I have a question for those who sing while playing a musical instrument like a guitar or ukulele. My question is does it require you to use different parts of your brain? That is, does the left side control the singing and the right side control the playing or vice versa?
The reason I want to know is that when I practised playing my ukulele while singing recently, I had a hard time strumming in some sort of rhythm with the song’s melody. It felt like my left and right brain were doing two completely separate and different things and the result must have sounded quite awful.
JJ heard my doing this and said, you know all the songs you sing with R and K (my fellow uke-ladies), they just help me get a headache.
I told him he’d better finish his bath and hop straight into bed. He said, no it’s ok.
Then when he went to bed I could hear him singing, very tunefully, exactly the same song I was practising earlier. He was playing the ‘musical instrument’ he made in technology. This consists of a big box that holds two long cardboard rolls from aluminium foil, toothpicks and a cake patty pan. It’s a very versatile instrument. He can bang on the box with the cardboard rolls, he can blow through the cardboard rolls, he can use toothpicks as drumsticks. He can crackle the paper patty pan and he can sing along.
Usually, his creations made during technology lay on the floor of his room until I do a bit of a clean up and it ends back up in the recycling. In addition, the items I would normally recycle now go to the school and come back as technology creations. This ‘drum’, however, will survive a bit longer before it goes into the recycling because it’s being used and loved.
So, he can sing and play his drum without losing too much rhythm so why can’t I? Maybe I’m thinking too much about it and just need to lose myself into the rhythm, relax, enjoy, and it will just flow.
I think that music is best enjoyed when you are not listening to your own techniques – allows me to sing, anyway – if I payed too much attention it may be detrimental!
Good on your son having such a flair, though. He must have a ball when things like Womad hit town.
Howlin' Hobbit says
It just takes practice. Slow down when you are practicing until you drill the ukulele stuff into your muscle memory. Once that happens you can turn your hands loose to play and concentrate more on singing.
Don’t be discouraged, it’ll come!