Remembering lyrics is a task that many singers worry about. Especially when there are a lot of songs to sing in an evening.
But there are many tricks of the trade that can really help you to work those lyrics into your mind in a way that is both enjoyable and truly memorable!
You will need two or three different colored pens, pencils or highlighters & a clear print out of your lyrics. Once you have those things in place, we can begin.
REMEMBERING LYRICS - Getting started (SEE VIDEO BELOW!)
1. Place your lyrics in front of you on your desk or table
2. Now read through the lyrics several times, aloud
3. As you read, notice how the song is put together. More than likely, there are several verses and choruses. You will need to be able to see clearly where these verses begin and end. Look below to see how I have printed out my lyric sheet.
If you have printed your song out in a way that the verse/chorus structure is not obvious, make some changes on your computer and print it out again. Or, if you do not have access to a printer, then write out the lyrics in long-hand. Doing this will also help you to learn the words.
HERE IS HOW MY LYRIC SHEET LOOKS (see image on the right) As you will see, I have already highlighted the first lines of each verse in yellow in order to see more easily how and where each verse begins. Please do this on your own sheet.
The words for "Song For Burma" are in a very simple structure. Three verses and three choruses.
Creating a good lyric sheet that is memorable is rather like making a road map... (You can read the steps below before or while you watch the Video!)
4. Take your highlighter and mark out the structure. (See the video below and follow the steps that will take you through the creation of a good road map!)
5. As you will see, the first time through is for the verses. The second time through, you mark out the choruses.
6. Next, you will make little pictures on the side of the page that will represent key ideas in the words. These images will help to trigger your memory.
7. Now speak the lyrics out loud again. Are there specific words that seem to be awkward in your mouth? Circle them, and speak them aloud a few times. Watch the video to see other ways to bring your lyrics more easily to memory.
At this point, it makes sense to sing through the song - keeping the lyric road map in front of you as you do that. Let your memory work start to help you as you sing. And if you feel you need even more memory aids (I usually do....), then carry on reading below about finding "motion" in your lyrics.
Remembering Lyrics By Using Movement
8. Now, while speaking the lyrics, notice phrases that seem to have motion in them. By motion, I mean that the phrase allows you to make a hand gesture that defines the words. (For ex. - with the words: "My heart is sad and lonely..." you might put your hand on your heart and give a sad look!)
8. Find a hand gesture or body movement here and there, in key spots, to help you emphasize a phrase that is difficult to remember. Using your hand and arms in this way, adds yet another layer of physical memory for remembering lyrics.
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And finally, REMEMBERING LYRICS WITH YOUR ENTIRE BODY If you need yet more potent reminders, use your entire body to describe the words when they are not coming easily. Put your whole self into the action. Dance through some phrases, if it makes sense. Move across the room to get another group of words into your mind.
Remember, these are memory aids - not actions you will be using in performances. But all of these efforts will make a strong impression on your brain. And words will flow more easily under the duress of performance because your whole "body" has been involved in remembering the key words and phrases.
Once you have gone through some or all of these processes, it will be much harder to forget your words, even when you have a great many to remember.
I wish you great singing and lyrics that sit easily on the tip of your tongue!
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