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Art.Vandelay
05-26-2015, 07:31 PM
Hello people!

I'm hoping to get some possible tips on improving my singing while playing an instrument. I'm a pretty decent singer when not playing anything, I guess cause my brain can focus on just my voice and its fluctuations, etc. But when I start playing an instrument, I drastically drop off in voice quality. I'm flat and out of tune. I'm wondering if theres anything I can do to improve this besides practicing so that I have to think less about doing each.

Would love any tips or tricks

Thanks!

KaraUkey
05-26-2015, 11:01 PM
Presumably you can sing OK with a backing track. So maybe you can try playing with a backing track, then singing and playing with a backing track. I'm sure there are lots of play along backing tracks on You tube you can try it with. Here is one of mine to try it with. Nothing lost if it doesn't help.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5_ZrVZWMzI

Rllink
05-27-2015, 07:09 AM
Slow way down, then speed up gradually. That helps with almost every skill.

One big problem I have when I sing and play is that I forget to breathe. Sadly, slowing down there makes it harder.Same here. I just took some singing lessons, and breathing was one of the major obstacles, that, and just letting it go and singing out. But in regards to the original question, go ahead and sing flat, or monotone, or whatever. Everyone has trouble with playing and singing at the same time. It is like riding a bike. At first you are going to be wobbly, but if you keep riding you get better over time. I've found that to be true with singing and playing. Just wobble through it. Just sing it. Of course it isn't going to sound good right off the bat. It will eventually come together.

Down Up Dick
05-27-2015, 08:04 AM
I think the reason one has problems with singing while playing is this: Folks already know how to sing, but they don't listen to themselves because they are concentrating on remembering chords and reading music and strumming correctly. It's just too much to juggle.

So one can learn to sing/hum/whistle the tune 'til he/she knows it well. Then the tune can be chorded and strummed 'til it too is learned. Then they can be put together (slowly) while one listens to all.

People don't seem to like to listen to stuff, but to play different things together one has to listen to all. :old:

Rllink
05-31-2015, 09:01 AM
After this thread started, I made an effort to establish some sort of process to tackle this issue. I chose "Sitting on The dock of the Bay", as I had recently memorized the lyrics, which I decided would be the first step. Even though I had memorized the lyrics, I had them in front of me for step two, just getting familiar with the chords. Friday I worked on that, singing along, but not even worrying about the singing, concentrating on the chords and the lyrics. Getting the timing and chord changes down. I spent about an hour on that. Saturday, it was all about the singing. It started out rough, kind of monotone, but it improved considerably over a short time. I spent an hour working on it Saturday. I sang it today and I own that song. So there you go. That is going to be the way I do it.

PhilUSAFRet
06-04-2015, 02:06 AM
Good advice above. Some folks have problems because they are trying to learn everything at once....tempo, chords, lyrics, strumming patterns. Master them slowly, one or two at a time. Speed comes with familiarity. Also, some good vocal exercises can do wonders with "tuning" your vocal chords, which is in effect not just a muscle, but another "instrument." Kind of like tuning your uke before playing.

Olarte
06-04-2015, 04:34 AM
Find a good voice teacher to learn proper technique and vocalization
Practice Daily
Play\sing slow and relaxed - speed comes with Practice.

Rllink
06-04-2015, 05:02 AM
Good advice above. Some folks have problems because they are trying to learn everything at once....tempo, chords, lyrics, strumming patterns. Master them slowly, one or two at a time. Speed comes with familiarity. Also, some good vocal exercises can do wonders with "tuning" your vocal chords, which is in effect not just a muscle, but another "instrument." Kind of like tuning your uke before playing.

It seems to me that some people expect to sound good right out of the box, and when they don't, they think that they can't sing. Or they think that they can't play some particular chord, or any number of "I can't" generated threads. Just like everything, it starts out rough and one has to work at it. Singing, strumming, finger picking, everything has to have a beginning. Maybe I'm weird in that way, but I never expect anything that has to do with music to come easy for me to start with.

One Man And His Uke
10-08-2015, 12:20 AM
I find it helpful personally to find the key for a particular song I am most comfortable singing in ( ie, no straining to reach either high or low notes) . It very much depends on the song of course, and it helps speed the process up if you can transpose. That in itself is a useful exercise because you may well stumble across unusual chord voicings in the process, all of which helps you make a song "your own". I sing with my uke every day......I'm also working on playing uke and harmonica, just to make it that little bit harder for myself :eek:. But I think the right key for your range is a big help.

bunnyf
10-08-2015, 05:28 AM
Ditto what One Man said. At my guitar circles I am always puzzled by good guitarist trying to sing in what is obviously not their key (almost always too high). They are good musicians, so I'm not sure why this is not apparent to them. I have noticed though that they almost always play songs in their original key (regardless of the fact that the singer has a way higher voice). I'm guessing this is a "guitar thing". Taking time to find the right key for each song you perform is really crucial. I know it makes the best of my less than mediocre voice.

ukeeku
10-08-2015, 05:43 AM
for me, if I have to think about what I am playing I will screw up. I like to say "Do I have the song under my fingers?"
I am not talking about memorizing it, but do I know what I need to do and expect. then I just let it rip. a lot of the time if you are focused on playing perfectly, picking just right, strumming just right, you cant focus on the actual music. a lot of the time I make it mine. I play generally how the song goes, but I also make it mine.

Down Up Dick
11-09-2015, 04:51 AM
Sometimes, if I'm having trouble strumming and chording AND singing the words, I will hum or whistle the tune until I get it all going. Then, later, I can add the words--maybe . . .

Just when I think I got it all together, somthin' else pops up. I wonder if anyone ever finishes learning. :old:

Rllink
11-09-2015, 06:33 AM
Sometimes, if I'm having trouble strumming and chording AND singing the words, I will hum or whistle the tune until I get it all going. Then, later, I can add the words--maybe . . .

Just when I think I got it all together, somthin' else pops up. I wonder if anyone ever finishes learning. :old:I'm never going to have it all together, so I'm never surprised when I don't. Might as well face it Dick, we're going to be working at it for the rest of our lives. That's ok though. I mean, what else would we be doing, if we weren't doing what we're doing?

Down Up Dick
11-09-2015, 06:40 AM
I can think of three great things right off the bat! :cheers: :old:

terrgy
11-16-2015, 09:30 AM
I know, I know! I could be setting on a lounge chair on the beach, surf fishing and playing my Ocarina.

bunnyf
11-16-2015, 10:24 AM
for me, if I have to think about what I am playing I will screw up. I like to say "Do I have the song under my fingers?"
I am not talking about memorizing it, but do I know what I need to do and expect. then I just let it rip. a lot of the time if you are focused on playing perfectly, picking just right, strumming just right, you cant focus on the actual music. a lot of the time I make it mine. I play generally how the song goes, but I also make it mine.

I think that is the beauty of cover songs. You are comfortable with the song in general but you are not slavishly trying to reproduce it. You make it your own. You might change the style entirely (which is always interesting). I am also not opposed to changing a chord or two if something just doesn't suit my limited range (and a key change didn't help sufficiently), as long as you can still recognize the song.

Rllink
11-17-2015, 09:34 AM
I think that is the beauty of cover songs. You are comfortable with the song in general but you are not slavishly trying to reproduce it. You make it your own. You might change the style entirely (which is always interesting). I am also not opposed to changing a chord or two if something just doesn't suit my limited range (and a key change didn't help sufficiently), as long as you can still recognize the song.I've been finding Christmas songs to play, and I have noticed that sometimes you will find a song with eight or ten chords in it, then the same song in the same key, with just the three or four basic chords. Those extras are nice, but not needed. So I start out playing the song with just the basic progression, then start adding those extras in as I become more proficient with it. I do that a lot, I mean, break it down to the basic progression, then add the other chords when I have the song down better, and not just with Christmas songs.

Rllink
12-05-2015, 05:29 AM
OK, nothing happening here for quite a while, so I might as well. I went over to a friend's to do a little jamming, and I was thinking about it, and I feel like I sing better when someone else is singing with me. I seem to do everything better, strumming and fretting as well. I also like that you have to keep going. You can't just stop and start over. Anyway, fun was had by all. We played everything from Christmas songs to Sam the Sham. But I felt like it helped a lot.

Tootler
01-08-2016, 01:43 PM
Playing - and singing with others is good for the reasons you stated above. You need to listen so you will stay in tune better and you have to keep going so you learn that mistakes aren't the end of the world. You might be conscious of your mistakes but others often don't notice them.

I joined a choir a few years ago and it did wonders for my singing. I found notes I didn't know I had, I had to learn to listen and to keep in tune with others and to sing harmony.

An open mic is another good place to go. Over time it will help with your confidence as well as having to play through your mistakes and you learn to interact with an audience.

pppamozy
01-30-2016, 12:46 AM
Practise each one individually first, for every song. When you're sure you mastered the rhythm and strumming of the ukulele part. Try to sing along.

Pippin
02-27-2016, 01:54 AM
Ditto what One Man said. At my guitar circles I am always puzzled by good guitarist trying to sing in what is obviously not their key (almost always too high). They are good musicians, so I'm not sure why this is not apparent to them. I have noticed though that they almost always play songs in their original key (regardless of the fact that the singer has a way higher voice). I'm guessing this is a "guitar thing". Taking time to find the right key for each song you perform is really crucial. I know it makes the best of my less than mediocre voice.

I have seen this, too. I've played ukulele and guitar since the 1960s and played professionally for many years. The most likely people to switch keys when they sing are country guitar pickers. Most other people learn a song's chords in the key that was most popular and they try to sing in that key because they learned it in that key... but that happens far more with finger-picking style players than with flat-pickers.

For the original poster, once you get used to playing the chords in a song, try singing along while you play. If you are having problems, tempo might be the issue, but more times than not, if you are flat it is because you cannot hear yourself as well over the guitar or ukulele. Play a bit softer. You can also play facing a clothes closet with the door open... believe it or not, it will absorb a lot of that sound and you will hear yourself better. I know one guitarist who always records in a walk-in closet for that reason.

Sabantien
03-12-2016, 03:49 AM
Ditto what One Man said. At my guitar circles I am always puzzled by good guitarist trying to sing in what is obviously not their key (almost always too high). They are good musicians, so I'm not sure why this is not apparent to them. I have noticed though that they almost always play songs in their original key (regardless of the fact that the singer has a way higher voice). I'm guessing this is a "guitar thing". Taking time to find the right key for each song you perform is really crucial. I know it makes the best of my less than mediocre voice.

That's me. I'll generally play a song in whatever key is easiest for me to manage, but I quite honestly have no clue what key I sing in, so I can't change the chords I'm playing. I've checked out a few videos online suggesting ways to find your range or what key you sing in, and none of them help. It will probably involve singing lessons, but I haven't gotten to that point yet.

Disagreeing with Down Up Dick. I don't have problems singing when playing, I have problems singing.

bunnyf
03-13-2016, 11:47 AM
Sabantien, you may find that they right key for you may vary depending on the song and on its range. I don't sing only in one key, though A and G are my most common favs. C is a key I can rarely sing in. Uke clubs often use music in the key of C and even with a preponderance of females, many of the songs are just too high for most of our voices. Play any song in the written key but experiment with a capo to transpose the song. Keep moving it till you find the spot where your voice sounds good. Do this with a few songs that you think would suit your voice and you can see what keys are usually good for you and then if you want to go capoless, just transpose the song. Sometimes I still use a capo if the right key for my voice would put that song in a difficult to play key (harder or unfamiliar chord shapes).

lizalele
01-13-2017, 06:52 AM
I'm not much of a singer, but I do transpose songs to the most appropriate key for me. I also don't have too much trouble accompanying myself on the uke, so long as I've got the chords and the exact accompaniment sorted out beforehand, because I already play the guitar.

However, I am struggling with the singing bit. I feel my voice, although mostly in tune, (I think!), seemingly lacks expression. I think it's because I don't have enough technical control, having only recently returned to singing. I'm probably being a bit impatient. Like everything, singing only improves over time!

I've been really impressed with the singing I've heard on this site. I realise I've a long way to go!

However, I'm thinking of joining a choir, or singing uke group. Someone said in this thread that joining a choir helped a lot.

It is possible I'm being too self-critical, though, especially since I've really only just started out. It's not always easy to be that objective! Perhaps rather foolishly, I posted a recording in the Video Discussion section. Really want know whether my own reading of my singing is fair, so if anyone has the time.... I can take criticism.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125088-I-Believe-(Frankie-Laine)

Elessar
01-29-2017, 02:08 PM
I don't have anything of substance to add to this thread, but...I chuckled to myself as I read through the comments; lots of good stuff all throughout. What made me giggle was the old joke that asks, "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?" The answer: "Practice."

I've played at playing the guitar for years and never was anything near good. However, I did struggle with the singing component, like many expressed here. I think I sing well, but others may disagree. I don't really care because I like to sing so I will/do. But, I relied on a capo for years to change the pitch of a song because I couldn't change the key. I simply didn't have the skill. The capo was an easy solution and I knew which songs I needed to change to make them fall within my vocal range. This works as a crutch to solve this question/problem when playing alone. It wouldn't work well, for obvious reasons, when playing in a group.

Just my $.02 worth...

monica.h
06-07-2018, 12:56 AM
I'd start with The Beatles, a lot of their songs vocals follow the guitar, plus the rhythms are really easy to follow. A Hard Days Night and You've Got to Hide Your Love Away are great starts! Good luck man!

S11LKO
08-15-2018, 04:54 PM
It's a bit like patting the top of your head with one hand, whilst making circles on your belly with the other hand. Initially the brain can't cope with both at the same time, but with practice it adapts.

Find what key suits your voice, work out the chords, then practice, practice and practice some more. The more you do the easier it gets until both your voice and playing reach optimum together.

Having said that I've been doing all that for years and I *STILL* wince at myself most of the time! lolol

Rllink
08-24-2018, 07:10 AM
It was interesting to read my posts from three years ago. Everyone else's too. A lot of comments that people chan g the key to suit their voice, and I do that myself quite often. I think that some people start pushing the transpose button to find chords that are easier to play. But that all is good advise for someone who plays solo. If one is going to play with other people it doesn't hurt to work at being a little more accommodating.