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View Full Version : How do you go about Memorizing Songs??



ukuloonie
08-20-2012, 05:56 PM
I suffer from anxiety when I sing or perform songs, I continually practice a song and know it fairly well and even have smooth transitions between chords and I know how to correct when I miss a chord.
but when I step in front of the microphone to record the song my mind empties, my fingers get all twisted and I forget all my words and I have rely on my music sheet again.
How do you guys remember the songs and chords as you play?
is this a valid question?

808boy
08-20-2012, 06:10 PM
Anxiety is normal for almost everyone. Try to relax, close your eyes to mentally SEE the song sheet, works for me. Just don't get discouraged, keep practicing, it'll come to you.
Love to sing and play uke or guitar, been doing it for over 50 years but I still get nervous when it's showtime........
Keep your chin up and go for it...............................BO............... ............

ukuloonie
08-20-2012, 06:18 PM
Thanks 808boy
Visualize the song sheet
That'll help

808boy
08-20-2012, 06:29 PM
Your welcome ukuloonie,
When I was gainfully employed (retired now), our industry was changing so fast that we got training quite often. As the need for memory retention grew, I found that if I write something down, I can recall it better through visualization of my notes.
You GOT the idea, hope it helps you like it helps me..........................BO.................... ....

Mandarb
08-21-2012, 02:46 AM
I don't sing so I don't know how to go about memorizing lyrics. However, I have a number of instrumental pieces memorized. What has worked for me is to work on a section at a time and get it down and then eventually put those sections together. Just break up the learning process into smaller blocks.

ukeeku
08-21-2012, 03:25 AM
A few things that helped me. if they work for you, great!!
1. I sing to my dog. so that when I am on stage I just look down and imagine that I am singing to my lovely Boxer Stella.
2. I imagine that I am on stage, in front of people playing.
3. You just have to do it. the more you play in front of actual people, the more "normal" it feels.
4. Get to know your songs. Don't just practice with a uke. I mentally am going over songs in my head all the time. especially songs I want to memorize. You will find me air uking all the time while I humm the song.

this is just me. hope it helps.

Bob Bledsoe
08-21-2012, 05:41 AM
It sounds like the problem isn't how to memorize songs, but how to recall them when your nerves kick in. You know the song well and can play it without thinking, but as soon as someone is watching or you hit the record button your brain starts to override what you already know. This is a really common thing and it just takes practice in those situations to overcome it. You have to get your brain used to the microphone so it can relax in front of it. One thing that helps is to record your practice. You'll get a lot of mic time that way and your brain will quickly get used to it.

ukuloonie
08-21-2012, 06:11 AM
Thanks for your advice,I appreciate it.

Dougf
08-21-2012, 02:32 PM
Sometimes I think it's just a matter of practicing it repeatedly. When I'm first learning a song, I often can't remember the words quickly enough when the progression gets to that point. But just like muscle memory, after I've done it about a hundred times, I usually don't have a problem.

I've also found it helps to listen to the song a bunch while I'm working on something else. I'll try to find my favorite version on YouTube, and let it play on repeat. I think it kind of burns it into your memory.

sillymonky
08-22-2012, 03:07 PM
I totally agree on repeating the song - you want to make it your own personal earworm. My bf - the "Musician", wants to play different CDs all the time. Me, the "singer" wants to play the same song over and over (and over and over). Singing along to a cd, I start singing soft with the cd loud, and after a few run throughs I turn the cd down and me up so I can actually hear what I'm singing. Sing in the shower. In the car. Practice few songs at a time so that you nail one and move on. I find reading the lyrics helps lock it into my memory, but I don't really want to have to rely on lyrics on stage - even if I have them with me, they're only for emergencies. Like with playing, you need to know the words well enough to fake it when things go wrong (like, when the band stops playing (happened), or you skip into the wrong part of the song and need to fake your way back (happened), or the tech cuts out (happened - welcome to the unplugged show!).

I'm a bit new with the singing and playing, but so far, I find I need to get one part down (the uke) before really concentrating on the words, but I'll scat along with the song from practice one so that all parts are being learned together, which makes them easier to integrate.

I'm also big on what I call "DJing" your set. Even if you're only playing one or two songs, it's important to capture your audience, grab their attention, and bring them with you for the ride. I'm usually going to play my funnest piece first - I want them bopping (or even dancing!). Leave the ballad-y, technical stuff for later. If you can win them early, your nerves will come down just because you can FEEL that they're with you. Smile. Tell them a story. Tell them a story like they're your best friend. A song isn't just words, it's a message that is being entrusted to you for a short period of time. Make eye contact if you can. If you hear a positive comment while you're going, sing the next line directly to that person (and watch while they smile and flush). Dance in place with your uke - sway - if you openly 'feel' the music, they will too. Sing LOUD. Don't scream (unless you want too), but make your voice a presence to be reckonned with. Too many of our local open stagers fade into the background. My first word on stage is delivered in a way that will hopefully make the rather drunken bar patrons shut up for a second and listen. And practice your voice separate from your instrument - anyone can sing, just like anyone can play the ukulele, but it's in the practice that transforms a few chords and some words into a song that grabs people. My favourite tunes to practice my singing? O Holy Night (in June - and I'm not christian) and the Star Spangled Banner (and I'm Canadian). Why? Because they're HARD! Because I need to use all my breath and my openness and my power to hit all the notes. And I sing blues and folk for the most part, but it's not as much of a workout. Sing from your belly. And most of all, don't just sing like you mean it - actually mean it. The audience can tell if you're just phoning it in.

But the best thing for nerves - know your song. Know the next word, the next line, the best places to breathe, etc. That way if your brain cuts out, your mouth will keep going until it decides to come back :)

sillymonky
08-22-2012, 03:11 PM
Oh, and if you're finding you have to go back to your music sheet when recording - throw it away. Force your brain to remember. Yes, it'll take more takes that way, but once you have it you'll really have it.

Okay, I'll shut up now. :)

ukster
10-10-2012, 09:28 AM
I put the song into a visual story. I structure the words and cords around that.

Kanaka916
10-10-2012, 12:24 PM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?5763-Do-you-memorize-songs
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?50349-memorizing-songs
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?63059-Songs-memorize-them-or-just-play-them
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?1567-Memorizing-Songs

ukuloonie
10-10-2012, 12:59 PM
thanks for the links Kanaka

stevepetergal
10-10-2012, 02:35 PM
I first embrace the sheet music. I went to a lot of performances in small local, establishments and watched plenty of other musicians relying on their music. Worked for them. So, I became less worried about doing the same. So, I kept my music in front of me, but the music didn't distract me from playing. Past that point, the sheet music loses its power over the mind.

Tootler
10-23-2012, 12:54 PM
I have tried several different strategies for learning words. In the end they all came to the same thing.

Lot's of repetition.

If you're going to sing in front of an audience, whether it's a gig or just a sing around, then it's best to learn the words. Nothing wrong with having them to hand in case you forget them, in my opinion.

ukuloonie
10-23-2012, 01:16 PM
Thanks Tootler

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
11-18-2012, 10:37 AM
If I want to memorize a song, I break the habit of reading the lyrics/chords as quickly as possible, trying to play the song from memory from the beginning each time I play it. When my memory fails, I stop, look up the yet-to-be-remembered lyric/chord, and I take it from the top again.

It's usually the first lines of the verses that give me the most trouble, so I often focus on getting those down, then I worry about filling in the gaps.

Luckily for us, songs often work well with the lyrics out of order or with lots of lyrical repetition. When a singer sings some lyrics "incorrectly", I usually think, "What an interesting interpretation of this song" rather than "He doesn't know the words."

islander
01-19-2013, 04:25 AM
Yes its A valid question and A good way to remember it is figure out the first few words on every line, and if you practice you will have the song faster then you think.

Youkalaylee
01-27-2013, 01:33 PM
Are you learning to sing songs that you love?

The one I'm learning ATM is a song that I have listened to for years and always wanted to play. I know the lyrics, just have to remind myself of the variations in the verses every now and then. And as I knew how the lyrics sounded and the timing of those, accompanying myself on my uke was easy as I already knew the timings from listening and singing along to the track over the years since I first heard it.

UncleElvis
01-27-2013, 01:56 PM
Rehearse.

By this, I mean: play the song as though you are performing it. Stand up. Stand still when you sing, as if you're singing into a mic. Move when you're not singing.

And, most importantly, repeat. Do it over and over, no words, no paper, until you have it right, then play it right over and over and over. Being able to play it on your own the first time is a major accomplishment, but you should be aiming at the 15th time that you play it right! And then keep playing!

Sukie has a great quote from Gerald Ross in her signature that I use all the time: Don't practice.Play.

Hippie Dribble
02-04-2013, 06:17 PM
Rehearse.

By this, I mean: play the song as though you are performing it. Stand up. Stand still when you sing, as if you're singing into a mic. Move when you're not singing.

And, most importantly, repeat. Do it over and over, no words, no paper, until you have it right, then play it right over and over and over. Being able to play it on your own the first time is a major accomplishment, but you should be aiming at the 15th time that you play it right! And then keep playing!

Sukie has a great quote from Gerald Ross in her signature that I use all the time: Don't practice.Play.

My advice to the letter. ^^^^^ dis guy smart :)

Nicko
02-05-2013, 01:49 AM
Okay, I'll shut up now. :)

No, don't!

I'm new to the ukulele and have never performed with one -- hell, I can barely play the darn thing at this point. But I used to perform with a stringband on fiddle quite a bit years ago, and everything the sillymonky has said is SPOT ON. Every jot and tittle. Great advice.

ukuloonie
02-05-2013, 03:13 AM
A lot of great advice
Thanks for the input this helps a lot.

electrauke
02-13-2013, 04:34 PM
Well, I know how you feel. What I do is look at the song with chords, then play that section until I know it perfectly, then I do the next line and play the first one that I learned with the second one and play it together. then continue like that until I finish the whole song. Then play the whole song. Hope this helps.

gitarzan
04-08-2013, 08:49 AM
I can seldom remember lyrics. I can remember a bit and piece, but never all. I have a print out of all my songs and I just whip out the "book" when I play. I am not ashamed. I pack it in a decrepit old 1920s suitcase and make a production of it.

barefootgypsy
04-09-2013, 12:43 AM
I've recently tried to polish up my learning methods, and have settled on this as fairly useful for me.... when I really want to learn a song properly, I play it and sing it through a few times with the lyrics/chord sheet, in the usual way. Then I literally split the lyrics from the chords, to learn them separately - I put the lyrics on one side of a sheet, without the chords cluttering up the page, and then write out the chords in sequence on the other side. If there's a chorus I make it stand out by typing it in bold. Anything I need to remember about the lyrics, I make it stand out - but as I said, the chords are not there. Then I just go about my business trying to sing it from memory, learning a verse at a time. The other thing is to fix the chord sequences in my head, and writing them on the back of the sheet helps with that, because it helps to show up patterns - the lyrics are not getting in the way. So I learn the words and the music separately, and as I go, now and then put them together from memory until I can do the whole thing. Then I just keep doing it, with no paper there, until I'm confident. It all takes time to be properly learned. Lots of repetition is the rule, over a period of time... eventually it's thoroughly learned - like your times tables! .... until eventually you just can't forget it, which is perfect! Lots of repetition is necessary, but the method of getting there that I've just explained is what I find works for me. It may work for you, if you try it, I hope this helps! :)

ukuloonie
04-09-2013, 03:07 AM
Thanks Guys this really helps

Mxyzptik
04-09-2013, 03:31 AM
Well there seems to be some excellent advice here, from my short time on the forum I'd take note of what Eugene Ukulele has to say as his performing is always top notch.

I have experienced something quite odd with my ukulele. I have played the piano off and on for 40 years now. I NEED the music in front of me all the time. I have memorized a few tunes over the years but very few and if I sat down right now I probably couldn't play them. My experience with the Ukulele is just the opposite. I have played my Ukulele for a little more than a year now. I have about 15 songs that I would consider presentable and I can play every one of them without looking at the music at all. Granted I've hardly set it down since I bought it, but I even find that I dabbling with a bit of freelance or noodling which is something I never ever did on the piano.

As far as remembering music and lyrics I would try this. In my mind's eye my piano music just runs on and on and on until the end so remembering it seems a monumental feat of remembering hundreds of characters in order. Impossible for anyone but the Rain Man says I.

For some reason a song for the ukulele is quite different. I type it into a notes page on my iPad with the words grouped into verses and chorus and the chords above the words. Now you have 4 things to remember instead of hundreds, 3 verses and a chorus.The chords for each of the verses are the same so thats easy enough, now I take the first few words of each verse;

1) The monkey stood tall ......
.........................................
.........................................
.........................................
2) The green chilies tasted...
.......................................
.......................................
.......................................
Chorus..............................
.......................................
.......................................
......................................
3) Put 'yer money on the red six.....
..........................................
.........................................
...........................................

... and voila you have memorized the song. If I find my mind go blank for a second, well you know where you are in the song so I just picture those first few words of the verse and here it comes.

I sing a lot, when I driving, when I'm shopping, all the time. Don't be afraid to. People look at you sure but deep down they wished they had the nerve to do it to.

Ladyluke
04-21-2013, 07:10 PM
To memorize a song I listen to it a lot, if recording is available. Sometimes my group makes a recording for this purpose. I put it on my phone so I can listen whenever I feel like it. Sometimes, with, sometimes without the music and lyrics in front of it.

I write out the lyrics by hand. If needed I do this multiple times, depending on how much preparation time is left. A good night of sleep after a good rehearsal does wonders for my memorization.

And I sing it often, in the car, when waiting, and on practice sessions during which I want to get notes, lyrics, cut offs, dynamics right. I sing in a small group, so we have to get all this straightened out before a performance.

I never had to memorize song and instrument together for a performance, so no experience to share with that.

NG

ukuloonie
04-21-2013, 07:19 PM
Thanks..........

barefootgypsy
04-22-2013, 02:49 AM
I suffer from anxiety when I sing or perform songs, I continually practice a song and know it fairly well and even have smooth transitions between chords and I know how to correct when I miss a chord.
but when I step in front of the microphone to record the song my mind empties, my fingers get all twisted and I forget all my words and I have rely on my music sheet again.
How do you guys remember the songs and chords as you play?
is this a valid question?Drew, a good friend on this forum put me on to this page just a few days ago... look at the posts - and this is all really useful stuff, I'm so impressed with it and am going to take it on board myself.... the Bulletproof Musician.... (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/what-every-musician-ought-to-know-about-stage-fright/)

GinnyT11
04-22-2013, 02:58 AM
Drew, a good friend on this forum put me on to this page just a few days ago... look at the posts - and this is all really useful stuff, I'm so impressed with it and am going to take it on board myself.... the Bulletproof Musician.... (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/what-every-musician-ought-to-know-about-stage-fright/)

Lesley, this is great. Please post it as a new thread about performance anxiety so more people will see it.

26tiki
04-22-2013, 05:25 AM
Wow! Fantastic advice, well done team! I reckon its just practice, practice, practice. The more you play along and sing it (however you decide to- music, chord sheets, lyrics etc), the more you find you're own 'groove' in the song. My jam buddy (a very talented man) has been encouraging me to sing & play for the last 4 months (love playing, love singing - even tho I'm not great a it) but to me it's always been like patting your head and rubbing your tummy- could do one or t'other, but not both at the same time.
From constant repitition & practicing its become something I hardly hav to think about anymore & I've found what I can & can't do, but also where my voice will fit in a song. You just need to believe that you can & do it!
Patience, practice & believe.. Check yourself back in a few months and you'll probably be amazed.

pabrizzer
04-30-2013, 06:32 PM
It is really amazing how just clicking record on a little camera can make one nervous.
Still on my own at home so totally comfortable but the pressure is on as soon as I decide to record.
Weird.
As for memorising words - I can't. I have probably about 3 or 4 songs than I know from memory.
Otherwise I need those lyric sheets.

ukuloonie
04-30-2013, 06:59 PM
mm I know that feeling very well.
Thanks Pabrizzer.

ukuloonie
04-30-2013, 07:01 PM
Drew, a good friend on this forum put me on to this page just a few days ago... look at the posts - and this is all really useful stuff, I'm so impressed with it and am going to take it on board myself.... the Bulletproof Musician.... (http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/what-every-musician-ought-to-know-about-stage-fright/)
Cool thanks I will check this article out

bunnyf
10-03-2013, 03:11 PM
I am so surprised, Pabrizzer! I would not know that from your vids. You give off a very chilled vibe. I can pick a song that I know cold but if I press that record button I'm like a deer in the headlights. I actually flub less when I'm live in front of an audience than when I'm alone trying to record a vid. I once sent a vid to one of my kids, playing a song for her bday and she enjoyed it, but then I sent her some of the 1000 takes it took for me to get that recording and she laughed her ass off. What's with that? I don't feel that nervous and it really should be no pressure since you can delete it and do it again, but for me it's harder than doing an open mic.