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15 Essential tips For Singers To Remember All Their Lyrics

Remembering all the lyrics can be a challenge for any singer out there, especially if there are quite a few songs on the setlist. 

If you have trouble memorizing the words to a song, it’s ok! Even the most well-prepared singers can sometimes forget their lyrics.

Famous singers like Beyonce, Shawn Mendes, Mariah Carey had moments where they forgot their lyrics too! It happens to even the best of them. 

To remember your lyrics quickly, you first have to set aside an accurate amount of time to study and learn the song. Try separating each section and learn them individually at first. Once you can sing one section three times without looking at your lyrics sheet, you move on to the next. You should keep doing this until you go through the entire song. 

I’ve compiled 15 essential tips that you can use to quickly and easily remember all your lyrics. Read on to find out more!

Play your song everywhere

Whether you’re commuting, working out, or cooking, listening to songs that you need to learn can help you remember the lyrics faster. When a new song is playing in the background, your brain is passively listening and learning. This is why there are songs you know the lyrics to but haven’t actively taken the time to learn them.  

If you want to memorize lyrics quickly, try listening to the song as much as you can. So don’t only play the song in your practice space, but everywhere you go! You’ll start seeing how the lyrics will become second nature to you.

What I like to do is create a personal playlist of all the songs that I need to learn. I listen to them while I’m commuting or running. Once I’ve gone through the playlist a few times, I would naturally be able to start singing along to the lyrics in the song. 

Chances are, you’re not going to remember all the words just by doing this. But continuously listening to the song will help reinforce familiarizing yourself with the different elements and lyrics. 

One essential thing to note: don’t overplay the songs too much, or else you’ll get sick of it. It’s entirely possible to turn your favorite song into something you don’t want to listen to anymore!

Set a time limit for yourself to memorize your lyrics 

If you have more than one song to remember, create a time limit for each song so that you don’t spend too much time focusing on just one piece of lyric. There will be moments where you learn a song and totally lose track of time. You look at your watch, and you realize that 2 hours have passed by and you still have four more songs to go! 

I’ve done that and let me tell you, it can get very stressful. Especially when you have a setlist with a lot of songs. 

So, create a limit for yourself. And no matter what, make sure you move on to the next song. 

What works for me is when I set a timer for 1 hour per song. Within the hour, I would use 15 minutes to learn the first verse. Then 15 minutes to learn the chorus. Use the next 15 minutes on the second verse. And the last 15 minutes to learn the bridge. If there’s some time left, I will go over the parts that I’m not familiar with. 

For you, it doesn’t have to be for 1 hour. It can be shorter, or it can be longer. But whatever time you set for yourself, make sure you stick to it! 

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Divide your song into different sections

Splitting up the song in different parts and focusing on one section at a time is a highly efficient way to memorize your song. Learning a song all the way through is going to take a much longer time. 

Let’s take a song like Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This.” 

A Moment Like This Lyrics – Kelly Clarkson

Section 1

What if I told you
It was all meant to be
Would you believe me
Would you agree
It’s almost that feelin’
That we’ve met before
So tell me that you don’t think I’m crazy
When I tell you love has come and now

Section 2

A moment like this
Some people wait a lifetime
For a moment like this
Some people search forever
For that one special kiss
Oh, I can’t believe it’s happening to me
Some people wait a lifetime
For a moment like this

Rather than going through the entire song and learning from verse 1 to the chorus, you learn just a chunk at a time. 

Start from verse 1 and sing along to that until you can sing it without looking at your lyrics sheet. Do the same with the next verse and the chorus. Repeat this step until you’ve gone through the entire song two times.

If you can repeat the lines without looking at your sheet two times, ONLY THEN should you try going through the entire song as a whole.  

Batch the Lines

Once you’ve split up the sections of the song to memorize, you can batch the lines together to help you remember the song much quicker. First, learn the 1st line, and when you do, attach the 2nd line with the first line. Repeat both those two, and then batch the 3rd line. Keep doing this until you learn the entire section.

Let’s continue to use “A Moment Like This” as our example. 

If we learning the first verse of the song. 

You would start memorizing the 1st line:

“What if I told you / It was all meant to be”

Then, tag on the 2nd line. 

“What if I told you / It was all meant to be”
“Would you believe me / Would you agree.”

Once you remember both of those lines, attach the 3rd line to the batch. 

“What if I told you / It was all meant to be”
“Would you believe me / Would you agree.”
“It’s almost that feeling / That we’ve met before.”

Keep doing that until you finish the entire verse. 

Batching your lines together is a handy and efficient method to learn your lyrics. It helps create a relationship between the phrases in a step-by-step, systematic way. 

Practice repetition to memorize your lyrics

Repetition is the most critical part of helping the words stick in your mind. Whether it’s repeating the lines with the previous methods or putting the song on repeat, it’s crucial to go through the song over and over again until it becomes second nature to you. 

If you only listen and practice the song a few times, there isn’t enough reinforcement and time for your brain to store all the information. Unless you have a photographic memory or a highly trained memory, it’s going to take more than a few times for you to remember the lyrics by heart. 

As long as you consistently put in the time to practice, listen to the song and memorize your lyrics, you’ll eventually be able to sing the song without looking at your lyrics sheet. 

Use imagery to remember your lyrics

If repetition doesn’t work well, you can consider visualizing the words instead. Try imagining the story when you’re going through the song. Use your imagination to make vivid mental images and create a “movie” in your head. 

  • Is there someone in the picture? 
  • What are they saying? 
  • What’s the background like? 

By thinking about these questions and visualizing them, you’re ingraining a picture into your brain so that when you’re singing the song, you’ll have the same image and story to recall from.

This technique works very well for songs that use a lot of descriptive words. 

For example, Elton John’s “Your Song” is written very story-like, which helps with visualizing the lyrics. 

Elton John’s “Your Song”

Lines like “If I was a sculptor, but then again, no / Or a man who makes potions in a travelin’ show” is great for visualizing because it’s written like a story, and is deeply descriptive. 

Speak the words out loud

Once you start memorizing the song a few times and sing them out loud, it’s good to have some variation in the way you practice your song. Reading and speaking the lyrics out loud is great to reinforce what you’ve already remembered. It also has the added benefit of hearing the words in a different way, which allows you to learn more about the emotions and depth of the song.

You can also recite the lyrics out loud once you’ve had parts of the song memorized. I find it’s a great way to test how well I know the words. If I can recite the words correctly, I know that I’ve properly memorized the words by heart. 

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Format the lyrics to your style

Sometimes when you’re looking at lyrics online, the songs aren’t formatted the same way it should be sung. This is because the lyrics posted online are formatted to be read and not necessarily for singing. You can add different punctuations and lines to format the verses so that it makes more sense to you.

I find this really useful for fast songs that have a lot of different musical phrases and songs that are quite lyrically complicated.

For example, “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai has a lot of “run-on” lines that can be confusing for those who‘ve heard the song for the first time. 

When I was learning the song, I had to make lots of marks and punctuations to really get a good grasp of the song. 

Here’s a look into my lyrics notes for Virtual Insanity 1st verse:

I use a lot of punctuation marks like commas, “~” and “_” to arrange the lyrics to my style. 

It’s beneficial to first listen to the song and reformat it. Then go through the song again and study the song using your newly formatted lyrics.

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Associate the song with yourself

Connecting the words to your own personal experiences can be a great technique to remember lyrics. You can associate the lyrics and combine it with a particular moment or period in your life that you’ve had. 

If the song has lyrics that you personally have never experienced, you can try to associate the words to something that you’ve seen or heard of before. 

For example, the first verse from “Hymn for the Weekend” by Coldplay reminds me of a painting I saw called “The Guardian Angel” by German painter Bernhard Plockhorst. 

Verse 1:

“Oh, angel sent from up above
You know you make my world light up
When I was down, when I was hurt
You came to lift me up.”

Guardian Angel by Bernhard Plockhorst

Once I associated the lines and meaning to this painting, it became much easier for me to remember the words to the song. 

You can use anything to connect with the lyrics. It can be from a tv show, painting, commercial, magazine, etc. Sometimes it comes naturally to you as it’s the first thing you think about. Whatever it is, make a memory of it and try associating your memory with the lyrics. 

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Memorize your lyrics before you sleep

Studies have shown that studying before you go to bed can actually help you retain information much easier. So try memorizing your lyrics right before you go to bed. I find it more efficient if I spread out my study time throughout the day and review the lyrics once more before I sleep.

I only like to review the lyrics before going to bed rather than starting entirely new songs to memorize as it requires less on my brain. 

Also, taking naps after memorizing your lyrics can help as well. 

Use writing to help memorizing your lyrics

As I mentioned before, remembering your lyrics is all about consistent repetition. If learning lyrics is hard for you, a fail-safe approach is writing down your song. Think back to your primary school days, where you had to copy lines into your book before a test. It’s grueling work, but it’s still useful. Copying the lyrics works really well for those who want an extremely active approach in learning their lyrics. 

You can take the methods I mentioned previously like “dividing your sections” and “batch your lines” and combine it with writing your lyrics.

Other than copying down your song, taking notes also helps with memorizing lyrics. I find printing out the song and writing and highlighting different sections while learning really helps me with remembering the words. 

Let’s say, if I’m going through my lyrics, and there’s a couple of lines that I always forget, I would highlight and make a note of those lines and repeat that section again. Once I’ve gone through the entire song, I’ll refer back to the highlighted sections and focus on those lines one at a time.

By the end of the session, my page is fully colored and written-on.

Learn the music and lyrics separately

If you’re going to be playing an instrument and singing at the same time, you should definitely split up learning each task and only focus on one at a time. Learning both together will slow down your progress and prevent you from genuinely mastering each part. 

For example, if you’re playing guitar and singing. I would recommend splitting up some time mastering the chords and rhythm before memorizing the lyrics. Spending time on them on the same day is fine, but not in the same session. So you can set 1-hour practicing and memorizing the guitar, take a break, and then learn your lyrics. 

You should only start playing them together when you can confidently perform your instrument and sing your song separately without looking at your music sheets. 

Read Next: 11 Easy songs to play and sing guitar at the same time

Practice with some pressure

Remember a time where you thought you memorized everything for your test but then froze and forgot everything when test time came? Sometimes that can happen on stage as well. You don’t want to go on stage, thinking you remembered everything then forget it once you’re on stage.

This happens because when you’re learning your lyrics, you’re practicing in a less stressful environment, and there’s no pressure with making mistakes. So once you think you’re ready to perform the song, try playing for a family member or a friend. 

Have a mindset of not making a mistake and sing the song for them without a lyrics sheet. Doing this will add a little bit of pressure when you practice so that you’re not going on stage and feeling that pressure for the first time.  

Do something else while remembering your lyrics at the same time

A great way to quickly memorize the words in your head is by reciting the lines while you’re doing something else. Think about your favorite songs and how you can remember them no matter what you do. This is how you want to learn all your lyrics. 

Is being able to recall them everywhere you go.  

Once you’ve passed the initial steps of learning your lyrics, you can try to multitask while practicing the song and see if you get the words right. If you can recite the song while simultaneously doing something else, it means that the song has become second nature to you. 

This also helps if you need to play a musical instrument while performing the song as it will require the same brainpower to do both those things well. 

Avoid distractions when you’re trying to memorize your lyrics 

If you’re trying to learn a new song, setting up your environment to properly avoid distractions will help you remember your words that much quicker. Try clearing off your area and set your phone to silent before you practice. If you have a room where you can study by yourself, use it and make sure nobody is going to interrupt you. Tell a family member or your roommate before you practice, so they know not to disturb you. 

When you set up your environment the right way, you’ll have a clearer mind, and you’re helping yourself to be more focused on learning the lyrics.

Final thoughts

Memorizing lyrics can be quite tricky in the beginning, but if it’s done with the right approach and methods, it definitely makes the process that much more comfortable. If you’re struggling with learning lyrics, try using some of these techniques when you’re learning a new song. Once you’ve had a few practices with these techniques, you’ll be surprised at how fast you’ve memorized your lyrics. 

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