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reyesryanmjaube
12-04-2012, 11:29 AM
Disclamer: I am not familiar with the proper terminologies but I try to explain it as clear as I can in words that I believe everyone can understand. Thank you.


I really wanna sing while playing my uke. I've learned quite a few songs in one month and a half but i really get frustrated when I sing with it. You know what i mean.

I've read a lot of tips in the net about this and I am not scrimping on practice. I practice about 1-2 hours a day. 30 - 45 mins goes into trying to sing with a song while playing. I quit in the 45 min mark because of frustration. I cant get pass the first line.

I know that practice is the only key here but I also believe that there is a right way to practice. But i don't know how!

The way I practice now is i go to my routine of playing the the song without vocals while watching TV. I've read somewhere that this helps to get your brain to not focus on the strumming and chord changing. It helps it to be on auto pilot I guess.

Next is I feel the beat of the song. I divide each section into 4 or 8, depending on how fast it is. But I try to stick to 4. Then I strum down while singing the lyrics. I strum only the 4 beat I was talking about. It's like the skeleton of the song. I can sing with the song while playing this.

Slowly I add the strum pattern to the 4 beats. This is where trouble happens. It's like my brain is lagging so much that I mess up my vocals and strumming.

Then I review the song again, refreshing myself on what syllable should I change the chord. Then I play the 4 beats and sing at the same time. Then I again add the flavor of the strumming pattern and I once again hit this road block.

It's been a while now and I can't still sing the song. Or even get pass the first line. If I can somehow pass beyond the first line then I can grind through this process for as long as it takes. But I am not getting anywhere so I guess I am doing something wrong.

Thanks in advance for those who will help me and I really hope I am posting this in the proper section.

Freeda
12-04-2012, 11:49 AM
Can you whistle? Try whistling the melody while you play.

Also, speaking the words while you play can help too. But whistling to start is the easiest for me.

reyesryanmjaube
12-04-2012, 11:52 AM
Can you whistle? Try whistling the melody while you play.

Also, speaking the words while you play can help too. But whistling to start is the easiest for me.

I tried this before, it's like humming too. I used to do humming. It also freezes my brain :(

seeso
12-04-2012, 11:57 AM
Don't get discouraged. Singing while playing is tough, especially if you've never done something like it before.

I get the sense that you're either thinking too much, or trying too difficult a song.

Try a simple two or three chord song at first. Something like "This Land is Your Land." (http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/w/woody_guthrie/this_land_is_your_land_crd.htm)

Before you even try it, do "mental reps." Play the song in your head, and only in your head. Bob your head to the beat. Notice how the lyrics intertwine with the bobbing of your head. Sometimes the lyrics land on a bob (down-stroke), and sometimes they are opposite your bob (upstroke).

This is the whole trick - feeling the rhythm of the lyrics and how they work with the beat.

After you feel like you've gotten a feel for the tune, try it on an ukulele. Use only 4 down-strokes per measure for your strumming pattern. You'll see the fruits of those mental reps right away. Instead of a head bobbing down, you'll be performing a down-stroke.

After you get the hang of that, then you can try funkifying your downstroke. Remember baby steps! The next strumming pattern you should try is D, D, D U D.

Try it out and see? Report back, please. :)

reyesryanmjaube
12-04-2012, 12:02 PM
Don't get discouraged. Singing while playing is tough, especially if you've never done something like it before.

I get the sense that you're either thinking too much, or trying too difficult a song.

Try a simple two or three chord song at first. Something like "This Land is Your Land." (http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/w/woody_guthrie/this_land_is_your_land_crd.htm)

Before you even try it, do "mental reps." Play the song in your head, and only in your head. Bob your head to the beat. Notice how the lyrics intertwine with the bobbing of your head. Sometimes the lyrics land on a bob (down-stroke), and sometimes they are opposite your bob (upstroke).

This is the whole trick - feeling the rhythm of the lyrics and how they work with the beat.

After you feel like you've gotten a feel for the tune, try it on an ukulele. Use only 4 down-strokes per measure for your strumming pattern. You'll see the fruits of those mental reps right away. Instead of a head bobbing down, you'll be performing a down-stroke.

After you get the hang of that, then you can try funkifying your downstroke. Remember baby steps! The next strumming pattern you should try is D, D, D U D.

Try it out and see? Report back, please. :)

I will try that asap! Meanwhile, this is the song I'm playing. It's in my native tongue. I chose this song because it dates back to my childhood. I know the lyrics by heart so I thought it would be easier for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRlEblqhXRU

Uncle Rod Higuchi
12-04-2012, 12:06 PM
While practice is the key (it always is) could it be that you need to work on the strum pattern apart from the song, just to get the rhythm into your fingers, wrist, and arm?

To me, personally, strumming (mimicing rhythm) is the LAST thing to introduce into your playing/singing. Until you know the song 'unconsciously' trying to add rhythmic strumming, I believe, is too much to ask of someone who may still be unfamiliar with the lyrics, chords, melody, and chord changes.

You may know the song very, very well, but adding in a rhythmic strum - while you're still learning the strum pattern - might be a bit much. rather, work on the strum pattern as its own challenge without reference to any song or melody.
Just get it down cold! then, introduce it into several different songs, even very elementary songs where it may not fit properly. If you can play the strum with "twinkle little star" then you may have arrived at the place where you can try the song you really want. If you can't do your strum and play "hokey pokey" or any other nursery rhyme songs, you may still have to do some work on the strum itself.

My 2 cents :)

keep uke'in',

OldePhart
12-04-2012, 01:44 PM
Pick songs you know cold and six ways from Sunday. I.e., if you can't sing the song acapella without looking at a lead/lyric sheet choose a simpler and/or more familiar song. You need to know both the lyrics and melody absolutely when you're first learning to strum along. This is one of the reasons so many beginners books use really common nursery rhymes and such (the other, of course, is that most of them are in the public domain).

If you are having to evaluate words/rhythm/melody/chord changes all at once that's a lot to get used to. Start with songs where you already know the first three and you'll be fine. Then you'll find that eventually what happens the chord changes become so automatic that you can start doing songs you don't know as well while "sight reading" from chord and lyric (lead) sheets.

John

cantsing
12-04-2012, 02:28 PM
Yes, it's a tricky combination, but we were all there once, so have hope! As already suggested, working with a simple song (one that you know) and a simple strum should help.

And here's another suggestion to add to the mix: It sounds like you are comfortable strumming and changing chords at the same time, so set that aside for now. Instead, place your fretting hand lightly over the strings to mute them and then just strum along while you hum the song--no chord changes. That will help you feel how the strum works with the melody. Don't rush it, just keep at it until the melody and the strum are working smoothly together. When you reach that point, stop muting the strings and add in the chord changes. Once the chord changes are clicking, replace the humming with singing.

Harold O.
12-04-2012, 02:34 PM
Playing while singing is a difficult mental challenge. It involves/activates both sides of the brain. And you still have to develop muscle memory in your hands and voice. The exercises mentioned above are plenty to get you moving.

If you keep going like you are, you will never be this bad at it again.

TCK
12-04-2012, 02:57 PM
I concur- pick a song that you know backwards and forwards, and start with it every day. Sing your head and off and try not to care what you sound like.
Then get a video camera and a Youtube account, and force yourself to make videos, go back and watch them. You would be surprised.

wolfchs
12-04-2012, 05:39 PM
I will try that asap! Meanwhile, this is the song I'm playing. It's in my native tongue. I chose this song because it dates back to my childhood. I know the lyrics by heart so I thought it would be easier for me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRlEblqhXRU

Hey there! I know this song. My suggestion is to go back to this step (from your original post):
"Next is I feel the beat of the song. I divide each section into 4 or 8, depending on how fast it is. But I try to stick to 4. Then I strum down while singing the lyrics. I strum only the 4 beat I was talking about. It's like the skeleton of the song. I can sing with the song while playing this."
... and practice this so many times until you can stop and pick the lyrics up anytime in and out of your strum. When you feel like you can play this with confidence. That's when you should attempt to do the actual fancy strumming.
Also, are you following a particular sheet music or straight out lyrics with chords? This song has a weird arrangement of chords to its lyrics so that might be making it more difficult to follow.

reyesryanmjaube
12-04-2012, 08:02 PM
I may have just realized that there is really no magic pill to my problem. Maybe what's stopping me is my frustration. I'll practice more and I will take all your tips. Thank you so much.

geekinpinkhat
12-04-2012, 08:46 PM
If it helps, my method has been to play the song (video or mp3) and strum along so I get used to doing the chord changes and strumming pattern at someone else's speed. I've found that this makes it easier for me to sing while playing (since if it's a new song I'll also learn the melody/beat/lyrics by singing along to the song a lot).

reyesryanmjaube
12-04-2012, 09:47 PM
Wow something amazing just happened.

2 nights ago, I got really frustrated in singing my song that I decided to learn a new song. I got the hand of it pretty easily and just played it for a while. I didn't attempt to sing along with it much since I was doing it to get away from the frustration, not add to it.

Just right now, I decided to song with it and I DID! I got through the 1st verse quite easily! I don't know how and it doesn't make much sense that a song I just learned to play a few days ago, I can play better than a song I've been practicing for weeks. But I'm happy, of course.

Here's the song. It also dates back from my childhood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrK-AAeSeWs

Ophelia
12-05-2012, 01:27 AM
It's so cool that you made a breakthrough :D so this probably isn't needed, but with regard to memorizing lyrics and singing along, when I first start to play something new I'll emphasize the words that correspond with chord changes to begin with.

For example


......... G ............ A
Like oh my, what a marvelous tune

I would sing along and emphasize the 'my' and the 'mar', I wouldn't shout them or anything, just add a little bit of emphasis the way rappers do on the beat. It helps me memorize the words and the chords at the same time :)

ukeeku
12-05-2012, 01:30 AM
I do what Seeso said... Kind of. I am always singing or humming, but I am also doing the chords at the same time, all in my head.
BTW, I am really good.... in my own mind

Harold O.
12-05-2012, 05:11 AM
Just two weeks ago, I kept struggling to make sense while shooting segments for a documentary. After several takes, the director rolled tape and said "Just tell me what you know about where we are." I switched to a more conversational mode and it all flowed from there. Too often we try too hard and wind up speaking in sound bites like we see in the media.

Tell that guy in the mirror to cut you some slack.

wallyboy
12-05-2012, 08:01 AM
interesting thread,
new to the uke myself, what i found myself doing, was learn the strum to song, write out song with chord changes, and make the song fit my strumming, you will be surprised how it fits with a bit of practice,
atb wallyboy

cantsing
12-05-2012, 10:16 AM
Wow something amazing just happened. ....

Congratulations on the breakthrough! You are on your way.

lovinforkful
12-05-2012, 01:02 PM
You've already got a ton of suggestions, but one thing I would recommend is singing the song without playing. You've practiced the chord changes and strumming w/o vocals, but have you practiced the vocals w/o the playing? Do it both ways so you also know the timing of the lyrics.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
12-06-2012, 04:46 AM
you know, thread #20 - lovinforkful's suggestion re: TIMING is really important.
I think we're all presuming (note NOT assuming, as we know what that makes us :) ), that one not only knows the timing of a song, but is actually following the timing of the song.

I know there has been a thread ( or several) discussing this matter of timing.

If someone is having repeated difficulties with strumming and singing, one real obstacle could be this timing issue.

As an example: Ghost Riders in the Sky - some have long pauses, others don't. Also, Little Drummer Boy - how many strums between lines (you know, after 'rum pum pum pum').

It's very difficult to use a special strum when one leaves out 'beats' from various 'measures' or adds extra 'beats'.

Anyway, it's something to really be aware of :)

keep uke'in',

uncle david
12-06-2012, 09:07 AM
In my early years of playing guitar, I got some friends over to my house to start a band. We got all of our gear set up and realized that none of us could sing while playing. It was a humbling experience and we all tried and failed.
The only way to get better at this is to get better at the instrument. Practice chord changes until you no longer have to think about them. Try to keep the melody in your head as you go through the changes. At that point, you'll be able to start incorporating the whistle or humming methods. If you have the words memorized, try singing along after that. I like to keep a lyric sheet in front of me with the chord changes on it. I know there's been a lot of advice here and I hope this is helpful.

Tootler
12-11-2012, 09:52 AM
You've already got a ton of suggestions, but one thing I would recommend is singing the song without playing. You've practiced the chord changes and strumming w/o vocals, but have you practiced the vocals w/o the playing? Do it both ways so you also know the timing of the lyrics.

Good advice. I would go further and say learn to sing the song first then worry about the chord changes and strum patterns once you've done that. I try to get a feel for the rhythm of the words and use that to set up a strum pattern. Most of the time I end up using one of about three patterns that I use regularly.

While you are singing keep the strum simple. Save the fancy strums for fills between lines or verses.

It's worth watching George Formby for this last. While he's singing he's keeping it very simple. The fancy strums are for the solo.

Also look at BB King. Fantastic guitarist, but he never plays while he's singing. Of course he has a band to support him so he can get away with it whereas a solo performer has to do both, but the point is keep it simple while you are singing so you can focus on the song.

amiewee
12-23-2012, 08:21 PM
It took me AGES to be able to do this and then one day, I could just do it. I know that's not helpful but what I did is just sung loudly in my head and threw a few lines out vocally here and there. Annoyingly enough, it was just a matter of practicing. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. It'll happen.

Youkalaylee
12-28-2012, 11:33 PM
I've learnt to sing and play 2 songs purely because I learnt the singing at the same time and pace as I learnt how to strum the chords. So while I was playing the song so slowly it hurt while getting used to the chord changes, I was singing. So singing happy birthday would be like - happy birrrrrrr(find next chord)rrrrrrrrr(get the fingering right)thday to you!

I think if you learn both at the same pace then its easier to bring them together.

Mxyzptik
12-29-2012, 03:40 AM
I read your OP and all the responses and you have been given some great advice. It's clear from your approach that you are analytical and methodical and everyone is different but I couldn't approach it that way at all personally. I think it's about finding your own style, listen to a bunch of different artists there are many who have a unique almost one of a kind sound and style.

I started playing the Ukulele a year ago and have practiced hard, I do play the piano some as well. I never sang a lot while playing the piano but I did some, but I sing all the time doing everything else. I sing in the shower, while driving, while walking , when cooking. When my kids were little we played singing spelling words, they still call me weird over that . You don't have to be good you just have to find your groove.

Just the other day my guitar playing buddy said , "you know that sounded pretty good" when I played him one of my 8 songs I know so far, " you have found your own sound." It was when I quit trying to mimic and just started to feel it that it came together for me.

I don't think about strum patterns and the like when I play, I just play. Admittedly that is going to make it nearly impossible for someone to play with me as I can't see how anyone would know if I am going to pause or change tempo the like.

My advice is to wear your favorite hat today and sing all day long, start with Harry Nillson's Coconut Song for fun.

Then when you go to play and sing your ukulele song play and sing what's in your head.

You put the lime in the coconut and mix 'em both together, put the lime in the coconut and then you'll feel better