Need to memorize lyrics–quickly? Take a look at these helpful tips from Ann Arbor, MI voice teacher Elaina R…
For many people, memorizing words is easier if the words are set to music–that is why songs are often used in education (there is even a song that lists all 50 states!). That being said, trying to memorize a song on a deadline is not fun. Not many people know how to practice singing lyrics effectively, and singers often need to learn multiple songs on short notice.
If you are struggling to memorize lyrics, you are not alone. Plenty of people have trouble memorizing lyrics to songs. Memorization becomes even harder if the song in question has lots of words or is strophic (has a repeated melody with different words each time). Here are some tricks that will help you learn how to practice singing the right words in just a few days.
Memorization Methods Without Singing
Singing a song over and over while looking at the music can help you memorize, but it can also tire your voice out. Here are some memorization methods that don’t involve any singing at all.
1. Speak or mouth the words: Try reading a passage from the song, then repeating it without looking at the words. Keep doing this, making the passages longer and longer each time. Eventually, you will be able to speak the whole song without looking at the lyrics. If you need to save your voice, try mouthing the words instead of saying them.
2. Write the words out: This exercise is similar to the previous one. Read a short passage from the song, and write it down without looking at the lyrics. Continue doing this, working your way through the song and making your passages longer and longer as you memorize more. Remember to write with a pen or pencil and paper; physically writing has been proven to jog your memory better than typing.
3. Listen to the song: If you have a recording of the song available, great. If not, make a quick one featuring yourself–it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t sound perfect, as long as you get all of the words right. Listen to the recording, singing along with it mentally. You can do this anywhere you want as long as you put the recording on an iPod or smartphone.
4. Run through the song in your head: Even if you do not have a recording available, try running through the song in your head, taking care to think each word as you go. If you find you can’t remember a particular word, look at the lyrics and try again.
How to Practice Singing Lyrics
Of course, singing the song is another great way to memorize the lyrics. Here are a few memorization techniques you can use that involve singing.
1. Sing the song without looking at the lyrics: Even if you think you aren’t ready, try singing through the whole song without looking at the words; you may surprise yourself. Take note of difficult parts and double-check the lyrics before you try again. You can also alternate between singing while looking at the lyrics and singing without looking at them.
2. Sing along: Play a recording of the song and sing along. If you falter, the singer on the recording will fill in the words for you. Pay careful attention while you do this–otherwise, you may go on autopilot and not remember the words.
Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you know how to practice singing the words to a song, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. For any of these techniques, whether you are singing, speaking, or simply thinking the words, the key is to practice every single day. If you have very limited time, you may even want to go over the words multiple times a day. Put in the time, and your brain will do the rest. Happy memorizing!
Elaina R. teaches opera voice and singing in Ann Arbor, MI, as well as through online lessons. She is currently working on a Master of Music at the University of Michigan, and she has a B.M. from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Elaina here!
Photo by kizzzbeth