Can you sing, or speak, while playing your instrument?
String players have the freedom to use our voices, since we don't have to use them to blow into, say, a trumpet or flute. But whether we can is another issue entirely. Sometimes we concentrate so hard, we forget to breathe with our mouths and noses, much less sing or speak!
After thinking for a long time that this was something I could not do, I discovered lately that I can actually sing and play at the same time. The key was to not think about it, and also to be playing and singing something very easy. I was directing a Zoom group class of six-year-olds, when I realized half of the kids could play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody," while the others could sing it, but not play it. So half would be singing, half would be playing, and I needed to direct both activities. Thus I sang while also playing, without giving it much thought. Then afterwards I realized, "Hey wait, looks like I can sing and play at the same time..."
Maybe it also helps to be doing it for an audience of six-year-olds rather than a paying public!
It's a bit of a relief to realize this isn't easy for everyone. For example, the humor duo Brett and Eddy at TwoSet Violin dedicated an entire episode to the nearly-impossible challenge of playing one part of a duet while singing the other part:
But there are violinists and fiddlers do sing vocals in bands, while they are playing, and all at a professional level. I'm impressed with this, for example - violinist David Wong singing a cover of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine":
While I can perhaps direct while teaching, I don't plan to join a band as a vocalist any time soon!
Can you sing and play at the same time? Or speak and play at the same time? Both? Neither? Is it something you do in performance? For teaching? Just for fun? Answer "yes" if this is a skill you are pretty good at, and if so, tell us how you learned to do it!
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