At Voices of Birralee our choristers, mainly in our older choirs, are often tasked with memorising a great deal of repertoire in the lead up to concerts or tours. We see this as a positive challenge for them as part of their development. Memorisation skills are important for life, whether that be for retaining information learnt in classes, work or even for personal occasions.
Particularly at Birralee, improving memorisation contributes to the music making process. As soon as sheet music can be put away the chorister is able to have better eye contact with their conductor and are able to think about the music allowing them to be more expressive. And when it comes to performance time, the audience will find it much more interesting!
So, what are some tips for memorising music?
Repetition! This is the obvious one! From the moment you receive your music, make time to go over it regularly away from rehearsals. Keep practising and there’s a saying, “Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you don’t get it wrong!”
Write the words! We like to provide our choristers a great variety of repertoire. In one term, choristers could be singing pieces in English, Latin, French or even Russian! It can sometimes be quite tricky as often songs in a foreign language can have words or phrasing that seem illogical. Try writing out the words and finding the translations. When it comes time to sing the song, if you’re a visual learner, you might recall the words by having an image in your mind of the words on the page.
Share your learnings. Many friendships are made during choir, so using these friendships to help learn music is a great option. This can include simply chanting the lyrics to lock them in, or practising part-singing.
Give yourself time. Avoid learning repertoire the night before. Cramming might work allowing you to fluke it and get all the words and music right for one performance, but after that day, it’s likely the information will have dissipated. It’s great to have a catalogue of repertoire in your mind, particularly if you get to sing a piece again down the track. And when that happens, if you did the work the first time, you will be ahead of your fellow choristers.
Rely a little on your subconscious. Our choristers are often provided learning tracks to help with the remembering process. As well as using these tracks to actively learn your part, you can also play them when doing something else, like chores or when travelling or exercising.
Tips for the younger ones! Our choristers are challenged with remembering lyrics and music, no matter their age. For our younger choristers, particularly those in Piccolos and Kids, tips for learning words include singing or saying words in different voices: perhaps in a fairy voice, a Grandpa voice, duck voice or an under the sea voice. Use your imagination! Other ways to remember include putting funny actions to the words, or drawing pictures about the words in the song.
Listen. This is the best tip of all! Listen carefully in rehearsals to lock in the music early.
What are your tips for memorising music? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you feel your memorisation skills need a little work, you can find lots of tips and games online to help, such as the above