Singing whilst playing piano...

Play more than piano? Interested in a different instrument, including voice? Talk about it here.

Postby celia » Fri Jan 02, 2009 2:06 am

Hi and Happy New Year everyone! Happy Belated Christmas!
I am looking for advice on learning to sing whilst playing piano. I know that ultimately a teacher would be the answer but I don't think I have a great singing voice and I really just want to learn this for my own pleasure...
I used to be in choirs at school but was told I wasn't good enough because the other harmonies were putting me off singing my own notes (I did not realise this)
For Christmas I have been given some piano music (familiar songs) which gives the voice melody but it is different from the notes you play on the piano so I am having trouble.
Can anyone help by giving some tips or methods on how to go about this. I guess, when playing yourself, the piano has to be practically automatic so you are concentrating more on the singing notes?
Do you almost have to "ignore" what you are playing in order to sing your melody correctly?
Please help!!
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Postby pianorules » Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:59 pm

Hey Celia,

Merry Chrissy. I may be not much help. But i have an idea though. I have sung whilst on the piano as a duet at school in the last couple of years. Mind u i am not a proffesional.

I would advise u to practise playing the melody first until u are confident playing the song accuratley. I would also sing it in ur head.

Once u are playing it accuratley start practise singing.

Good luck and keep me posted

Liv
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Postby Tranquillo » Sat Jan 03, 2009 10:04 pm

Hi Celia!

I sing and play piano and take lessons on both if that helps. I am doing grade 5 piano and just completed grade 8 on singing. I can self accompany (not really well but I can do it).

Heres what I would say to someone starting out...

(1) Learn both parts separate like you would learn something hands together.

(2) If you know know the melody learn it by playing the phrase and then singing it.

(3) Once you can play the piano part really well that it is locked into your muscle memory to the extent you can play it blind folded then add in the vocal part.

Some exercises
Start off just with one hand with whole block triads to supply harmony for yourself and sing over it as an exercise to listen to your own voice and get used to it being accompanied with harmony.

Look at pop songs, especially ones with piano accompaniments (Evanescence - My immortal, Delta Goodrem, Missy Higgins, Britney Spears Every Time, Vanessa Calton - A Thousand Miles, Elton John / Billy Joel - Pianoman, Kelly Clarkson - Because of you, Rufus Wainwright - Hallelujah) - just a few suggestions. Listen to them and maybe learn a song or two you like. You can clearly hear the piano part with the vocalist and easily learn it.

Hopefully that helped. I know its tricky but the more you try and practice it the easier it becomes (bet you've heard it before). :;):
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Postby celia » Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:32 pm

Thank you both for your advice, I haven't had much time but I will definitely try to use these methods when I practice...
Becibu it's funny the first song you mentioned was My Immortal - the songbook I was given for Christmas was an Evanessence collection and My Immortal was the song i had decided to do first because there are a lot of repeated notes :D and because the range is just about accessible to me... I tried singing it whilst playing blocked chords and that was really easy...
I would love any other advice anyone has about singing in general, I remember a lot of talk about diaphragm breathing when I was in school but I'm not sure i was really doing it - how do you know? It seems to be easier standing up but plenty of pop stars manage to sit and play piano while they sing...
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Postby Tranquillo » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:34 am

celia wrote:I would love any other advice anyone has about singing in general, I remember a lot of talk about diaphragm breathing when I was in school but I'm not sure i was really doing it - how do you know? It seems to be easier standing up but plenty of pop stars manage to sit and play piano while they sing...

Great to hear that you are having a good time! I just did my grade 8 singing exam, I've been singing for a while, (I was in a children's choir from 7 - 12 then I took private lessons at 15). I'm not a teacher but I have been taught how to sing in general.

Generally, the diaphragm muscle is the muscle below the rib cage, many teachers teach it was the muscle in the front that sits were your stomach is but this is not entirely true. The diaphragm wraps all around. When you breathe in you should feel your diaphragm expand (you stomach expand), another thing you should also feel expanding is your back. Your shoulders should not raise and the breathe should not come from your chest. When you exhale you should feel the muscle deflating like a balloon, your stomach (diaphragm) should be 'indented' but not sucked in. It is easier to do standing up because you are not 'squishing' your diaphragm muscle, also, you wouldn't be concerntrating on playing at the same time. What would help is if you practiced the vocal part with marked phrasing, where you take the breath can be marked with a comma. This way you REMEMBER where to breathe. When you do practice the vocal part separately make sure that you do remember to breathe correctly, concerntrate on the expansion of the diaphragm by placing one of your hands on your stomach and feeling it rise when you breathe in.

These are just a few things I have been thought as a singer. I'd be glad to answer anymore questions.
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