Memorizing Lyrics

I’m scheduled for my first Sunday at NHC on 27 April 2008.  I am singing the feature song “My Life Is Yours” from the “Saviour Of The World” album by Planetshakers (I’d post a YouTube video if I could find one).

Unlike my home church, NHC don’t use music stands.  Yes, we have a big screen at the back where the lyrics are displayed but I’ve seen it not keeping up with the band at times so I can’t depend on that.  I’ve got to memorize the words.

I’ve never attempted to memorize song lyrics before.  Heck, I can’t even sing my own songs without the sheets in front of me.  I’ve been listening and listening to this song over the last few days to get it into my head.

A few web pages exist that are full of tips on how to memorize songs.  What’s your secret?

10 comments on “Memorizing Lyrics

  1. I rely heavily on printed lead sheets most of the time. If I really want to make sure I know a song by heart, I work on the lyrics and chords simultaneously. That way I get a feel for where the words are meshing with the musical progression instead of trying to insert lyrics into what has been just a finger-exercise. Then practice, practice, practice. I have also found that by rehearsing with my three little kids in the room, it helps my concentration. If I can get through a song with those distractions, I can get through anything!

  2. I usually use lead sheets as much as i can. if i’m not allowed (whether we don’t have them or we need the stage clear) i rely heavily on what Andy said. I tend to memorize chord progressions fairly well, so i don’t really have any tips on that. However to learn lyrics, I usually immerse myself in the music, playing it everywhere i go. In the car, the shower, or while i’m on a run, i play the music almost exclusively. After i feel like i have the words fairly well, i will start playing and singing the song simultaneously. Transitions are key. Going from the verse to a prechorus or from a solo to a bridge can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to really hammer on those parts.

    the main thing is practice, practice, practice, and most importantly… you guessed it practice.

  3. I’m not trying to be a jerk but seriously – it’s just not that hard!

    Most of the time we’re plain old lazy when it comes to memorization. What’s the “secret”? PRACTICE THE SONG. That’s it.

    Bands who play for their own glory can memorize hundreds of songs but a worship team, playing for the glory of God, can’t even memorize 4 or 5???

    On an encouraging note, you’ll be amazed how MUCH you remember once you take away the “crutch” of using a music stand and sheet music!

  4. I see the key thing here is PRACTICE. That’s an obvious one – but it was good to read how everyone approached practice.

    I liked Andy’s approach with having the kids as distractions. My kids are good at that too!

    Thanks to everyone for participating. I’ve got to go now and listen to the song some more.

  5. I started leading (singing and acoustic) about a year ago and had a hard time with the lyrics as well. My approach has become:

    1. Learn the chords and how to play the rhythm
    2. Learn the lyrics in small chunks, starting with verse 1. Memorize the first verse, then play a cd and try to sing the verse, starting the verse over and over until I knew the words. Then on to chorus, other verses and the bridge.

    3. Then put them together and practice.

    4. The most vital part has become for me to recite the words without the music and with no melody, just like reciting scripture. Spend time with the meaning of the words and what they mean to you. This step allows you to connect with the song and put mind pictures to it, helping to remember during performance.

    5. One last tip, Focus on singing the words and let the guitar playing come second. The words are more important. When I mess up a chord here and there, no one notices, but when I sing the wrong verse, or mumble some words, the flow is interrupted.

    Remember, your singing to God.

    good luck and God Bless.

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