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Thread: Separation of Singing and Playing

  1. #1
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    Default Separation of Singing and Playing

    I have found that often when coming back into lead singing, after really concentrating on playing a break, I can get lost as to what verse is next or where I am in the song. It is kind of like each activity is coming from a different room and there isn't much of a hallway between them. Usually, I have to make up a line on the fly or just sing the first line of any verse then go to where the lyrics should be. (Apologies to Merle for improvising half a verse on Workingman's Blues.) So far this is more interesting than troublesome.
    Just to be clear, talking about the lyrics and not melody. Anybody else ever notice this?

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    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    I experience this acutely when learning new songs. With tunes I've been playing a while, it seems that "muscle memory" takes control and it all just flows...except for that embarrasing moment not long ago when I just couldn't find the opening line to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." Ugh! Horrifying. My kickoff was spectacular, though...
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    ABSOLUTELY! At 68 years young it is happening much more frequently. Next to a set list I find that the first few words and melodic notes are needed to clear the fog.
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Yes. This is a big thing. I simply won't do more than a single tune without a binder in front of me. That way when the fog suddenly rolls in, I turn my eyes to the binder and bingo! Fog dissipated. Blessings

  6. #5

    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    I'm finding that just having the binder there can help. I don't even need to look at it. I've wondered whether I would get the same effect by putting the binder in a bag at the back of the stage....

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  8. #6

    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Like anything else with music you have to train yourself to be ready for the moment when this happens. I sometimes will say the firs couple words of the line to myself ahead of time before I even take off on a break so I can mentally prepare. I will also group breaks in a way where I can play my break and then pass if off to another player while I prepare my line. Still, if I get really wrapped up in my break sometimes I will forget or vamp on the I chords until I regain my footing. Lot's of strategies to work on this, but like anything else takes some intentional practice.

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  10. #7

    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Practice, practice, practice. But you can only really do it in real world performance situations. You can nail it every time in rehearsal.
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    This is one of the reasons why I like to take the first half of a split break when I'm singing lead. Or do the last break, with a chorus after.
    Mitch Russell

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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    My trio went to iPads with ForScore and that helps me with songs that we are still learning. There is nothing worse than fussing with a three-ring binder and sheet music on a wobbly music stand. The iPad sits in a bracket that attaches to the microphone stand and puts it right in front of my face. It is also small enough that I can look around it and see the audience. Music stands have to go on the other side of the mic stand which makes it difficult to read at a distance.

    I do the singing AND take the solos as the bass player and piano player just want to play backup. Not my choice, really, but it has worked out.

    On only a couple of songs have I had to practice coming out of a solo to start singing again. I practice these songs quite a bit on my own so I have gotten used to the switch over. Also, it doesn't hurt to vamp on the main key chord while getting ready to start singing again. Eventually all of your songs will get memorized and you won't need no part of nothin'!

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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    When I sang lead in an former band, I took to writing down the first 3 words of the next verse following the guitar break, by the song title on my set sheet. For some reason I would occasionally draw a blank as he was coming out of the break. Not fun. If it was a song we seldom played, I might write down the first 3 words of each verse for insurance

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    Practice, practice, practice. But you can only really do it in real world performance situations. You can nail it every time in rehearsal.
    This. Practicing the piece as one unit is essential, and the words of the following verse can be visualized like a mantra or like a road sign during the break.
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Pittsburgh Bill, there are two things about getting old that are problematic. One is that you can't remember stuff. The second one is..................oh crap.

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    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    That's my strategy too! While a bandmate is playing the rear half of the break, I can think of the lyrics.

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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Well …. yes practice … also play an extra turnaround between a break and a verse especially if you as the singer and played the last break.... switching brain modules from picking to singing can take a moment at times. All band members need to be aware of this and play along. If there is no harm to the meter then there is no foul to the song or tune..... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    Hey Folks, Thanks for all the good replies. There is some good usable info there. I tried Josh's recommendation to go over the first line of the next verse before launching in on my break on Big Iron at a local Wino Festival. It seemed to help.
    To be completely honest, my original question had more to do with why does this happen than what to do about it. It seems like I am not the only one to experience this and was hoping that one of the many neuroscientist playing mandolin players, on the Cafe, might give some insight. It would be nice it if didn't happen but early in my playing career, I realized that that some folks learn to play it right. Others get good at covering mistakes. Long ago that path chose me.

  19. #16

    Default Re: Separation of Singing and Playing

    I have this problem too -if I learn the songs as verses then I forget them as verses.
    One way to stitch them back together is to practice singing the last line of each verse and then the following verse. At the same time think of why they go together like that.
    The hardest for me though is place names, which is strange because I'm alright with languages.
    For example, in 'Youngstown' by Bruce Springsteen:
    'From the Monongahela Valley to the Mesabi iron range'
    -I can never remember it!
    Monola, Magaba, meba -please help!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajtqOCf_vCs

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