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Information Sheet – Help with learning your words

Learning your words, whether it be for a concert, festival or competition, needn’t be a stressful task. The key to memorising a text is to start learning it early and keep practicing it a little at a time and often. Ideally you want to begin learning the words as soon as a new song is introduced. Bear in mind that any one method of memorisation is unlikely to work for every piece – try to mix it up and apply multiple methods to the same piece.

Below are some tips for learning your lines:

  • Take the text with you. Leave a copy of the words in your car glove compartment, desk draw at work or coat pocket so you can dip into them a little and often.

  • Leave sticky notes around your home with the first words of each line of text. Try leaving them in the bathroom or kitchen so you are encouraged to look at them throughout the day.

  • Learn your words whilst doing repetitive tasks. Memorise words whilst doing the washing up, chopping veg or vacuuming.

  • Write the text out. Many people find writing the text out multiple times to be a useful process. Try writing phrases or words you find difficult to remember in a different colour and writing your cues from other sections in pencil.

  • Type the text out. If pen and paper is too last century.

  • Play the practice tracks on repeat. Put the practice track on your phone, iPod or on your car stereo. Sing through the practice track without your music – if you make a mistake set it back to the beginning and start again. This is particularly useful if you have a long car journey or commute. You could also use YouTube or Spotify recordings of the correct arrangement, record rehearsals on your phone, or speak the text into a dictaphone to listen back to whilst walking the dog, etc.

  • Learn the text separate from the music. If you can analyse it as a poem you may find alternative meanings in the text which gives its structure more importance.

  • Evening revision is more productive than morning revision as your subconscious continues to mull over the new words whilst you sleep.


  • Learn the text in sections. Analyse the structure of the text or music and split the lyrics into sections. Focus on learning sections at a time rather than attacking the entire piece in one go.


  • Learn sections of the text in reverse order. Working from the back forwards can mix up the memorisation process and means that you’re always working towards a section of text you’re more comfortable with.

  • Find trigger words for sentences, phrases or larger sections of text. Work out an order for the trigger words – maybe the trigger words come in alphabetical order or you could construct a sentence or short story with the trigger words.

  • Associate pictures with the text. Some people find it easier to order, or visualise the order, of pictures rather than trigger words. Write out the text and place a relevant picture next to each section.

  • Associate memories with the text. Particular times or places can make strong links with certain sentences or sections of a text.

  • Create a story with the text. Give the text a beginning, middle and end, even if the text itself is quite static.


  • Find patterns in the text. Do certain words always go in the same order? How often does a particular line repeat? Is the structure of the text symmetrical?

  • Visualise the score in your mind. If you are a visual learner, alongside pictures, this may be an effective memorisation strategy. Practice visualising the score the same as you would for learning the words line by line by testing yourself, a little and often, against the score. Do not assume, if you are a visual learner, that no conscious input is needed.

  • Repetition, repetition, repetition – there are few shortcuts to word learning.



Additional ideas for learning pieces in foreign languages:

  • Make up silly rhymes or word associations that fit with the phonetics of the text. For example, multitúdinem sounds a bit like ‘multi-denim’ and orgáno like ‘oregano’.


  • Create a story out of the word associations to help order sections of the text.

  • Translate the text using google translate or a similar service so the meaning of each word is understood and can be set in context.

  • Read through the text aloud again and again so that you become familiar with the shape of the words.


Techniques that are NOT advised:


  • DO NOT simply read through your score. This is a passive learning method and is a waste of time. If you only have a few minutes, focusing on a small section of the text is more productive than reading the whole thing through.

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