[This is a possible duplicate of How do you sing and strum guitar chords simultaneously? but maybe this question is more specific.]
I'm used to singing (in a choir) and I'm learning to play (simple folk) guitar. I'm practising (trying to learn how to perform) my first non-trivial song.
It's a country song: ideally 192 bpm, in 4/4 time.
The strum pattern is meant to be "
D.D..UDU" -- I'd call that a syncopated beat, because it misses the 3rd "down" beat in the measure.
Anyway, I can (i.e. I am able to):
- Strum that pattern as long as I'm not singing (if I ever do go wrong, the mistake I make tends to be inserting an extra beat, e.g. "
- Say (or subvocalise) the syncopated beat, like "one two (three) and four and", while strumming
- Tap my foot ("one two three four") while strumming.
- Hear what the two together (strumming and singing) are supposed to sound like; and play them together in my head (i.e. reproduce them in my imagination)
- Strum this pattern at any tempo between about 110 bpm through 145 bpm (at slower than 110 the action seems to become deliberate rather than automatic, brainy rather than muscle memory)
- Sing with a simple strum pattern (e.g. "
D.D.D.D."; or maybe even "
I haven't tried practising "
D.DU.UDU" (I think "
D.D..UDU" sounds better, lighter, with this song).
What I can't do is while strumming "
- Subvocalise a regular, unsyncopated, "one two three four"
- Sing the melody (all of whose notes are quarter notes, half notes, or full notes ... no "and" i.e. the strumming is syncopated relative to the melody)
Doing either of these breaks the strum pattern -- when I get to the third beat of the measure ...
- Either, the singing pauses (to match the pause in the strum)
- Or, I press on with the singing and forget about the strumming.
... neither of which is correct.
Do you have any tips for how to proceed? What should I practice? Apparently I can't do the two together, and therefore ... I can't practice it?
I've tried various things:
- Saying instead of singing
- Play it slow like b3ko's answer suggested, not to feel what it's like to perform but at least to help analyse what you're hearing, what it sounds like
- Concentrate on, memorise, which syllable (lyric) in each measure is associated with the un-strummed 3rd beat (usually the 3rd syllable, unless the first syllable is two quarter-notes) -- these are the exceptional syllables, which you can expect should sound different and which should immediately precede (or trigger) the up/down/up -- knowing this helps you keep track of where you are within each measure
- Play an easier strum pattern, e.g. "
D.D.DUDU" -- being able to play that, while singing, is better than being unable to practice (singing and playing together) at all. Is this a known problem, a difficulty that every learner has, and is there any well-known prescription for it?
I'd assume the prescription is "practice!" except that I don't seem able to practice the two together correctly, so Catch-22.