Learning song lyrics might sound like a challenge, but songs lyrics are actually one of the easiest things for our brains to recall. Some people are born with naturally great memories, it’s true, but it’s also possible to train yourself to have a more effective memory. The following collection of tips will make learning song lyrics simple for anyone.
Why can’t I remember song lyrics?
Memorizing a song involves learning remembering lyrics. Some naturally find it harder than others, which can lead to an inability to perform on stage. If you can’t remember lyrics then it might be because you’re trying to learn too many at once. If you break the lyrics down then it can become easier. Follow our steps to help you remember your lyrics quickly.
How to memorise a song in 5 minutes
#1 Analyse the song lyrics and find your own meaning
Study the lyrics of the song, and try to understand the meaning of the lines. You might have skim-read the words many times, but your brain will recall song lyrics more effectively that you have properly engaged with.
Consider annotating a copy of the lyrics with your personal interpretation of the sections that stand out to you.
It might be possible to find the ‘actual’ meaning of the song lyrics online. How the original artist intended for them to be understood.
Also, when you come to perform the song, your rendition will seem far more authentic and unique if you can invest your emotions, experiences and ideas into the performance.
#2 Associate song lyrics with memories or images
Association is a popular memory technique, which can be used to help you learn small segments of song lyrics that you might find difficult.
The aim is to make a mental link between the song lyrics, and a specific memory, idea or image, which you can think about to trigger your memory of the words. The trigger should be something unique, funny or especially resonant with you, so that it sticks in your mind clearly.
Some people even find it helpful to visualise the words themselves organised in an unusual way — it doesn’t matter how far-fetched or ridiculous the association might seem, as long as it helps you recall the song lyric.
Learning song lyrics easily
#3 Listen to the song as often as possible
This is one of the most important steps. Repetition is vital for any kind of memorisation. People often learn a song without even trying, simply because they’ve heard the lyrics over and over again.
This step can fit in alongside other parts of your daily routine. Listen to the songs you want to learn song lyrics while you’re travelling, working, cooking or getting dressed.
Once you’ve learned the song lyrics reasonably well, start singing along as you listen. You don’t have to worry about putting on your finest performance, it’s simply a way to cement the lyrics in your mind until you can recall them easily.
#4 Write down the song lyrics repeatedly
Frank Sinatra apparently swore by this song lyric memorising technique. Write down the words of a particular song as many times as you can before falling asleep the night prior to a performance.
Writing-out the lyrics by hand can help you focus on each individual word, and engrave the song into your long-term memory.
Until you can remember the song lyrics without looking down at the page, write out each line a few times and then move on to the next section.
How to remember lyrics on stage
#5 Break the song lyrics into manageable chunks
Our brains are easily overwhelmed by an excess of information, so, rather than aiming to memorise one large chunk, you’ll have much more success trying to learn a song line-by-line.
You could also use flashcards — writing one line on each card. Avoid moving on to the next line until you’ve perfected the one before. Then, once you’ve mastered the individual lines, put them all together, and work on the quality of your delivery.
#6 Learn the music and lyrics separately
It may help to break the song down further by separating the music and lyrics – the recollection of each component relates to separate parts of the brain.
So, you might want to focus on the words to start with – you could recite them as if they were written as a poem.
How to learn song lyrics fast
#7 Practise just before you go to sleep
It’s proven that reciting something just before you go to bed will help your brain to absorb the information into your subconscious mind as you sleep, and therefore improve your ability to recall the song lyrics later.
For that reason, it’s a good idea to run through the lyrics you want to learn a few times just before bed, then again as soon as you wake up, to consolidate the words into your long-term memory.
#8 Have a go-to song list
The music business can be fast-paced and unpredictable, you could be called upon to perform with very little — if any — time to rehearse. Therefore, it’s wise to have a collection of a least five songs you can reliably recall and perform.
Prioritise learning these songs first, then you can add new material to your repertoire at whatever rate you’re comfortable with.
#9 Take your time and enjoy it
If you put yourself under pressure to learn a long list of songs, all at once, you could become frustrated and tempted to give up.
Stop yourself becoming demotivated by approaching the memorisation process with the right attitude, setting easily attainable goals.
Rather than a mandatory chore, view lyric-learning sessions as time well spent investing in your craft.
What methods do you use to learn song lyrics? Do you have any techniques not mentioned above? We would love to hear about them in the comments below.