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Hidden Character
11-14-2009, 01:34 PM
Hey guys :3

When do you consider a song learned? I don't usually do singing so I play mostly arrangments. As of right now, I only have maybe 2 or 3 of them memorized. I feel that I've only truly learned a song only after I've memorized the piece.

As much as I would love to increase my repertoire of songs, I have kinda hit a brick wall. I'm finding myself spending more and more time on one song and barely memorizing any of it. So what do you guys recommend for memorizing those complex arrangements?

JT_Ukes
11-14-2009, 01:43 PM
Hey guys :3

When do you consider a song learned? I don't usually do singing so I play mostly arrangments. As of right now, I only have maybe 2 or 3 of them memorized. I feel that I've only truly learned a song only after I've memorized the piece.

As much as I would love to increase my repertoire of songs, I have kinda hit a brick wall. I'm finding myself spending more and more time on one song and barely memorizing any of it. So what do you guys recommend for memorizing those complex arrangements?

My brain can only hold 2 or 3 new songs at a time.. and if i don't paly them often enough they go away..

there are a few songs that have perminatly found a spot up there.. but i have to play em now and then to keep em there...

ukantor
11-14-2009, 02:15 PM
I'm just a strummer and singer, but I like the more challenging arrangements. I find the limiting factor is how often you can keep playing your repertoire. If I haven't played a song for a week or so, I can't rely on being able to do it without glitches. So if you want to maintain a list of, say, twenty songs in your memory, you have to play them all every week. I've got around a couple of dozen that I THINK I know, but I have a smaller list of around a dozen well-worn favourites that I can trot out when necessary.

It's just down to regular repetition for me.

Ukantor.

mailman
11-14-2009, 02:28 PM
I'm just a strummer and singer, but I like the more challenging arrangements. I find the limiting factor is how often you can keep playing your repertoire. If I haven't played a song for a week or so, I can't rely on being able to do it without glitches. So if you want to maintain a list of, say, twenty songs in your memory, you have to play them all every week. I've got around a couple of dozen that I THINK I know, but I have a smaller list of around a dozen well-worn favourites that I can trot out when necessary.

It's just down to regular repetition for me.

Ukantor.

I'd be very curious to hear your song list. I'm a strummer, too, although whether or not I'm a singer is up for debate. :D

What types of songs are these, hmmmm?

spots
11-14-2009, 02:32 PM
Do you have a process that you normally follow for memorizing songs? If so, what is it?

When I've had to memorize complex songs, or tunes (a tune is something which does not have lyrics), I find it easier to break them into sections and work on a section at a time. Most songs and tunes have parts which repeat and act as natural sections. Sometimes there are specific finger patterns that are repeated in blocks. Find those areas and then work on them one by one until you have a section down, then move on to the next.

Usually a song or tune will have a basic set of finger patterns that form the core of the song or tune. Try to identify that pattern. Other parts then become dressing to that main part.

I regularly listen the song or tune recorded by someone else so that it becomes more familiar in thought. Sometimes I have found it helpful to record myself while learning a more complex piece. Then I am also focused on listening to my playing and not just wrapped up in the process of playing.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
11-14-2009, 04:04 PM
Great advice Spots. I agree.

Breaking a complex tune, chording, etc. into manageable sets make a lot of sense.

It comes down to a lot of practice for me. I have to sing and play a song at least 15 to 20 times for it to become more or less automatic.

If it's a song you really want to learn, it's not really boring or bothersome. Keep your eyes on the prize - another neat song in your repertorie.

Enjoy yourself and keep uke-in',

franulele
11-14-2009, 06:59 PM
I'm a paper trained musician & I struggle with memorizing tunes. It takes A LOT of repetition to get basic tunes memorized. Here are some strategies that work for me:

1. Listen to the tune many times both casually & intentionally
2. Look for patterns in the melody & harmonic structure of the song
3. Dissemble lyrics from music, then reassemble
4. Memorize small chunks at a time (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, outro...) remember what they sound like, feel like & look like on paper.
5. Record yourself, then use your recording as a practice aid
6. Audiate - hear the melody, lyrics, harmony, rhythm, all internally (visualizing musically)

Basically... obsess, in a healthy way!

The good news is that since starting the ukulele about 3.5 years ago I've found memorizing tunes with jazzy chords easier & that my ear for picking a few riffs , chords & other fiddly-bits off recordings has improved too.

Hidden Character
11-14-2009, 09:54 PM
Yeah, those are basically the strategies I employ for memorizing. Breaking it all down is especially useful for me, especially since the arrangements i'm learning are getting more and more complex!

But I got confide in you guys as fellow uke players. The one I worry about the most is just the fear that i'll never memorize these songs D:

ukantor
11-14-2009, 11:29 PM
Mailman, I've sent a PM.

Ukantor.

StevieC
11-14-2009, 11:31 PM
If you are learning from a written out arrangement, it is a good idea to try to get away from the paper as quickly as possible. Learn one bar from memory. Then add another and so on.

Forgetting is also an important part of the learning process!!

After you feel as though you have had enough of working on a particular piece, let it have a rest for a while. Some of it you will forget, but some will move from short-term memory to long term memory. Then when you start working on it again it will be a bit easier than the first time. Repeat as necessary!

This should be combined with as much of the good advice given above as possible, as the more different ways that you use to memorise a piece, the more secure it will be.

It is also a good idea to understand the harmony of a piece. A chord sequence is far easier to memorise than a complicated arrangement and if you forget what comes next, you can always play something that fits.

ainokeato
11-15-2009, 01:12 AM
By arrangement I'm assuming you mean things such as pickings (tabs as I call it and i'm sure a bunch else) the thing I do to remember my pickings and maybe it's not the best way cause some times I forget but it comes back. I play it over and over and over again until it's engraved into my brain to the point where it annoys even me, with and without the song, once I get it down I hardly ever look at the sheet again unless i'm completely lost. I play it with the song without the song in the car at the park, mainly because when I learn something new I can't help but play it over and over again.

Once you get it down to where you don't have to look at the sheet again, play it for some family or friends if you mess up they'll laugh but encourage you to keep going at it. :) That's what keeps me going.

nohandles
11-15-2009, 02:05 AM
I can't memorize in pieces. For me I have to just play it through and sing a couple of time a day for a few weeks and then shut the book and 99% of the time its there. Can't retain it unless I play it every week or 2.
One thing that helped was to start a new book with those songs that are committed to memory.

Pippin
11-15-2009, 02:24 AM
I am fortunate that I can just pick up a guitar or ukulele and play for hours and not repeat a song. I retain the songs. In the forty-plus years that I have played, I have learned a huge number. I don't think I could list them all. For me, learning a song is simply memorizing the lyrics. After that, it is just a matter of playing it.

Ukulele JJ
11-15-2009, 04:35 AM
It's a lot easier to "get off the paper" if it was never on paper to begin with. So one option is to start figuring out songs yourself.

90% of memorizing, as far as I'm concerned, is just developing the ol' earbones.

JJ

ukecantdothat
11-15-2009, 06:49 AM
I find charts helpful at first, then eventually it gets ingrained to a point where you don't need them anymore.

8890
11-15-2009, 08:22 AM
People are obviously different :D I learn better by writing stuff down. A tab, a chord progression, a riff, a scale, I write it down in a small notebook. Afterwards, I may never need to look at the tab again. The process of writing it is the most important.

I think the key is to look at what you want to learn from a different angle. Paper and pencil works for me. It forces me to step through a tab and decide what it should look like on paper. It makes me see patterns and variations that I didn't notice before.

If paper is not for you, how about making a video? Record the song over and over until you play it perfectly. Or make a lesson out of it. Teaching is a great way to learn.

Harold O.
11-15-2009, 01:38 PM
Getting away from the paper for me came about with low lights.

I'm a strummer and like to have the chord callouts inline with the lyrics. I try to get the chart down to one page. It makes everything small, but I can see it in good light (like when I practice alone).

I practice daily and am thus very familiar with the songs my band jam guys like to play. When playing with the band, the Guitar Merchant stage lights are usually set low. So what I've done is enlarge the first line of each verse to a size that I can see easily (almost from across the stage). I don't have all the words and chords in front of me, but mostly I just need a short reminder as to what verse I'm on and what order it appears in the song. Then I trust my practiced auto-pilot.

seeso
11-15-2009, 01:49 PM
Mental repetitions help me a lot. I don't need my uke for them, and I can do it anywhere.

spots
11-15-2009, 03:30 PM
But I got confide in you guys as fellow uke players. The one I worry about the most is just the fear that i'll never memorize these songs D:

You'll get it. Remember to enjoy the music during the process.

Seeso mentioned mental repetitions. Something else to consider...

There are lots of ways to vocalize tunes and the sounds of finger patterns when you don't have an instrument with you. I often find this type of "singing" helpful as I work on memorizing long or complex tunes played on other instruments. As a bonus you may get an empty seat next to you on the bus...

JT_Ukes
11-15-2009, 03:49 PM
No shame in reading off sheet music. Lots of great musicians do it..

ukecantdothat
11-15-2009, 05:40 PM
Mental repetitions help me a lot. I don't need my uke for them, and I can do it anywhere.That's a great point. You don't need an instrument to go over progressions and arrangements.

Ukuleleblues
11-15-2009, 05:53 PM
Hey guys :3

When do you consider a song learned? I don't usually do singing so I play mostly arrangments. As of right now, I only have maybe 2 or 3 of them memorized. I feel that I've only truly learned a song only after I've memorized the piece.

As much as I would love to increase my repertoire of songs, I have kinda hit a brick wall. I'm finding myself spending more and more time on one song and barely memorizing any of it. So what do you guys recommend for memorizing those complex arrangements?

I've found that the best way to learn a song is to learn it in pieces and do not sit there an look at it over and over while playing it. You are using a differenct part of your brain when playing from sheet music, it doesn't help but rather impedes the memorization process. Some of the songs I've learned quickly I learned by listing to the music and lyrics while looking at the chord progressions. Very minimal and learned them extremely fast.

Start by dividing the piece into sections. Learn each section by playing it while looking at it and then turn over the music and play it. If you can't play it don't automatically turn over the paper, try to remember it. I'll even put the sheet music in a different room so I have to get up to check it.

Remember that with memorization you are establishing a chemical connection between brain synapse cells. When you are looking at the music you aren't doing that, you are just establishing some muscle memory. Play the song in the moring for a 10 or so minutes and at night, If you can do a short play at lunch even better. It's all about establishing the chemical connections, short frequent practices are better than long ones. It has something to do with short term memory being transformed into long term memory.

The more you memorize the more of your brain will be set aside for memory. It's called plasticity. The first three songs I memorized took forever, that was a little less than three years ago. I had to play a show this saturday and fill three hours. I counted up the songs in my potential playlist and there were 87. I never thought when I started I would be able to memorize chords, leads and lyrics for 15 songs let alone 87. You do have to play the songs at least once every two weeks, once a week for complicated songs.

One more thing I noticed is that songs I used to play exclusively while looking at the music were very difficult to memorize. The ones I used the technique above were much easier.

wearymicrobe
11-15-2009, 06:40 PM
I can play a huge number of songs if its just chords. I make up the solos kind of like how I used a "fake book" on the piano.

Finger style songs stick with me for a while I can pull maybe 10-11 full songs out when needed. I always regress to playing "blue roses " for some reason, but cannot remember the intro to "europa". I have now play weeps so many time that if I never hear it again I will be very happy. I also feel the same way about drop/mango.

There have been a number of studies that we need to revisit things at appropriate intervals. So say your learning a new finger style piece. Learn the First page insdie and out, come back the next day and add the second to the first. A day or two break then add the third and so on and so forth. When you are done revisit it with less frequency.

stikman
11-15-2009, 06:56 PM
For me it is done when I can perform it in front of people. Of course that leaves it open for some creative sloppiness. Most non-musicians don't notice.

Hidden Character
11-15-2009, 11:33 PM
It's funny how some of you mentioned the whole "come back to it later" idea. And I whole heartedly agree. One of the songs I'm trying to commit to memory is Guava Jam, I played it today and yesterday, but prior to these past two days, I didn't touch the song for nearly two weeks. Oddly enough, the song seemed natural to me! Weird :o

Ukuleleblues
11-16-2009, 01:04 AM
It's funny how some of you mentioned the whole "come back to it later" idea. And I whole heartedly agree. One of the songs I'm trying to commit to memory is Guava Jam, I played it today and yesterday, but prior to these past two days, I didn't touch the song for nearly two weeks. Oddly enough, the song seemed natural to me! Weird :o


Thats happened to me, it's like if you let it sit it gets "Solidified" in yoiu brain. I forgot to mention that I'll also record the song and listen to it. That is a greast way to get the lyrics down. One time I was trying to learn "After you're gone" by listening to a old recording from the 40's. I didn't realize until later the recording had slightly diferent lyrics than what was on the sheet music. I was amazed how much of the recording I could recall.

Pukulele Pete
11-16-2009, 03:19 AM
I'm happy to hear that I am not the only one who can't remember anything.
What was the question ?? Oh ya, I think the answer is practice practice practice.