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tips for memorizing songs?

GUEST 16 Aug 21 - 02:05 PM
Dave Hanson 16 Aug 21 - 02:10 PM
RTim 16 Aug 21 - 02:48 PM
meself 16 Aug 21 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Stan Ellison 16 Aug 21 - 03:06 PM
GUEST 16 Aug 21 - 03:38 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Aug 21 - 04:12 PM
Gurney 16 Aug 21 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,DTM 16 Aug 21 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Gallus Moll 16 Aug 21 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Gallus Moll 16 Aug 21 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 16 Aug 21 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 16 Aug 21 - 07:11 PM
Dan Schatz 16 Aug 21 - 07:36 PM
Jeri 16 Aug 21 - 08:06 PM
DaveRo 17 Aug 21 - 03:03 AM
leeneia 17 Aug 21 - 09:39 AM
amac09 17 Aug 21 - 10:13 AM
The Sandman 17 Aug 21 - 02:01 PM
Tattie Bogle 17 Aug 21 - 05:50 PM
SPB-Cooperator 18 Aug 21 - 05:36 AM
Howard Jones 18 Aug 21 - 12:13 PM
GUEST 18 Aug 21 - 01:52 PM
Mrrzy 18 Aug 21 - 08:45 PM
Mrrzy 18 Aug 21 - 08:46 PM
leeneia 19 Aug 21 - 12:25 AM
The Sandman 19 Aug 21 - 01:51 AM
Joe Offer 19 Aug 21 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,matt milton 19 Aug 21 - 06:39 AM
Doug Chadwick 19 Aug 21 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,matt milton 19 Aug 21 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,DTM 19 Aug 21 - 09:57 AM
The Sandman 20 Aug 21 - 12:47 AM
GUEST,jag 20 Aug 21 - 04:52 AM
leeneia 20 Aug 21 - 11:58 AM
leeneia 20 Aug 21 - 04:14 PM
The Sandman 21 Aug 21 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,matt milton 21 Aug 21 - 06:25 PM
leeneia 22 Aug 21 - 09:43 AM
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Subject: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:05 PM

I prefer to know songs from memory, but my memory sometimes isn't the best. Any tips for committing songs to memory?


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:10 PM

Copy the words out on a sheet of paper or a song book, this always helped me.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: RTim
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:48 PM

Danny Spooner used to claim that he wrote all his songs out in Long Hand and that this made him remember them.....i have tried it, and it didn't work for me.

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: meself
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 02:50 PM

1) Sing the first line over and over till you can do it without the lyric sheet, and without thinking about it.

2) Sing the second line over and over till you can do it without the lyric sheet, and without thinking about it.

3) Sing those two lines over and over without the lyric sheet, and without thinking about it.

4) Add the third line.

5) Rinse and repeat till you've got the whole song. Give the last part extra attention because that will be the part you've sung the least.

Only way I know to do it.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,Stan Ellison
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 03:06 PM

As a preliminary I'd suggest starting with short songs before trying to learn nine or ten verse ballads.

My process for learning lyrics is very simple. I sing them two or three times from the paper. Then I cover up the paper and sing from memory. When I get to a bit I don't remember I uncover them and read what comes next. I then cover them again and sing it

FROM THE START.

When I get to the bit I forgot my short term memory is usually good enough to let me carry on.

I might have to do this several times before getting all the way through a song.

I'll go through this process several times a day until I've got it memorised.

I used to practice new songs in my head while cycling to work or the shops. You could try the same when walking or driving. Memory is like a muscle, if you exercise it it will get stronger.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 03:38 PM

a tip I did learning music was playin it back to start as the end tends to be the part you forget first


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 04:12 PM

Stan's advice very good. Most songs in tradition are narrative. Learn the story first. Keep testing yourself. Alter a ballad so that in the last line of one verse there is a hint at the first line of the next verse. Lady Franklin's Lament is almost perfect for this, and it helps as the narrative is not strong.

Other types of songs are often easier as they are reiterative, accumulations, repetitions, strong chorus.

Repeated chorus ballads like Two Sisters are quite easy as while the chorus is being sung you have a short time to bring the next line to mind.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Gurney
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 05:30 PM

I find the easiest method is to get the lyric from an online lyric site, like Youtube.
Read through the lyric to see if is the correct variant.

Play the lyric,(and stopping and starting is instant and reversible, unlike other recordings) copying down on paper an aide-memoire of the words, a sketchy record of the first lines of each verse and the funny/awkward bits.

Make a fair, hand-written copy.

If you need to, type out a copy for your songbook, sizing the print to fill the page.

By now, you've heard it twice and written it out in full twice.

If you think this is a reiteration of the methods above, well so do I.
But it works for me.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:05 PM

In days gone by, you had to listen to the record and painstakingly write out the lyrics line by line, sometimes playing the record over & over many times.

These days it's a 'cut and paste' job off the Net ... and there lies the problem. As mentioned by earlier posters, writing out the lyrics long-hand is a great help in committing them to memory.

A method I use in getting my verses in the correct order is to make a short phrase using the opening word(s) of each verse in sequence. For say, "Homeward Bound" I'd memorise "I'm sittin' - Every - Tonight". I find it helps keep me on track.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,Gallus Moll
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:15 PM

Learn the song by ear!! Listen / sing - and don't just rote learn the words, see the story unfolding in your kind. Visualise what is happening.
This is in the right side if your brain, and will stay there forever.
(If you try to memorise words from a sheet of paper you are using the left side of your brain, and when you come to sing it, if you forget one word or a rhyme - you are lost! Whereas with the 'by ear' method you can recreate the verse - might undergo a bit of 'folk process' but you will still tell.the story!
- in my experience anyway!!


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,Gallus Moll
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:16 PM

.....in your mind (not kind!!!)


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 06:52 PM

Most everything I learned, both chorus and verse and prose before age 30 adhere like barnacles
within my brain, unto this day.

Close to 2,000 plus songs and tunes.
Whole recitations and monologues from plays...100 plus:
Bible verse beyond mention.


Songs came natural, first or second and immediate recall.
They stick like rubber and glue on pigeon wings.

HOWEVER,
A 20 minute monologue took    3 to four hours, hard concentrated pratice.
Exactly along the instructions of meself within this thread.



Tom Twist
White Owl
John Tetzel (indulgence vender in play Luther some of the audience wanted to give me money)
Cremation of Sam McGee (still requested by folk that have not seen me for 30years)
Shooting of Dangerous Dan McGree (both versions one including "pinched his poke).
Hundreds More

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


Cleaning the office, I may be close to the "fountain-head".

BBS numbers
University WATT lines
Xerox
use.net accounts
5 1/2 SINGLE SIDE floppys


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 07:11 PM

As a kid I buried my head deep in sofa pillows.
It all began with multiplication tables.
.

Life in a trailor
OPEN


Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 07:36 PM

Living as I do with a cognitive neuroscientist who specializes in memory I get pro tips from the best. And the best of those tips is "expanded retrieval." It's quite simple - after the first round of learning the song, leave longer and longer gaps between the times you go back to it. So at first you might go back after an hour, then a few hours, then a day or so, then every few days. It works wonders for me.

Dan


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 Aug 21 - 08:06 PM

I haven't learned a song in a long time, but when I did, I'd learn one verse/stanza, sing it from memory, and go on to the second. With the second, I'd sometimes need a cheat sheet, but would always try it first from memory. Same with the rest of the song. I think it's important to not look at the written word until after you've tried to remember it.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: DaveRo
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 03:03 AM

I was told by a well known local singer to learn the last verse first, then the next-to-last, etc. Only when you can remember and sing the last N verses do you add the next earlier one.

That way the song becomes more familiar as you carry on, not less. If singing in public, a quick glance at the words for the first verse or two should see you through.

(Anonymous guest may have made the same point, I think.)

Personally, I can often remember the words but not the tune. It's hard to recall a tune when someone is playing another.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: leeneia
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 09:39 AM

I'd prefer to know my new songs by heart too, but at my age it's not going to happen. How do I know? Songs I memorized a few years or months ago are completely gone.

I've decided that if I want to sing new songs at the Mudcat Singaround, I will have to have the words on paper. Of course, by the time I have typed it and practiced it, I have a good idea of how it goes and what rhymes with what.

By the way, nobody mentioned rhymes in the posts above. Rhymes help a lot with memorizing.
==========
When I wake up in the middle of the night, I often get myself back to sleep by "singing" a song I have recently memorized in my head. It shuts up the Inner Criticizer that attacks in the wee hours.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: amac09
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 10:13 AM

I work similar to how DaveRo and others said with starting at the end. But I tend to change it up more, sometimes I start in the middle, sometimes the end, and sometimes at the top. I've found if I always start in the same spot, that's the only part that I end up remembering well.

But my favorite thing to do is to sing the song in a variety of accents/silly voices. It works the same as writing in longhand, your brain has to slow down to think about the words/phrases more (and also it's just fun)


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 02:01 PM

PRACTICE. speak the words if its a story.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Aug 21 - 05:50 PM

I also heard that it’s a good idea to start with the last verse: otherwise you can end up knowing the start of the song really well, but not so good on the later verses.

I used to do a lot of am-dram and operetta: my best way of learning lines, cues, tunes and lyrics was……wait for it…..in the car, listening to, and speaking or singing along with recordings. I would make my own tapes of the spoken lines first, and our musical director would make note-learning tapes for the various voice parts. Now some might say this was a recipe for a road crash, but I never had one! Other drivers might wonder at this woman who was ranting away to herself!
I have tried the writing down thing, and it just doesn’t work for me at all.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 05:36 AM

since going to the Mudcat Zoom sessions, I have managed to learn 2 new songs in just over 1 year. The biggest challenge for me has been relearning what I used to know. I think I have got, maybe, a dozen up to performance standard where I can think more about how I want to put the song over rather than worrying if I am going to remember the next line.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 12:13 PM

It's important to remember that people learn in different ways, so if these tips don't work for you don't be disheartened.

I find it easier to remember narrative songs so there is the story to fall back on. Writing them out helps, and especially piecing the song together by transcribing from a recording, rather than simply trying to memorise a printed lyric.

For me, repetition is the key. I'll sing it over and over again, and at the same time I may be working on an accompaniment. If it's from a recording, I'll play it in the car and sing along. It can take a long time, and sometimes by the time I've got it I may be getting fed up with it. That's fine, I let it rest for a while and come back to it. It takes time and perseverance, but if it's a song you want to sing it will be worth it.

No doubt it does get harder with age, but don't let that be an excuse. Keeping your mind active is apparently one of the most important protections against mental decline.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 01:52 PM

Before my retirement, my drive to work took 40 minutes. I would load a CD into the car player and leave it there for several weeks, singing along with it as I drove to and from work.

Some songs imprinted themselves easier than others, but by about six weeks I would have just about the whole album memorised.

After 5 years of retirement, I'm surprised how many of these songs I can still summon up at will.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 08:45 PM

With ballads, I learn the story first, then listen to it a lot singing along, like on repeat for a 2-hour commute type repeat. Then I write out all the words that I remember. *Then* I look up the real words, and read them while singing along on repeat [not while driving, though]. Then I sing along without the words in front of me. Then I write out the words again. Repeat till when you write out the words, you know all the words.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Aug 21 - 08:46 PM

Must add, drove my kids nuts to have a song on repeat in the car for hours while I was trying to learn it...


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: leeneia
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 12:25 AM

Somebody used the phrase "performance standard". There are times when it's okay not to be up to performance standard. My voice is simply not what it used to be, but there are songs I know that will never be heard, never shared, unless I sing them to somebody. So I go ahead.

AT the Mudcat Singaround, you can stop and cough, stop and drink some water, you can stop, pick out a new first note and start again. It's not about being perfect, it's about bringing interesting songs to life again.

The kids in your family will remember all their lives that you sang for them. And they won't care if they are perfectly memorized.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 01:51 AM

There are times when it's okay not to be up to performance standard. quote
no no no it is not okay, you are insulting your audience


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 02:00 AM

I use cheat sheets, and don't apologize for it. I sing a song until I can sing it well enough to sing for others, but I keep the cheat sheet nearby in case I get lost. Oftentimes I won't look at the cheat sheet at all, but it gives me confidence.
I do the same thing with spoken presentations. I have my notes on the lectern in case I need them, but I wander around a lot and get animated, and often don't look at the notes at all. But I'm lost if I don't have them there.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 06:39 AM

Lots of good advice above.

I would add: record yourself. I record songs to Voice Recorder on my iPhone and listen back to them while washing up etc. It has the added bonus of revealing where you are flat or sharp, where you maybe need to draw a breath, where your range is. That might encourage you to recorde it again, slightly differently, which of course is practicing memorizing the words...


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 07:52 AM

If I recorded myself singing, I would be so self-critical that I would probably never sing the song in public. I tried it when I was taking violin lessons and it just made me want to give up.

DC


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 09:51 AM

Yes, I totally know what you mean. That used to be the case with me. But what got me past that was, paradoxically, recording myself! I mean, what you're hearing in the recording is only what everybody else is hearing when you sing or play in public anyway. The sheer horror of listening back to yourself repeatedly is eventually outweighed by the satisfaction of evenutally thinking 'That one isn't actually that bad...'

Violin playing is a whole other thing altogether though. I like to think I'm a reasonably good fiddler but when I listen back to my recordings it is a salutary reminder of how awful my intonation is. I've tried 'fiddle singing' once or twice and recording that has been useful to me in showing me I should never, on any account, try to do that in public.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 19 Aug 21 - 09:57 AM

I agree with Matt Milton above however, like he says, the tendency is to be too self critical however, recording yourself does highlight if or when you stray off pitch.
One thing that I picked up from an early playback was my poor diction. I now make a conscience attempt to sing with better pronunciation and not to slur words. I also try and end with strong last notes rather than let them fade away due to laziness or lack of breath.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 12:47 AM

some good points here listening to oneself, writing out words.
leenia, singing in front of your family is different from perfoming in front of strangers.
there are tips to good perfomance, good posture, taking deep breaths, feeling prepared, perfoming in front of a mirror, listening to yourself, and learning how to keep calm, plus communicating with an audience rather than at them


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 04:52 AM

I hadn't recorded myself singing until I chose to send a contribution into one of the 'zoom choirs' during lockdown. Done it on a instrument quite a bit.

Yes, it was embarrassing to hear what people had been hearing. However, simply settling down and sorting out the worst bits on by one means it gets better all the time, and so do the bits that were not too bad.

And starting off as bad as I did the words were firmly embedded in the brain long, long before it was presentable.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 11:58 AM

The people at the Singaround are not strangers. We have been meeting weekly for over a year.

I agree that recording yourself can help. I did that when I was asked to play tenor recorder at a funeral. Discouraged, I made a recording and realized that it sounded better than I thought. Since when I play it, I am right on top of it, I hear every subtle change in pressure, but the listener doesn't hear that.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: leeneia
Date: 20 Aug 21 - 04:14 PM

Matt Milton, here's something about intonation that I learned in workshops. Play with other people, and when you come to an iffy note, but play it for a long time. Listen to it and ask yourself "Does this sound good?" Don't worry about sharp, flat, etc. Just ask if it sounds good. If it doesn't, fix it. You might not think you can do that, but you probably can.

Another tip: play with a guitarist who has tuned with a tuner, and when you play, listen to the guitar. A guitar playing chords is like the foundation of a building - all the other instruments are based on it. It's not just there to look like a cowboy's in the room.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Aug 21 - 05:17 AM

leenia , try being more positive, with coaching and breathing exercises , you may be able to improve your singing , it is worth a try , even if you do not get back to the highest standard of your past, but if you can improve at all it is imo worth a go


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 21 Aug 21 - 06:25 PM

Thanks for the suggestions Leeneia, but I've been playing violin for about 40 years now. My intonation's about as good (bad) as it's ever going to get.


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Subject: RE: tips for memorizing songs?
From: leeneia
Date: 22 Aug 21 - 09:43 AM

No, Matt. Have hope. I have a friend who plays flute at 75, and when I told him to listen to the guitar, his intonation improved noticeably. Instantly.


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