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memory loss and the aging vocalist

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TerriM 02 Jun 00 - 11:30 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 02 Jun 00 - 11:38 AM
Uncle_DaveO 02 Jun 00 - 11:41 AM
Alice 02 Jun 00 - 11:52 AM
DougR 02 Jun 00 - 01:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Jun 00 - 02:05 PM
Llanfair 02 Jun 00 - 03:06 PM
Bert 02 Jun 00 - 03:11 PM
Midchuck 02 Jun 00 - 03:23 PM
TerriM 02 Jun 00 - 07:24 PM
Jeri 02 Jun 00 - 08:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Jun 00 - 09:45 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Jun 00 - 09:53 PM
Escamillo 02 Jun 00 - 11:13 PM
Brendy 02 Jun 00 - 11:56 PM
Cap't Bob 02 Jun 00 - 11:59 PM
JamesJim 03 Jun 00 - 12:03 AM
WyoWoman 03 Jun 00 - 12:31 AM
GUEST,LesB 03 Jun 00 - 12:33 AM
Murray MacLeod 03 Jun 00 - 03:41 PM
sophocleese 03 Jun 00 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,Catlin 03 Jun 00 - 03:48 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jun 00 - 03:58 PM
GUEST,Anne, Northumberland. England 03 Jun 00 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Anne, Northumberland. England 03 Jun 00 - 06:08 PM
bbelle 03 Jun 00 - 07:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jun 00 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Liz the Squeak 04 Jun 00 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,Arnie 04 Jun 00 - 08:14 AM
Alice 04 Jun 00 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Liz the Squeak 04 Jun 00 - 05:31 PM
Alice 04 Jun 00 - 06:14 PM
Snuffy 04 Jun 00 - 06:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Jun 00 - 07:51 PM
MarkS 04 Jun 00 - 08:34 PM
WyoWoman 04 Jun 00 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Grubby 04 Jun 00 - 10:24 PM
sophocleese 04 Jun 00 - 10:33 PM
WyoWoman 04 Jun 00 - 11:56 PM
GUEST,Les B 04 Jun 00 - 11:59 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Jun 00 - 06:41 AM
TerriM 05 Jun 00 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Russ 05 Jun 00 - 03:09 PM
Llanfair 05 Jun 00 - 03:30 PM
poet 05 Jun 00 - 06:56 PM
Bill D 05 Jun 00 - 09:40 PM
Cap't Bob 05 Jun 00 - 11:17 PM
JamesJim 05 Jun 00 - 11:47 PM
WyoWoman 06 Jun 00 - 01:30 AM
Fiddlin' Big Al 06 Jun 00 - 04:21 AM
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Subject: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: TerriM
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:30 AM

Recently, and no doubt due to my advancing years, I am having real trouble commiting songs to memory...at least I remember the words but can't get the verses in the right order. It only happens on one or two, Raglan Road, for example,but no matter how long we've been doing them it's hit or miss if I'm going to get them right.Now I know audiences are tolerant creatures on the whole, but it's driving me nuts. Does anyone have any tips?


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:38 AM

Yes I do but have forgotten what it was..... Oh yes! I cheat, and have a copy of the song in front of me when I sing...Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:41 AM

One trick, especially useful when learning a new song, is to learn it backwards--that is, last verse first. If there are five verses, learn verse 5 singing it over and over; then learn to do 4 and 5 together; then learn to do 3, 4, and 5 together; then 2, 3, 4, and 5; then 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Doing it this way, you aren't so likely to get hung up where the only way to pick up the thread is to begin at the beginning.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Alice
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:52 AM

an aspirin a day helps with some memory problems, too (really, no kidding)


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: DougR
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 01:39 PM

Good for circulation too, Alice.

DougR


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 02:05 PM

Another thing that helps is to learn the end of one verse and the beginning of the next as a (non-rhyming) couplet, so that the first line pulls the next one along with it.

Another thing to do is just repeat the last line or the last verse until the correct one comes along. Or sing nonsense syllables till you come to a line you know.

And you can have a tape of yourself singing it, and play it as you are driving along, to push it into your head. You know the way, when someone else is singing, you find you know the next line - well, this is a way of using the same mechanism. It can sometimes work.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Llanfair
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 03:06 PM

Oh Terri, I can relate to this one. I'm wanting to learn loads of new stuff, but the words won't stay put. Also I need to have the right glasses on to read a cribsheet, and if I start getting a flush in the middle of a song, the glasses start to slide down my nose..................Who said being a singer was easy!!!!Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Bert
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 03:11 PM

...or ever worse, Bron, they steam up!


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Midchuck
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 03:23 PM

Choosing as much as possible to learn songs with a definite story to them helps.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: TerriM
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 07:24 PM

thank you, that all helps tremendously.I know that songs that don't have a story are harder to commit to memory, Raglan Road, my current bugbear doesn't as such, neither does Lay Down Sally which I also have trouble with.I have problems with crib-sheets if it's a two hour set, too many bits of paper to juggle and learning things either upside down or by the couplets joining verses is a great idea which I will use in future, but these are songs that, supposedly, I already know.Perhaps an extended period in the NYCFTTS, what do you reckon?


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 08:42 PM

Not quite the same as a crib sheet - perhaps you could get one of those little notebooks and write down just the first lines or first few words of each verse.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 09:45 PM

But Raglan Road is a story song, if ever there was a story song.

There's him seeing her in the Autumn, and then in November they're on the edge of it; and then in May it's all happening with the poems and all. And the break up is missed out, so it jumps ahead to the epilogue, with her avoiding him. And then if yoiu like you can go back to the beginning and see it differently.It's like a little film you can see in your head.

It's like a film you can see in your head. And if a few of the lines get moved around, that doesn't matter all that much, so long as the story is there.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 09:53 PM

I'm playing more instrumentals these days!

Rick


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Escamillo
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:13 PM

I use a cheat sheet with large letters, only one or two words of each verse. By the way, why not using an electronic display, now that they are very cheap, located on the floor, 7 feet appart, activated by a discrete pedal ? Any young technician would be able to build it or adapt an existent device, for less than 100 dollars. Check the device first, very carefully, avoiding the possibility of reading "NEXT STOP GOVERNMENT CENTER" in the middle of the song.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Brendy
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:56 PM

Oh, God,
I haven't crossed that bridge yet, and I hope I never do.
However, having said that, and having had both sets of finger bones broken, twice, it is amazing how the body, or in this case, the mind, kicks in to solve the problem in your own special way; catering for your own 'special' need.

It has done that for me in the physical sense; I hope that nature is so understanding should I have need of her skills if my powers of recall fail me.

I tend to treat a song like a story. I have to 'empathise' in a lot of ways, with the song. After that it's a sort of osmosis.
If the song becomes 'more than words', how easy is it to lose it.
As I say, I hope that never happens

B.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:59 PM

Drink lots of coffee ~ 4 to 8 mugs a day. I'm getting right up there in age and I usually pick up one to two new songs a week. Just a few weeks ago I heard that coffee stimulates the growth of neurons in the brain. Of course I also carry a buckeye with me at all times. If it works ~ what the heck.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: JamesJim
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 12:03 AM

I find that certain songs are just difficult for me to remember, no matter what I do. I usually just avoid them. Unless you start forgetting everything, I'm not sure I'd worry about it. Jim


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: WyoWoman
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 12:31 AM

Yes -- I had my crib sheets all written out for a gig last year and in a black notebook carefully placed sort of to the side of the mic so I could look but not look blatantly, and I had printed out the words from "Psychotherapy" from the 'Cat and right there on the next page was one of the recipes from one of the food threads. Very interesting. I just read it to the audience in case anyone wanted to know how to make whatever it was...


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,LesB
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 12:33 AM

TerriM: I've just been suffering with this problem too ! All the above ideas sound promising and I have been using several: sticking to story songs, taking an aspirin, drinking coffee, repeating verses as if I intended it for effect, and adding extra instrumentals. My current plan for coping is to make a set list of songs I want to do for the next month - at "spontaneous" jams - and rehearse them carefully several times before hand. It limits the number of songs you do in any given month, but it prevents the embarassment of hitting that blank in the third verse. It also makes you pick your "best" stuff. I've just had to resign myself to the fact that no longer can I just "wing it" and sing anything I learned in the past 25 years without a hitch. It's hell to get this mature, maybe it will pass, or maybe one just gets down to the lone quintessential song you know and that's it !


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 03:41 PM

I hate to gloat, but as I grow older, the only part of my memory which imoroves is the part which learns song lyrics. I forget birthdays, appointments, anniversaries, what I am supposed to pick up at the store, but I find it much easier to commit lyrics to memory now than when I was twenty. Maybe as Cap't Bob says. it is due to drinking copious quantities of coffee (Cubano down here)

Murray


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: sophocleese
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 03:41 PM

The only problem with drinking lots of coffee for the memory is that its not good for the voice....A while ago I wrote out a list of all the songs that I like to sing. Whenever I have time I throw a couple of dice and use them to help me figure out which song on the list I have to sing from memory. Doing that helps keep a lot of songs current and prevents me from falling into a rut where I practice the same few songs over and over. My voice is a creature of habit and I have to keep it on its toes.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Catlin
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 03:48 PM

I have same problem with memory...... but I'm only 20. I have Attention Deficit Disorder, and have real problem commiting things to memory. I find repeating the verses to myself and just practicing alot helps. as I tend to make the song into a 'thread'that I follow. The only problem with this is I do lose my way in some songs and I find in some songs that I get into a repetative circle because I can't think of the next verse.I'll have to use the suggestion of learning the song backwards and see if that works for me. Thanks:)!

*Hugs* Catlin


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 03:58 PM

The funny thing is, it's only the songs I sing myself that I forget. All the other people's songs (providing they are ones I've heard before), I know perfectly.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Anne, Northumberland. England
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 05:58 PM

Hello Its so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one with this problem. It isn't nerves or stage fright because its o.k. when i'm infront of a proper audience but down the local pub its sometimes very worrying how often it happens. The ones that stay with me are the ones I've known for years or the ones I can see in my head - like a film. I din't set out to learn them either, they just attached themselves to me and stayed like good friends. If I'm really in a jam then jotting down just the first few words of each verse just before I get up to sing helps. lots of love


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Anne, Northumberland. England
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 06:08 PM

Hello Its so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one with this problem. It isn't nerves or stage fright because its o.k. when i'm infront of a proper audience but down the local pub its sometimes very worrying how often it happens. The ones that stay with me are the ones I've known for years or the ones I can see in my head - like a film. I din't set out to learn them either, they just attached themselves to me and stayed like good friends. If I'm really in a jam then jotting down just the first few words of each verse just before I get up to sing helps. lots of love


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: bbelle
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 07:25 PM

A Basic Fact of Life:

As you get older, it becomes harder to memorize stuff.

It's like how children pick up languages at a drop of a hat from just listening and adults go the Berlitz route.

When I started gigging, I was 16 y/o (too young to play in clubs in Florida unless a parent was present) and I was learning 3 or 4 new songs a day to increase my repertoire ... it was a snap.

Now ... there are a couple dozen new songs I want to learn and memorizing the words is simply a bitch. The guitar part is still very easy ... it's just those damn words to songs.

I learn verse by verse ... when I've got one verse memorized, I go on to the next. And repitition ... I sing it over and over. I have a 45 minute drive into my office and learn lots of verses during that twice a day drive.

I don't use cheat sheets because then I will never learn the words. I feel it's better to forget and make up words than to rely on having the words in front of me. I'm not saying anyone else should do it this way ... it's just the way I do it.

moonchild


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 08:16 PM

The thing to do, of course,is learn lots of songs whuikle you are young. Then when you are old and wizened the long term memory kicks in, and you remember the songs you learned as a babby, and they book you at all the festivals. And if the words come out a bit different from the way they went in, that's just another folk variant to chalk up.

I share moonchild's preference for singing without the words in front of me, and for making up missing bits if necessary. The exception is if it's a song I wrote myself recently, and I haven't sung it in public before. (That's no criticism of those who find written words helpful. It's down to the very different ways our several minds work.)


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 04:56 AM

McGrath - gets me that way too! The only songs that I wrote that I can remember are rude or a parody, and even then I frequently have to resort to singing the original through first!

TerriM - maybe all those pints of Baileys are starting to catch up with you......!

Of course, if you write all your songs in one book, PLEASE make sure you have a copy somewhere else - my book which oddly enough, was on its way down to see TerriM with us, got stolen from our car (along with every stitch of clothing we weren't wearing, and the baby's nappy bag - hope they liked the real stinker that was in it, waiting for a bin!!) and I lost all my songs. It has taken me 3 years to get about 2/3rds of them back and there are some that I wrote that are gone for ever.... bastards.....

I now have them in my diary, on disk and on hard drive, soon I'll have a hard copy in another file as well. Paranoid I is!!

Luckily, I find that writing them out six or seven times gets them into my head, as I can picture the page when I close my eyes, but as TerriM will tell you, I always have the book there as well.... talk about belt and braces!

LTS


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Arnie
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 08:14 AM

Perform with a duo -then you get rely on your partner to come up with the right words and you can sneak in singing a split second later (that's my secret) - that is if your partner remembers them. Now if I can only remember what the darn chord is that goes there -& how to play that darn chord - and by the way where's my capo and picks?


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Alice
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 12:35 PM

Story songs, as people say, are easier to remember. Regarding the aspirin, seriously... I naturally have blood that tends to clot easily, so I am supposed to take an aspirin a day, anyway. But, there tends to be a common problem, especially as we age, with tiny stokes that cause memory lapses - so thinning your blood with an aspirin a day helps alleviate that. Have you ever stopped in mid-sentence unable to get the next word out that you were thinking, or suddenly forgot someone's name that you have known for years? Thin your blood!

Running the song through your mind even when you can't sing aloud is another way to practice lyrics.

Alice


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Liz the Squeak
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 05:31 PM

Will that help my inability to cope with talking lifts and my swelling feet as well?

Age is coming up faster and faster each day - the bloke who sits behind me in the office has never seen a pound note (ah, remember them?), never knew there were blue five pound notes and thinks that sixpences are a figment or our imagination.

Why is it though, I can remember something I sang once or twice, 20 years ago, but not a damned song I've done practically every month for 10 years?!!

LTS


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Alice
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 06:14 PM

LTS... lie down and put your feet up after you take that aspirin.

a.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 06:49 PM

I have a problem with learning a new song - there's a stage where my mind has learned the song, but my mouth hasn't.

I find it takes a lot of practice before I can properly articulate the words I already know. Anyone else have this problem?

And why are most of the posters to this thread from UK? What is it with the English?


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 07:51 PM

"Why is it though, I can remember something I sang once or twice, 20 years ago, but not a damned song I've done practically every month for 10 years?!!" -

It's like I said Liz, the long-term old-time memory is kicking in at last. If you were singing good songs 20 years back, you can start freewheelin' The ould ones are the best anyway.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: MarkS
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 08:34 PM

What was this post about?


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: WyoWoman
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 08:47 PM

I'm intrigued by LesB's idea that we might get boiled down to the one essential song that we know, and wondering what that might be for me as I go doddering up to the mic in my dotage...

WW (from the U.S.) (What IS it with all these what-is-it-withs lately?)


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Grubby
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 10:24 PM

I've always relied on the words written on the ceiling. Have you noticed when we forget the words of a song, we tend to look upwards towards the ceiling. Probably in the hope that the words will magically appear, as if projected from our mind onto a spot just above our heads. I have witnessed this action many times at folk nights or performances and have adopted the process myself. But it seems my projector is not plugged in, the words do not appear and I'm back to supplying a musical interlude until the old memory drags back at least one more verse to get me through to the end of the song.

Grubby


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: sophocleese
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 10:33 PM

One of the old body language thingys Grab. When you're looking up your visualizing something, it helps if its the words to the song, or a video replay of what's happening in the song, but not if its your shopping list or a snapshot of your laundry pile.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: WyoWoman
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 11:56 PM

I read a really interesting article some time ago about a researcher who had discovered that people look up at the ceiling when they're trying to recall something abstract and down and to the left when they're tryign to recall numbers or something more concrete. That may not be it preceisely, but he did say that people seem to fish around in different areas of the ether, depending on the type of information they were trying to recall.

ww


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Les B
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 11:59 PM

Grubby: Not everyone rolls their eyes to the ceiling but certain people do. There was some research a number of years back about detecting deception (lies) and one of the indicators had to do with which direction people rolled their eyes up - diagonally to the left or to the right when answering a question. It had to do with the right brain / left brain phenomena that was so popular. Unfortunately I can't remember which direction susposedly indicated truth and which indicated deceipt.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 06:41 AM

"people look up at the ceiling when they're trying to recall something abstract and down and to the left when they're trying to recall numbers or something more concrete."

Next time I try to sing Green Grows the Rushes O and get stuck I'll try to remember that - head bobbing up and down to get the numbers coodinated with the images...

Shutting the eyes is one memory technique that hasn't been mentioned. Not to be tried if you're trying to rmemebr a song as you are driving along, maybe. But I'm sure that's why so many of us shut the old eyes singing in clubs and so forth.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: TerriM
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 07:25 AM

I was thinking how reassuring it was that I'm not the only one who's hard of thinking and then about that one definitive song. I thought, well, for me, it must be She Moved Through the Fair, it's probably the song I've known the longest and it's still a firm favourite. I went off to make a cup of tea and realised....I can't remember the second bloody verse.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 03:09 PM

Keep your lyrics in a notebook......computer. Really. Works for me.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Llanfair
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 03:30 PM

Hmmmmm looking at the ceiling and thinking about the laundry or the shopping list, why is this such a familliar concept?

Ah yes, husband No.2!!!!!!!
Hwyl, Bron.


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: poet
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 06:56 PM

This happens to me quite a lot when singing unaccompanied so I developed the technique of banging my head against the back wall of the stage in time with music until the words came back. strangely enough it seemed to work. But I think brain damage may have crept in somewhere. Like DUHH.
Graham (Guernsey)


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 09:40 PM

I look up at the ceiling to avoid looking at all those people's faces as they wait for me to find the words! It's even worse if two or three different folk are trying to mouth words to help me...*grin*

"I never remember the words, but I always forget a tune"
......... Bill D, 1997


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 11:17 PM

If you are singing a song and start thinking about what the words are for the next verst then you are very likely to forget the words. Thinking ahead can be dangerous when you are singing. The mouth, vocal cords, and lungs have to learn the song ~ don't let the brain get too involved.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: JamesJim
Date: 05 Jun 00 - 11:47 PM

Cap't Bob,getting my brain involved has never been a problem for me. Just ask my wife. Jim


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: WyoWoman
Date: 06 Jun 00 - 01:30 AM

LLanfair, that was hilarious. Went zippin' by, but it was cute.

I always close my eyes when I sing and I used to try to make myself NOT do that. But I just so completely get into the world of the song when my eyes are closed. I suppose it's a matter of concentration, too, but it doesn't feel as though I'm inside my head rummaging around for words, just that I'm seeing and feeling the world the words are creating...

ww


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Subject: RE: memory loss and the aging vocalist
From: Fiddlin' Big Al
Date: 06 Jun 00 - 04:21 AM

Play for aging audiences who have also forgotten the words. It's ok to bury Johnny before Frankie shoots him. He is doomed anyway. Frankie can dispose of the murder weapon by flying to Chicago and pawning it after the crime. She'll never see the Warden and his 'lectric chair unless she hires the wrong lawyer or lives in Texas. Stay after class and write the correct lyrics 100 times on a blackboard then take an aspirin for the pain. Don't worry until you fail to realize you've got all the verses out of order. After that, what you don't know you can't remember won't hurt you. Bad memory is an important facet of the folk process. Don't ever apologize for it.


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