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Learning and remembering the words..

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Seaking 05 Jul 03 - 06:42 PM
Barb'ry 05 Jul 03 - 07:14 PM
Deckman 05 Jul 03 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,celtaddict 05 Jul 03 - 08:05 PM
John Routledge 05 Jul 03 - 08:09 PM
GUEST,sula 05 Jul 03 - 08:24 PM
8_Pints 05 Jul 03 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,celtaddict 05 Jul 03 - 08:30 PM
Mudlark 05 Jul 03 - 08:31 PM
Leadfingers 05 Jul 03 - 08:32 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 03 - 04:36 AM
Snuffy 06 Jul 03 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Jul 03 - 09:07 AM
Abuwood 06 Jul 03 - 09:24 AM
Deckman 06 Jul 03 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Vince 06 Jul 03 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Vince 06 Jul 03 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Vince 06 Jul 03 - 05:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 06 Jul 03 - 05:49 PM
Mark Clark 06 Jul 03 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Bagpuss 07 Jul 03 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,KB 07 Jul 03 - 10:33 AM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Jul 03 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,Les B. 07 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM
Bev and Jerry 07 Jul 03 - 01:48 PM
Seaking 07 Jul 03 - 05:44 PM
VirginiaTam 24 Nov 10 - 01:08 PM
Sandra in Sydney 24 Nov 10 - 07:41 PM
VirginiaTam 25 Nov 10 - 02:43 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Nov 10 - 02:57 AM
Sandra in Sydney 25 Nov 10 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,EKanne 25 Nov 10 - 04:29 AM
melodeonboy 25 Nov 10 - 04:44 AM
Rafflesbear 25 Nov 10 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Desi C 25 Nov 10 - 07:30 AM
Allan C. 26 Nov 10 - 05:42 AM
Allan C. 26 Nov 10 - 06:04 AM
puck 26 Nov 10 - 03:24 PM
Gallus Moll 26 Nov 10 - 03:37 PM
EBarnacle 26 Nov 10 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,best bet 26 Nov 10 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 27 Nov 10 - 04:37 PM
Artful Codger 27 Nov 10 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Desi C 28 Nov 10 - 07:16 AM
VirginiaTam 28 Nov 10 - 07:21 AM
open mike 28 Nov 10 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,petehulme 02 Sep 15 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,petehulme 02 Sep 15 - 08:09 AM
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Subject: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Seaking
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 06:42 PM

I always seem to have a problem learning new lyrics and an even bigger problem remembering them when it matters most. On many occasions the fog has come down somewhere in the middle of a song I've spent hours, days , weeks rehearsing at home only to find the mind going blank half way through singing at a club/festival/early morning campsite gathering . I have total admiration for the singers who can reel off dozens of songs over a weekend with no recourse to books, bits of paper stuck to the guitar, etc and get through with no problems. (I don't mind other people using notes, I just don't like doing it myself.) Does anyone have any suggestions for techniques to learning the words to new songs and then to remember them. Maybe it's a 'You have it or you don't' thing but I'm willing to try any good suggestions.

Thanks
CK


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Barb'ry
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 07:14 PM

Hi - poor you, there's nothing worse than blanking out the song half way through.. I had the same problem and still do to some extent but found the thing that helped me most was confidence! Know that sounds stupid but one day I just realised that everyone forgets words some times and that the only person getting screwed up about it was me. The more I thought s*d it, the easier it became. It also helped when I sang ballady songs, with a proper story line that I could follow in my head, and the worse ones were the songs that almost have an 'interchangeable' second half - boy have I made some giant cock ups there!
Good luck - I suppose the other thing to do is get good at instant rhyming and make the lost bits up as you go along.... (Theresa Tooley!)
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 07:29 PM

Hi Seaking ... The refrain I use today is that "I've forgotten more songs than I remember!". CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,celtaddict
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:05 PM

Of course it happens, and I am lucky enough to learn lyrics quickly for many songs but am completely awed by two types of performers, the folks who can remember the words they want for huge numbers of songs, and the folks who recover. I suspect the learning of them is in rather a large part the "you do or you don't" situation, but there is no doubt that practice, constant drilling, helps one get better. But the means of improving retention and of recovering are probably learned, often under considerable duress I expect.
My mother took down everything, and I mean everything, in a silent and unwritten shorthand; as a child I noted her right index finger moved continuously through all conversations and even when she was listening to the news or reading the newspaper. This kept her shorthand fluent even years after she had worked as a secretary. I suspect cultivating this habit has helped me, in the way that taking notes helps one remember, even if one never looks at the notes again.
Gordon Bok, in my mind one of the finest ever, loses words rather regularly when performing live, and usually just "freezes" until it comes back. Dave Parry did the same but his freezes were sometimes much longer.
Danny O'Flaherty has a rich Connemara accent and when he loses a word or a phrase he simply leans a bit away from the mike and fills in softly with any syllables that maintain the rhythm; keeping the melody uninterrupted is key. I had enjoyed listening for years before I noticed how often he did this, he is that smooth with it; I just assumed I missed a word or two.
Some start over. Unless this block happens in the first phrase, I find this very distracting. In my mind lilting or otherwise faking it (what are instrumental bridges for anyway?) until time for the next chorus and going on from there is much more satisfactory. Repeating (without disrupting the flow of the song) the previous verse often helps the next one surface as well, and many ballads have a good deal of rather ritualistic repetition anyway, so this solution often works admirably. A good number of listeners don't even notice.
Cultivating the "instant rhyme" can help but may be a trait that you either have or do not.
Flat invention sometimes works, but only on some types of song. I heard a rather well-known singer once start "Seven Drunken Nights" and realize he had not sung it in many years; he made up verses onstage that had us in hysterics. (Whose bum is that upon the bed? It's nothing but a pumpkin. . .A pumpkin with a stem like that I never saw before. . .)
A friend who hits a blank stops cold and says with his irresistible grin, "and that's all I know" and goes straight into something different but similar, generally same key and tempo as well as theme. This works for him but seems very much personality and style dependent. He also often makes on the spot medleys, most well planned but some spontaneous and unexpected (I constantly have an ear out for songs that "go together" but was quite amused to find how easily "The Rattlin' Bog" goes into "Hava Nagilah"). If you mentally "file" songs by key and tempo this could be useful.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: John Routledge
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:09 PM

Memorising the first important word of each verse in order is useful for me.

I used to get furious with myself if I forgot words or made a mistake Now I almost laugh. That is real progress for me !!!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,sula
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:24 PM

I draw pictures in my book of what each line is about, e.g. "last night as i lay on my bed..." would have a picture of a bed next to it, or "I like to rise when the sun she rises" a sun rising over some steps. You should see my illustrations of 3 drunken maidens! I like celtaddicts suggestions. If I get lost I just fit the words "something or other" whatchamacallit thingamybob etc to the tune till someone helps me out.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: 8_Pints
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:24 PM

I agree with John, having a prompt for the first word or two of each line is generally enough for me to recall each verse.

On one occasion, however, I really cocked things up when I attempted to launch into 'Goodnight Irene', and forgot that the chorus starts with 'Irene Goodnight'!

Everyone collapsed on the floor laughing!!!

Bob vG


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,celtaddict
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:30 PM

Laughing is curative. When you are confident enough to laugh when this inevitably happens, you are truly a performer. When you are confident enough to pause, and let your instrument or lilt carry the song, you are truly a musician.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Mudlark
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:31 PM

When young I was a quick study, but in my dotage I find it much more difficult to learn new songs (luckily the old ones remain pretty well fixed in memory). Since I am a nervous performer I'm never willing to trot out a new song til I feel I know it cold...and the only way I can come to this state is by singing it...not just while playing or practicing, but while driving, doing dishes, etc. I keep a copy of words close by and when I stumble and forget, only then do I look at the words, then put it away again. Once I've learned the words backwards and forwards, putting accompaniment to the piece isn't such a problem...if I forget a chord I can always just sort of smoothly stop playing for a bit, or vamp or whatever. But I'm a lot less likely to forget chords, etc. if I've got the words, the meaning of the words, my feelings about the words, all that good stuff, rock solid. It just takes time and patience, and the ability to feel good about learning one new song a month instead of dozens.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 08:32 PM

Its always a relief when one of the 'good' singers loses it halfway
through a song. Allways makes Me feel bettter.I quote a good mate who
said 'An amateur practises til he knows it,a semi pro muso practises
til he knows it RIGHT and a PRO practises til he CANT get it wrong'.
The confidnce bit IS a lot of it though.I just wish you luck.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 04:36 AM

I don't claim to know how it works, but if I can't remember the words of a song, rather than cut & paste it from somewhere, I print it and then type it in to my songbook. By the time I have typed it out I often find I don't need the songbook!

As an ex Scout Leader I remember the emphasis placed in our training (for training Scouts):
"What I hear, I forget;
What I see, I remember;
What I do, I know;"

In other words, hand- on experience beats seeing it on a black board, or in a book, but both are better than just being told with no visual input!

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Snuffy
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 08:06 AM

Perhaps you're trying to learn tne wrong songs!

I find that with some songs it just goes in, and sticks for ever; with others most of it sticks, but I'm quite likely to slip up from time to time; but there are others that I have to keep re-learning every couple of years or so.

But it's hard to know which category any particular song is going to fall into


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 09:07 AM

Here are some suggestions:

Choose songs with a logical story to tell.

Choose songs with lots of rhyme.

Sing them as you work around the house.

Focus on awkward lines which are hard to remember. Sing them repeatedly.

Have "notes" on stage which consist of only one word or two per verse, written large, so you can sneak a glance without being obvious.

It's all very well to say that So-and-so forgets words onstage. So-and-so is famous, and people are willing to overlook any flaws. You are not, so you are right in wanting to improve your memorizing skills.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Abuwood
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 09:24 AM

Snuffy you seem like you only have to hear a song once and it sticks in your head you know so many!
I am with the first word of the verse pricipal, and with songs like Row on where I can't see a logical progression in the verses I make a mental picture using these words so below the clouds is a Bear standing by a river, he sees a star which lights up the row boat.
I think it is called mind mapping, once you spot the links you can use any imagary to connect them, the more wierd the better you are more likely to remember it!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Deckman
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 09:53 AM

Over years of stage time, I've resorted to several tricks to help me get through a "new" song. Putting a few key phrases on a "cheat sheet" and taping to my guitar sometimes works, except that you often look as though you are having a neck problem while you try to steal a glance at it (especially if you wear bifocals as I do)! For many years, I've carefully planned my program on cheat sheets: the order of the songs, the keys, etc. Once, during my single years, a lady I was dating decided to mess with my cheat sheet when I wasn't looking. As I started the concert, I glanced down and found she had added a cheat sheet of her own. It read: milk, eggs, cat food, bread ....! CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Vince
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 05:03 PM

Some grand advise here from y'all. I started singing the 'old mans song' recently and froze, so went on to another and cos i stumble on the previous song i did it again! Nerves y'see.

I think Mudlark's idea of keeping the words close by and singing the song anywhere and everywhere is a great help..

I reckon the irish had the best idea when they invented 'mouth musi' (was it the irish?), so that if you forget words, lines or verses you can 'scithery idle doodle, didle doodle, didle dar' yer way through 'til you remember...well on some songs at least!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Vince
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 05:04 PM


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Vince
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 05:05 PM

Sorry, my trigget fingers on extra twitch t'night and me spellink is shockin! Nerves you see....nyaar!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 05:49 PM

There have been some useful previous threads with good ideas - enter "remembering songs" in the search engine comes up with some of them.

Most useful trick I know is start with working on learning the last verse, and work back. That way as you get into a song you are getting into more familiar territory rather than the reverse.

But however well you know a song there's likely to be a time you go completely blank. If you sing the last line or the last verse over again it'll likely come back, and the chances are if you don't let on anyone who notices will think it's an intentional way of emphasising the lines.

Techniques for remembering by imagery might help to get the words in the right order, but I'd think it'd really get in the way of what is more important, putting the meaning of the song across - you can only do that I think when you aren't trying to remember the words at all, just opening your mouth and listening to them come out, as a way of telling the story or communicating the mood or whatever.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Mark Clark
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 06:45 PM

Like some of the others here, I learned lyrics faster when I was younger but I still seem to be able to learn a three verse song while driving to a session. I print the words and keep them on the seat beside me. I work to sing the song without referring to the lyrics and keep a mental note of the lines where memory is weak then come back and work on those.

If the lyrics make sense—have some imperative sequence—learning them is much easier. The hardest to learn are those songs in which all the lines and many of the words seem arbitrary and interchangeable. In a blues, where each verse often stands alone, I just sing them in the order in which they occur to me. These days I can remember the lyrics if someone else can remember that the song exists. I tend to lose a mental link to the song even though I remember all the lyrics and arrangement details.

I also think there may be a perception component, if that is the right word. If your perception is that you are someone memorizing a performance, it will be harder to learn and to retain. If your perception is that you are a performer and the song is a natural component of you, the memorization comes more easily and you will never forget it.

One suggestion: Try out for suitable roles at your local community theater. The pressure created by the impending public performance and the determination not to let your fellow actors down can help you get the lines memorized. Once you've done a few plays, you will have created a memorization style that should be useful in learning songs. You'll also have spent more time in front of an audience and increased your comfort level on stage.

You are extensible. Learn by extending the person you are becoming.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Bagpuss
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 05:57 AM

I usually don't have much of a problem remembering words after I have sung it a few times. But I have discovered that being pregnant really does make you forgetful. At the weekend, I lost the words halfway through a song that I have sung lots of times before and didn't get them back with a short pause like I normally do. After that I had to mentally go through every song I planned to sing just to make sure all the words were there. There were several that I really enjoy singing, but didn't dare risk it after the first embarassment!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,KB
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 10:33 AM

I find that the more songs I learn, the easier the learning process becomes.

Also - with folk songs, you can often nick a verse from another song if you forget the one your in.

I am getting a tiny bit better at covering my mistakes - but am still sadly apt to shout "bugger" in the middle of a song.

Actually, I think one of the most important things it NOT to make your audience cringe for you - ie - if you forget the words then just smile nicely, handle it however works for you & move on.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 11:06 AM

What's embarrassing to me is to start a song I have known WELL, and done FREQUENTLY, and get to a point, and it's gone. Just the other night on Paltalk, I had to declare, "I've sung this song regularly for fifty years, but the rest of it is just gone!" Then I said, "But here's another song with a lot of the same notes!" and sang that one.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 01:16 PM

I'm finding that if I haven't had a good night's sleep I'm more apt to forget lines.

A couple of friends of mine cover lost words by smiling big and saying "watermelon watermelon" or "chopin' broccoli" until they get to a line they remember. Having good humor about it and carrying on the rhythm instrumentally is better than stopping dead and being totally embarassed.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 01:48 PM

But I have discovered that being pregnant really does make you forgetful.

It works the other way around, too!

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Seaking
Date: 07 Jul 03 - 05:44 PM

Thanks everyone for the ideas - and the laughs. Laughter came up as the 'getout' a few times so maybe there's something in there worth considering, perhaps just substite the odd verse for a bout of giggling. McGrath of Harlow - thanks for great idea about learning the song backwards - flawless logic, Think I'll try it for starters.

First outing with new ideas will be next weekend so if you see someone singing a shopping list backwards, shouting 'Tooroo la addio diddle dee - BUGGER' as a fill-in you'll know I've listened. Still wondering how "Whose bum is that upon the bed?" will work in the middle of 'Shipyard apprentice' though.

Cheers..

CK


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 01:08 PM

I draw pictures in my book of what each line is about

I discovered that pictures do help me, this last weekend.

I wanted to learn Past Carin. So I recorded myself singing it while I had copy of song in front of me. Then I listened and searched google images for pics that describe the scene for many of the lines (more or less).

Pop it all into movie maker and time the pictures to pop up a second before the corresponding line.

Now I see these pics on a loop in my head and each acts as a cue to my memory to sing the correct line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4dYLTQ6FC4


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 07:41 PM

wow. they are amazing images, and your voice is right for the song.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 02:43 AM

Sandra

Thank you. But really the important bit is not the finished product but the how I got there, at least in relation to the thread topic.

I am looking at some other songs which I have trouble remembering lyrics and applying the same practice.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 02:57 AM

You will, of course, remember some of the words to a song that you want to learn - perhaps whole verses or a phrase here and there. Write these down on a sheet of paper with suitable gaps for the missing words. Then fill these in, a gap at a time, by singing until you get to the next gap.

You will, of course, need a full text to be available for this to work.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 03:01 AM

I look forward to your next creation.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 04:29 AM

Like an earlier poster, I start from "What you do, you know".
When taking on a new song I like to start with a complete set of words -- before I had a decent library (and long before internet sources!), this might involve sitting with a recording and scribbling furiously, concentrating on significant words or ideas; then listening again and again and filling in the gaps; then writing out a tidy copy and doing a final check for any mistakes. Then I'd sing it from the page, repeating each verse until I could comfortably look away from the sheet and building up the song by adding a verse at a time to those that were already there. And when the whole thing was in my head I'd sing it through, or chant the words when driving, so that the rhythms and phrasing settled. And eventually I'd sing it out, preferably to an audience I knew.
And when reviving an old song from the repertoire, the process was almost the reverse -- start with the complete text and strip it down to the meaningful words/phrases that fall on the pulses of the rhythm, to reduce it to a skeleton. And then all the connections would become almost inevitable.
And even though I can now type and print, I will still prefer the act of writing, much like the lady who moved her finger for invisible shorthand in an earlier post. (Something surfaces from dim recesses -- is this eidetic memory?)
But probably the biggest impetus is to really like the words (not just the tune) and want to do them justice.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: melodeonboy
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 04:44 AM

Perhaps the problem is "learning the words" rather than knowing, feeling and telling the story, depending on the type of song, of course.

Having the picture, story, idea, or whatever it might be, in my head, I don't usually go wrong. On the odd occasion that I forget the "correct" words, I use others that are suitable or paraphrase, which I find fairly easy to do as the words are, in most cases, the means, not the end! That doesn't work so well if I'm singing in harmony, of course!

From a technical point of view, I think the technique of learning the first word or words of a verse is quite useful, but then if you can visualise the next verse, you probably won't need to do that.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Rafflesbear
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 04:59 AM

I only started singing in public a few months ago and at a time in my life when remembering words is probably not getting easier but this is what I've found so far -

Songs that repeat and have a simple story are easiest - e.g. Prickle-eye Bush

Also songs you have known and sung along to over the years

Sing it as often as you can start to finish, around the house, at the bus-stop etc

DO NOT GET DISTRACTED - as soon as my mind takes in anything else, however insignificant, the words disappear.

If it helps when performing, close your eyes

When singing the chorus, start thinking about the next verse

If you get your lines or words round the wrong way plug on and ignore it, don't stop or apologise

If you find words that have much the same meaning but suit the way you sing the song better than the originals use those instead

And if you really want to do well at a particular venue then sing it in public somewhere else first - I find I am much better at remembering the words after a performance than before or during it.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 25 Nov 10 - 07:30 AM

You have my full sympathy. It's a problem I have though largely learnt to stop stressing over it. I've been amazed how many top performers do forget now and then, but they tend to breeze through it or as someone else here pointed out, learn with experience to invent a line or two. My best advice is don't be too proud, put your lyrics on the music stand, and gradually wean yourself off by trying one very by memory without looking at the paper, then only looking if you need to. Then learning one or two songs you feel confident enough to remember without any song sheet, if you get stuck the audience will often help, if not make a joke of it, it happens to everyone so tell yourself it's ok to make a mistake. Also along the way I would take a song sheet with just the first few words of each verse on, that nearly always prompts me to recall the rest of it. A lot of performers, don't see it so much now, used to tape the lyrics to the shoulder of their guitar, you could try that if you play guitar. Good luck


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Allan C.
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 05:42 AM

Even having the words right in front of me doesn't always pay off. Some years ago I was asked to sing a particular song at a wedding. It was not one I knew and so I had to get two copies of the sheet music - one for the organist and one for me.

When the great day came I managed fairly well through the first couple of verses and the chorus. But then I lost my place entirely. The organist wasn't going to stop since I had no way of communicating my problem to him. What I wound up doing was to invent two more verses right then and there!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Allan C.
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 06:04 AM

The very first time I attended a Getaway the event was kicked off by a tremendous singaround. When my turn came I played and sang a song I had done for decades. But somewhere amidst the chorus I couldn't remember a chord change and couldn't proceed. So I switched to a different song. Nobody seemed to mind.

Since these events I have evolved toward printing out lyrics that I have put into bold typeface and large font with brightly colored chord notations and some arrangement notes. There are still some songs from years gone by that I still manage without written lyrics, etc.; but for the most part, what with being elderly and all, I need to rely on them.

Back when my memory was considerably better, I found that writing down the lyrics and memorizing them without the music worked well for me. As I sang the song I could picture the words. I don't know if this will work for anyone else but may be worth a try.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: puck
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 03:24 PM

I have trouble remembering words and was once advised to use mental pics to prompt me, but it doesn't work for me. A crib note of the first three words of each verse helps greatly, and sometimes just having a crib note available to hand, [but not used], is sufficient for me to complete a song. I do find that when I am learning a song I sing it incessantly, round the house, in the car, or quietly in a supermarket, and I end up singing snatches of it, and eventually I begin to mix up the first half of a verse and tag it on to the second half of another in my head, and the whole thing falls to rat-shit!! Then there are other songs that I have locked into place - mainly ballads - even without choruses - and I find I can reel 'em off without problem even after years of not singing them!!
I advise you to learn a song from cd /'you tube' etc. rather than downloaded lyrics. The songs I learn easiest are those I've had to scribble down as I listen to them. To write it out long-hand I think makes a great big difference. When I stumble over a lyric during a rendition in front of others, I find that saying 'shit' usually gets a laugh!! It doesn't help my confidence much tho'. Sometimes as I sing in public, I start listening to myself singing, and the moment I do and think to myself....'it's going quite well really!'.... and you know what happens then...............!
I have even gone to see a hypnotherapist once to overcome my fears of fouling up, and he concentrated on my confidence, my desire to please and entertain the audience; and more importantly my enjoyment of singing the song for others!!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 03:37 PM

1 type the song out for your songs file (as someone already suggested)

2 then learn the song by ear!

3 practise it from memory (whether you can remember it all or not) while out walking the dog etc - get to a stage of singing verses in any order, last to first, start in the middle

4 definitely perform it in (semi) public one or more times to 'bed it down' - eg a small session, gathering in someone's house etc

5 when it comes to the event (Burns' Supper or whatever) remember two things:
i the song / message of the song is more important than your ego - just do your best, sing from your heart.
ii few if any other people in the room know or could sing that song, and so it is your responsibility to share it to the best of your ability - that is how all folk music has been transmitted down the years!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: EBarnacle
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 03:45 PM

It's also why songs which have been around a while have so many variants.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,best bet
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 07:40 PM

Write it out word for word in long hand several times like doing lines at school.Honest it really works and sticks in the mind.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 04:37 PM

In answer to Leadfingers '...a pro practises till he can't get it wrong'
I've seen quite a few 'Pro's' forget words to songs, it can happen to anyone no matter how much they practice!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: Artful Codger
Date: 27 Nov 10 - 09:28 PM

I'd thought of posting these tips in dribs and drabs, so folk's eyes wouldn't glaze, but if you can't be bothered to read this message in full, it's just your loss.

Learn songs starting at the end and gradually add bits till you get to the front. Starting at the end counters the natural tendency to shortchange the latter parts of songs in the usual learning/rehearsal process.

Concentrate on the wording, using images in a supportive fashion rather than as a primary focus. I'm painting word/sound-pictures, not acting or gesticulating with my hands, and if my tongue fumbles searching for appropriate words (as I often do when just speaking), I'm dead. For me, the wording must be as close to automatic as I can make it.

I don't find writing out the lyrics very useful, because my attention largely goes on vacation when copying or typing, but I do pay attention to the image of the text on the page as I learn, and find this has significant mnemonic value. If writing the lyrics out helps you, by all means, do that, too--people's brains function in different ways.

Songs have regular interruptions to mental flow, notably between verses and at the end of couplets and lines. When practicing, minimize these as much as possible. Try to start with the last few words of the previous line (or verse) rather than at the beginning of a line, and continue into the first few words of the following line or verse rather than stopping at the end of a line. It's an unnatural approach, but well worth the effort. Shrink the duration of long notes and reduce or eliminate rests. Skip choruses (grossly overpracticed anyway), so that, at the end of one verse, you're already mentally linking into the verse to come.

The European style of writing lyrics may help the mental flow somewhat: instead of capitalizing the start of every line, capitalize as when writing sentences. This also makes proper phrasing more apparent. It also helps to correct the punctuation and capitalization in lyrics you've captured or transcribed.

Concentrate attention on the bits you miss. First try to recall any missing bits without referring to the lyrics sheet--if nothing pops up after, say, five seconds, only then refer to the sheet--this forces the mental pathways you're building to be exercised more. When you blank, search for some mnemonic ties (plural!) that will cement the right wording in your mind. Particularly look for alliterative sounds in the preceding line. Consider puns, homonyms and any images which help nail the precise wording. They don't have to make sense in the context of the song, they only have to jog your memory. The wilder, the better.

Take a macroscopic view: extract the starting words of each verse and number each extract. What is the key point or image of each verse? Do they fall naturally into groups? How do they lead logically from one to the next? Bear these points in mind as you run through just the sequence of starting words. (You might want to write the first phrases on an index card, along with other song info, to use as a crib.)

To build additional mnemonic links, act out the song (and even individual words) with exaggerated actions and verbal expression. Exaggerate everything mentally even more. Be silly. Use this technique in isolated form when you blank on any particular words or phrases. If you find bits you can't act out, they may be good canditates for replacement with more vivid, alive language.

When referring to the lyrics sheet or reviewing, sing the words, even if you do so only mentally.

Start at a pace that leaves you champing at the bit, so you minimize making mistakes or blanking--otherwise you'll rehearse your errors and build in mental blocks unintentionally. Speed up a bit only when you're virtually fumble-free. Continue till you're singing confidently faster than you intend to perform (after which, normal speed will feel like a walk in the park.)

Chunk down your learning time into small pieces. Learn, then take a break for at least 20 minutes while some (not all) of what you learned transfers into mid-term memory. Then review, maybe learn a bit more, and break again.

Okay, we're all too impatient and undisciplined to actually apply these tips properly, but the more you chunk down, slow your practice, work back to front, bridge the mental flow, find mnemonic ties, and so forth, you'll find it's easier to learn songs, and they stay with you longer--if only because your mental attention and energy has been more focused in the process.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 28 Nov 10 - 07:16 AM

The other week I got someone to video me at the Club doing a song I wrote myself, to put on You Tube. I'd been over to Ireland the week before and sang it 4 times there in front of quite big audiences without having the words to hand. Anyway I sailed through the first two verses, came to the third, I couldn't remember one word, came back to me withing a few seconds but the video was ruined. Crib notes of the first few lines of a verse is usually enough for me. Visualizing the words like a story can help too.

But there are some people who just can't remember lyrics, and in those cases I see no shame at all in having the lyrics in front of you. Many well known singer such as Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves too, if you see old concert photos, you'll see a music stand in front of them.
I've seen a wee bit of folk snobbery on here saying you MUST learn the words. But I've seen those same types in folk clubs, including ours, variously forget words and insist on starting all over again, after already wasting time tuning up, and I find that spoils their performance all the more


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 28 Nov 10 - 07:21 AM

@ AC Learn songs starting at the end and gradually add bits till you get to the front. Starting at the end counters the natural tendency to shortchange the latter parts of songs in the usual learning/rehearsal process.

I have been in choirs where the director started teaching the song from end or the middle. I sort of built the mnemonic with pictures that tell the story for the line for the last song I did and it worked.

Studies have been done on how actors remember lines and it was discovered that staging plays a huge role in prompting the memory. So spot on with the physical movement and facial expressions thing.

But I do like the copying out the lines 2 or 3 times idea from Best-bet. You start actually seeing the next line in your head.


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: open mike
Date: 28 Nov 10 - 10:49 AM

one device i have employed for the Carter Family song Roses--oh my, i've forgotten the title now...oh, yes, Give me the Roses...is
the word "Whiffenpoof"   that helps me recall the first words in the
3 verses...."Wonderful" (things of folks are said, when they have passed away)... "Folks" (are forgiven when they lie cold in that narrow bed) ..."Praises" (are heard not by the dead, flowers they cannot see) so if I remember that the first words start with W F and P that gets me thru the song...so Whiff...Fen...Poof does that for me!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,petehulme
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 08:00 AM

If it had said,   I dont love you any more it might have potential for a funny song!


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Subject: RE: Learning and remembering the words..
From: GUEST,petehulme
Date: 02 Sep 15 - 08:09 AM

If it had said,   I dont love you any more it might have potential for a funny song!


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