Ever had a song to record but you didn't get the time to properly remember all your lyrics? Or needed to perform a show, but again, didn't get time to remember your lyrics?
Most musicians have been there at some point. Learning your words and how to perform them can take a while. What's more, if you half remember your lyrics and perform them as are, your performance will never sound as good as if you knew them inside out. You'll be too busy trying to not mess up and not spending enough time on putting real emotion into the song. And songs always sound better when a natural performance is behind it.
Want tricks on how to remember lyrics a lot faster? Then read below for four ways to do just that. These tips will help you whether you sing, rap or do poetry.
P.S. If you need help writing a song in the first place, you should have a look at this guide.
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Remember Song Lyrics Through Repetition
Repetition is known as “the mother of learning”.
Do you remember having to forcefully memorize the The Star-Spangled Banner or Declaration of Independence when you were a kid? You probably don’t as having the words stick in your head came naturally as a result of reciting them every day with your teacher or your classmates.
The fact of the matter is that the fastest way to make anything stick is by repeating it over and over. And I don’t just mean in your head – but out loud. Recite or sing your lyrics out loud as often as you can throughout the day and take constant breaks in between so that your memory is able to jog and refresh itself.
It will also help you to memorize the lyrics per section as organization is key to effective memorization. For instance, before memorizing the entire song, focus on verse 1 first. Afterward, you can move on to the chorus, verse 2, bridge, and so on and so forth.
It is important to say or sing the lyrics out loud and not just in your head because when you do this, you utilize two of your senses at the same time and this action helps to anchor the concept in your long-term memory. This is one of the most important things to remember when learning how to memorize lyrics.
Sleep On It And Let The Lyrics Soak In
While hard work, determination and persistence will go a long way in helping you memorize your lyrics, pulling an all-nighter isn’t exactly the best idea. In fact, you might be surprised at just how crucial sufficient and proper sleep is to ensuring that the lyrics you’ve been repeating/singing throughout the day actually stay in your head and don’t just go through it.
Study after study has shown that our memories consolidate or gel new information far better when adequate, restful sleep is thrown into the mix. Once you’ve gone through the lyrics repeatedly, sleeping on them will protect the new memories you’ve created from being disrupted by experiences that you would inevitably encounter if you were awake.
Go to bed after a full day of singing the lyrics and test this theory in the morning by gauging how much you’ve managed to memorize before taking a peek at the lyrics. Additionally, sleep deprivation has also been linked to impeded learning and thinking as it hampers one’s cognitive processes. Efficient learning is compromised without adequate sleep. Most importantly, sleep deprivation has also been linked to forgetfulness so if you want those lyrics to stay in your head, be sure to make getting your shut-eye a top priority.
Recording Your Lyrics Then Playing The Recording Back
Another way to help you remember lyrics is by recording yourself singing the actual song once you’ve become slightly familiar with the words. You can then play back the recording, listen to it, and try your best to sing or rap along.
This will help your brain wrap itself around the entire concept of knowing not just the lyrics but the accompaniment or melody as well that the lyrics are set to. Again, familiarize yourself with the lyrics, and once you feel that you’ve somewhat got them down, record yourself singing them. Proceed with playing the tape back and sing along as best as you can!
Using Word Association Tactics
Finally, another strategy that you can employ to help you effectively remember your lyrics is using word association tactics. This sounds like a mouthful but what it essentially means is that you associate or connect the words – or first word – in your lyrics with a specific person, location, event, feeling, what have you. For instance, with the word “apple”, the first thing that would come to mind for most of us is a shiny red fruit or perhaps the ubiquitous logo of one of today’s hottest technological brands. Either way, the point is that your brain has associated that word with something definitive.
The point is to do the same with your song lyrics and a solid concept or idea. Choose something that you can easily recall and that will help you remember the lyrics to the song. Write the words down and connect them to each specific lyric. Once you’ve done this, you can start singing the lyrics throughout the day and looking at what you’ve written down while doing so to help you remember what you are singing. You can also begin to record yourself singing the lyrics once you’ve applied the word association tactics.
Keep in mind: you have to work actively to forge an association between the two pieces of information. If the first word of your lyric is “mountains”, think of the name of the mountain that is most familiar to you and align it with that word. Or draw it next to the lyric and envision it in your head as you are singing the song. Having such images in your head should help you to recall them more easily and naturally.
Being able to remember your lyrics fast is a good skill to have. While you should always aim to give yourself enough time to let the words sink in and become second nature to you, this isn't always possible. So using these tactics to speed up the process is highly recommended.