Question about singing/strumming techniques

Hi all.

At the tender age of 51, I finally got to picking up a guitar. I used Rocksmith for about a month or so and, while it was fun and I still play it occasionally, I found it to be lacking in the teaching department. I am at this for only a couple of weeks now and have made HUGE progress. I have now completed the first grade of the beginner course and proficiently playing chords and strumming well, with the exception which I mention below.

I have progressed really quickly but I have stopped moving on for now because I am struggling with the C and Dm chords. Although I am able to play them, they don’t always ring clearly and I struggle with fast changovers. I am pretty confident that I will get proficient soon with a lot more practice like the rest of the chords came to me. A good friend just told me yesterday that it is hard to be a perfectionist and to be a guitarist. :laughing:

My only real concern now is that I cannot sing and strum properly. It reminds me of how I learned to pat my head and rub my tummy when I was a kid but a lot harder. Has/is anyone else really struggling with this? I mean, when not singing, I feel really comfortable with changovers and the strumming. Once I start singing, it all goes to hell. I have tried strumming my leg and singing to songs as I drive but one wonders what the other drivers who see me must think. I have a friend at work who is recovering from a recent stroke and he now stutters quite a bit. However, when he reads out loud, his voice is back to normal. We talked for a while about how amazing the brain is and and I mentioned my current struggle with singing and strumming and he suggested that I try humming or whistling since it uses different parts of the brain. I didn’t have amazing results but it was maye a little better.

Any hints on how to sing and do more complicated strums?

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Hey, welcome to the community. What you are describing sounds particularly normal especially for someone who’s only just started. It is significantly harder to sing and play at the same time.

Justin has a lesson on singing and playing at the same time. Personally, I found it easier to do than his lesson makes it sound, which I think is more that he’s been particularly thorough in that lesson.

I didn’t expect to sing and play at the same time when I started as others had told me that it’s much harder to do. So my wife sang the first song I learned and I played guitar without attempting to sing. After about 50 or 60 time, quite unintentionally, I started singing along on the chorus and a light went off in my head “hey, this isn’t so hard”, and quickly I started singing on all my songs.

I’ve been playing and singing for over 10 years and if a new song has a complicated singing or strumming part, it still takes me a while to get to where I can do both, the key is the strumming and fingering of the frets has to be pretty much automatic, without conscious thought.

Hang in there, it will come and it’s a LOT of fun when it does.

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Thanks Tony! I am glad to hear that I am not alone. I didn’t think that this would be my struggle when I started but I also didn’t think strumming would be hard and it was also difficult for me at first.

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Hello Richard, welcome to the community :hugs:.
Singing is also an important part of my guitar journey. I’m a beginner, too.
As you’ve discovered, only strumming is possible, and only singing is possible. But putting the two together seems to cry for a second brain to do the extra job :wink:.
I realized, that it’s a bit easier when I already know the particular song very well and know the lyrics by heart. But even then, it takes a lot of practice before I think 'yes, I got it '.
All I want to say is, remain patient and practice, practice, practice. It’s probably easier to practice the playing and the singing seperately in the beginning, and merge the two just later on.
You’ll get there :smiley:.

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Richard @Rqualls
You need to look at Justin 10 point plan, 10-Step Method to Singing & Playing Guitar - YouTube basically something has to be automatic.
Speaking personally if you are only learning the C chord you are giving yourself quite a challenge to sing I was a bit further down the line before I could do both.
Michael :notes:

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Thank you all for the kind words and tips. I guess it doesn’t hurt to start early but glad that I am not alone in the struggle and see that maybe getting too big for my britches too early.

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@Rqualls - Don’t be hesitant to use a capo to change the key of any song to better suit your singing voice. An easy way to check is if the lower notes you sing don’t have the volume you want / have with higher notes. Then consider using a capo to change the key to a higher key.

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Dm was (is) a tough one for me too. I mean, it’s easy to play, but hard to change to/from quickly. Keep at it!

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Hi Richard and a warm welcome :smiley:
As you probably guessed- yup, everything you describe is par for the course and we all go through those stages, although some struggle with particular aspects more than others :roll_eyes:

A couple of thoughts to accompany you on your journey:
The rate of appreciable progress decreases with time :slightly_frowning_face:
The things you find impossible or struggle with now will become simple/automatic and be replaced by different impossible tasks as you progress.
Be happy that you are only struggling with the singing and playing simultaneously. Many folks here worry about whether they are capable of singing at all.
In short, try to enjoy where you are at every moment.
You’ll never get ‘there’ :wink:

Enjoy your trip and I look forward to you sharing your first accompanied song :smiley:

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Tony @tony
@Rqualls
Good suggestion about the capo. I have been revisiting my Grade 1 songs with my singing teacher. Some of them that I just played open chords I am now using a capo on the first or second fret, she reckons suits my voice better. Will have to take her word for it.
Michael :notes:

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HI Richard, Welcome to the gang,
You’re in the best place to learn, for sure.
re the singing and playing at the same time, like others have said, starting with a song where you already know the lyrics off by heart will be a big help.
Other than that my best tip would be to make sure that when you practice, sing out loud, sing the notes for real, and not just in your head, if you see what I mean
Cheers
Ruaridh

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Yup. I still struggle. Strumming is hard to do correctly

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Spot on Brian, I’ve found open chords and (terrible) singing relatively doable. Finding @JustinGuitar fingerpicking exercises also doable to a point. I’m hoping to have an online lesson with @Richard_close2u soon to put these exercises into practice with a song. I heard a tune called Rolling Stone today by Wild River and it sounded terrific, certainly on my fingerpicking list.:+1:

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