How to sing and play more effectively

Pippin

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2008
Messages
5,813
Points
0
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

New member
Joined
Oct 1, 2014
Messages
83
Points
0
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

Active member
Joined
Jan 30, 2013
Messages
1,515
Points
38
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

New member
Joined
Jan 12, 2017
Messages
56
Points
0
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

New member
Joined
Dec 28, 2016
Messages
59
Points
0
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

New member
Joined
May 31, 2018
Messages
11
Points
0
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

Active member
Joined
Jul 12, 2017
Messages
1,859
Points
38
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

Active member
Joined
Mar 14, 2014
Messages
4,400
Points
38
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.
 

AnonymousLou

New member
Joined
Jul 7, 2019
Messages
40
Points
0
I had this same problem a short while ago and this video on youtube really helped me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geop-h3Itlk
One of the main things suggested by Cynthia in the video is to make sure you're comfortable and confident enough doing each one independently to a high standard before combining them.
Hope this helps x
-Lou
 

terrgy

New member
Joined
May 26, 2015
Messages
178
Points
0
I’ve finally read thru all of the comments, and it all makes me chuckle, mostly at myself. For a musician who plays out at least twice a week, for the last 5 years, I’ve finally come to terms with what i am and who I am. I had no confidence in my voice, and I still don’t like listening to myself. Sometimes I wonder, “Why in the world do they keep asking me back?” Being a solo performer you have no crutches, no one to lean on or cover your mistakes.

I’m telling you from experience, don’t worry so much about your voice. Become a performer. Do your thing, make um laugh. Make um cry. I love doing both. Become an accomplished story teller. Always be prepared, never go in half cocked.

You know, While I’ve sung in front of a crowd before, A few times I’ve noticed people having a laugh. “Are they laughing at me?” Honestly, I’ve thought that. Maybe they were. While I’m singing a line, and at the same time visualizing the next line, my mind is also thinking, “screw um”, I’m up here and you’re out there.”

A person’s voice is so personal. Just own it go with it. Might not work so well with a band, but solo, it’s all yours. Be confident. Never say, “I’m not very good, now.” Instead, when you walk out there, do something that dazzles. Sing your best song, most always. Have a 2 min comedy routine that you own. You know it’s funny. Heck, fall down. That gets um every time. Anything to loosen up the good folks.

Anyways, I know this is long winded, but I say all this wishing you the best.
 
Last edited:

Ukecaster

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Messages
4,155
Points
48
A few mentions of capos to get to a voice-friendly key, and that singing in C is often a challenge for those with lower voices. But C is an easy key to play in on ukes, so don't forget the option of tuning down a full step to Bb. It can allow your voice to hit the notes, and some ukes, especially tenors, often sound better when tuned down...Win/Win!
 

Nickie

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
9,657
Points
48
I've been trying to learn to sing ever since I started playing ukulele. People tell me I have a nice voice, but I don't believe it.
Especially when I hear myself in a recording.

Last year, our group suddenly lost our lead singer, and decided that the personal drama that comes from group dynamics wasn't worth seeking out another singer. But our music was very thin, hollow.
Our voices didn't blend. I was about ready to give up, and just fingerpick, but the other two singers couldn't carry it off.
And my picking is far from stellar.
I started taking voice lessons, learning to warm up without my uke. I wanted to learn to carry a tune without overshadowing the others. I"m very bass-y and very loud.

So today, after musing about it for months, and being envious of my singing cohorts, I took a lesson in singing harmony.
My teacher is a pro, she is excellent. I found out, after a solid hour of learning to sing very simple two part songs, that I could sing the harmony part of the Garden Song!
It felt perfectly natural, and well within my alto/tenor range. I wasn't straining any more!
I promised to practice and practice it until I can do it without thinking about the notes, and pick the banjouke with it.

Now, I feel confident that I'll be able to sing the Hawaiian songs we're learning, melody or harmony. It's a trick learning to do it by ear, because my sight reading sucks, and our songs aren't written with notation anyway.
(We use On-song).

So, if you think you can't sing, or you don't like they way your voice sounds, by all means, consider a voice coach. It works for me.
 
Last edited:

MaxJef

New member
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
Messages
1
Points
0
1. Start with a simple song
2. Play the guitar (or other instruments) part of the song you’re learning over and over again without singing.
3. Use a metronome
4. Practice counting the beat aloud
5. Hum the vocal melody as you play guitar
6. Make sure you’ve memorized the lyrics of the song
7. Replace the humming with actual lyrics
8. Practice, practice, practice!