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Reading Lyrics vs Memorization

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Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 01:52 AM
Howard Jones 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,CS 03 Apr 14 - 04:32 AM
Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 04:39 AM
DebC 03 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Apr 14 - 05:12 AM
Leadfingers 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Apr 14 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,CS 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM
sciencegeek 03 Apr 14 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM
Jack Campin 03 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM
Dave Sutherland 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM
breezy 03 Apr 14 - 09:00 AM
Vic Smith 03 Apr 14 - 09:07 AM
Cool Beans 03 Apr 14 - 10:00 AM
Mr Happy 03 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM
DebC 03 Apr 14 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Tony 03 Apr 14 - 12:07 PM
Musket 03 Apr 14 - 01:31 PM
Deckman 03 Apr 14 - 01:33 PM
Lighter 03 Apr 14 - 01:43 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 14 - 02:05 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM
johncharles 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,mg 03 Apr 14 - 03:31 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 03:52 PM
Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 06:11 PM
Deckman 03 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 14 - 06:50 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Apr 14 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 03 Apr 14 - 08:10 PM
michaelr 03 Apr 14 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,airymouse 03 Apr 14 - 09:34 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 03:21 AM
Howard Jones 04 Apr 14 - 05:20 AM
GUEST 04 Apr 14 - 12:14 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Apr 14 - 12:28 PM
Bonzo3legs 04 Apr 14 - 02:23 PM
Crowhugger 04 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 05:54 PM
Crowhugger 04 Apr 14 - 06:20 PM
Stringsinger 04 Apr 14 - 07:15 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 08:05 PM
Stringsinger 05 Apr 14 - 08:48 AM
JHW 05 Apr 14 - 12:41 PM
folkwaller 05 Apr 14 - 01:09 PM
Crowhugger 05 Apr 14 - 01:48 PM
DonMeixner 05 Apr 14 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 05 Apr 14 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,John Routledge no cookie 05 Apr 14 - 06:25 PM
GUEST 05 Apr 14 - 06:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 14 - 08:33 PM
Musket 06 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM
Tattie Bogle 06 Apr 14 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Al Zymer 06 Apr 14 - 07:40 AM
Musket 06 Apr 14 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Al Zymer 06 Apr 14 - 04:13 PM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 14 - 03:00 AM
GUEST,LynnH 11 Apr 14 - 03:26 AM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 14 - 04:07 AM
Musket 11 Apr 14 - 05:55 AM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 14 - 02:14 AM
The Sandman 15 Apr 14 - 02:19 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Apr 14 - 02:54 AM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM
GUEST 15 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM
Genie 15 Apr 14 - 02:30 PM
Uncle Tone 06 Sep 16 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 06 Sep 16 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 06 Sep 16 - 07:37 PM
Acorn4 07 Sep 16 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,For it is he 07 Sep 16 - 03:33 AM
Rumncoke 07 Sep 16 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 07 Sep 16 - 01:44 PM
Backwoodsman 07 Sep 16 - 04:16 PM
Brakn 07 Sep 16 - 06:19 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jul 17 - 07:04 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 17 - 08:04 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jul 17 - 08:30 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 05 Jul 17 - 05:31 AM
Nigel Parsons 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Tony Fisk 05 Jul 17 - 11:40 AM
Will Fly 05 Jul 17 - 12:03 PM
JHW 05 Jul 17 - 12:20 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,LynnH 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM
MikeL2 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,watcher (and strummer!) 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,alex s no cookie 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Desi C 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM
lefthanded guitar 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Leslie 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM
RTim 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM
GUEST,ST 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM
The Sandman 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,dickmiles 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM
Richard Mellish 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM
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Subject: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:52 AM

I was invited to an invitation-only singing weekend, and I sent my $250 in to attend. After I signed up and paid my money, I received the following message:
    We'd like to discourage folks from using "Rise Up Singing" or similar song word books. If you have a song or two you're dying to sing, and aren't sure of the words and want to stick a sheet in your back pocket for security, that's fine. But we'd like to avoid having people flipping through the pages of a book (or smart device) looking for what they're going to sing next while someone else is singing.


My response:
    I'd like to say that if I had known of this restriction before the weekend, I wouldn't have attended. I have trouble memorizing lyrics, so I have to depend on something. I try not to be distracting when other people are singing, and I like to think I'm quite polite. I have some songs committed to memory, but I like to do songs that are new to me or more interesting for one reason or another.
    I can sing camp and church songs from memory forever, but I don't want to do that.

    I realize that this is a "hot issue" and many people have objections to the way people choose to sing, but I tend to think that sort of attitude is intolerably snooty.


Yeah, it's really nice if people can memorize every song they sing, but it just doesn't happen all that much any more. I think I'm a pretty good singer, and I do know a lot of songs from memory - church songs, camp songs, Christmas and Fourth of July songs, Peter Paul and Mary and Simon & Garfunkel Songs, and a lot of other songs I wouldn't sing at a traditional song gathering. I'm constantly learning new songs, but I'm ready to sing them for others when I have the melody down - I don't wait until I have the lyrics memorized. And for that matter, I learn lyrics best after I've sung the song for an audience a number of times. Even then, I like to have something that will tell me the first coupla words of every verse.


So, I feel like forfeiting my $250 and not attending. Most of the people at this gathering know me, and they must know that I sing from song sheets, a Kindle, and occasionally a copy of Rise Up Singing. Why did they invite me?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM

They say they discourage it, not that it's banned. It looks to me that they want two things. The first is to discourage inappropriate behaviour during someone else's performance. The second, implicitly, is to encourage best practice.

"it's really nice if people can memorize every song they sing, but it just doesn't happen all that much any more". I find that statement very depressing. The pros and cons have been gone over many times, and there's no point in repeating them - that's not the purpose of your posting. I can only say that in my experience performances by singers who have taken the trouble to memorise the song (or play a tune) are nearly always better than those who read them.

There are exceptions, and you may be one of them. If you have genuine memory issues then you may be fully justified in using a prompt, and if you're sufficiently practiced you may well be able to deliver a good performance. However in too many cases it's simply an excuse for not making an effort, and all too often it is accompanied by a failure to properly understand the song or make it one's own.

As for your specific complaint, I think you are entitled to ask for your money back, especially as they only raised this after you had booked and that they should have known this is your practice - you were after all specifically invited. However it seems to me to be only a recommendation, and unless they are going to insist on it then perhaps you are being a bit 'snooty' yourself in responding the way you have. I can understand your annoyance though.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:32 AM

While I don't think their request is unreasonable (or indeed at all "snooty"), they should have specified the kind of involvement they were hoping for from participants, before relieving you of your cash.

Agree with Howard, I'd ask for your $250 back simply on the grounds that it's evidently not the kind of musical event that you would feel sufficiently prepared enough to participate in.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:39 AM

Thanks, Howard.
I think there's a good chance that I have 500 songs memorized, but they're songs not suitable for a folk singaround, or they're songs everybody knows. At singarounds with accomplished singers, I like to sing songs that are new to me - and I hope they're new to the people who are listening. I find the condemnation of certain "purists" to be restrictive. If they're so insistent on memorization, I can sing the entire Peter Paul and Mary Songbook, every word of "God Bless America" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (with two melodies), and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" (and the rest of the scores from two dozen musicals).

To me, it's enough to pick songs that are appropriate to the situation, and to sing them as well as I can - even though I may make a mistake here and there. If I have to be restricted by all sorts of snooty rules, I think that's a real damper on creativity.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DebC
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM

This sounds like a boilerplate response from the organisers. It *is* distracting and impolite for people to be going through notebooks/songsheets/iPads whilst someone is singing and I see it a lot in singing sessions more and more. It's rude plain and simple and demonstrates that the person doing that isn't listening to the singer.

I know you Joe, and you *are* a gentleman. Their use of the word "discourage" is appropriate I think as Howard stated above.

I don't like rules in sessions, either. To me, sessions are community-oriented activities and if someone is using a tool to help them participate, so be it and I have no right to judge that person or question their reasoning.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:12 AM

I'm with those saying the $250 should be reclaimed.

On the subject of singing from the sheet, just take a look at some of the inventive,comic,well-constructed songs we have on the 'Cat in response to "song challenges". I'm sure many of these do get public performances (I know some of mine do). As these tend to be responses to topical stories it would be pointless to hold them back until they have been memorised, when the story is no longer topical.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM

I have NO problem with singers who are breaking in a 'new' song at a singaround having the lyrics handy as an aid . What I DO object to is
singers holding a book like Sing Out between them selves and the audience so that they are singing at the bloody book , not to their audience .
Equally annoying is getting the book out and sorting out the song they want when they should be ready to sing - A REAL waste of time , though riffling through the pages when some one else is singing is NOT polite !
In UK , use of words never used to be at all common , though it is , sadly , a growing trend - something we seem to have borrowed from USA


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:36 AM

As I read the text, its message is "If you need the words in writing, please copy them to (few) sheets so that you do not have to flip through a book during the event". I agree that the phrase "if you are dying to sing" sounds condescending. "Well-prepared performances will be appreciated" would do.

Performers can be asked to sing entirely from memory if they can earn $250 rather than having to pay.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM

Grishka says: "Performers can be asked to sing entirely from memory if they can earn $250 rather than having to pay."

With regards to the money, If I spent that kind of dosh on a traditional singing weekend, I would hope (indeed expect) to find myself among folk who took their craft seriously enough to practice and prepare and indeed know something about (the majority of) their material ahead of the event. I'd certainly be sorely disappointed to discover that the participants were singing un-prepped songs from mass-produced standard songbooks.

I think it's unfortunate that the organisers of this event didn't clarify the kind of engagement they were hoping to attract from participants from the start - however there's nothing "snooty" about seeking to attract and appeal to the kind of people who take their craft seriously enough to want to apply themselves to it - and who would prefer to participate with similar others.

The important thing is to be clear from the outset, not raise the bar after money has changed hands.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: sciencegeek
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:18 AM

the singing weekends that we have attended have been social gatherings of old & new friends... few rules other than its focus is singing not instrumentals and please listen not just be concerned with one's own next song.

Books have appeared.. and even the i phone thing. We are not as young as we were... LOL But the whole event is just a gathering... the only structure being mealtimes set by the facility.

That said... it's a social gathering for mutual enjoyment. Perhaps a message back asking what prompted the first message - since you are known to them. Was this a groupwide message?

We have a similar aversion to SingOut.. not the book's fault.

If you are still upset, then it's not going to be a fun weekend, correct? But maybe getting more info will set things right? Or at least give you a better feel for what you should do.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM

CS (03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM), alright, professionals may also pay for workshops, but usually not because they are "dying to sing". We do not know what exactly Joe had read before enrolling, but from what he wrote, I cannot conclude that he had previously been deceived about the nature of the event, with the possible exception that he now has to spend another couple of dimes on photocopying.

No doubt that such an event should be described as precisely as possible before collecting the money, clearly pronouncing the requirements, but refraining from snooty remarks about those who do are unable or unwilling to fulfill them.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM

I doubt if Joe is a timewasting bookflipper of the type the organizers are worried about. I'd pay (though maybe not $250) to avoid them too.

Some people know how to use paper effectively and it doesn't look like they were an object of concern.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM

As Leadfingers says it is a growing trend in the UK to see music stands, books, iphones etc on display to the extent that it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Should you continue to sing from memory in such company you are left with the feeling that you are being slightly arrogant in doing so.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: breezy
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:00 AM

sounds like a money grabbing exercise to me.

For $250 you can sing what and how you damn well like. You've paid for an opportunity to sing, so sing . Most probably no one will notice because they'll be preoccupied with their own imminent renditions.


I am pleased more people are finding singing as an individual outlet, but 'folk' songs are not always as easy as some would think. mainly because they could be somewhat lengthy and do require an element of, shall we say theatre? .

The problem is sometimes rookie singers try to impress and fall flat on their faces in so doing.

If I was paying to go to hear others perform I would be upset to find that they didnt know their songs.

I once was distracted by a kid playing on a hand held game and requested he stop it and pay attention as he was also distracting other audience memebers !!
His parents werent best pleased with me.
So much for appropriate behaviour in an auditorium I thought.
We are all educators.

Look a the singer at all times even if you are day dreaming

Ask for you refund Joe

Whose a grumpy old folker then?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:07 AM

From: Howard Jones - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM

From: Leadfingers - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM

From: GUEST,CS - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM

From: Dave Sutherland - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM

to all of these. My opinion is that reading words may be all right for free singarounds or a gathering of friends but is never acceptable when an audience is paying to get in.
As for age, well perhaps there is a time to stop... but my wife and I gave a performance to a capacity audience that lasted 2 1/2 hours last Saturday, singing over 40 items without words prompts and never fluffing a word. How? Because we worked very hard indeed at rehearsing the programme. Our combined ages are 140.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Cool Beans
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 10:00 AM

As a point of pride I sing only songs that I've memorized but I would never impose that condition on anyone else. If the point is to sing, then sing from memory or sing from written/printed lyrics, especially if you're paying for the privilege.
    My big issue is with time hogs, those folks who'll sing a 10-minute song when so many others are waiting their turn. But that's a whole other thread, isn't it.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM

Joe,

If it was me, I'd ask for money back.

Sounds much like they're not the kind of folk one could be comfortable with, so my advice is don't go there.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DebC
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 11:27 AM

If this is the gathering that I think it is, it is as Sciencegeek says: a SOCIAL gathering of folks who know each other and know each other well. The payment is for bed and meals since this gathering and others like it are usually held at booked or rented facilities.

No one is getting paid to attend and the organisers are doing this on their own time.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 12:07 PM

Clearly, the issue here is not reading vs. memorizing -- it's "flipping through pages while someone else is singing". I've been guilty of that, and I'm very glad to have it pointed out as an annoyance. I won't do it in the future.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:31 PM

I suppose because I was once paid good money as a performer, I still feel I need to give good value, so I never sing from words anyway. No issue with those that do, just not me.

Interesting point above about asking if can be construed as arrogance to sing from memory. I'd' be buggered then. I even stand to sing (and play) where everybody else sits, (in order to read their books on cookery book stands.)

I was once asked to sing Goodnight Irene at a singaround. No problem I reckoned I could recall enough words plus wing it. The person who asked for someone to sing it looked closely at the chords I used for the first verse then spent the rest of the time writing them onto their words sheet.

So much so that they never heard me sing "Sometimes I have a great notion, to burn the shithouse down."

Mind you, the other year I paid £130.00 for a concert by The London Symphony Orchestra. Nobody complained about them having a score in front of them ;-)


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:33 PM

I belong in the camp that says books should NOT be allowed. Some years ago I quit the Seattle Song Circle group over this issue. In fact, that last night, I even wrote a song about it:

"This is the song on page 17, page 17, page 17,
   This is the song on page 17,
And my book's better than yours.

This is the song on page 18 .... etc."

They were not amused ... probably because I ang it from memory ... bad bad bob


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:43 PM

Aside from this specific case, I'd far rather hear somebody sing from memory and flub a word or two than read from a script.

Anybody can read from a book or a piece of paper, but only someone who knows a song inside and out can sing from memory. How many "source singers" regularly depended on written-out lyrics in performance? Or, worse yet, on some editor's written-out words?

The two kinds of performance convey a completely different feeling.

Joe, if you can sing 500 songs from memory, your song memory is a hell of a lot better than mine - and probably most people's.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:05 PM

There seems to be some sort of mythology about memorising songs and thus significantly improving performance. In my experience a poor singer who memorises the song will still be worse than a good singer who uses a crib sheet.
john


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM

Here's my response to this - Not In The Book. I've probably mentioned this before on one of many threads on this hot topic.
Rise Up Singing is really a fine collection of songs to sing in groups, but not to be used in group singing. Does that make sense? - read my response above.

Like Deckman, above, I quit the Song Circle for the same reason.
On the other hand I go to a weekly "community sing" at Seattle's Dusty Strings music store. It is lead by two wonderful singers and instrumentalists - Kate Power and Steve Einhorn. They lead the songs and are the "house band." They have a loose-leaf notebook with many songs that they know quite well. People can use that book and suggest songs or bring multiple copies of a song they know and can lead. I usually bring a song each week, which I lead from memory. Unlike a song circle, the leaders know the songs - there is no going around the circle with people saying "let's sing that song, but I don't really know it" and everyone stumbling through a song that nobody knows. People are not leafing through a book to find a song because it is their turn. And most people who read the lyrics scan a line ahead and actually look up as they sing. It works quite well.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: johncharles
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM

guest above was me. Cookie lost, now found.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 03:31 PM

I'll try to make it to Dusty Strings this Sunday..I have wanted to go but it didn't seem to be on the web site or something.

Anyway, I think you are OK in asking for money back. I want to know the blue book philosophy before I ..if ever.. pay 250 for it. There is a place for everything..certainly if people love it they should do it and say that is what is planned. I have no problem ever with people using paper and have to have it myself to peek at...I find those electronics really interrupt the music because they are small and people have to stop and swipe the page etc...

So truth in advertising..if you don't want them, say so. If you love them, say so. People will enroll accordingly. If it is a social event of people who love the idea of community music, you will get a different musical outcome than if people come for the music itself and want the prettiest music possible. Yes, there is an inverse correlation between number of blue books and prettiness of music.

In camps etc. set aside a room for each, assuming there are two rooms..or have more rooms. Do not allow people to impose on the room..what happens at camps is people find the prettiest music, which is usually done by people who prefer no books, and then haul their books out, and then start passing extra books out, and then start saying let's move the chairs back and make room..no..don't do that please...and then they want the brightest flourescent lights on so they can see the aforementioned books.

And then they sing extra verses the leader does not perhaps want. And they superimpose the blue book words on top of what the leader does want.

So I think in a weekend there could be plenty of workshops promoting the use of blue books for those who love them, with other workshops not wanting them..the evening song circles are the crux of the matter though..just have separate rooms and take your preference and follow the lead of the group in a particular setting. Respect the preferences of people but you don't need to impose. Find anoher room.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 03:52 PM

Hi Mary,

The Dusty Strings SING is every Wednesday (not Sunday) from noon to 1pm. They also do a SING every 2nd Saturday - noon to 1pm - at Couth Buzzard Books in the Greenwood area. So please come.

Also, to Joe: I don't find your singing weekend that restrictive. It says only that they "discourage" folks from using RUS but it's apparently okay to have a slip of paper to prompt you on certain words or the beginning of a new verse. I think what they don't want is someone to flip through RUS and pick a song that they don't know or barely know and stumble through it. I don't think you would do that, would you?

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:11 PM

Most often, I sing in a choir. I'm pretty-well squashed in, so I usually glance at the hymnal of the person in front of me when I need to see lyrics - usually just the first couple words of a verse - I try to have my eyes on the director or the congregation most of the time. When I direct singing at nursing homes at Christmas and Fourth of July, I have a song sheet in hand, but rarely look at it - but I have a hard time getting our singers to look at the audience and connect with them, even though many have been singing the same songs as long as I have.

I've belonged to the Sacramento Family Song Circle for over twenty years, and I suppose I've become the "alpha male" of the group (I also dated many women in the group, until I got married to one of them - whom I met when the was dating the previous alpha male, but that's another story...). Anyhow, this song circle uses the Rise Up Singing songbook, and I'm reputed to know all the songs in the book. I tend to sing with the book open on the floor in front of me, just in case I need it. I'm also working (not very hard) on the committee preparing the next Rise Up Singing - and I know most of the songs in THAT book.

When I go to the Getaway in Washington or to gatherings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club, I like to sing songs that are less familiar. I like to try to ensure that the same people don't hear me sing the same song more than once a year. I also sing with a monthly gathering of more accomplished singers, and I like to try to sing one song a month that I've recently found on Mudcat. In these more sophisticated gatherings, I have usually sung from a folder of lyrics I've printed out. I pick out maybe ten songs before the session, and choose songs from that ten that fit the moment. I sometimes have to read the lyrics to sing, but often not. But I hate hearing people start a song over three times because they can't remember a verse, or quite before they've completed a song because they just can't remember - I appreciate them trying, but I don't want to be like that. So, I always carry "insurance."

Recently, I've experimented with singing from a Kindle tablet, with mixed results. Sure helps when the room is dark, though.

Yes, I like to sing from memory when I can - but it sure limits my repertoire.

If it's an invitation-only gathering, I think the organizers should invite people who are at the skill level they want, and then let them sing as they want to sing. I know most of the people who will be at this gathering and I think they like my singing. I don't see why "rules" like this should be necessary.

So, and I'll have a good time and I wouldn't dream of asking for a refund because I have to deal with these people all the time - but I resent this last-minute restriction.

But on the other hand, I hope so-and-so isn't there, the one who talks constantly while others are singing, and raises her voice so she can be heard above the singing. There oughta be a rule about that. And I sure wish she'd tune her friggin' autoharp once...

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM

JOE ... would it help you out if I offer to REFUSE TO COME, because of the rule change? Oh ... wait a minute ... I wasn't invited anyway ... bob


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:50 PM

Don't you just love it when somebody gets up to sing with a great big folder and then asks you to join in with the chorus of a song they couldn't be bothered learning?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:14 PM

Joe, I sill don't see the problem. When I'm learning a new song I get to the point where I might need a lyric sheet just to glance at now and then, but I certainly don't read from it word for word. There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion. It sounds like something you do, and I don't think it would be considered a distraction or discourtesy in any singing group.

When I go to a sing or a jam I consider it my obligation to prepare in advance - learn the song at least so I can sing it with just occasional glances at a piece of paper, or play the tune through without any big mistakes (hopefully without any). But what I REALLY object to is people coming to the sing or jam without any preparation. That is a discourtesy to all the others in the group. That's why I object to the use of RUS in song circles - it allows people to come totally unprepared and then try to participate. I think that's what the group you were invited to wanted to avoid.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:16 PM

"I hate hearing people start a song over three times because they can't remember a verse, or quite before they've completed a song because they just can't remember - I appreciate them trying, but I don't want to be like that."

That's a very valid point. As well as discouraging the use of songbooks the organisers should also be discouraging this sort of lack of preparation, which is just as bad. And some of the behaviour Joe describes is just bad manners.

I guess what I find surprising is that people who take singing sufficiently seriously to get themselves invited to a singing weekend and are willing to pay $250 for it don't appear to think it important to learn the songs. Obviously, anyone with genuine memory difficulties is excused, but even though we're all getting older I believe they are in a minority, and in most cases using a book is just an excuse for not putting in the work. But I'm not going to give those who habitually forget words an easy ride either - they too haven't put in the work.

No one expects to pick up a musical instrument and play it - everyone understands it takes hours of study and practice to become proficient. So why do people think that singing doesn't deserve the same dedication and effort?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:10 PM

I soon get bored ploughing through these sort of threads.

With regard to this one I would like to make two points.

1

Joe should get his money back.

2

The sort of source singers that I admired and sought to follow sang totally from memory and would find it odd not to. If they could only memorise a limited number of songs then that is what they sang.

AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: michaelr
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:23 PM

So tired of the snootiness (which is against the rules here).

My memory is not what it was. It is what it is, and I see no need to apologize. I know upwards of 600 songs, but occasionally I blank on the next line. So if I have a cheat sheet to glance at, I'll use it when needed, and all you "memory-only" elitists can't convince me that's wrong.

And what's wrong with that?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,airymouse
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:34 PM

Joe,I have never had the honor of being invited to pay $250 to sing. Let me tell you how it works in my part of the world. Next Friday (Friday week as we in the South say, and also Anthony Trollope) there is a pot-luck musical house party. I guess technically it's by invitation, but anyone can take a dish and listen to the music, and if you want to "perform" all you have to do is pick a 15 minute slot over the internet. It runs the gamut. Among other things there is classical music, some old-time music, a barbershop quartet, and a few "singer songwriters". Some of it is astoundingly good, and I admit last time there was one guy who couldn't (or at least didn't) carry a tune. The same family hosts this party once or twice a year, and it is wonderful venue for music, because everyone there is there to listen, and the hosts have a great sound system and an awesome collection of musical instruments. I don't remember who had sheet music, as it did not make a difference. It's not more rude to shuffle a book of songs while someone is singing than to shuffle the Wall Street Journal. I often take a book of old songs by J. Fingers with me, because some of the songs he collected share a line or to from the songs I know. Neither of us has the "right" words. None of the old songs in that book are Finger's, none of them are mine, and I don't care how well you sing them, none of them will be yours: old songs belong to us all.
Joe I have lots of questions about your weekend. Do you all get together ad hoc and try to sing the same old song, without ever having practiced together? If so, who picks the version you sing, or is that where the book comes in?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 03:21 AM

I'm sure the $250 goes to the retreat center that hosts the weekend. It's six meals and lodging for two nights in what is supposed to be a beautiful place. I don't think the people organizing the group make any money on it, although there might be enough padding in the budget to pay for a few people who can't afford the $250. I'm on the board of a Catholic retreat center that charges $185 for about the same amount of service, but only four meals. So I won't complain about that cost - that's what it is in California.

And the singing sessions these people have are quite relaxed, and quite supportive of the singers. There are a few people who try to dictate things toward their ideal of snootiness, but they're usually unsuccessful. So most likely, I'll sing my songs the best I can and most people will like them; and I will raise a middle finger of warning should anyone object to my right to sing as I damn well please. It's just that I think it's exclusionary to attempt to dictate how people sing their songs. I think it's better to assume that people will try to do their best, and some will do better than others.

Am I memory challenged? Maybe so. I never let anyone help me carry my groceries to the car at the supermarket, because I never remember where I parked my car and don't want to be embarrassed about that. And similarly, I don't want to be embarrassed about forgetting lyrics, so I use a notebook or tablet.

I used to go to a twice-monthly song gathering with a wonderful woman, and my friend always brought along lyrics sheets as an aid. Another woman in the group chewed her out for not memorizing her songs. The woman's husband, a well-known performer, brought "cheat sheets" with lyrics to the next session and every session thereafter, subtly telling his wife that she was wrong to jump all over my friend. And lately I've noticed the wife using lyrics sheets. Memory lapse hits all of us sooner or later.


-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 05:20 AM

Discreetly used 'cheat sheets' are one thing. Trained singers who may be able to sight-read fluently and expressively are another, although often when they are 'reading' it is a piece they have already learned and internalised. I don't have too much of a problem with this, if it doesn't interfere with the delivery of the song, although I think it looks poor. What the criticism, and I suspect the directive from the organisers of Joe's event, is aimed at are those who use use the book as a substitute for learning the song. In particular, it is the normalisation of this behaviour which I object to, because (in my experience) in most cases this does interfere with their delivery of the song.

Memorising songs isn't easy. It takes practice, but with practice it becomes easier. If you rely on reading the words you'll never get the practice and you'll never acquire that skill. As I said before, anyone with genuine memory problems is excused, but I just don't believe that applies to very many.

I also think part of the problem is that people feel the need to maintain too large a repertoire, whether its feeling they need to produce a new song every time they perform or feel that they ought to be able to perform all the songs they have ever learned. Most performers keep only around a dozen or so songs in their current performing repertoire, although which songs these are will be changed regularly. They wouldn't expect to produce one of several hundred songs at the drop of a hat.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 12:14 PM

I agree with the view expressed above by some that it's reasonable to have a crib sheet, to be referred to if necessary, especially with a song that one has just learnt; but that to read the whole thing should be beyond the pale.

As for looking at a piece of paper while someone else is performing: I am sometimes guilty of that, when I'm consulting my list trying to decide what to sing or play if I'm called on next. I often don't plan in advance, as I should, to get a shortlist of possible songs and tunes. That need not preclude a last minute choice of something else, inspired by a previous performer.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 12:28 PM

The objection, as described in the initial posting hwere was not to
using a crib sheet to refresh a singer's memory, but to the use of a song book---Rise Up Singing in particular. Couldn't agree more.
Sings where RUS is present should carry a warning notice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 02:23 PM

Jesus Christ - if it's Ok for a professional like Richard Shindell to have his flie of lyrics on stage, it's good enough for me. Some people just like making rules so sod 'em all!!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM

Joe, why not contact them to clarify? Particularly a message in writing can be taken in a very different mood and tone than written, all the more so when we are possibly self-conscious about something like memory, if I may be so bold as to suggest so. It sounds like the event is planned by a group, so it's very possible that a left hand didn't pay full proofreading/content attention to what a right hand was doing, and it may be appropriate to bring that kindly, in your inimitable way, to their attention. "I got this message that doesn't really fit with the invitation I received and accepted--I'm well known to sing with lyrics at hand including lyrics in a book, and yet this policy was sent to me after I accepted the invitation and paid up. So I'm feeing like maybe you're wanting to un-invite me but were uncomfortable saying so." Then be quiet and wait for them either to reassure you mightily or squirm in silence while they find what to say. Or put their foot in it even deeper. Whether they meant to be or not, organizers were unfair and hurtful. You will know from their response either that a refund is appropriate or that you'll be accepted and enjoyed for the performer you are.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 05:54 PM

Hi, Crowhugger - I did write to her, and got a reasonable response. I think she'll be more tolerant the next time.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 06:20 PM

Hope you'll be able to attend feeling much better about it.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 07:15 PM

Joe, this is a problem for us older people. There are so many songs in the world that I'd like to learn but don't have the time yet I can retain melodies and chords to many of them.
My problem with Rise Up Singing is that when people are singing together and have to bury their nose in a Kindle or RUS, they tend to tune out musically to others around them.

There are so many songs that I used to know but have forgotten and I require cheat sheets with sometimes just a few words to trigger my memory.

In later years, Woody Guthrie had to use cheat sheets to remember his own songs publicly.

I try to memorize as many songs as I can without looking at a reference but still, if you don't do them for a while, they get away from you.

I have friends who have "eidetic" memories and can retain lyrics, which I think is a special gift.
My thing is the music, which I have been able to retain to many songs.

Still, just as we don't want to discourage people from voting in elections, we don't want to close the door to their participation in the singing process, using RUS as a catalyst.

I think that as much memorization that can be achieved is important but allowing for
people to be able to singalong with their songs, well.....not everyone has the time to
become versed in many songs, but their role in singing should not be foreclosed.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 08:05 PM

People who know me, know that I sing every song from the heart.

I do believe in singers not having their faces buried in songbooks, and I do my best to make eye contact with my audience - and I think I'm pretty good at it. I like to sing torch songs to the old ladies at nursing homes. It's much more effective without a song sheet. If you read off a piece of paper, they don't think you're sincere.

When I was a Cub Scout song leader, I had a constant battle with parents who wanted me to pass out song sheets at campfires so they could sing along at campfires. And I also had to battle the Boy Scouts organization, who wanted me to teach only songs that were in the Boy Scout Songbook.

So, it's a matter of using aids when you need them. But I also think it's important that we not put restrictions on singers when they're in a singaround. People are at different levels. If we put too many restrictions on them, they'll lose heart and stop singing.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 08:48 AM

Yes, what's really important here? Someone performing doing everything according to the arbitrary rules or cultivating interest in folk music by encouraging participation?

The very definition of folk music is the latter.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: JHW
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 12:41 PM

At a recent festival singaround a very new singer needed her words prompting several times from the audience. By way of apology she promised to come back with her words. That got me on my hind legs appealing that she rather learn them and pointing out that singers with words is relatively new to Folk Clubs and not the norm.
I was delighted that next time I heard her she sang her first song unaided and a later one with words out of sight but within reach.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: folkwaller
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 01:09 PM

We do have a similar 'problem' in the U.K. whereby performers bring a music stand spend valuable time setting it up and then proceeding to trip over it and to spend more valuable time retrieving their now mixed up music from the floor.

It was mentioned at our last club night that if a song is worth singing it is worth learning. I have a terrible memory so I don't sing.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 01:48 PM

Possibly a more inclusive approach folkwaller's club night organizers could take, if they wished, might be to show those whose setup is annoying or open to disaster that there are more audience-friendly ways to do it. Heck, even run a workshop on it including practice runs with a timer. The club workshop's organizers can decide their acceptable time limit; I suggest more than 2 seconds to set up lyrics is too long unless you are pro enough to completely hide it in your introductory story/joke (not a joke about slow setup please). The problem can be solved with sticky tape and pre-set height for one's music stand. But obviously not everyone thinks ahead that way, else there's be no thread here!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DonMeixner
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 03:39 PM

When I pay to hear a performer I don't usually expect to see a music stand in front of them all night unless it is a choir. When I go to an open Mic I don't really mind a music stand being in use. What I do mind at open mics is people phoning ahead for a slot, get up on stage untuned and setting up a ton of effects pedals and harmonizers, playing that slot and leaving.

I'm just sayin'.....

Don


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 04:31 PM

With you there don. If they want others to listen to them, they ought to reciprocate. And when there are a lot of musos waiting their turn, waiting till they are on to get guitar out of case and then tune up is plain inconsiderate, and probably betrays a you are in for a treat attitude.         As far as stands and songsheet is concerned, making an issue out of it will only make it harder for struggling singarounds to survive if the less confidant are discouraged. I don't get paid and I am not obligated to be "professional"


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,John Routledge no cookie
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 06:25 PM

Most of us are not professional but that should not give us the right to abuse encouragement.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 06:42 PM

Joe, if they ban books or pieces of paper in your hand, take an autocue. And a team of 15 techies to set it up.

I have trouble remembering the words of songs I wrote myself. If indeed I did. Someone told me one of my recitations had been written by Roald Dahl, and I can't disprove it.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 08:33 PM

The reasons we've got all these folk variants is because people mostly sang and passed them on from memory rather than relying on the broadsheets they might have picked up.

And more often than not the variants are a lot better than the originals. That's more or less what that term "the folk process" adds up to. And long may it continue.

Most singarounds I've been in over the years have been overwhelmingly made up of people singing from memory. No rules about it, just generally the custom.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM

As ever, it depends on whether you are sharing a song or entertaining people.

Different people see themselves in different categories. I suppose at a singaround there is room for both.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:35 AM

I have a better memory for tunes than words, and like Joe, like to sing a lot of different songs, so this does mean that I will use words on occasion, but again, use them as a glance-down prompt rather than wholesale reading off the page. In some sessions I go to this seems to be the norm, in others the exception. On the rare event that I get a floor spot, I will try to sing songs that are firmly in the memory bank. Not every song I memorise remains in there sadly.
Paper-shufflers are a pain, and even more so those who leave it until it's their turn to plough through a massive folder, mumbling "oh, I don't know what to sing". They should be made to miss a turn!
Mobile phone fiddlers, tweeting, texting and Facebookig while others sing, are also extremely rude: phones should be off and firmly away during sessions, unless, as one angry session host remarked, " you are on the waiting list for a heart transplant"!
Joe, I would still go to your gathering: you've made your point and it would be a shame to miss something you otherwise enjoy. And take a small selection of lyric sheets to glance at.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Al Zymer
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 07:40 AM

I can remember words OK, and it's true that it gets easier with practice - to the extent that you find yourself remembering songs you didn't know you'd actually learnt - but what I can never do is remember what a particular song is called, so I end up carrying a list of titles around. As for the OP, using a music stand etc., is fine, even for a concert pro AS LONG AS YOU ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE, which is the whole point.

Powerpoint presentations back in the 1990's where the 'presenter' read the slides off the screen rather than using them to illustrate the talk are also seared into my memory.

Certain TV entertainers are likewise unable to do anything but talk to the camera when in front of a live audience. Terry Wogan was one example.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 10:06 AM

Not wanting to digress here, but Terry Wogan is a poor example. His value to producers is his ability to ad lib. An excellent spontaneous entertainer.

He moderated a health conference I was a speaker at a couple of years ago. If there was ever a script, he must had memorised it beforehand. He certainly knew the agenda in his head. He introduced us all with no notes, including our backgrounds as if he knew us personally and was question master at the plenary session with no notes at all, including referring to things we had said during our own speeches.

Sometimes, there are reasons why the cream goes to the top.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Al Zymer
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:13 PM

OK, poor example - but what I mean is that when Wogan was on TV (not moderating conferences), like many before and since he had clearly been directed to look at the camera exclusively. The relevance is that the audience must feel the same as people watching a singer sing to a music stand.

Cream cheese, yeah.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 03:00 AM

I think most of us would say that memorization of lyrics is a good thing - no question about that. The trouble is, some of us just don't have the confidence to sing without a lyrics sheet - so in many singing sessions, we don't feel "good enough." And as a result, we don't bother. Some of us stop trying.
And some of us limit our singing to church, where people are required to be nice.
But I'm off to my music gathering tomorrow, welcome or not. Chances are pretty good that I'll have a wonderful time, but the "restrictions" put an unpleasant edge on it. Still the people always love my summer camp songs, which I have sung without printed lyrics all my life.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 03:26 AM

...and how are they ever going to gain the required confidence if they continually capitulate? Like learning to swim, there comes a time when you have to venture into the deep end of the pool.

Bite on the bullet!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 04:07 AM

Sorry, Lynn, I just don't buy this slavish adherence to the "rule" that one must memorize lyrics for any song one dares to sing at a singaround. I go to singarounds to try out new stuff. When I perform for an audience, I generally know the songs by memory - but I have to sing a song for other people a number of times before I have it down.

Generally, if people hear me, they enjoy what I sing....unless they have their minds made up already because they're tied to their silly rules.

If you want to evaluate a singer, listen. You might just like the song they sing, even if they've defied your songsheet prohibition.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 05:55 AM

Joe, you have hit the nail on the head when you distinguish.

To an onlooker, is there any difference between performing and "going to singarounds?" It could be argued that some see it as swapping songs and keeping them alive in the oral tradition, whilst others like the idea of performing in front of others.

Hence this discussion can't really have a right and wrong side.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:14 AM

And as it worked out, the weekend was wonderful. Yes, most of the singers sang from memory, but almost everyone used notes occasionally - just like I do. And people liked my singing and my songs.
Our harmonies were absolutely wonderful.

We shared the Bishop's Ranch retreat center with a group called Women Making Music, led by Judy Fjell and attended by some wonderful musicians like Malvina Reynolds' daughter Nancy Schimmel. We would sing songs to each other at every meal. Judy spent an hour with us the last day, recording examples of our harmonies to use as a teaching tool.

A good time was had by all.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:19 AM

yes, it does have a right or wrong side dependent on circumstances, once the involvement of an admission charge or collection is done the scenario is changed, it is no longer an amateur occupation.
Lynne H has hit the treble clef with the music stand, and is right.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:54 AM

Personally, I'm sick to death of people singing from bits of paper. The other day a bloke at our local singaround sang a 15 verse ballad. He accompanied himself on the guitar but he sang from a piece of paper on the seat of a chair in front of him - so he was actually bent over his guitar whilst singing to the chair seat! The guitar playing was competent (if you like slavish Nic Jones imitations) but the words were completely inaudible - all I heard was the guitar riff repeated 15 times and some incomprehensible mumbling. Surely, the whole point of a f**king ballad is the f**king words!! And he was not the only one mumbling through songs written on bits of paper - they're all at it these days. Sadly, I think that I will have to stop going to singarounds - mainly because I don't want to go to prison for common assault; I'm fairly sure that kneeling on someone's chest whilst forcing a piece of paper into their mouth counts as common assault (?)


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM

This was strictly a non-profit gathering. The 30 participants paid the Episcopalian retreat center for room and board, but the event organizers received nothing but the joy of making music with friends.
So, it was good.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM

Taking Lynn's comments on confidence further, a question of experience arises in respect to memorization. Perhaps the way forwards on this thread is to share our thinking on how to memorize.
For myself, I have a trained visual memory which although not eidetic is very, very good. I developed it when young using a card game often known as Pelmanism, dealing a shuffled pack of cards out face-down on a table and then looking for pairs. Complicating it somewhat involves colour-matching, both black 2s, for example.
My first read-through on a new piece is to do with what the line I'm singing's doing, musically. The second is how it relates to everything else that's happening. The third comes back to the line and is done slowly, the first time I'm trying the line out loud. It's a sketch, trying to find some anchor points in the piece. Then I work the sections resulting up in detail, deciding how to do it.
The next stage is closely related to what the dance world calls body memory. It means going over it time and time again, repeating it until I can do it in my sleep - sometimes literally, it seems. Having it on my mind when I go to sleep helps enormously, my mind integrates it far better.
Once I'm certain it conforms to the pro standard in "an amateur rehearses until he performs it right, a pro until he can't perform it wrong", then it's time to take it out and see.

What do other people do?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics and Memorization
From: Genie
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:30 PM

Howard, having a brain fart and blanking on the beginning of a song or verse does not imply lack of preparation or even any general memory deficit.   It can happen with a song you know by heart and have performed dozens of times.    Usually all you need it a trigger (e.g., the first word or phrase of the verse, and having a "cheat sheet" serves that purpose. But having a piece of sheet music or a lyrics/chord sheet can also work.
(When I've learned a new song and have done it a number of times from memory, I find that having a very large print lyrics/chord sheet visible nearby the first few times I perform the song in public actually helps me perform it well and without error, even if I don't even look at it.   It relieves the distraction of not being sure whether I'll blank on a part of the song; just knowing it's there helps me concentrate on what I've committed to memory and on my performance and the audience.)

As Stewart says, just occasional glances at that song sheet can suffice and need not be distracting.   (RUS isn't very good here, because it's not formatted for that sort of use and doesn't make it easy to quickly find the key word or chord you're looking for.)

I agree about RUS - and even bigger print song books - in song circles encouraging people to try to participate without preparation. For one thing, if you're looking at the book/page instead of whoever is leading the song, you can't watch their mouth for cues (e.g., phrasing, pauses in the song) and you may well be singing different lyrics or using different chords because you're following the printed page and not the performer.

So I really do understand why the event organizers "encourage" you not to use RUS but do say it's OK to use a cheat sheet or the like if you need to.   

If you feel too restricted by the post-payment notification of these rules, I'd say you should ask for a refund. But it sounds to me like you could enjoy the music event within these late-notice guidelines.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 03:39 PM

Organisers of a club I used to attend all read the words of every song. One regular reckons he knows hundreds of songs. No he doesn't. He doesn't 'know' any of them. He just performs them. He reads the words and chord-shapes.

I am aware that memory fades as we get older. Mine does. I have even woken up in the middle of a song and not known what song I was singing, let alone what the next line is! But I will fight off the temptation to read the words. I will rehearse the songs until I think I know them well enough to perform them in public (again). There was a time when I could hold about fifty songs in my head out of about 200. It's down to about twenty now. So I try to rotate the sing-able list now and again.

It is said that musicianship and deliberate use of the memory helps to fight off dementia. Use it or lose it. But if you do habitually read the words, then you are unlikely to pick up any guest bookings. You are more likely to remain a humble floor singer.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 06:53 PM

I am very much in the "if you can't be bothered to learn the words, shut up and let somebody sing who could be bothered" school, and at one time, I too had a large repertoire in my head of 200 or so. Most of them are still there, but occasionally I get asked to sing something I last sang forty years ago, but can't drag it out from where it's hiding.
My current answer is to learn it again, but as my memory is imperfect, and - quite frankly, I no longer have the time to produce a new song each week, as I used to - my answer is to print off a version that I think I know and amend this until it is the version I think I knew, and learn from there. But Shhhh! I stick the printout in my pocket as a memory aid for the odd word, or line!

Chris B.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 07:37 PM

It is hard is hard to imagine....one signing from a script.

The decent church choirs I know, are memerized and learn new material continuously, on a weekly basis.

If...you require a script ... there are places within the service for you....BUT....You better be pretty DANMED Good

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

choir/organ overtones make a "goose walk over my grave.)


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:16 AM

And now, of course, we have the dreaded ipads!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,For it is he
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:33 AM

A reminder cum prompt is one thing (blue tac'd notes on guitar with key, first line etc) have been part of my style for almost forty years.

I also sympathise with those who perhaps cannot physically retain words.

But increasingly, it has led to less need to practice with the resultant drop in quality. If you have to learn a song, you end up crafting and honing it. A singaround I sometimes go to has at least three people I know who sight read three chord wonders for the first time, badly, rather than learning and therefore trying to entertain with songs. The saddest part is, all three of them are capable of us enjoying their songs rather than timing the emptying of my glass accordingly.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Rumncoke
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 01:42 PM

I've been pushed to memorise my songs - to which I reply 'where do you think I got them from?'

I used to be able to steal anyone's song at one listening, but that was then, I have done my best, by writing them down in my book - but these days, if I am going to sing, it is from my book.
I have always suffered a little from stage fright, so it might be a relief to be prevented from singing, and in my declining years just sit back and let the younger ones get on with it.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 01:44 PM

In my experience, though i still have the music stand, for well established songs it is more a safety net than of continual use.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 04:16 PM

In the past, I've defended readers, having been one myself, who use lyric sheets as a safety net - simply to pick up a line occasionally when they 'dry'. I find a singer 'ummm-ing and aaahh-ing' while he/she struggles to recall a line far more frustrating and irritating than an occasional glance at a lyric sheet to refresh the singer's memory.

Nowadays, I make strenuous efforts to learn my stuff, and to re-learn stuff I haven't performed for a considerable time, and I mostly manage without a prompt. But there are occasions when I need to quickly refer to a prompt, and I regard the ability to do so pretty surreptitiously, and without detracting from the performance, as being part of the performer's art.

But, like 'GUEST: For it is he', I very much deplore the practice which some singers have of performing songs, seemingly with little or no rehearsal, by reading the entire song (including the three or four very basic chords required), from a book propped up on a table stand or, even worse, one of those huge black music stands with holes in it, and almost always struggling to make a decent fist of it. No attempt at 'performance', no eye contact with the audience, no 'feeling' in either the singing or the playing, hiding behind the book - just awful.

Someone above moaned about the modern usage of iPads. I find my iPad very useful for my set-lists (using the OnSong app), and the by-product of the set-list feature is that, as one works one's way through the set, the lyrics are displayed in set-list order so, although I'm not 'reading' the songs, I have my 'safety net' in case of the occasional 'dry'. And an iPad is considerably less of a barrier between performer and audience than one of those sodding great black built-to-withstand-a-nuclear-explosion music stands!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Brakn
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 06:19 PM

If you can't be bothered learning the words don't expect others to listen. Worse is when they want you to help them out with a chorus that they couldn't be bothered mastering. Even worse still, "let me find the lyrics on the internet, won't be a moment". Singing with a phone in front of you face? Nah


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 07:04 PM

It's interesting to note that some people refer to "memorizing the lyrics" and others to "learning a song," and they are referring to the same thing but displaying different value judgments.

I admit that it's a good thing to memorize the lyrics to a song - I just don't do it very well, and I hate to have to stop a song in the middle because I've forgotten the lyrics. I feel like I've learned a song when I can sing it well.

I sing in a church choir most Sundays, and I've been singing most of our songs for years. I often don't hold a hymnal, because I don't like knocking it into the head of the woman in front of me - but I occasionally glance at her music to avoid mistakes, even though I have most of the songs memorized.

When I sing folk music, I use "cheat sheets"; but again I glance at them for help when I need it and don't need to read much.

That's what I feel comfortable with. That's my choice of how I do it. Judge me from the quality of my singing, not on how I obey or disobey your expectations.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 08:04 PM

Well done Joe
Perhaps that will take some of the heat out of what could be an interesting discussion.
Cheat-sheets are ok in certain circumstances - I remember friends using them bu taping, say, orders of verses on their guitars
The last time I was in an English club I witnessed singers admitting they hadn'e managed to learn the song and still singing it by reading it from a sheet - not acceptable as far as I am concerned
The worst practice was singers calling up texts on their mobile phones - why do they bother?
I watched MacColl perform regularly for over twenty years and, towards the end of his life I began to notice his memory for words go, but I doubt if many other people noticed it.
Ewan learned his songs by absorbing them as complete pieces - stories -when the set texts escaped him, he improvised.
I noticed this happening because I had heard his songs so often down the years - on several occasions he would grin across the room when he made a slip and he saw I had recognised him doing it.
Warm memories, if a little sad
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 08:30 PM

On the U.S. Pacific coast, Merritt Herring was known for the huge number of songs in his repertoire. In the last years of his life, he would forget the lyrics to some songs, so he kept his songs in a looseleaf binder. I'd kill to get a copy of that binder.

Merritt always sang every song well. His binder helped him continue to sing well until his final days.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

"I admit that it's a good thing to memorize the lyrics to a song - I just don't do it very well, and I hate to have to stop a song in the middle because I've forgotten the lyrics. I feel like I've learned a song when I can sing it well."
1. You need to analyse why your memory fails you, and learn tricks to overcome it.
2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 05:31 AM

It's about engaging your audience, methinks. If you can still do that with a crib-sheet in front of you - great! If you can't, then you're on a loser. I've known some singers who can do it discreetly - but I've also known some who seem to use a crib, consciously or otherwise, to avoid engagement.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM

Conflicting stances here:
From: The Sandman - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


So it's Ok to take the stage if your unsure of words or music, and happy to

Compare this with earlier comments that those taking to the stage must learn the words:

My opinion is positive I believe that performing with words is not necessary and insulting to an audience, it looks to me as if musicans /singers have not bothered to learn the words before they perform, if someone cannot be bothered that is an insult to the audience, therefore your club would not appeal to me, I am not prejudging anything ,I have seen two photgraphs of different performers at your club using words while performing, on that basis i would not wish to attend your club, there is nothing introspective about it or pompous. The only person who is being rude or negative or pompous is you, you cannot accept that people might not want to come to a club where performers appear to be not bothered about learning words.

It seems the author changes his view depending on his own capabilities at the time, always on the understanding that reading lyrics is an absolute no-no.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Tony Fisk
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 11:40 AM

Sometimes I sing from memory, sometimes from sheets (even if I wrote it - complexity is a rod for my own back)
The best approach that I know is, if you DO have to have it in front of you, sort your material out in advance and collect together what you need, in the order you need it.
That way you don't have to rustle paper during anybody else's performance and don't waste the audience's time hunting through a lever-arch binder.
As for those who memorise everything, either (a) congratulations on your brain capacity or (b) lucky you for having the time - some of us have day jobs and have to spend most of our "spare" hours pushing back against the entropy of life-in-general like home and car maintenance, gardening, cooking, shopping etc. so cut us some slack.
Maybe when I've retired, I'll memorise everything, too. Until then, there's paper to fall back on. Or a 12" Android tablet with slow-scrolling PDFs....


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:03 PM

Believe me Tony, there's no difference in busyness when you're retired - and nearly every retiree I've ever met has said, "Never been busier - don't know how I ever did any work!" or words to that effect. I have an ailing in-law, grandchildren, car, shopping, cooking, cleaning, house & garden to maintain, and lots of other demands on my time.

But I've never used paper or pads or anything else when performing - which has now been for over 50 years - whether working or retired. And I don't think I have an abnormal brain - unless it's on the small size!

What I do have is a capacity for practising, practising and practising, persistently, until words, tunes and chords stay in my head through thick and thin. And the irony is that the more you do it, the better you get at doing it. It's possible, for example, to rehearse a song in your head while doing other things - washing up, walking, on the loo, driving with the song on the car CD or mp3 player, etc. My tips:

1. Write the song/chords/notes, whatever, out in longhand on a piece of paper. This act of writing aids memory.
2. Start singing as much of the song as you can without looking at the paper.
3. When you get to a bit you don't know, take a peek at the paper and fill in the blank.
4. Continue until the blanks start to get filled in.

That's one way - I'm sure other 'Catters have similar tips.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: JHW
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:20 PM

Last night I forgot the next verse, twice. Twice I repeated the verse I had just sung and the missing verse flowed perfectly. This in a ballad which are usually easy to keep going in.

For a while I went out with 'pick your own set'; a hundred titles for the audience to tick sheets and I did the most ticked. Never a great success but very interesting to do. Now I may have to scroll through the words in my head as a safeguard - but a missing line may pop up easily when sung or one I'd rehearsed may still disappear. Its like forgetting someones name or the name of a common flower which you know you know. a feature alas of age.

I'll give up one day if it gets too bad but I'll never use a crib sheet.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:31 PM

nigel parsons, you can interpret this comment how you like
Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM

Conflicting stances here:
From: The Sandman - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance

So it's Ok to take the stage if your unsure of words or music, and happy to ."

no its not, and that is not what i said, what i am saying is this you practise hard, and learn your words, but if you do make a mistake, you keep cool try and ad lib if you can, if you cannot, then you have several options sing a chorus or repeat another verse, and carry on.
What is your problem Nigel Parsons, that you try and twist my words to eitherr score points or attempt to ridicule me, I have not said that performers should not learn the words.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM

As Fred Wedlock once sang:

"In the middle of Sir Patrick Spens I clean forgot the 42nd. verse
So I sang the 27th. once again and twice as loud
and no-one even noticed............."

Personally, if I hadn't learnt a song properly I wouldn't get up on stage and try to wing it!


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM

If you practise you are showing the song respect if you do not you are not showing your audience respect, if you do make a mistake knowing how to get over it is also part of performance, that does not mean you should not practise, you should practise.... is that clear, Nigel Parsons


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM

i am not suggesting that you should not learn the words, but it can happen to anyone [myself included.. despite practice] so then you have to keep cool and try and correct it rather than giving up in a state of embarrassment or resort to always using words, have i made myself clear LynneH, YOU PRACTISE THE SONG MANY TIMES IF YOU STILL MAKE A MISTAKE YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: MikeL2
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM

Hi

<" What I do have is a capacity for practising, practising and practising, persistently, until words, tunes and chords stay ">

Couldn't agree more. The old adage of "Practice makes Perfect " is very true.

How you practice - Will has given some good advice.

I used to practice while listening to the tune/song I wanted to learn. I would record the song and sing/play with it until I thought I was word perfect. Then I would sing without the recording and then listen to it. This showed where it needed improvement.

This helped me. I found that it made me much more confident which in turn improved my peformance in front of the audiences.

cheers

MiKeL2


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM

Sandman says:
    1. You need to analyse why your memory fails you, and learn tricks to overcome it.
    2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. I've never performed for a paying audience, and I never intend to. I do have a number of songs committed to memory, but I like to try new stuff. Most of the people I sing with, don't have the expectation that songs be fully memorized, and yet we are able to have a wonderful time singing together.

So, generally, I just don't sing with people if their expectations are higher than what I'm comfortable with. Screw 'em.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM

"You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. "
Don't know about you Joe, but I get the most fun out of singing a song when it works - for me and for the listener
That takes work
Macoll summed it up perfectly when we rinterviewed him
"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that's put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.   
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it.   Anybody who's ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you're not enjoying it when you're making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it's working, when all the things you want to happen are happening.    And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it's hit or miss.   If you're training it can happen more, that's the difference.   It can't happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it's something to fall back on, a technique, you know.   It's something that will at least make sure that you're not absolutely diabolical……………
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he's no longer worried about technique, he's done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM

Jim Carroll, good post


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,watcher (and strummer!)
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM

It seems that everyone is assuming people are singing unaccompanied, and probably solo.
What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony with each other, literally "off the same songsheet". Thanks to the so-called folk process there are many variations in the melody as well as the chords for any song.

As a bit of an aside, how is Joe Offer getting on with his ukulele? Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

so, back on topic, should everyone hammer away doing their own thing, or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart, or is it acceptable to have the songsheets on music stands? There's a lot of words to learn, plus the "right" chords, for people with no previous musical training if they can't have the safety net.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM

"What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony"may be a good indication of why the British tradition is basically an unaccompanied one.
I sang a lot accompanied, but I failed miserably to accompany myself (on the guitar, that is)
I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'
No club should ever its singers to practice in public - it gives both the club and the music a bad name
What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM

"What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in


Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized...

Now there are countless millions.....
from dozens, if not hundreds & thousands, of genres and diverse cultures to choose from........

I often spend so much time trying to decide which CD to listen to,
I run out of time and have to go to bed having listened to nothing...

Kids these days, the aspiring singers, are over spoiled with choice for competing activities to occupy their time..
and in all honesty folk clubs are just only one of the available venues to practice show casing their 'talents'...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM

What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them

That's not what I see - the older the singer, the more likely they are to use notation (badly), and the larger and more disorganized their song folder is likely to be. The folk scene has not done very well at helping people bow out gracefully.

Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.

I belong to something a bit like that, a fluid group of 10-20 people doing Greek and Middle Eastern music. The instrumentalists (including me) memorize the songs quickly. The singers are pretty stuck, because they have five different first languages and share songs. The timescale involved in putting together a set for a new performance just doesn't allow the time for them all to memorize all the material in unfamiliar languages.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM

...besides which... like it or lump it...

the karaoke boom of the past few decades has normalized and made socially acceptable
the reading of lyrics in public entertainment singing...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM

..and also... important to consider.. way back in the day... and the not too distant past at that...

So many adults never learned to read........


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM

"I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'"
good points, yes, any accompanying instrument should be just that, not a bad idea to learn the song unaccompanied first, first rule is singing has to be louder than instrument, then keep the accompaniment simple, and flexible using chords as an alternative to melody allows the singer to hold longer notes[altering timing and phrasing for effect] [in my experience only] it becomes simpler to do this using chordal acc rather than melody, but both can be done if a lot of time and practice is put in. I have seen both older and youger singers shuffling through notes in an amateurish way, I have seen the occasional performer make an excellent job of reading from notes.. Johnny Handle for example, BUT THEN HE HAS HAD BEEN PERFORMING FOR YEARS WITHOUT NOTES.
" Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did."
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness., and you know it Jack Campin
However classical music and brass band music is a different ball game.
When I was a member of the new mexborough english concertina quartet we had to use sheet music the parts were too complicated and lengthy ,but that is a different genre, it is debatable that what we were playing was folk music, I dont think it was ,but i enjoyed it


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM

This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness


Twaddle. The community song movement never depended on memorization, and for what they were doing there was no earthly point. Nor is there for the ukulele groups. Their repertoire is far too big and fast-developing. I suspect you've never been to one.

The community-song thing was a mass movement made up of people who were very well practiced in singing from books - that's what every churchgoer does, and most people in community singing already sang hymns every week. There was then (and still is) a FAR larger proportion of the public who knew how to sing convincingly off a sheet than the total membership of the folk scene at its zenith. The sad thing is that folkies have accepted an abysmal level of incompetence at interpreting songs from print. In a church, that would get you edged towards the back of the room so most of the congregation didn't have to listen to you.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM

Twaddle?Jack stop tying to muddy the waters,
I am referring to ukelele groups, the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly, the same applies to tradtional itm tunes they are best learned aurally mistakes can be turned into variations, that ispart of the art of performing irish trad tunes you never play the tune exactly the same.
ukelele groups would be also better off picking up the tunes by ear, develop the musical ear and performers can pick things up on the fly[bring back Michael Gill], a good way tpo start is twelve bar blues for developing the ear, Jack you know you are talking bunkum


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM

"the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly"

It MAY be easy for you Dick, others struggle. Are we to say that because someone cannot learn the words by heart they should be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized."
At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory
I'm doing a talk today in which I intended to include an example of an octogenarian singing a song on the subject I am speaking on - the only problem is it is 16 minutes long
At 83, old Martin wouldn't have been able to see a text when he sang it but I can never remember him stumbling on one word of it
If these people could learn their songs I'm damn sure thos half and more their age can
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are public who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM

From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory


"Twenty verses - word perfect"
How could anyone tell, if no-one had song-sheets to check?
They might be the same 20 verses he sang last week, or they may have changed, but people were unlikely to recognise the fact.
Similarly they might not be the same twenty verses that others sang for the same song.

Without some standard of reference you will never know whether he was 'word perfect'.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM

I'll try that again :-)

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM

Jim - that was rather the point I was making..

The oral tradition - passing stories and songs down generations from memory within 'tribal' communities -
existed and thrived at a time of lower levels of literacy and barely any other forms of entertainment media distractions...

It's simply no longer realistic to hold today's youth to such archaic cultural expectations...

It should be considered lucky if any youth at all do attend a folk club of their own volition...

But perhaps ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM

editing cock up... last line should have read:

But perhaps an added bonus ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough
to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

The answer to that is, of course, "no" - BUT, it highlights an aspect of the everlasting words/no words debate which never seems to get a lot of prominence: the audience's point of view.

Many comments on these threads are very much from the singer's point of view - me, me, me, etc. But we don't sing in isolation, except in the bath perhaps, and if we do sing in public, we do it with the expectation that someone will be listening (else why do it?).

Surely, as a singer - no matter what the social environment is - one gives some thought as to how one's singing will be received. Is it pleasurable? Is it interesting? Is it worthy of the listening group? If not, why do it?

The problem is that many kinds of activities carried on within social groupings do require some level of practice to be worthwhile and often to fit in with the group aspirations. You wouldn't join a cricket club and expect to be picked for the team if you couldn't play and/or didn't practice. As a teeneger I was a member of a tennis club. I didn't take it seriously and very soon discovered that other players didn't want me as an opponent or as a partner. I left the club and took up guitar!

The folk scene sometimes appears to be one where anyone can do anything without even trying - and where people have an expectation that they can do just what they want - even see it as a right. I try and avoid places where this view is prevalent, and go to places where I can hear a reasonable standard of tunes and songs. And I don't mind if people bugger it all up at these places, because I know they've tried - and because they're as conscious of their audience as they are of themselves.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM

Here you go Dick. This is one of the most recent songs we've added to our repertoire. (Guitarists or concertina players, forget it, it's microtonal).

http://sarkilarnotalar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/duriyemin-gugumleri-kalayli.html

And it's no more foreign to you than it is to a native speaker of Greek, Arabic or Persian, all of which we have in the group. Our last set had 8 songs in 5 languages. Next gig is in 6 weeks. (We're adding a new one tonight, it's in Arabic but I already know the tune well). Off you go.

Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord? It would sound unlistenably crap if they tried. The nice thing about big ukulele groups is that they do usually get the chords right, even though they're a lot more varied and complex than the 3-chord tricks needed for folk, and the massed effect is great.

Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years. And if you're only performing to a local scene (as most amateurs do), the audience will very soon get bored with it; hence the evolution of singarounds into a species of elderly daycare. A touring professional has it much easier, since they don't repeat the same act anything like as often to the same listeners.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,alex s no cookie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM

What Will said. Spot on.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM

Will, i may be a performer but i am also a member of the audience. asa member of the audience I find it insulting
jack
"Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord?"
by practising together and at hime without the notes, or even practising along to the leaders you tube video, that is how it can be done, jack move with the times.practice.
50 years ago we had a teenage pop group, we learned the words the drummer did it by ear the bass and the guitar learned their chords we practised and performed in private with only occasionally at chord sheets and words.we performed in public without bits of paper
now in 2017 it is easier the leader of the uke group puts up a youtube video, you can have chord sheets at home AND you play along to the video, then you practise a LOT, THEN WHEN IN PUBLIC YOU PERFORM WITHOUT WORDS OR CHORD SHEETS, ALTERNATIVELY YOU CAN PRACTISE BY EAR IN PRIVATE WITH OCCASIONAL CHECKS TO THE MUSIC.
JimCarroll is right once again here
"As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice" - public is for the finished article'"


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM

If I may ask; What harm is done to the audience if the singer has a lyric sheet ? If you find it distracting, close your bleedin eyes, just sit and listen. I find a lot of this dogmatic stuff off putting. If it is an amateur folk club, let the participants do what works for them. If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM

oh c'mon..

where would the world be without fundamentalist dogmatic old men dictating how everyone else should be and behave...

They're a traditional fixture in the dusty corner of all aspects of life..

..and I'll probably be one of 'em meself before too long.... 😜


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM

I see no evidence in Dick's followup that he's ever seen a ukulele group in action or has any idea how they operate.

Is he also insisting that everybody who goes to church should practice all their hymns from YouTube videos before they step through the door?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM

"If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you" That is what i said to the organiser of the Shefield club Neil Cardwell, that i would do, and was subjected to abuse on   Fcebook.
Yes i have i saw one in a pub in whitby, i also saw a group in mansfield, so you are jumpin to conclusions again Jack, jumpion jacl campin.
no i an not insisting upon anything, you are person t talking about churches i havent mentioned them


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM

The point is that a ukulele club is a social situation where the rules you're advocating would be destructively inappropriate. As they would be in a church.

There is a downside to memorizing repertoire. It takes time and effort. Which means you're going to want to amortize that over many performances. And if you're always going to be playing to the same few people, as would be the case with a regular at a village folk club, that means they're going to get bored with you. And they're going get even more fed up once they realize your repertoire is shrinking with age.

Schools used to teach relevant skills for performance off a script - my primary school English classes regularly included recitation. I wasn't all that good at it at the time, but I did learn there was a skill to reading words off a page, conveying their meaning and bringing them to life. Playing an instrument or singing from a score or songbook involve similar mental steps.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM

From an earlier thread:

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"

Back in those dear dead days of good recall.
We never needed Aides memoire at all.
We all could stand and sing a lengthy song
So confident the words were never wrong.
Sing one more song, and sip another sup.
(There were no songbooks there to trip . us . up!)

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM

$250! That's a hell of a price unless it was a very professional. As someone else said I think you should claim your money back if this message came AFTER you'd paid. Luckily I've now got the hang of singing from memory, but in most open mic style clubs a single song sheet is normally ok, but I think a book or 'smart' device are not really acceptable. Put the effort in the try memorize a song or two it's easier in the long run


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM

OK Dick & Jim, You have both had sufficient time to answer my question.

Are people who cannot remember the words to be barred from singing in public.

A simple yes or no will suffice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM

I find it hard to sing in public without referring to my 'cheat sheet' of lyrics, even songs I know by heart at home. What 's the big deal??? If it's good enough for Paul Shaffer (most underrated bandleader in the world), Barbara Streisand and the New York Philharmonic, it's good enough for us folkies to read the'charts' on Rise Up Singing; or anywhere.

This ridiculous snobbishness does not befit the spirit of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM

Raggytash, you're asking a very black & white question in a very simplistic way. I said, in a previous post, "no" to that question - and linked it to a wider issue because any answer cannot be simplistic. (We get enough people on Mudcat repetitively demanding that their questions MUST be answered, and it's always a fruitless exercise).

However, I'll demonstrate the level of complexity by going back 50+ years, when I started playing in folk clubs. At that time the standard of performance in folk clubs was very high. Remember this was the time of some stunning artists, both traditional and trendy. Anyone who turned up with a music stand or a cue sheet at any of the clubs I attended in Leeds and London (my haunts in those days) would have been treated with scorn. You had to be good to get a floor spot because there was fairly intense competition from very good players and singers. And the clubs were vibrant and exciting places to be on that account.

I dropped out of the folk scene for a long time after that, playing other sorts of music mainly for money, and returned to it via sessions about 12 years or so ago. My first forays into folk clubs were a real eye-opener - music stands, folders of songs, mobile phones, iPads (later on) - and a very mixed set of performance standards. Now, I help to run sessions/singarounds for all comers and for all styles and standards - so I'm not a rigid snob - but I do get bored when I go somewhere else for an evening of fun and music, only to find very little decent music and not much fun. I think to myself, "Why am I wasting an evening here?", and don't go to those places again. At my own sessions I encourage people to put the paper down and go for it if they can.

I also help to run a monthly acoustic session in Brighton, which has both guests and regulars who do floor spots. There are no music stands and no sheets of paper other than a set list here and there. So it can be done. If I did run a folk club and had to select floor spot performers, then I would choose those who were competent over those who weren't. In effect, I would be exercising a "ban" on poor performers - so the answer to your question is now "yes". Both "no" and "yes".


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Leslie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM

Six very good reasons for memorising, and not reading words:
It's more fun.
It's good for your mental well-being, a minor achievement, something to be proud of.
It's good for your mental health. (Think brain-training and dementia-delay.)
It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.
It's good manners. In a session you expect other folk to sush and listen while you sing, so the least you can do in return is demonstrate an effort to justify, and show you appreciate, their attention.
And it's not difficult – Those hen party survivors bawling on the late train know all the words of the chart hits because if you like a song and hear it often enough, you pick the words up naturally.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM

And I'll just add a comment for the benefit of "left-handed guitar".

It's nothing to do with being snobbish - it's to do with enjoyment. Not just the enjoyment of the performer, but also the enjoyment of the audience. I also don't really care whether someone uses a cheat sheet if what they're doing is giving a really competent performance and communicating with the audience.

The problem is that, very often, the performers who rely totally on word sheets aren't communicating with the audience or really putting a song across. Not always - but far more than in the past.

I've taught many, many people guitar - from total beginners upwards - and I always agree a simple agenda in each lesson for the pupil to follow. I then wait for the pupil to contact me and say they've got on with that agenda and that they're ready for the next lesson - in their own time. Those that want to get on this way will learn and progress. Their choice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM

It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.

Some of the most excruciatingly tedious acts I have ever heard have been from people who have memorized their material (all six songs of it) down the last comma and sing it EXACTLY THE SAME WAY every time. I'd far rather they were trying something different even if it didn't always work.

Memorization is doing something useful if it frees you up to do fresh things with the music - which might be inspiring or might fall flat. In the classical world, Martha Argerich built a career out of that sort of unpredictability, and of course there are folk examples. But there are hell of a lot of NON-examples, and growing. Far too often you get the attitude that because the performer has memorized their stuff, problem solved, they are now an Honest To God Tradition Bearer, and you all better be quiet and listen respectfully, no matter that the singer last had a new insight about that ballad 25 years ago.

Self-righteous pomposity does a lot more to repel newcomers to the folk scene than technical lapses. And you can see just in this thread that terrific memory technique often goes along with bullying arrogance - and particularly with older performers; younger ones are much less likely to think memory skills are a licence for displays of entitled attitude.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: RTim
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM

This conservation is silly. The subject has been disgusted over and over again in other threads – with no conclusions. Time to put the whole thing into the discard bin! However:
The conversation also assumes that when a singer uses a printed/computer resource that they use it "Every time" they sing! This is probable NOT the case.

I have been using a "Aide Memoire" of verse first lines for years – and that is what it is – a simple mechanism to make sure I get the song "Right" for my audience – who I want to please every time I sing. I have no desire to stop in the middle of a song because I don't know what comes next – that is NOT something one should do to your listeners…But I don't use it on every song – just some that are either not sung often or maybe newer and are sung as part of a themed presentation.
I have seen famous singers I admire occasionally use the written word to make sure they get the song right, and if it is good enough for them – it's good enough for me – reference The Copper Family – who at one time did it at every performance!!!

Singing folk song should NEVER be discouraged; and who are you to say a singer should think the way you do……….

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM

I doubt whether anything written on this thread will cause anyone to change their opinion or practice; all that's likely to happen is that you'll find, whatever your viewpoint, that some will agree and others disagree.   Nevertheless, I'll chip in with my own view.

I'm in the "learn a song before you sing it in front of others" camp. To me songs are ephemeral works of art: they only exist as that song, "your" song, for the time you're singing them. Songs, not just your audience, deserve respect as would any work of art you try to create no matter how limited your talent. I wouldn't feel I was showing respect for a song if I didn't give it everything that I had - and not bothering to learn the words would not be giving it everything I have.

As for waiting until the idleness of retirement to find the time to learn the words as one here suggested; I learned most of my repertoire when I was younger and working. Young brains learn more easily. If anyone else out there is thinking of waiting until retirement, I hate to break it to them but, even if you find you have the time then, you'll find the ability to grow new synapses has sadly deteriorated. The most likely result of trying to leave this skill until later is that, when you come to try to learn, you end up saying, "Reading has been good enough for the last 60 years and it's too difficult now that I can't even remember where I put my keys 10 minutes ago."

When I started singing in public in the 1960s no-one I ever saw, paid, unpaid, professional or amateur, read from bits of paper. Over the last couple of decades the practice seems to have crept in and grown until now it's seen as normal practice and it's this "normal practice" that's the problem for me. I think there's a critical mass factor in operation. There's one singaround I used to go to where one person read the words. This was accepted; they'd had a stroke I think and their memory was no longer up to it but none of the other regulars read, they all knew their songs. When people came in as visitors they soon picked up what was acceptable and what wasn't. As far as I know that continues there. The problem seems to be when enough regulars haven't learned the songs and read them instead. Newcomers think this is the way to behave and soon nearly everyone doesn't bother to learn songs but says things like "I haven't sung this one for years but found it just before I came out" or "Here's one that I haven't got round to learning yet but I thought I'd try it out on you." Where's the respect for the song in that? (Incidentally, in reference to the comment "Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years." The other singers at the "no sheets of paper singaround" put my repertoire of about 300 songs to shame so my experience is that those who do learn their songs actually have larger working repertoires.)

I went once to the singaround/session that I think revived this thread (via a thread that now seems to have disappeared). Like Mr Miles says, I won't be going again – I'll seek out places where I feel I might fit in better.   I'm glad that others go there and presumably enjoy themselves and I'm pleased that people are getting out and singing - I'd rather they do that, even if they read the words, than they sit at home passively absorbing electrically produced sounds - but I'd like to think that there remain enough people around to keep a culture alive that I respect as well; one that believes songs should be learned and respected for the works of art that they could be. As another poster says "If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery." For there to be those "clubs that suit me" there have to be some places that do say "no" to reading from sheets and where like minded people can gather. I don't think any of the "learn the words" group here are trying to ban "paper" clubs, they're just trying to make sure they don't become the only ones.

Quite a few people here keep mentioning performing for an audience but I'll finish by repeating, it's not just about performance for an audience for me, it's also about that attitude to the songs themselves.   I very rarely do paid gigs, I've never been a "professional" performer and I'm probably not all that good but I do respect the songs and I will give them everything I can - and that means learning them inside and out.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM

..... then there was Bob.

Both Bob and his wife are blind. They both have a great love of folk music, particularly at the more traditional end. He became a regular singer at our club in Lewes but he always remained at his regular seat at a table when he sang instead of coming out to the front. He seemed to have a fairly large repertoire of songs and never seemed to forget his words. One evening after he had sung, I was silly enough to compliment him on the way he had learned so many songs despite his disability. he broke into a wide grin and held up high a braille sheet for everyone to see. Apparently, his fingers had been working away under the table at braille sheet every week and I had failed to notice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM

RAGGYTASH, no , I would never ban anyone neither would i ever say anything to anyone in public unless they asked me privately on a one to one basis. Ihave been absent playing and singing music and only have a computer in my office hence my tardy reply. It is in my opinion never silly to discuss thing again people can change or modify opinions.
I do not like seeing people using crib sheets and shuffling through stuff,
to add to my pevious opinion i believe professional actors are well able if they are also singers to perform well from words because they have practised it and know how to not make it a barrier between themselves and the audience.
As a member of the audience I still prefer to see the non use of crib sheets, I did see one girl perform well with a crib sheet in Robin hoods bay folk club, but my experience has been that good perfomance has been about 1 per cent .
I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM

"I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."

No insult Dick, no accusation or slander in my post, just a simple straightforward question.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM

i've no objection to this thread. but really i think it speaks volumes about the doldrums the folkscene has got into.

what does it matter how the people choose to perform the song?

the vitality of the music in a great artform should enthrall. we need to stop picking fault with each other. i never stood up in a folk club till i felt i had something to offer, at an age when most modern young folksingers have done at least six albums.

the people who got up and fumbled about, or got up before they were ready were objects of ridicule - barely tolerated.

and i'm sorry - in the end this fault devolves down to the pro singers for thinking they are guardians of some bloody awful museum of traditional music. or even worse people who embark on a career as a songwriter without first learning some of the great songs and learning what greatness a song can aspire to.

they set a bad example. being a folksinger isn't a licence to bore people. too many people have picked up that message by osmosis, and its sad but that's what you're watching quite often. but its not their fault - they simply haven't been in the room where a great folksinger is working.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,dickmiles
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM

raggytash the   quote was not aimed at you


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM

Oh, it's just that your post started "Raggytash, No .........."


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM

Well the obvious answer to all this, the best compromise...

..is to mime to recordings.... 😜


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM

Hear hear to
From: GUEST,ST - PM
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM


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