Tips for learning how to play and sing simultaneously?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Abaddon9112, Mar 21, 2015.

  1. Abaddon9112

    Abaddon9112 SS.org Regular

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    This is something I've always had a difficult time doing. I don't know if my brain is just terrible at multitasking or if this is something everyone actually needs to practice a lot to get adept at. But I basically can't play and do vox at the same time. I always want to either follow the rhythm my hands are doing with my voice, or vice versa. The only stuff I can do both on are dead simple songs like Smells Like Teen Spirit where the vox and guitar overlap a lot.

    I'd like to be able to play reasonably complex stuff and sing/growl too, because I have a hard time finding anyone to play/record with where I live. Can anyone recommend some tips on how to get better at this?
     
  2. that short guy

    that short guy SS.org Regular

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    as with anything, practice practice practice. start with something easy and build up. try some breaking benjamin and work your way up to more complex things. the newer stuff is a little more difficult bust still fairly easy. at the least it'll condition your brain to allow you to do both at the same time
     
  3. fogcutter

    fogcutter SS.org Regular

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    It's hard!

    This is gonna sound lame, but the only way I got even remotely good at it was by practicing some "simple strummer" songs. Pick a couple old Townes Van Zandt or Dylan tunes, or stuff like "Wish You Were Here" at first. If you slowly build up confidence, you can get the rhythm right first and the pitch right second.

    And this might be the only time where this piece of advice is actually true: drinking kinda helps.

    I have no idea how guys like Dave Davidson do what they do, though.
     
  4. Aion

    Aion SS.org Regular

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    If what I'm playing and singing don't really match up what I'll do is learn them both separately until they are each second nature on their own. Then I'll start practicing them together. When the playing and singing become second nature on their own your brain no longer needs to concentrate as much on them which allows it to process other things. Do this with enough songs and a lot of the time what ends up happening is even before they each become second nature I'm able to put them together if they're not too totally different.
     
  5. JPhoenix19

    JPhoenix19 Playing life by ear

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    I'd try to find music to learn/practice where the guitarist sings, because then you know the music was written to be performed as such. (Chevelle comes to mind)

    Otherwise, as it's already been said, practice! Until you geet better, you could "baby step" into it by trying back-up/secondary vocals to songs you already know- even if you're making up words/medlodies/harmonies it will get your brain used to concentrating on both.
     
  6. Zhysick

    Zhysick SS.org Regular

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    This video helped me A LOT, specially the part about the "fast tapping lick"



    That's the "method" I use and... well... I am no good at singing but this works and that is the important thing :lol:
     
  7. The Omega Cluster

    The Omega Cluster n00b

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    I'd say begin with basic "campfire songs", i.e. songs that are only 3-4 chords and easy to sing and memorize. Then, when that goes alright, try more complex stuff!
     
  8. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    For me it's always the rhythms that screw things up. So I try to practice those specific places of songs very slowly and precisely, as long as it takes before going to the next part. Just playing entire songs over and over and singing over it might not be the most efficient way to get forward. Practicing by not looking at the fretboard is also important.

    Also, when you do write stuff that's hard to sing over, that could very well be a sign that the groove is a little off. Especially things like one being syncopated and the other isn't. That's hard to do, but probably sounds bad too. A lot of the time I find rewriting a part to make it easier to sing and play actually helps the flow of the song.

    And, this might be a controversial opinion on a guitar forum, but in my opinion, if you're gonna sing you're gonna be a damn singer. I know this is entirely subjective, but "guitar players who also happen to sing lead" are a pet peeve of mine. Simplify the guitar parts as much as you need to if that's what it takes to sing better. Not the other way around. If possible, get a second guitar player and let him/her do the difficult .... when you're singing. Swallow your need to impress and realize that it doesn't matter if you've played for 15 years and you're the best guitarist in the area. If you're on the mic, you're a singer. Act like one :)
     
  9. 7 Strings of Hate

    7 Strings of Hate Mid-Level Asshole Contributor

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    Tapping my foot to the beat always helps. I just ignore the part that I know the best and trust I know it well enough to mentally focus on the part I dont know as well.
     
  10. Aion

    Aion SS.org Regular

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    A lot of bands with a singer-guitarist and a guitarist (like Opeth) divide up parts in part based on knowing the singer-guitarist will have to do two things at once. It's a tried and true method.
     
  11. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    Yeah, I think that's beneficial for everybody. It may hurt your ego to have the other guitarist get all the credit for stuff that you wrote and could just as well have played, but that's a useless mindset to have in a band anyhow :) If you neglect your vocal duties then your whole band loses.
     
  12. Abaddon9112

    Abaddon9112 SS.org Regular

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    This is all very good advice, thank you all:hbang:

    I'm not the best singer but I write lyrics and do harsh metal vocals pretty well.
    I'll try practicing more stuff and also be more conscious of sing-ability when writing!
     
  13. asher

    asher So Did We

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    Unfortunately for the few times in my band I'm doing the lead singing for a song, it's probably something complicated I picked my other guitarist can't play very well :lol: He's from a singer songwriter punk ska kind of background, while I started teaching myself metal riffs, so I have a much easier time with more intricate bits.

    Like everyone has said, practice practice practice. Ideally one of the parts can just become automatic.
     
  14. Solodini

    Solodini MORE RESTS!

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    As with anything, slow down! Try also counting the divisions of the beat aloud while working on guitar stuff in your own time. It'll develop your familiarity with the role of the rhythms you're playing, counting something separate while you play to get your brain doing both things.

    You could also write a fairly simple riff or guitar line and then decide a vocal harmony to it, choose the pitches and timings consciously and just slowly plug away at it until you're getting it right. Try to make the rhythms a bit different so you can't just do both the same. Slight differences may be more difficult than major differences. Pay attention to the end of the note you're singing, too. You'll give the game away if you sing a note then cut it off as soon as you play a note on guitar, when the sung note is meant to sustain.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    In my case, I just learn the guitar part well enough to play it on autopilot, then do whatever I can to avoid thinking about the guitar part. The problem is, that the moment I put any attention toward what I'm doing, I mess it up.

    It's like breathing. I do it all day and all night, yet, the moment I pay attention to it, I forget how to do it.
     
  16. powderedtoastman

    powderedtoastman SS.org Regular

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    I'm not an expert but I had a couple songs under my belt a few years ago with the last small group I played with... here's what worked for me when I decided I wanted to give it a go:

    First, start slow.
    Second, try focusing only on your picking hand and the rhythm while you sing, and then add in the fretting once you got that down!
     
  17. TheFranMan

    TheFranMan SS.org Regular

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    The advice earlier about dividing parts of songs specifically to cater to the fact that one musician has to sing is spot on. Additionally, try starting small. I don't know what music you're into (assuming metal). Obviously, a lot of that stuff is very technical. As far as difficulty goes...
    Singing while playing technical stuff >>>> Screaming while playing technical stuff >>>> Singing while playing chords >>>> Screaming while playing chords

    Start small, singing while playing acoustic chords. Get used to the muscular independence required for the simple stuff. Then slowly work your way up to more complicated pieces. Play stuff slower if necessary also. It's hard, but with some work it's definitely doable.
     
  18. Solodini

    Solodini MORE RESTS!

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    And with chords, you can add the odd hammer on or change of note otherwise to another note to step the difficulty up a little and lead toward more melodic playing.
     

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