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I have difficulty memorizing songs, lyrics, tempo, structure, variations etc...

Hello, I am new to this forum. Greetings all of you.

For quite a while now I have been encountering this blockage when I am trying to practice to learn a certain song. It is simply that my memory is really poor, and that I really have a lot of difficulty of "getting it right" as far as timing, lyrics and other perhaps unexpected variations that are all part of a certain song.

Some songs are easier to remember than others. Some songs are pretty straightforward, other songs have a lot of variations in it that make it difficult to remember it correctly. Just to give an example: "What I've done" from Linkin Park. When Chester (the lead singer of Linkin Park) sing the words "what i've done", he sings it in many different variations. Sometimes it's "what i've doooone", another time it's a short "what i've done", another time it's very long "whaaaaaaat aiiiii've doooooooooooooone", another time i's "whaaaaaaat aiiive done" and then followed up by a "what I've dooooooone".

You get the point. There are so many variations in timing when trying to sing that, and the fact that it has no logical pattern makes it difficult for me to remember. And it's not only timing but lyrics too. My memory in general just tends to be very poor. I barely can even remember what the color of my bicycle is, or even the color of the sofa in my living room (was it green or black?)

Somehow it really frustrates me when I don't get it right when I try to rehearse the song, and that frustration i've noticed only causes my memory to deteriorate even further, making me more frustrated and creating a vicious cycle like.

The psychology of singing and becoming a singer is one of the biggest limitations for me right now. This is really something I've gotta work to overcome.

How do you guys go about remembering all that you need to know when you're going to practice a song? Do you guys use specific techniques for remembering, or is it simply a matter of rehearsing often, correcting yourself when you get it wrong, so that at one point it simply all becomes natural?

And how do you guys deal with perfectionism when trying to learn singing? I deal with perfectionism a lot in often quite an unhealthy way.


  • WigsWigs Moderator, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 5,039
    It usually rakes me about 1 or 2 weeks of constantly listening to a song over and over while I'm driving or working out to start to memorise the melody and nuances. This is for songs that are new to me. It's even longer if I try to sing it without reading words on the karaoke screen. I need constant repititions. In your case though when you mention remembering colours of object you own, well I have not come across this before.

    When I think of perfectionism, my train of thought is it's something I will always strive for but maybe never attain. I'm fine with that, if it does happen then it's a gift I didn't expect but one that I deserve since I have been chasing it.

    I hope that can help you in some way 🙂
  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,363
    i think maybe you should start with simpler songs that are not "scaring" you too much in the beginning, it sems that you are really focused on (the fear of) failing, which is exactly what will happen. you could start really simple (nursery rhymes for example) and build some confidence in your ability first.

    also, there are lots of things to pay attention to even in a simple song, so try to familiarize yourself with some music theory concepts: rhythm, melodies, harmony. the more you know about this stuff, the easier it is to memorize. it stops being a random string of things whizzing by, and becomes a pattern, which is then much easier to remember.

    don't pressurize yourself too much though, keep it fun, you don't need to become a music professor! (unless you want to)

    one question for you: can you not remember the color of your couch even if you actively say: "alright, I am going to remember the color now", or is it more because you never paid attention to the color? just curious how this works.

  • Hello @Nightwise,

    It might help you to think of every song you hear as a unique performance, and every recording of a song as one unique moment captured in time. This means that there is no "one true way" of singing a song. Chester Bennington would have performed What I've Done a little differently every time he sang it, depending on his mood, his intentions, his feeling from the audience, his feeling from his bandmates, and many other factors. Mimicing one performance as exactly as you can is like trying to capture someone else's experience of singing that song at that moment. I know that for me, the idea of doing that feels close to an intrusion into someone else's life. Let them own that moment. Instead, you can live your own moment of performance, and it is impossible to get that wrong. I hope I have explained this in a way that is freeing for you.

    I remember when learning songs for an evening class a few years ago, the class tutor insisted that we learn without the lyric sheets. Instead, she would sing a verse, and we would sing it back. She said that in her experience, not becoming reliant on seeing the words let students learn songs much more quickly. I found it worked this way for me, too.

    Learning lyrics is different from learning songs. Learn the lyrics by singing them a verse at a time, and then perform the song. Remember it is you that your audience is here for, not anyone else. Share with them your unique moment.

    I used to think that I was a perfectionist, but I think it's something that is more often said by younger people, and perhaps has an element of pride in it if we are honest with ourselves. As I've got older, perfectionism feels meaningless and irrelevant to me. Instead, I work as best I can with the time and energy I have on any given day, and accept that the next day, I might not be able to manage as much, and that is okay. As long as I train correctly, things will improve. I do my part, and hand the rest over to time and my brain and body cells. And because I like singing, I am enjoying the process of learning, and look forward to what I will be able to do in the future.
  • HillbillySeanHillbillySean 2.0 PRO Posts: 7
    Nightwise I've spent a lot of time learning songs over the last year for some cover bands that I'm. My process has been to first print out the lyrics, then make notes on the sheet on words that are raising up or down or holding out longer. Then go back and sing along and keep making notes on the sheet until you have it right. Once I can sing along correctly with the sheet, I take one verse at a time and try and sing it without the sheet. It takes several sessions to get it right but repetition over and over and you'l get it.
  • Chris82Chris82 2.0 PRO Posts: 594
    edited January 2020
    I'm sorry you're having this issue. I almost always strive to memorize fully the songs I sing. I don't like reading lyrics (as in karaoke) and think it's important to the quality of your performance to have the song "internalized".

    You can try some different mnemonic methods of memorizing things, funnily enough turning things into songs is a mnemonic method of its own (The Alphabet Song Comes to Mind Here) which is probability why I'm able to learn songs so quickly. Musical mnemonic's have always worked well for me. Something I would often do in college is turn my notes into a catchy song so I can remember them for the tests.

    Here are a few resources that will give you an idea of what mnemonics are, the different types or mnemonics, and hopefully give you some new things to try when memorizing your songs:


  • MikeyParentMikeyParent 2.0 PRO Posts: 42
    edited January 2020
    As far as memorizing lyrics I’m gonna say this: nothing beats listening to the song and writing out the lyrics long hand. It really forces you to listen to the song and the process requires repetitious listening.

    Also, while it’s great that we can just go online to find the lyrics to songs, I have found in my experience that a LOT of lyrics on the Internet are wrong

    Outside of that there’s really no silver bullet, the best way to memorize a song is just to sing it repeatedly.
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