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In my early twenties I went backpacking in Australia with my girlfriend. During that trip we spent three days on a catamaran sailing the Great Barrier Reef with a group of people. One of the best times of my life.
When I first entered the catamaran the hosts asked me if I could play guitar. I was dumbfounded and said “huuuh yes I do” and thought to myself how did they know that? Later I would find out they asked everyone the same question.
In the evening we would all come together for a drink and a laugh. And then suddenly the hosts came out with a guitar and started playing and singing songs to entertain everyone.
Then after a while they handed the guitar over to me and said “Now it’s your turn!”. I thought, okay I’ll play a couple of tunes (I had been playing for about ten years by then) and suddenly I realized I could play a whole bunch of songs and awesome solos, but I couldn’t sing the lyrics to the songs because I didn’t got them memorized.
Luckily my girlfriend was with me who is a singer and it turned out to be a great evening. Everyone sang along and was really enthusiastic.
I was saved! I realized what a shame it was that I couldn’t sing a few songs myself. A missed opportunity, but also a lesson learned. I would focus on memorizing song lyrics!
Here are 10 effective ways to get the job done:
1 – Analyze the song lyrics.
What is the story about and what does every phrase and word mean? Go in to details. If needed, look it up on the internet www.songmeanings.com
2 – Let the feeling of song lyrics genuinely and authentically become part of you.
Use real emotions like happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, sorrow, etc. and connect them to each phrase of verse of the song.
3 – Write down the song repeatedly.
I once read in a biography of Frank Sinatra that he used to write down the lyrics of a particular song over and over until he fell asleep just the day before performing. It worked like a charm.
4 – Visualize the story
Create a short movie in your mind that relates to the lyrics and keep playing that movie when you’re memorizing the song. Your mind loves images and is better able to recall lyrics that are attached to visualizations.
5 – Learn music and lyrics separately.
The brain will absorb and recall lyrics much faster when the music and lyrics come from separate parts of the brain.
6 – Karaoke
Look for the song on youtube in karaoke version and sing along with the lyrics presented. (without you playing the instrument)
7 – Repeat the words in short phrases one line at a time.
Memorize the first line and sing it out loud, learn the second line and sing out loud. Now repeat the first and second lines together, then add the third line sing out loud, then sing all 3 lines together and so on.
8 – Go slowly
Pronounce and articulate each word and phrase real slowly, divided into syllables spoken with clear vowels and consonants to capture it thoroughly.
9 – Sing yourself to sleep
Sing the lyrics in bed at night time just before you fall asleep. The brain will absorb the lyrics into the subconscious mind. Then sing the lyrics right after you wake up to refresh the memory. It’s a strong and effective way of getting information into the long term memory and increase your retention.
10 – Create a list
Create a top 10 list with your favorite songs and work on memorizing them. Play the songs randomly and as often as you can to a small crowd or just a single person. Playing in front of people is the ultimate test!
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