View Full Version : Have I passed down a bad thing?

12-05-2011, 08:36 AM
My poor daughter. As many of you know have heard, my daughter is talented. She is a musician, and a vocalist. Coming from a history of "accompaniment" (being a bassest, and guitarist for many years) I have NEVER been able to sing and play at the same time. I have been told I have quite the vocal too (however, I just don't hear what they hear I reckon), have never been able to sing while playing. When I play, and first open my mouth to sing, the connection breaks, and I make mistakes. It's just always been that way <shrug>. My daughter is a great guitarist, especially in lead position, and riffs. She can really run the strings. She has also blown people away with her vocal talent, but she just can't do them both together, just like her old man.. Is that a "genetic" mental block or what? She is torn, because she wants to do both so badly, and do them together. She can play some rhythem guitar strumming, and sing, but still starts to sound mechanical. She likes the fluid soul style of playing like I have always, but as I do, looses the fluid quality as soon as her mouth opens. She has a talent contest coming up, that she wasn't going to go into, but everybody has been pushing her to enter. So, she decided to. (BTW, she has also been asked by the athletic director to sing the national anthem at varsity games) She has been practicing a few songs she loves to sing, but also wants to do some guitar solo stuff, but just can't do them together which is killing her.. lol.. I hope someday she can break the genetic bindings some day, and not be stuck in either lead vocals, or lead guitar one or the other.. Man.. How do I help her with that, when that has always been my weaknesses too, even with the Uke..

12-05-2011, 08:47 AM
This is something I found very difficult when i started out too.
perhaps what she needs to learn next is drums ;) because the real problem is that it is mainly a rythmic challenge to do multipule things at once, and its realy jut a matter of practice not genetics. like anything she should start with an easy song where the vocals follwo the cadence of the instrument then move onto harder things with a conflicting rythm. practicing speaking as you are playing something intrumental can be a great practice and challenge. Practicing very slwo with coordinating just one line at a time of a song. it will get easier.

12-05-2011, 09:03 AM
Actually, I would agree with you on that. She's not just getting started tho. She has sang since she was able to talk. Actually sing in tune, and in key since she was able two years old. She's been playing guitar since she was 4 or 5, but seriously since she was 7 (she is now 14), so even at her young age, she is a 7 year guitar veteran, and over 10 year vocal vet. Myself, been playing guitar for 30-35 or so years. Her rythem is actually quite good. She does also plays the drums rather well, and multible rythmatic tasks pretty good. It is just a disconnect when she sings, just as it has been for me for going on 4 decades now. I can talk, and pay attension to other things while playing, and so can she. She has carried on full conversations, while in the middle of some fairly advanced riffs like her hands are not even a part of her when she talks. But, it seems to be only when she concentrates on pitch when she is singing, just as myself. I'm not sure how to help her, and have told her to simply practice one specific song she wants to do it with, until it all simply becomes muscel/vocal memory, even tho that has never helped me over the years, but it is the only thing I know to tell her..

12-05-2011, 09:08 AM
I am like that with plucking & picking - I can't sing whilst doing it and also sometimes with 'new' songs - if I have to read, strum & sing, I lose it! THat's why I like the good old songs that everyone knows (the chorus of, anyway!) I am amazed at how many songs we only know the choruses of - not the verses or the other way round, the verse & not the chorus, like Pearly Shells!

Re not being able to sing & strum at the same time (all the time) - I think it is a bit patting your head & rubbing your tummy - just gotta concentrate a bit harder & practise more?!

I'd love to hear her sing & play her chosen instruments - do you have any vids of her? Maybe in the talent quest - do a cunning little number that does some riffs & strums, with unaccompanied voice! That would highlight both of her talents & be TOTALLY different from what anyone else is doing?? Really make her stand out in the crowd!!

I hope she does well!!


12-05-2011, 09:32 AM
There's going to be for sure Roberta.. Another weird thing with her is she does great with just a few people standing around, but as soon as she knows there is a video camera on, she gets stage freight and either stops, or makes us turn off the camera. I do have a few short snippets of her on my youtube, but they don't last long before she shuts them down, lol... She also does her best stuff in a huge open area where she can really open up and feel she isn't busting the roof down. I found that out when she was in 5th grade, at a talent show in the schools gym. I didn't have a camera with me, because frankly, I didn't think much about it then because she was supposed to do a number with her class, and I jsut figured it was another gang of kids singing kid songs together. I had no idea at that time that her music teacher had a her planned for a whole solo. She sang Bon Jovi's "Living on a prayer" up on stage with the chior singing her back up. The whole place you could hear a pin drop until the song was done, and the place exploded. Not a jaw in the room wasn't on the floor. That kid filled the whole room with music and it was crazy. I didn't even know her little lungs had that in her like that until that night. So, it's either a huge stage setting for her, or a small intimate room with a couple people with her. Now that she has matured, she does plan to do more of those type shows. After 6th grade, she went through the "awkward" puberty years where she was "too embarrassed" to sing anything in public, but just a year or so ago as she is now a young woman coming out of that weird stage, and showing more interests in public showing of her talent. The past several years since 7 years old to know just been me and her basically with ukes and guitars and singing. She is blooming, and just about ready for public.. I'm proud of her, and she will be doing this next talent show, as well as singing the national anthem at some of the varsity sporting events.. So, yep, the videos will be coming in full before too long. But in the meantime, there are short snippets on mine, and the wife's youtube posts..

12-05-2011, 10:06 AM
I saw an interview with B.B. King, where he revealed he can't play and sing at the same time.
He has done ok with his music.

12-05-2011, 10:15 AM
Sounds like a MULTI TALENTED FAMILY to me!! :D That is really terrific! I wish her all the luck in the world & hope she wins!!!


12-05-2011, 10:21 AM
I am not sure, but I think it's more of a "show" than a contest she is entering at her high school. Don't think there is gonna be a specific winner. She's been in "Tech Ed" in her 1st semester as a freshman, and the music dept has been after her to join the chior all year so far, but it interfered with her tech ed class and she wanted to do that too.. lol.. Torn kid she is, hahhah... But, she also has a love of working on antique cars like her old man, and she wanted to do tech ed because they get into metal fabrication and welding. But, I think the chior fokes finally got her to drop that for this next semester and join them. So, I think that will help her allot with public music. The HS music teacher heard her play the guitar and I caught hell over that, because the music teacher came to me and asked why the heck isn't she is her music class? lol.. The kid has so many interests, and talents really, that she is messed up and not enough time in the day to do all that, and her sports.. Poor kid.. hahhah

12-05-2011, 10:30 AM
Here is one vocal for ya Roberta.. This isn't her at her best, because in the house, she holds back allot due to the size of the room. She seems to hold back in small spaces. Besides that, she was not in the best emotional state, because this was just a couple nights after I had my medical emergency over a year ago. I was in ICU and she recorded this for me when I was still not sure I was gonna live from one day to the next.. So it wasn't her best because she got a little pitchy becasue she was trying not to cry but, it helped me want to stay alive for her.. And started me on my health kick that got me where I am now. ;)



12-05-2011, 10:47 AM

I had the same problem when I first started playing the ukulele, so I decided the first song I was going to learn to both sing and play was one in which I knew the lyrics by heart and could sing them on autopilot, in order to give all my brain concentration to my playing. (The song was The Beatles' "All My Loving.") For the longest time I had problems and then one day something clicked, as if new separate roadways had suddenly opened up directly from my brain to my hands and mouth. I know your daughter has been doing music stuff for a long time, but I wonder if many people who can't play and sing at once can't sing and play at once because they don't practice at it long enough to build those neural pathways in their own brains. As someone suggested, your daughter should pick a song she knows so well she can sing it in her sleep and then try to train her brain to put her mouth on autopilot while concentrating on playing. It may take a longer time for her than for some, and it will certainly be frustrating, but I believe that if she does this long enough, one day it will just click for her and she'll be able to do both with that song and she'll also be able to train herslef to do the same thing with increasingly difficult songs. By the way, most people I've talked to have had the same "sudden" experience, so she shouldn't give up if, for the longest time, she doesn't feel like she's making any progress. The brain is an extraordinary thing, and I think everyone's is capable of this sort of training. Best of luck!


mr moonlight
12-05-2011, 10:48 AM
Practice practice practice.
That's all it is.

It can be difficult for people to start singing while playing who already know how to do either or both. When you start doing both together you have to start at square one again on your instrument and voice. Start with clapping and singing melodies. Then start with your instrument slowly playing only down strokes on the beat for songs with simple chord progressions and still just singing the melody without words. Add words, more complex strumming patterns and embellishments as you progress.

12-05-2011, 11:13 AM
Maybe she should have a back-up band. I see a lot of performers who stop playing during some parts of a song, and let the back-up band carry the instrumental part. Then, when the solo comes along, they play the solo. It is easier to strum and sing at the same time, so that goal can be reached earlier. I know when I get to picking or melody playing, I can't usually sing. However, I was playing one part of a duet the other day, and was able to slowly sing the melody line while playing the melodic harmony tab. A real breakthrough for me. The key was to practice the parts separately until I was very familiar with each part. Then combine them together by playing sloooowly.

12-05-2011, 11:39 AM
Hi Tudorp,
I don't really have any advice to offer but I will share my experience:
I started playing guitar in 4th grade, taking weekly lessons. I got some pretty good chops and really enjoyed playing. But as soon as I tried to sing along, forget it. My right hand would stop. Very frustrating. Eventually I just accepted that I could not sing and play at the same time. Over the many many years that followed, I kept trying to no avail. I really enjoyed singing too, it was not a shyness factor or anything, and I like to do Karaoke, all that. I started playing ukulele about 5 years ago. Still had the same problem singing and playing but the difference was I really really wanted to be able to sing and play at the same time. I just kept trying and kept trying and then one day, about three years ago - SNAP! something clicked, and I can do it now. In fact, I can pretty much sing and play any song now. If I know how the vocal part goes, I can just read the page from Chordie.com (or whatever) and I am off and running. So just KEEP AT IT. Hopefully it won't take you 30 years like it did for me ahahahahahaha.

12-05-2011, 11:48 AM
Don't know if this will help at all, Tony, but...

I know a lot of people who sing what they are playing. In other words, if she's doing a solo, have her sing along with the notes. They are in her head anyway, and if she starts out quietly, she'll have it soon enough. (Think George Benson, singing along with the solo lines when he's doing "On Broadway")

To paraphrase one of my favorite songs,

"Start out soft and slow
Like a small earthquake
And when she lets go
Half the valley shakes."

Then again, Alison Kraus doesn't sing while she's playing the fiddle, although John Hartford did.


12-05-2011, 11:53 AM
If you have multi-track software or recording capability, you might try this, I found it helped me. First lay down a track of just you playing your instrument. Then play it back with your headphones on and sing along. Record it, listen to it, repeat the process a few times. You might even try muting the instrument track after recording the vocals, and try playing along with your singing.

Then try playing and singing at the same time.

It may take a while, but I think your brain can somehow put the two together much easier after doing it separately first.

12-05-2011, 11:59 AM
I hope (actually know), that it will snap with her someday. She is actually much more pationate, and much earlier than I ever was. I was pationate about guitar, (bass 1st though) at age 14, but never really got into the singing end of it, even coming from a long line of vocalists. I grew up in a house of singers, that sang all the time. I started playing bass at age 14, and picked that up quick, and was considered a good basist by 15. At the same time, picked up guitar, but still gravitated to the bass until I was about 20, and started taking guitar more seriosly. I played in bands for years, mostly bass earlier with the bands. I can sing back up vocals on the base some, mainly because it isn't as complex in most cases. Never really concentrated on singing much because that wasn't my thing. Playing guitar was. I gave up the bass mostly when I stopped giggin, because the bass isn't an instrument you can just sit around a camp fire and play and sing (you can, but, kinda weird, lol). I really didn't get into the singing much until I stopped gigging, and was more of a pass time with friends, camp fires, social stuff. When the "show" started being a solo act, is when I realized I was in trouble. I was expected to sing and play and lead the music <rut roh>. I winged it, but was really never got comfortable with it. I really realized I wanted to when I started playing the uke. I had to stop guitar for the most part due to arthritis. I can't play the chops I used to be able to because my hands and fingers just won't do it like I was used to doing it. But, found the uke wasn't as painful several years ago, so that's when I fell in love with it. I can still jam with the daughter sometimes on the guitar, but I can't keep up with her for long due to the pain in my hands and wrists. But have fun doing it. So, I jam with her with me on the uke, and her on guitar. That's always fun for us. I was able to play just enough to teach her, and got her started, then she took off when she was about 7. She has quite the guitar collection already (I moved on the uke collecting, lol), and I think it is funny to see the faces on guys when she gets into the groove. She is a little gal, and the Gibson Les Paul is a notorious heavy guitar with a ballsy sound that is generally consider a "Dude's" guitar. But, guys just sit and stare in amazement seeing this cute little bitty girl come out with this cinder block ballsy Les Paul and rocks the house.. It's funny... She has even had professional guitarists at concerts we go to every so often eye brows go up when she grabs one of their Les Paul's back stage and starts to rip. They look concerned at first this little kid grabbing at one of their guitars, but then sit back and just say "whoa..." with this huge smile on their faces.

At any rate, it has never clicked with me to be able to both at one time.. But, I sure hope it does with her soon. I think a big part of it, is she does know so many songs, and sings and plays so many songs, that she has a hard time sitting down for any length of time and doing just one over and over playing and singing at the same time.. That is why I keep telling her as boring as it is to do the same song over and over, that is what she needs to do when she is playing and singing at the same time until it just becomes as natural as breathing..

12-05-2011, 12:01 PM
I keep saying I am going to buy a mixer with single track recording. I really need to do that at this point. I do think that will help alot..

If you have multi-track software or recording capability, you might try this, I found it helped me. First lay down a track of just you playing your instrument. Then play it back with your headphones on and sing along. Record it, listen to it, repeat the process a few times. You might even try muting the instrument track after recording the vocals, and try playing along with your singing.

Then try playing and singing at the same time.

It may take a while, but I think your brain can somehow put the two together much easier after doing it separately first.

12-05-2011, 01:35 PM
The secret might be what my Japanese sensei used to teach... "mu-shin", the mind of no mind. Learn to sing the song by reflex. If you have to concentrate on it, you will probably mess it up. It's like flipping a light-switch. It just happens. You don't have to think about it.

12-06-2011, 04:02 PM
Pippin is onto something, because basically, if you sing while thinking about all the correct things you're supposed to be doing while singing (the voice is a complex instrument!), then that's hard to do while playing something. I can't do it. I'm too ingrained in the classical way. There's a lot to think about, and I'd rather be thinking about that rather than my strumming. Rather the strumming go, than my intonation go south, my throat tighten, forget to breathe properly and keep that proper resonance, and so forth.

Also, even in modern music, there's more pressure on girls to sound good, as opposed to males. A male rock star can just shout out any old thing and the crowd cheers, but a girl can't get away with that. All those things are on her mind.

It's not genetics, you're two different people, but it may be she's gotten the idea that she can't, because you can't?

My advice would echo Pippin's - just do it, and don't be afraid to mess up, because you will. The voice will sound awful, you'll start playing chords that don't exist, your hand will feel like it belongs to someone else, but just push through. That's what PRACTICE is, don't be inhibited, just go for it. Eventually, will she ever be able to do it? I don't know, but she would at least learn some more about herself and that's not a bad thing. :) - Edit to add: I was an only child and went a little further with music than my parents did. Because of that difference between us, I never could practice around them. I was too inhibited. I wanted to be perfect for them. If she feels she has to be perfect for you all the time, that inhibits practice. It may not be anything you're doing, it might be that she just wants to make her parents proud of her, and it's a feeling that doesn't create the best practice environment. Like in my husband's family where everyone played something, and if a wrong note was uttered, no one cared.

I was as surprised as anyone that I couldn't sing and play. I can walk and chew gum, I can pat my head and rub my stomach, and I marched corps drill while playing back in the day. But play and sing - nah it's too close to home for me. If she doesn't have a band, then maybe making some loops in Garage Band or what have you, would solve the problem.

mm stan
12-06-2011, 04:10 PM
Keep at it...it will hopefully come naturally...if you think too much, it gets even more complicated...KIS keep it simple...
Start with Nursery rhymes..as we all know the rhythm and timing to those..baby steps...before the hard and popular songs..
everyone has to start somewhere...learn the basics and foundation before getting ahead of yourself...no matter how confident you
are.. because when you fail..it hurts more the higher up you are...

12-06-2011, 04:13 PM
I never had a problem doing both :/ am I in the weird minority?

I hope she can get over that and come out on the better side of it. It's fun to play and sing, and someone with actual vocal talent deserves that ability more than I do. I'd give her my ability to do it if I could!! xD