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Thread: Singing and playing uke

  1. #1

    Default Singing and playing uke

    Hi all,

    Maybe a silly question, but how do you know "how" to sing when playing the uke? To specify, how do you know you're singing in the correct pitch?

    This will sound weird, but when I play bass I can sing backing vocals and know pretty well what part I need to sing (keeping in mind the limitations of my range).

    Lately I've focused on the uke a lot, and I want to practice singing lead. But I am very unsure of my skills and performance, and never quite know if I am singing "correctly".

    Guess I'll have to... Record myself

  2. #2
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    Default

    This is a big ussue to me.

    I dont have a good pitch, but I would like to hit some of the right notes.

    When learning a new song, I usually Google for sheet music for the song. Not to play the arrangement from the sheet music on ukulele, but to determine which are the highest notes in the song. I often need to transpose songs 5 half steps down from the most common key, in order for the melody to fit my voice.
    I study the sheet music to find where the vocals peak at which notes, and try to identify the notes on the Ukulele and see if I can hit them. I am not good enough a singer to sing off the sheet, but I like to know that I at least have a chance to hit the right notes if I manage. So I have gotten an idea of the top of my vocal range, and try to find the right key for the song.
    Playing:
    Anuenue AMM tenor - Magic Fluke Koa Tenor - Cocobolo concert - Kamaka Tiki concert - Cort concert - Ohana LN soprano.

  3. #3
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    Canada Prairies, brrr ....
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    Some song sheets have a little tab at the beginning that shows the first note to be sung for playing on the uke to get started. It is often helpful to have a songbook that has these.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2018
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    NorCal
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    Maybe you should start by changing your forum name to "EddieSingsLead".

    Singing is a different skill than playing the uke. And singing and playing together is another skill until itself. One issue of many uke players is thinking the voice accompanies the uke playing when it really is the other way around. Do not be afraid to start with the singing (including lessons?) and then bringing in the uke.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Briarcliff, TX - Fabulous Hill Country home to Willie Nelson, and me!
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    In my experience the less certain a singer is of proper pitch, the wider the vocal vibrato employed.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

  6. #6

    Default

    Some good replies so far! I am working from Fred Sokolow 's fingerstyle book, and am singing along as I play (with varying degrees of success in terms of just being ABLE to sing, let alone in the right key/pitch).

    For personal reasons, I want to tackle Tom Waits' "I Hope I don't Fall In Love With You" - it hits home in so many ways. And even though Waits is not the best singer, a song like this needs to be delivered properly.

    I do intend on taking vocal lessons post-Covid. One of the guys in my uke group is taking lessons, I may get the number of his teacher...

    My life will be very different soon, anyway. Might as well add this to the list of changes.

  7. #7
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    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EddiePlaysBass View Post
    Hi all,

    Maybe a silly question, but how do you know "how" to sing when playing the uke? To specify, how do you know you're singing in the correct pitch?

    This will sound weird, but when I play bass I can sing backing vocals and know pretty well what part I need to sing (keeping in mind the limitations of my range).

    Lately I've focused on the uke a lot, and I want to practice singing lead. But I am very unsure of my skills and performance, and never quite know if I am singing "correctly".

    Guess I'll have to... Record myself
    Many of the songs in the Yellow "Daily Ukulele" & Blue "Leap Year Edition" song books have a "First Note" to use to get the correct pitch for singing the melody of the song.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don't begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    --Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  8. #8
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    Dec 2020
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    Texas
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    I find the assistance of a person who can tell when I’m on or off key invaluable. In private I sing off key and don’t always know it, and so what. But if I’m going to sing in public I get my husband to help me figure out the best key for my voice, and also to help me figure out the “feel” of the first few notes. Once I’ve sung it right a few times, I’ve usually got it forever. And I am getting better over time at realizing when I’m off key. If i start singing and I’m not confident and singing quietly, and it seems flat, it’s probably because I’m off key and subconsciously I realize it.

    Yesterday, though, at a family gathering, playing with my daughter and husband and brother-in-law, I started out confident on a song I am pretty comfortable with, and I thought “Am I playing this right?” And I was. I thought everybody else sounded off too. About that time my dear husband broke in to let me know it was my singing that was off.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    I have a critical ear when it comes to pitch. But, unfortunately, I have a very tentative familiarity with pitch when I'm doing the singing. I hear myself wandering off, out of tune, and very often on the wrong note entirely. It wrankles me no end! I suspect I will improve with practice. So, I keep working at it. But, at 75, time is drawing short. I better hurry up.
    "The sole cause of all human misery is the inability of people
    to sit quietly in their rooms." - Blaise Pascal, 1670

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