Memorising Lyrics is one part of the learning a song process we have to go through as singers. Here are some of my tips I’ve used over the years to help with lyric learning.
1. Knowing what the song is about and your emotional interpretation is always the first starting point. It is shocking how many of my students when I question them on a new song can’t tell me what it’s about. It’s only going to make learning the lyrics much harder as there won’t be a connection.
2. I print mine out and whilst walking around learn them line by line. I found this way extremely useful for learning lyrics. At the end of the night go over the lyrics again in your head as much as you can, check the lyric sheet just before going to sleep. I find it really helps them stick and if for any reason I wake up in the night reciting them again is a great way to help going back to sleep.
3. You can listen on constant repeat. Your basic daily practice of learning the song will also help them start to seep into your brain. Personally I still then need to do the focused learning make them really stick.
4. I learn ‘key’ words. Sometimes it will be the first words at the start of each sentence so if I move onto the next line and can’t remember I focus on what the keyword was and that really helps.
5. Some songs are much easier to learn than others. If the song has a story as well as remembering the words remember the order the story happens in.
6. Complex poetical lyrics are amongst the hardest, focusing on the imagery and meaning you’ve placed on them really helps.
7. Lyrics in another language. All the principles above apply. I cannot stress how important it is to have gone through the song phonetically first getting the pronunciation correct. This way you don’t learn the lyrics incorrectly. Do an English translation so you know what you’re singing about.
Finally, just remember it takes time. You can get lyrics in quickly but I always advise students to make sure you leave at least 2 weeks before a performance so they are in your body firmly when stage nerves kick in. You are much more likely to forget them if you’ve tried to only learn them the day before. Many of the great musicians you love practiced and rehearsed for hours and days before gigs.