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Nazia Chaudhry | Memorizing Performance Material

Memorizing Performance Material

Here are some helpful tips to use while memorizing lyrics, scripts, speeches or other material for a performance.

1.  Choose a short phrase then speak or sing the words repeatedly until you can do it without looking at the music or script. Repeat this step with the second phrase then put both phrases together, repeating from memory. Keep doing this until you can repeat the whole song or script.

2. When a large amount of songs or scripts need to be memorized for a theatrical show or vocal performance…save the best for last and learn what you like the least, first! :)

3. Read and repeat the words in short bursts throughout the day or week – short and often is more effective than trying to cram it in over several hours of practice.

4. Memorize the words without the music then put it together with the music. When learning songs, singers should record themselves speaking or reciting the lyrics, then singing the lyrics. You don’t know the song until you can recite the lyrics without the melody and rhythm.

5. Put pencil to paper and write the words while repeating them.

6. When learning scripts or speeches, record yourself reciting from your script of speech.  In English, there is a clear pattern in sentence structure: Walk, Jump, Step, Fall. This can be very helpful in bringing a story, speech or script to life.

7. Write notes about the speech, script, or song’s themes and imagery.

8. When working with foreign words, associate them with words you already know or write the words phonetically.

9. All text and lyrics have a rhythmic cadence. Speak and/or sing the rhythm of the song or script.

10. Multitask by reciting the words or melody while playing a practice track in the car or recite when doing everyday chores or odd jobs.

11. Repeat the song or scripted lines every day by singing or saying the words out loud.

12. Underline “color words” or important words to emphasize during your performance.

13. Use vivid or exaggerated images/symbols to help associate the words.

14. Paraphrase the material and tell a story.  Every story has a beginning, middle, and ending, so break the material down into smaller parts.

15. Your brain is always working, even when you sleep, so go over your material before you go to sleep.  If you have a practice recording, play it at low volume as you are falling asleep.

16. When learning harmony or backing vocals, record your part alone, and one with all the other singers parts. Practice to your part then along with the other singers parts.  To practice singing harmony, harmonize to the songs you listen to on your mp3 player or the radio.

17. Listen, listen, listen. Carry an mp3 or CD player with headphones with you everywhere you go.

18. Look or listen for patterns in the material. Create a visual road map to help you see the big picture. Does the melody, phrase, or rhythm repeat in certain parts?

19. For actors, record the actors’ other lines and leave some blank space where your lines or responses should be. When you play back the recording, you can say your lines in the blank spaces and slowly break away from the scripted page until you have memorized the material.

20. Once you have learned a song, speech, or script, review it often to keep it fresh and reinforce the memory.

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