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remembering lyrics

Emmie 12 Jul 13 - 07:18 PM
Leadfingers 12 Jul 13 - 10:16 PM
Deckman 12 Jul 13 - 10:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Jul 13 - 11:08 AM
johncharles 13 Jul 13 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 13 Jul 13 - 12:00 PM
Ebbie 13 Jul 13 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,Auldtmer 13 Jul 13 - 01:34 PM
Deckman 13 Jul 13 - 01:54 PM
Emmie 13 Jul 13 - 08:20 PM
Elmore 13 Jul 13 - 08:41 PM
Rumncoke 13 Jul 13 - 09:06 PM
Elmore 13 Jul 13 - 09:17 PM
Deckman 14 Jul 13 - 12:02 AM
Ebbie 14 Jul 13 - 12:14 AM
Deckman 14 Jul 13 - 12:57 AM
Emmie 14 Jul 13 - 05:37 AM
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Subject: remembering lyrics
From: Emmie
Date: 12 Jul 13 - 07:18 PM

I don't know if its my age, but I find it to hard to remember lyrics. Bloomin folk songs have so many verses and words! I performed tonight and had just two songs to do in my set. I sang the songs over and over and rehearsed quite a lot. What happened when I was up there? I forgot loads of the words to one of the songs. I think I may just have to have a crib sheet on the music stand but before I resort to this I was wondering if anyone had any tips for learning the songs and making the words stick! Help!!


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Jul 13 - 10:16 PM

I run through the words of songs I KNOW I am going to sing 'tonight' when I am


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Deckman
Date: 12 Jul 13 - 10:50 PM

Hi Emmie,

I think your thread is perfectly stated. I'll try to add some meaningful thoughts ...

There is no doubt that as we age, we have more difficulty in memorizing new songs. I know this personally as I am now either 76, or 176, I forget which!

I started absorbing folksongs through massive book collections when I was 13. By the time 10 years had passed, for whatever reason, I carried around a couple of thousand songs in my head. That sounds like a lot, but if you look around you, and remember the ballad singers you've known over the years, a repitore of two thousand songs is NOT uncommon.

What surprise me, and "Bride Judy" today, is now several times a week, I keep coming up with songs she's never heard of before. And "Bride Judy" has a strong background in traditional folk music. I'll confess that at these old/knew songs that keep popping out of my brain, it even surprises me. I often sing an old ballad, tell the story of how and why I learned it, and then I say ... "why in the heck do I rememeber THAT song?"

BUT, if I am preparing do perform a new concert, which I still do, I like to mix up the old stuff with new stuff. The "old stuff" returns really quickly. But the new stuff is demanding as heck. While it would be much simpler for me to just sing a concert of the "old stuff", I like to keep my audiences aware of what "new stuff" is now out there.

I've found that when I'm trying to drive the lyrics to new songs into my head, I have to return to the most basic things I did when I was a youngster:

1. shut ALL distractions from my brain
2. concentrate ONLY on the new song(s)
3. keep the words in front of me ... in the car ... on the mirror as I shave ... do NOT listen to any other music .. stop all other distractions ... etc. In other words ... FOCUS, FOCUS FOCUS.

There are many other tricks I learned that worked for me: sing the verses backwards, write an essay as to the ballads meaning ... etc.

So ... I hope this gives you some encouragement and perhaps some useful tips.

... just trying to help ... bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 11:08 AM

The other side of this can be, as collectors have demonstrated, sometimes old songs we have long forgotten cn come back to our memories as we get older.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: johncharles
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 11:19 AM

repetition, repetition, day after day eventually it will stick. Often takes me weeks to get it perfect, so trying to learn a song in a couple of days is not usually a good idea for me.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 12:00 PM

In my case the problem is old age and decaying brain cells, and it wasn't helped by the fact that I started suffering a lot of throat trouble. That put me out of the game for several years and when I got over the throat trouble I found I couldn't remember the words of most of the songs I knew.

Not to worry. Perseverance. I would think of a song that was lying in bits in my memory and try to reconstruct it by singing it over and over again until I had the whole thing dredged up intact. Sometimes the effort would be too much and I'd have to revert to hard copy.

By and large though, the struggle of forcing my brain to remember seemed to make the process of recollection a lot easier until now, when all kinds of stuff has been coming back to me fairly easily.

I thought I'd really cracked it the other day, when I managed a long and difficult ballad which I hadn't sung in about 20 years, and got it practically straight off. The only trouble is that I can't now remember which ****ing ballad it was!!!


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Ebbie
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 12:07 PM

I don't usually find it difficult to learn new songs, particularly if the verses follow a coherent pattern. When two verses, say, can be plugged in just about any place, it makes it harder.

What I have to do, however, is to not start thinking about something else while singing the song. When I stay *in* the song, the lines keep feeding themselves to me.

Now, tunes, instrumentals are much harder for me, both to learn and to retrieve them as needed from my mind. For instance, these days I am making music with a woman from Saipan. She does fingerstyle tunes from Saipan, Guam, China, Japan and some American. Beautiful tunes, tunes I want to learn; I'm being very slow at it. I can play individual tunes back to her at the time but last night at music, for instance, I couldn't get a single tune of them started.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: GUEST,Auldtmer
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 01:34 PM

There is an old Scots saying, "Hard work's no easy". Learning songs is all down to hard work.

I do not recomend crib sheets other than the song titles or introduction facts, you will come to depend on them and they will become part of the song. Without your bit of paper you won't know wither Lord Randal was the baddy or the daddy, whither your on the Road to Drumlinin or the Rocky Road To Dublin.

Learn YOUR songs the way YOU sing them NOT how you heard THEM on that CD. You have to learn the words AND the breathing AND the phrasing AND the timing, you've got to sell this song, put it over, perform it. Always introduce your songs, the talking sets up your listeners more than you and can get you off to a rolling start. And remember, never to be yourself when you sing. Become a BIGGER VERSION of yourself, a more confident assured persona, big enough to hide in. Most of the listeners don't know you so it's great what you can get away with. But only turn the wick up a wee bit, just a shade. Remember have fun it is what it is all about.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Deckman
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 01:54 PM

Auldtimer ... I couldn't have said it better meeself ... and I glad YOU DID!


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Emmie
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 08:20 PM

Good advice! I thought I had practised the words endlessly but I still went blank. I think theres some great advice here. I've been thinking about this today as well and I reckon I need to not read the words from the page as soon as possible and try and remember them myself straight away. I think I need to really get the narrative of the song and almost visualise it, basically use as many different ways as possible to embed it in my brain. Failing that I need to be able to make something up quick to replace the forgotten words!!


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Elmore
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 08:41 PM

Hell. I've seen plenty of well known folk singers, in their prime who had trouble with the lyrics to songs they had performed countless times. Never understood it. Perhaps they got distracted, or were concentrating on hitting the right note so intently, that they forgot the words. Age had nothing to do with it.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Rumncoke
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 09:06 PM

A trick I find useful these days is to start to rehearse by singing the last verse twice - then the last two verses, then the last three -somehow that seems to work better than singing from first to last verse.

I used to have an excellent memory, then one day I couldn't remember the words, but it is coming back to some extent. Now I have trouble learning new tunes - I can blame old age now I have my bus pass.

Rather than not sing at all I wrote the words into a book. Having to take a look at the words a couple of times during a song means I can get through it and don't start to get stressed, and forget the words completely.

Now I have written down so many songs I have had to find a way to bind them into a book because I could not find anything with enough pages.

I never used to get stage fright - for many years I performed with perfect confidence, but a couple of times dying on stage and that went. I should have used a book earlier.

The Human memory is a strange thing - the last song in my book is Tam Linn - because I never forgot that, I added it for completeness.

If you want to sing do what you need to do so as to be able to do it well.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Elmore
Date: 13 Jul 13 - 09:17 PM

My secret to overcoming stage fright was to drink as much wine as was available. I was well received, but had a terrible hangover the next day, which is why I got a real job.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 12:02 AM

The root cause of "stage fright" is selfishness ... you are thinking of YOURSELF instead of the song and the audience. You are paid to PERFORM ... SO STOP THINKING OF YOURSELF of do your job! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Ebbie
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 12:14 AM

That's a bit over the top, imo. First of all, debilitating stage fright occurs even when you are NOT being paid.

Second, unless you mean 'self consciousness' or even 'self-centeredness', I think 'selfishness' is mislabeling.


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 12:57 AM

You're likely correct. bob


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Subject: RE: remembering lyrics
From: Emmie
Date: 14 Jul 13 - 05:37 AM

Thanks again for more advice. I like the idea of learning the song from the last verse backwards that sounds worth a try! I was thinking of doing a little prompt card for myself for gigs with the first word of each line on it...I would do the card credit card sized and have it inside my hand! There is something reassuring about knowing the words are there as a back up!

I actually agree to a certain extent about deckmans comment about selfishness-it does help to think that you are giving yourself to the audience and they feel more comfortable and are more forgiving if you are as relaxed as possible. Its better to be relaxed and forget the odd word than uptight and word perfect in my opinion!


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