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Thread: Memorizing a song

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Memorizing a song

    I have a seriously hard time learning songs as played and remembering them. I donít know that I have done it more than a handful of times and thatís being generous. Any thoughts on how to improve that issue of my learning process?
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    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Listen to them a lot and sing or run the melody through your mind, ie, visualize it. I found that to be quite powerful.

    Hope it gets easier for you.
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    Registered User Mike Buesseler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Listen to them a lot and sing or run the melody through your mind, ie, visualize it. I found that to be quite powerful.

    Hope it gets easier for you.
    Do that. Then play the tune, with a metronome, at slowly increasing speeds 200 times.

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    Registered User Monkshood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Could I tack on a question: since every song has its melody and its chords, do people have tricks for learning them together? One before the other? Etc. (I find learning the melody easier than the chords, since the chords donít offer a tune to ďthinkĒ about so easily.)

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Free ear training apps.
    Especially on intervals and chord quality.
    10 minutes and you’ll see a big improvement in how you visualise and memorise the fretboard, and tunes themselves.

    Of course regular repetition of learned repertoire, played by reading the first or last line if you like, BUT only played once through each tune, SLOWLY and with a metronome will help.

    Pencil circle on the foggy parts, you’re looking for any part where the fingers don’t flow smoothly or you have to jump in, take over mentally, and think about individual notes of the move. (Rather than think about four eighth phrases as a whole which finger memory can play authentic).
    Then you iron out the specific part. Break it down.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Jun-01-2021 at 3:13am.

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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    What works for me is breaking it down into sections. Play a phrase, a length you can easily memorize, and repeat it until you absolutely have it. Then add the next phrase and do the same. Next step is to put those together and repeat until you have them. And so on until you have it. The key is repetition. The changes can be memorized in exactly the same way.

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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkshood View Post
    Could I tack on a question: since every song has its melody and its chords, do people have tricks for learning them together? One before the other? Etc. (I find learning the melody easier than the chords, since the chords don’t offer a tune to “think” about so easily.)
    Listen to the tune and learn the chords first, hum along until you got it and then tackle the melody. Welcome to the Cafe.
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    Registered User J Mangio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    I play and repeat two bars, once memorized I move on to the next two bars etc.
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    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    To memorize a tune I've never heard I must listen to the song enough times that I have it solid in my head. Then if having trouble "playing" or finding the really difficult parts I'll slow it down. But I cannot learn "anything" slowed down and have it be of any use, unless I have it stone cold in my head, hence my trouble with tab or the music. Even though I do read music, a little, enough to know what's going on.

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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    I'm just learning from the Beginner Mandolin and Celtic Mandolin on Peghead Nation. I can get the song, exercise, or whatnot down but come back to it and try to play from memory and draw a complete blank until I hear it then it pops back into my mind. Some of these I have worked on for over a year only to completely forget it or come back and listen to that lesson again only to realize at some point in time I switched some notes around and it is not the same as when I started. That just irritates the heck out of me.
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    Registered User Isaac Revard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Iíve forgotten about twenty songs to every one of my memorized songs...those I remember are ones I play often. The rest I have to hear and work on again for a bit until they return. Have fun, play what you love, Iíve learned to just kinda let those I donít play often just naturally fade away, without any worry. Cest la vie.

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Are you talking about songs, what you sing, tunes, what you play, or both?
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    I have a seriously hard time learning songs as played and remembering them. I don’t know that I have done it more than a handful of times and that’s being generous. Any thoughts on how to improve that issue of my learning process?
    John: are you talking about a song with lyrics, melody, etc.? or a tune? Or both? There are probably different methods for remembering lyrics. If yu are just talking about songs, there was this thread: https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...remember-tunes
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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Just simple beginner songs and tunes in both lessons no lyrics. You would hear the wolves howling way out east if I tried to sing! I will check out that link thanks!
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by Monkshood View Post
    Could I tack on a question: since every song has its melody and its chords, do people have tricks for learning them together? One before the other? Etc. (I find learning the melody easier than the chords, since the chords don’t offer a tune to “think” about so easily.)
    Interesting that we all have different approaches. Nailing the chord progression helps me internalize the melody. Then it’s repetition, repetition...
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    two t's and one hyphen fatt-dad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    to the OP: Song, meaning the words? Or, tune, meaning the melody?

    I can't recall words, but do hum to drill in the melody. Not so good with chords; however.

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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    I find songs with lyrics easier to memorize... I memorize the lyrics and melody first then it’s pretty easy to tell when the chords are right or wrong so it’s easy to self-correct while playing from memory.

    The few instrumental pieces I’ve memorized, it takes more repetitions listening to the song to embed the melody in my brain and then start working on a few measures at a time. If I’m trying to memorize it I do better/faster by ear than from tab or notation.

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by NDO View Post
    I find songs with lyrics easier to memorize... I memorize the lyrics and melody first then it’s pretty easy to tell when the chords are right or wrong so it’s easy to self-correct while playing from memory.

    The few instrumental pieces I’ve memorized, it takes more repetitions listening to the song to embed the melody in my brain and then start working on a few measures at a time. If I’m trying to memorize it I do better/faster by ear than from tab or notation.
    I am built exactly the opposite. Remembering lyrics is more of a challenge for me than melodies and tunes.. I latch on to melodies/tunes and internalize them much faster than lyrics. I have a small notebook that fits in my case in which I've handwritten the lyrics to around 30+ songs - Just the lyrics. No chords or notes on melody. I've been told that having done this should help me remember the lyrics. I even blank on easy lyrics like - "Down the Road", "Bartender's Blues" and even "Sitting alone in the Moonlight" which only has one verse and chorus. Everyone is different I suppose

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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Boy, I hear your pain! Something that has helped me is singing the song. Even if its only for yourself, singing it builds ownership. When you own it you won’t let it go.

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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Quote Originally Posted by fatt-dad View Post
    to the OP: Song, meaning the words? Or, tune, meaning the melody?

    I can't recall words, but do hum to drill in the melody. Not so good with chords; however.

    f-d
    Funny thing, I remember songs much more easily than tunes. But, I can’t sing! ��

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    Distressed Model John Ritchhart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    As far as the tune is concerned I generally follow the chords first and sing the melody line of thought. By sing I mean hum or LA LA La the melody to get it in my head. To learn the words I find that writing them down long hand on paper or typing them manually into Songbook or whatever app is great for memorizing.
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    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    This question comes up often, and I always post this video. I was trying to resist this time, but failed.


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    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    Thanks everyone!
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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    I’m a bit puzzled by the fact that no one asks how you go about learning a new tune. What are your sources? I’m asking this because when I got started on mandolin (after ten years of guitar) I was into colloquial, non-notation, genres such as old-time and Bluegrass. The moment I was through transposing a song from a record I “knew” it ,what the notes and chords were, how they related to one another, the structure and story line, as it were. “All” that remained was to work the tune up for performance, deciding on the groove and key and harmonic details, finding variations and possibly ideas for an arrangement (in time you will have to learn how to transpose a song by ear, not by “figuring”).

    The key to memorization, as always, is understanding: how the tune is constructed, what makes it work, how it builds and progresses, how and where it reaches some kind of conclusion, what makes it stand out
    (as even worth remembering). There are theoretical concepts that facilitate this kind of understanding, and you should start by getting the big picture before going into details.

    Small example, Fire on the Mountain. Before you even try to find he individual notes you will note its structure: One part in A (possibly repeated), followed by a par in D, and a two bar tag re-establishing the original key.

    I’t’s important to realize that learning an instrument (at least a first instrument) involves quite a bit of theory.

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    Default Re: Memorizing a song

    I am a poor memorizor, but a good rememberer. The difference, for me, is the anxiety. Memorizing is under pressure with the stand an deliver as the stick. remembering is letting go, letting my autonomic processes of my brain just do their thing. Like remembering your hotel room number, I don't know how I do it.

    If I am learning it from sheet music I just play it over and over and over, till I can put the mandolin down and hum it. Usually after a half day or so of humming it I can play it without the music.

    If I am learning from a recording, it helps greatly to try and write the tune out on music paper, using the mandolin to work out the phrases and turn arounds. The goal here is not to memorize anything, but to capture the tune on paper. It seem however, that by the time I have it written, and what i wrote plays like the recording, like Ralph says above, I will have it.
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