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Old 01-19-2021, 09:44 AM
jafranks jafranks is offline
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Good replies above. I think most of us have struggled with this at least early on. The best advice I ever got (which was from this forum several years ago BTW), was this: we can only consciously think about one thing at a time. You can't think about the next chord change, strum pattern, etc. if you are trying to remember lyrics, and vice versa. Therefore, either the guitar part or the vocal has to be 100% automatic (there's the "more practice" part). Usually that's the guitar part, but I guess for some exceptional singers it could be the other way around.

Just trying to elaborate on WHY "more practice" is the right answer. Hope that helps.
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Old 01-19-2021, 12:08 PM
rabbuhl rabbuhl is offline
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Practice on regular basis doing both. The more the better.

And watch this video too.

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Old 01-19-2021, 12:24 PM
Fatfinger McGee Fatfinger McGee is offline
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I forgot one big piece of advice, though you'll have to wait to act on it: join a singalong, or start your own. When you're alone and you lose the thread, it all kinda falls apart. When you're playing with others, it's much easier to do, and if you stumble you can just join back in. Good way to learn new songs and practice strumming rhythms, and less intimidating than a solo-passing instrumental jam. Also, super fun.
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Old 01-20-2021, 07:03 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Willie,

I had to learn how to sing and play at the same time. I think the challenge is pretty universal for anyone who plays and tries to sing at the same time.

As so many folks have mentioned, I, too, learned to play guitar because I loved to sing. It was important to me, so I worked and worked at it until it became fairly natural.

However, if I am playing something difficult or intricate, it can still be a challenge to play and sing at the same time. Something like "A'Soalin" takes practice:

I think whether we learn to sing and play at the same time is a matter of desire. I think a person has to want it badly enough.

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Old 01-20-2021, 09:18 PM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Play until your right hand acquires muscle memory, goes on its own without you having to think of it. Freed from that, now you can think about your singing. I recall, decades ago, the moment when it fell into place with fingerpicking. Happened all at once.

Now my mind when performing operates on several levels. One level dictates my singing, the words and notes. Another thinks ahead about such things as harmony, where I want to include breaks or embellishments, to raise or soften the volume, or how I want to end the song, that sort of thing. Another whole different level takes care of bass runs, rhythmic variations, guitar things.
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Old 01-23-2021, 09:47 AM
BBuckner Music BBuckner Music is offline
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Originally Posted by Fatfinger McGee View Post
I get a lot of mileage out of a simple Travis roll with alternating bass and the occasional melody note too, kind of the guitar version of piano fake books. Sounds impressive to people who don’t know better.
Forgive the amateur question, but what is a Travis roll with alternate bass....?
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Old 01-23-2021, 01:26 PM
Fatfinger McGee Fatfinger McGee is offline
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Originally Posted by BBuckner Music View Post
Forgive the amateur question, but what is a Travis roll with alternate bass....?

I meant a Travis picking pattern with my thumb playing alternating bass on the beat, and my index/middle fingers picking on the off-beat.
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Old 01-23-2021, 02:47 PM
Emil Emil is offline
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For me it depends on the song. If we’re talking about a simple straight forward Neil Young strumming it’s smooth sailing. Easy fingerstyle like ”the boxer”
However, if we’re discussing more advanced fingerstyle like Travis picking patterns that you’d find in ”never going back again” or even a more simple one like in ”landslide” then theres no chance.
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Old 01-23-2021, 03:41 PM
KCharlesD KCharlesD is offline
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A couple of song suggestions to help developing the co-ordination of singing and playing:

Blowing In The Wind
Lean On Me

In each of the first verses for these songs, the vocal starts on the downbeat (Beat 1) so off you go to a good start. However, things change when it's chorus time - Blowin' In The Wind's 'The answer my friend' has 'answer' on beat 1 where the chord changes - look out for that. Sing it without playing and see how that feels. In a similar way with 'Lean On Me' the strong downbeat is on 'Me'.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-24-2021, 02:46 AM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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Someone once told me quite tactfully that my signing sounded musical but I wasn't singing the familiar tune, I was making up my own melody, thinking about it I realised that I was concentrating on listening to and thinking about playing the chords and not being aware of what I was actually singing I just came up with something that harmonised with the chords but it wasn't the tune everyone was familiar with.
It took a long time to turn that around and learn how to monitor my voice in my own head , not concentrating on the guitar playing , becoming familiar with the chord positions and not looking at the fretboard was key. Some songs have strong enough melodies to make nice tunes and I have found it helpfull to play melody on guitar and sing to that at least while learning the song . For me listening to the guitar while I play melody and sing works ok, but If I play chordal accompaniment listening to the chords just distracts me.
To paraphrase Grace Slick, listen to your head.
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Old 01-24-2021, 07:31 AM
Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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It's an independence thing. I started out as being a drummer my whole life. Playing a drum kit means developing 'four-way' independence where your brain gets used to basically directing four separate limbs to do completely different things. I remember the first time I tried to sing as a drummer. We'd lost our singer and I knew I could sing but I never had. So I put up a microphone and we started playing a song and I'm drumming along just fine and the SECOND I started to sing all four limbs just STOPPED what they were doing. It was SO weird! My brain just couldn't deal with adding a fifth independence in that moment. It literally took a few months to slowly work it up.

When I went to guitar it was easier in that it only took two-way independence to play and the three-way to add vocals. So it was easier. But it can be done. Just give it time. Start with something super easy on the guitar that you can play without thinking and just keep doing it over and over and it will come.
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Old 01-24-2021, 08:19 AM
alnico5 alnico5 is offline
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[QUOTE=Silly Moustache;6606841]I doubt that I'm alone in saying that the only reason I took up guitar was to accompany my singing. /QUOTE]

I am the opposite. Early on I played guitar in bands with no thought of singing. As time went by and situations arose, I found myself singing because I knew the words to a lot of songs and could sing OK. For the last 20 years I have done about 45% of the vocals in my band, but at heart it is guitar I love.

Besides, the guitar solos have to be spaced out a little, so why not use vocals?
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:26 AM
emtsteve emtsteve is offline
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I've been learning guitar for 9 years and just in the last year have been able to sing and play at the same time. I had a devil of a time doing both. What has helped dramatically for me is to pick easy songs that I know (feel) well from years of listening. Jimmy Buffet, John Prine, that kind of stuff. Then after you get one or two down well, new songs come together fast.
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Old 02-04-2021, 01:46 PM
jjbigfly jjbigfly is offline
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“It took me a long time to get them together. When I started, no one told me that they're two different instruments (duh!).”

EXACTLY! The vocal (s) are really another instrument in the song.
You might try tapping your foot to the beat while singing, no guitar. Then go to the guitar and foot only. Your foot is keeping the beat and then only strum when your foot taps. Then start counting the beat vocally. Like 1,2,3 and 4 out loud. If you got this far, try singing the numbers, and if you are still keeping up, transition to the words in the song. If you can hum or whistle, that may work. VOCALS are a part of the music...just like the tapping of the foot and the strum of the guitar.
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Old 02-07-2021, 08:38 PM
CASD57 CASD57 is offline
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Originally Posted by Willitaylor View Post
Just curious, is anybody having problems trying to sing while playing? I have never been able to make it happen. The instant that I start singing my playing goes straight to hell. I’m told that I have a great voice but I simply go mental trying to sing and play. I’ve tried different suggestions with little to no results. I guess I’m in good company, Jimmy Paige has the same problem. Any suggestions would be great but history has shown that it is impossible. Thanks for your input.
I have with certain rhythm patterns and singing like all down strokes while cutting it off with palm muting while changing chords
Like with "Suspicious Minds"
But that's it, it just takes time and another thing that helps is not reading the lyrics while playing and singing,
I find it easier to sing better from memory
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