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View Full Version : If you could choose: Fingerpicking or singing?



dkcrown
04-07-2012, 01:06 AM
I have been playing the ukulele for about three and a half years now, and I consider myself an average fingerpicker and singer. However when I first started, I could do neither. I had never sang at any point of my life and my voice was awful. But through constant practice(just like with the uke,)I now consider my voice serviceable and will sing in front of others. It is something that I thought that I would never have the confidence to do.

I really wish that I were blessed with a great voice. I watch ukulele videos and hear people with beautiful voices and I am envious. But I also watch videos of incredibly talented people that don't sing at all and play beautiful melodies fingerpicking on their ukes.

So my question is this. If you could choose, would you rather be able to play like Jake, or have a stunning vocal voice?

I would choose the great voice.

rpfrogner
04-07-2012, 01:42 AM
I would choose fingerpicking.......to hear the "voice" of the instrument.

drbekken
04-07-2012, 01:58 AM
I'd choose both.

stevepetergal
04-07-2012, 02:38 AM
After singing for forty some years, I don't know if there's anything I'd choose over it.

BeardedGent
04-07-2012, 02:48 AM
I've never really tried to sing so I don't even know if I can. I'm a bit shy though so I would imagine singing to be an issue with that. I suppose I'd pick fingerpicking.


I have been playing the ukulele for about three and a half years now, and I consider myself an average fingerpicker and singer. However when I first started, I could do neither. I had never sang at any point of my life and my voice was awful. But through constant practice(just like with the uke,)I now consider my voice serviceable and will sing in front of others. It is something that I thought that I would never have the confidence to do.

I really wish that I were blessed with a great voice. I watch ukulele videos and hear people with beautiful voices and I am envious. But I also watch videos of incredibly talented people that don't sing at all and play beautiful melodies fingerpicking on their ukes.

So my question is this. If you could choose, would you rather be able to play like Jake, or have a stunning vocal voice?

I would choose the great voice.

fumanshu
04-07-2012, 02:51 AM
I would be like James Hill....and amazing and virtuoso uke player that can sing...

mikelz777
04-07-2012, 02:51 AM
Singers lose their chops as they grow older but there are a lot of excellent older (guitar) pickers out there so I picked picking. I think you'd be able to affectively use that skill longer.

[Why do posts at this site often repeat the last word of a line as demonstrated above? It doesn't even appear as part of the edit function if I wanted to try and correct it.]

Doc_J
04-07-2012, 03:37 AM
Good question. Doubt I will accomplish either, but I'd choose a great voice. I am a better player than a singer, and I don't play that well.:D

Doc_J
04-07-2012, 03:38 AM
I'd choose both.

You have both!

Gmoney
04-07-2012, 03:39 AM
I'd choose both.

Ditto. I am stuck in the same place I was w/guitar for years. I can sing, harmonize & accompany myself through chord changes. But... fingerpicking eludes me. For years I've "heard" lead licks in my head; can guess where the next note is in a recorded run, but my fingers & mind just won't make that leap. Fingerpicking... elusive.

cantsing
04-07-2012, 03:47 AM
Although it would make me insanely happy to suddenly go from mangling Twinkle Twinkle to crushing Bohemian Rhapsody like Jake, I have to choose singing.

I love to sing, but I struggle to carry a tune. In spite of that, I can't stop myself from constantly breaking into song. My husband tolerates it fondly, and sometimes he can even figure out what song I'm shooting for.

Imagine, going to a birthday party and singing Happy Birthday without thinking about it!

DaveVisi
04-07-2012, 06:15 AM
You *really* don't want to hear me sing.

fretie
04-07-2012, 06:52 AM
Dearly wish I could song...I hear the music in my head but it just won't come out of my mouth...so I'll stick to trying to become a good fingerstyle player.

ricdoug
04-07-2012, 07:17 AM
I enjoy both. Generally I strum while singing. Ric

Uke Whisperer
04-07-2012, 07:21 AM
Finger picking. If I could go back 50+ years I would choose singing...

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-07-2012, 07:22 AM
Glad to hear you've come a long way, Dana.

Luckily, we don't have to choose. We can even do both at once. (Although it's easier to concentrate on one at a time, especially as we learn.)

But for argument's sake, I pick singing. Our voices are the first instrument we are given, and the only ones we'll be able to play everyday throughout our lives. Might as well enjoy them, yeah?

UkuEroll
04-07-2012, 07:32 AM
Although I can pick reasonably well, I would give it up in an instant to have a great singing voice.

Nickie
04-07-2012, 07:51 AM
I don't like my voice, so i never sang much until I got a uke. It took a year to sing my 1st song while I played. I started finger picking almost right away, and I enjoy that more.

ItsAMeCasey
04-07-2012, 07:58 AM
instrumental fingerpicking hands down. I let the instrument do the singing.

haole
04-07-2012, 08:08 AM
I wish I could sing. Despite taking lessons and having a mom who's a professional singer, I just can't get the hang of it. Also, I have crippling anxiety which doesn't help either. I'm a fingerpicker pretty much by default, but if I could sing I'd be all set.

Dan Uke
04-07-2012, 08:28 AM
Singing all the way!! I don't carry my uke everywhere but always have my voice. LOL

As much as I love the uke, I can't imagine ever getting goose bumps from hearing anyone playing uke and I've been to Jake's concert. But the uke does bring lots of joy to my life :)

Dana, when are you going to post some videos of you singing and playing??

wickedwahine11
04-07-2012, 08:59 AM
I vote for fingerpicking. I actually have a cousin that is a world traveling opera soprano, and that talent doesn't run in the family because I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket with my voice. Still, it doesn't stop me from singing along to tunes in my car with the windows rolled up.

But still, I would kill to play like Jake, Aldrine, Herb Ohta Jr or Daniel Ho.

Freeda
04-07-2012, 09:02 AM
Singing all the way!! I don't carry my uke everywhere but always have my voice. LOL


Ditto that sentiment.

Paul Dominic Martin
04-07-2012, 09:02 AM
i think both are equally important... i guess singing and then practicing to get my finger picking up to par... both require finding your voice... singing (in the literal sense) finger picking/playing there's also the voice, rhythm, interpretation, and soul that one must discover.... :D

one person said that our voice changes as we get older, the same can happen with playing if we develop arthritis or a plethora of possibilities.... both require finding our voice and SOUL within it all.... 0:D

janeray1940
04-07-2012, 09:19 AM
I'd rather be a great singer and a just-okay strummer instead of the moderately-skilled fingerpicker that I am.

I've always loved to sing and I've always been terrible at it - I've got genetics working against me, my mom is absolutely tone-deaf and in addition, I inherited her Minnie Mouse voice. I took voice lessons throughout my entire childhood and adolescence hoping to overcome this, and, seriously, a bit later developed a predilection for straight bourbon in hopes that it would help my voice grow up :) But - no such luck (and I'm such a lightweight that I don't think I could ever drink enough for it to have an impact!).

Sigh. I'm afraid I'll never be more than average at either one. But the important thing is that I'm doing both!

ukecantdothat
04-07-2012, 10:54 AM
First, I'd perfect the playing, then, like Jimi Hendrix, worry about the singing later. Doesn't matter, though. Neither one's gonna get "perfected," especially at my age!

dolliwood
04-07-2012, 12:41 PM
I absolutely love fingerpicking! I like moving my fingers fast, up and down the fretboard, because it's fun. But I love singing too. I'm also not a brilliant singer, but I love singing too much to care lol. Strumming is a bit dull to me, though.

ksiegel
04-07-2012, 02:49 PM
I have to join the crowd - I'm not a great singer... Possibly only tolerable - but I love to sing. I've been doing it.. well, ever since I can remember. I have memories of sitting on the couch with my dad, singing along to "Sing Along With Mitch" on TV (I think "The Happy Wanderer" may be the earliest memory -" Valderee! Valderah! My Knapsack on my back!" Either that or "Around her neck she wore a yellow ribbon") I couldn't have been more than 2 or 3 at the time.

Playing an instrument gave me an extra dimension to singing - I taught myself guitar around age 12 or 13, and except for that temper tantrum of a year in college when I quit singing and playing, I played until I damaged my left arm 3 years ago. I kept singing even after I couldn't play anymore, but the ukulele gave me back my playing. I think I sing better when I play, and I think I'm not horrible at fingerpicking, but if I had to choose between simply strumming while singing, or playing brilliantly while mute, I'd have to go with the Sing/Strum option.



-Kurt

SweetWaterBlue
04-07-2012, 03:12 PM
I'd choose singing. I watch a lot of YouTube vids and those with great voices can get away with a lot of ukulele playing sins because their voice sounds so good. Virtuosity on an instrument is wonderful, but nothing is a expressive or popular as the human voice.

kirc
04-07-2012, 03:48 PM
SINGING everytime for me.,..;)

GinnyT11
04-07-2012, 03:51 PM
I'd choose singing because you can do it so many ways and anywhere you are. When you're not singing, you can hum.

When I was in high school, I played Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! and had to start the intro to the title song by belting out "They couldn't pick a better time to start in life..." but in every performance, it was an exciting surprise which note I'd hit.
In my head I'm Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Bette Midler, Stevie Nicks or China Forbes, but when I look at my husband's frozen smile, I know I'm off pitch again. I'm a good storyteller, though, and I'm helpful to my elders.

Hippie Dribble
04-07-2012, 04:00 PM
What a great question Dana. I would choose singing for sure, because you can always compensate for simple strumming with a melodic, flexible voice. I was also laughed out of choir auditions in primary school by both teacher and students and that has always stuck with me somehow and left me with a lifelong complex! :o

GX9901
04-07-2012, 04:21 PM
I have a lot more fun playing the ukulele than singing (and singing can be pretty fun for me), so it's fingerpicking for me.

philpot
04-07-2012, 04:25 PM
As much as I love fingerpicking, I love singing along more... I just wish I could do it better.

mschway
04-07-2012, 05:06 PM
Definitely picking. I'd love to be able to sing, but for the life of me, I CANNOT remember even the simplest of lyrics aside from the random chorus. Besides, I have about a 4 note range, but 3 of them usually come out wrong. ;)

dkcrown
04-07-2012, 05:15 PM
Singing all the way!! I don't carry my uke everywhere but always have my voice. LOL

As much as I love the uke, I can't imagine ever getting goose bumps from hearing anyone playing uke and I've been to Jake's concert. But the uke does bring lots of joy to my life :)

Dana, when are you going to post some videos of you singing and playing??

Well Daniel, as the old song says, maybe "when I can sing like Paul Macartney, and get funky like Etta James" LOL:) That's why I voted for singing.

dkcrown
04-07-2012, 05:26 PM
I'd rather be a great singer and a just-okay strummer instead of the moderately-skilled fingerpicker that I am.

I've always loved to sing and I've always been terrible at it - I've got genetics working against me, my mom is absolutely tone-deaf and in addition, I inherited her Minnie Mouse voice. I took voice lessons throughout my entire childhood and adolescence hoping to overcome this, and, seriously, a bit later developed a predilection for straight bourbon in hopes that it would help my voice grow up :) But - no such luck (and I'm such a lightweight that I don't think I could ever drink enough for it to have an impact!).

Sigh. I'm afraid I'll never be more than average at either one. But the important thing is that I'm doing both!

LOL janeray. Great post. I must admit I got a nice chuckle from it. Maybe try vodka instead of the bourbon. :) I occasionaly partake in a Cuban cigar with a fine single malt which sometimes results in a nice raspyness to my voice the morning after. But then again, sometimes it makes me sound like Tom Waits.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-07-2012, 05:52 PM
LOL janeray. Great post. I must admit I got a nice chuckle from it. Maybe try vodka instead of the bourbon. :) I occasionaly partake in a Cuban cigar with a fine single malt which sometimes results in a nice raspyness to my voice the morning after. But then again, sometimes it makes me sound like Tom Waits.

So it makes you sound cool. Nice.

janeray1940
04-07-2012, 05:59 PM
So it makes you sound cool. Nice.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too :)

Dan Uke
04-07-2012, 07:03 PM
Yeah, that's what I was thinking too :)

He could be drinking water and he would sound really nice if you drink a few shots...drink a few more and he'll look good too. :p

dkcrown
04-08-2012, 03:52 AM
So it makes you sound cool. Nice.

It's cool if you are Tom Waits, Ralf. But not so much if you are dkcrown:)

Markr1
04-08-2012, 04:01 AM
I would definitly choose to play like Jake. I love the fingerpicking with the melody. I loved it with guitar and now ukulele.

CTurner
04-08-2012, 05:10 AM
Fingerpicking when I'm holding a uke, singing when I'm with a barbershop quartet.:D

Papa Tom
04-08-2012, 05:17 AM
This is a great question, and one that I've actually thought about, as I do want to return to performing (I used to be a professional drummer) some day.

My voice is good enough to sing to the family and encourage others to sing along, but I'm not ready to sing in public.

On the other hand, while I consider myself a good rhythm player, I don't have the melody-picking skills to sit in front of a room and just play.

I am trying to set a goal for the next few years and, while I think I've got a better shot at developing my voice, I think I'd be much happier being able to play and strum melodies like the many uke players I see on YouTube.

Pippin
04-08-2012, 05:36 AM
Singers lose their chops as they grow older but there are a lot of excellent older (guitar) pickers out there so I picked picking. I think you'd be able to affectively use that skill longer.

[Why do posts at this site often repeat the last word of a line as demonstrated above? It doesn't even appear as part of the edit function if I wanted to try and correct it.]

It doesn't have to be that way. I know a guy in his eighties that still has a pwoerful, rich baritone voice.

Pippin
04-08-2012, 05:41 AM
I love to sing and especially when in three or four-part harmonies. I love finger-picking, too, but if I had to choose one, singing would win the contest any day.

There are tons of ukulele players and guitarists who can't sing well enough to make a living from it; but, they enjoy themselves. I am lucky to have played professionally for years. I was singing on stage at five-years-old. Guitar came later and so did ukulele, mandolin, harmonica, bow psaltery, keyboard, bass, and several more instruments.

patico
04-08-2012, 06:28 AM
i'm not that bad at fingerpicking, and would love to improve my singing

OldePhart
04-08-2012, 08:53 AM
Wow...my choice of "singing" makes it 27:27 - talk about an even split!

I had to choose singing because, while I would dearly love to be able to fingerpick like Jake (especially after seeing Jake three nights ago) I would still rather be able to move people and I think that's more reliably accomplished with songs than with tunes. When you think about it, the fingerpicked tunes we most love are those that were originally songs. When Jake plays "Ukulele Weeps" part of the magic is that our minds are filling in the heartfelt vocals from the original song. Without those words it's just a pretty melody...but because the fingerpicked solo evokes our memories of the words and message of the original song the pretty melody becomes far more meaningful.

Just my $0.02.

John

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
04-08-2012, 09:23 AM
It's cool if you are Tom Waits, Ralf. But not so much if you are dkcrown:)

I think it's cool to be dkcrown.

Oh, and I'm enjoying this thread. The question seems simple, but the responses are varied and interesting. Good old UU.

angusdegraosta
04-09-2012, 08:17 PM
Suddenly I feel the urge to burst into song. Strumming is AOK. I'll pick up picking at my own pace - no need for me to be like James or Jake, much as I dig their sounds.

stevepetergal
04-15-2012, 06:05 AM
It doesn't have to be that way. I know a guy in his eighties that still has a pwoerful, rich baritone voice.

I know one, too. (But I used to be a TENOR!) sigh

ksiegel
04-15-2012, 06:24 AM
I know one, too. (But I used to be a TENOR!) sigh

Gee, I coulda been a con-tenor....

I agree - between the ages of 15 -21, I had a great range - Baritone to 1st tenor. Didn't have perfect pitch (still don't), but I was on-key, and could harmonize extemporaneously.

Then I started singing less, went through a few years of destroying my vocal chords (smoking and trying to be the DJ with the "voice of balls"), and now I'm in the Baritone range, with occasional forays into full bass... especially in the morning. My voice is softer, and to me has a "fuzziness" to it, but I've heard worse. Lots worse.

And I do love to sing, even with the limited range. I also find that I'm singing more, now that I'm playing the Uke, and I think that the voice is improving. It will never be what it was, but between years of unintentional smoke inhalation and a couple of weeks of the wonderful air at Ground Zero, I'll take what I can get.


-Kurt

csibona
04-16-2012, 04:44 AM
I would have to pick singing over fingerpicking - I know that's what my wife would want me to choose as well. I can play basic ukulele songs relatively well - but if I want to sing along it is a travesty...

1931jim
04-16-2012, 04:56 AM
Hello dkcrown,
Fingerpick like Jake.
Sing like a Virtuoso.

I really just want to sing and play like myself. Although the singing has always been part of me. For my first fifteen years my voice was the only instrument I owned.
Jim

flyingv8
04-16-2012, 08:54 AM
I love to sing and since I am new to the Ukulele I have to say the instrument is perfect for me since it allows my voice to be heard. After playing in rock bands for years and it's nice to not have to sing over the instruments. It took years and years to develop my voice and I still have a long way to go but I couldn't live without being able to sing every day. The ukulele has brought a new joy to me and I have found such happiness just sitting around and goofing with it. I just love it!

ItsMrPitchy
04-16-2012, 10:04 AM
Fingerpicking like jake for me.

Tootler
04-16-2012, 12:05 PM
Singing for me. That's why I bought a uke in the first place, to accompany my singing. I would like to improve my accompanying technique, so I'll keep working at it.

For playing tunes, I have other instruments. I started out as a recorder player and, unlike many kept on with it. Playing the recorder gives me great satisfaction.

drjond56
04-16-2012, 06:16 PM
I have ZERO interest in singing. I play purely fingerstyle instrumental on uke and guitar except the rare situation of playing backup rhythm for praise music. I really get irritated at the following situation which occurs now and again: someone finds out I play guitar (or uke) and they say "well what sort of stuff do you sing?". At which point I just reply "I don't!". Fact of the matter, I don't much like to listen to other people singing.

keonepax
04-16-2012, 08:35 PM
Great instrumentalists get respect... great singers get the girls! :)

Seriously, I think the human voice can convey emotion more powerfully than an instrument (not to mention you also have the impact of the words), so I'd choose singing.

dkcrown
04-17-2012, 02:13 AM
Great instrumentalists get respect... great singers get the girls! :)



That is a great line and so true keonepax! Boy I wish I could sing!:)

1931jim
04-17-2012, 02:54 AM
Originally Posted by keonepax
Great instrumentalists get respect... great singers get the girls!

That is a great line and so true keonepax! Boy I wish I could sing!:)
Especially those old family favourites......"Cut your toe nails you're tearing all the sheets."
"O give me a home where the Buffalo roam".........and I'll show you a carpet all covered with "Sweet Violets sweeter than the roses"

Koketsu
04-17-2012, 12:32 PM
I'd choose singing. There's something very social about being able to sing along whilst you play in the company of others, something that I don't feel is there with finger-picking. I guess another reason for that choice is that I'm already alright at finger-picking, whereas my vocals leave a lot to be desired!

OldePhart
04-17-2012, 12:34 PM
Great instrumentalists get respect... great singers get the girls! :)


But old singers have forgotten what to do with 'em... LOL

1931jim
04-17-2012, 01:54 PM
Originally Posted by keonepax
Great instrumentalists get respect... great singers get the girls!
""But old singers have forgotten what to do with 'em... LOL ""
You sure know how to hurt a guy. HaHa!!
My granny was very musical.........even her sewing machine was a Singer. I really must get new jokes.