How Do Singers Remember Lyrics?

Three Exercises To Help You Remember Your Lyrics and Get Them To Stick!

Do you have difficulty learning lyrics and getting them to stick? Well, you’re not alone. Many singers have this problem, especially when a song has a lot of verses that all sound the same (ie ‘Fields of Gold’ by Sting or the jazz standard ‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love’)

The problem is, that learning lyrics is just part of life for singers. You can’t get up on stage and read from a music stand; its just not professional. Plus you want to be free to look at your audience, move around the stage etc.. and you can’t do that if you’re rooted to one spot because you haven’t learned your lyrics.

So what happens if you’re one of those singers who has trouble getting lyrics to stick? What if you’re one of the many singers forget lyrics mid-song or your mind goes blank when you get up on stage?

In today’s video I will share some simple but effective techniques for remembering your lyrics AND getting them to stick… for good!

Just remember… if you’re a jazz singer (or even if you’re not) and you get into an ‘OMG I can’t remember my lyrics’ bind, then you can always use scat (ie soloing like your voice is an instrument) as a way out 😉 

But for now, take a look at the video for the three techniques.

Nicola xx

Here are three ways that singers remember lyrics.


1. Listen and copy.

Put at least two versions of the song you want to learn and one backing track of the song onto your phone or whatever you use to listen to. The first version needs to be the actual song with the artist singing the lyrics. Put the backing track next on the playlist.

Then put the second version third on the playlist and again, follow up with the backing track.

When we sing along with the artist, we don’t really memorize the lyrics because the artist is constantly reminding us of what they are. This is why, following up with the backing track means you’re forced to memorize the lyrics yourself.

Having two different versions only strengthens this, because it jolts you out of hearing the same thing again and again. The second singer may hold notes differently or sing in a slightly different rhythm etc. By having two versions, followed by a backing track its a sure fire way to get that song into your head properly.

Bonus Tip: I like to do this in my car because when I’m at home I get bored going over and over the same song… but when I’m driving, or out walking (which is probably a safer and better idea), I find the information gets stuck in my brain better because I’m doing something else repetitive at the same time. There have been studies that show that if you do an easy, repetitive physical action while learning new information, the brain retains a lot more of what you have just listened to.


2. Read through the lyrics properly and work out what they mean.

So what is the song you’re learning really about and what is the artist trying to say?

Imagine yourself walking through the song like it’s a movie and have it play out in your mind. If the lyrics say ‘come on lets party tonight’ then imagine yourself getting dressed up to go out to a party.

This will help you to remember your lyrics because most songs follow a story line. You go out to a party and then what? You meet a guy, or dance with your friends. Stories are more memorable that just trying to remember words.

And as an added bonus, this  technique will help you to deliver the song better because you know what it is you’re singing about.


3. Try a written method of learning to kickstart your memory

People learn in a variety of ways. Some people prefer to listen, some people need things visually in front of them to learn, while some people need to write the lyrics out themselves in order for them to get stuck in your brain.

Throughout our school years, we do a lot of learning this way, the teachers will regurgitate a bunch of info, we write it out either by hand or on the computer and then it goes into our brain.  So it makes sense to do the same thing with learning lyrics.

Instead of downloading the lyrics online, take the time to write them out by hand or on your computer, and you may find that you start remembering them.

So now you have three different methods for remembering song lyrics. Just choose whichever method you feel will work best for you, and please let me know if this has helped you in the comments below. 

Happy singing!

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