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post
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
+1 On this is excellent advice from wade. I can't really add much to this other than say try not to loose heart if it takes longer than you expect to get to where you want to be, just keep going and you'll get there. All the very best to you.
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  #24  
Old 06-01-2019, 06:36 AM
tonyo tonyo is offline
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Yes, it gets easier and easier. Some times a new song still stumps me for a bit but that's something I get over within a day or two compared to weeks when I was first learning
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  #25  
Old 06-03-2019, 10:44 AM
DesertTwang DesertTwang is offline
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The learning curve is definitely that -- a curve. It's non-linear. In other words, the relationship between how long it takes you to learn a new song or skill and the time you've been playing is not a straight line, but a steep, upward-sloping curve: In the beginning, it will take you a while to master something, but the longer you play, the shorter that time will become.

I remember back when I started learning my first fiddle tunes. "So many notes," I thought, "how am I going to remember all those arbitrary melody lines?"

The experience prompted me to avoid learning fiddle tunes, just because to me, they were just a random piece of music that cost me a great deal of work to memorize. "With such a vast array of tunes out there, why even bother trying to learn a few, only to then forget them again?" is what I thought at the time.

It took me a while to realize that fiddle tunes follow quite predictable patterns, none of which I was aware of when I first started. So forced myself to start learning one, then two, then three.

I remember that it took me several weeks to play and memorize the melody of "Soldier's Joy," the first fiddle tune I ever learned.

Now, with a few more tunes under my belt, I find myself being able to learn an entire new tune in a matter of an hour or so.

Same goes for singing and playing. When I first started playing guitar, I found singing and playing extremely difficult. Now, I don't even think about that part anymore. It has become completely second nature.
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  #26  
Old 06-03-2019, 10:51 AM
DesertTwang DesertTwang is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade Hampton View Post

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.
20-30 minutes? You should come by my house sometime to hear me sing "Little Sadie" or "I am a Pilgrim" (tunes I'm working on right now) for one or two hours!

But yes, everything that Wade said on this topic is excellent advice.
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  #27  
Old 06-04-2019, 08:03 AM
k_russell k_russell is offline
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I have just one additional suggestion. Learn the lyric that goes with the first beat of each line. Then the lyric for the first beat of each measure. That way when you get lost, you will have a starting point on your next "1" beat.
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  #28  
Old 06-04-2019, 11:45 AM
Pura Vida Pura Vida is offline
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+1 to everything Wade said in the initial response. I could never play and sing at the same time. So, when I began playing again (after a 10 year hiatus), I made that a priority. It was difficult at first, but it's gotten easier, so now it's part of learning a new song for me.
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  #29  
Old 06-07-2019, 11:54 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertTwang View Post
20-30 minutes? You should come by my house sometime to hear me sing "Little Sadie" or "I am a Pilgrim" (tunes I'm working on right now) for one or two hours! ...
When I am working on a new song up on my studio, I might work on it for four hours straight. I totally lose track of time. This drives my wife nuts. My studio is above our garage and my wife is in the house, separated from the garage, and finally she will call me on my cell phone. "Are you alright?" Yes, just working on a song. I'll take a break and be right down...

Some researchers have suggested that it's not so much talent that makes for accomplished musicians but the ability to focus effort.

- Glenn
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  #30  
Old 06-08-2019, 07:58 AM
mattbn73 mattbn73 is offline
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Great thread. great posts.

Yes. You improve the longer you do it, but they're definitely shortcuts and things which simplify the process. As was said above, it's not always a linear progression . More than that, it's not even a very nice curve a lot of time. A lot of progress is about mini- breakthroughs more than linear progress or a curve etc. ....sometimes it's plateau followed by almost instantaneous understanding at a much higher level etc.

Understand that it's somewhat an independent skill from learning to sing or learning to play. With that in mind, remember that it's okay to learn much simpler songs in the beginning . Once you learn the basic combined SKILL a little better , you can do it more easily with harder music.

Prioritize your list of songs you want to learn in order of difficulty and maybe even consciously seek out songs which are obviously easier to sing and play simultaneously from the start. There's a balance between learning songs which really inspire you musically and toons which are easier to learn. Great songs keep you going and inspired as a musician, but learning a few simpler tunes may get you there faster in the long run.
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Originally Posted by Glennwillow View Post
Some researchers have suggested that it's not so much talent that makes for accomplished musicians but the ability to focus effort.
Absolutely.
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