For Song Mastery
following is a strategy Ive developed that has helped
me tremendously in performing new songs, especially if the song
is unusually difficult, or has a lot of lyrics.
1: Get the original song.
to perform the song as close as possible to the original artist,
you must listen to the original song over and over again. On
average, I listen to the original version about sixty times
(I have a lot of time on my hands). For the more difficult songs,
I have been known to listen to the song over two hundred times
to get it right! So, the first step is to get a hold of the
song performed by the original artist. If you dont have
it already, try calling your local music stores, see if you
can order it through the internet, or maybe borrow it from a
2: Create a lyric sheet.
you already know how the song goes, creating a lyric sheet will
help you tremendously. Its a lot easier to learn a song
if you can see the words "visually" while simultaneously
listening to the original artist. Some CDs and tapes come with
the lyrics as well, which is always useful, but if you dont
have them, try searching the internet. Otherwise you might have
to listen to the song and write down the words by hand. If you
have a Karaoke machine at home, you can buy the actual Karaoke
version of the song, and press "pause" at each screen
of lyrics to write them down. This is very useful because you
wont be surprised by any "oohs" or "ahs"
that might pop up unexpectedly when youre on stage, and
also because many times the Karaoke CD has the wrong on-screen
lyrics. Most of the time I type the lyrics into a word processor
so I can easily go back and edit the lyrics as needed.
3. Record notations onto the lyric sheet.
to the original song, follow along with your lyric sheet. Make
sure the lyrics are correct, and write down any "ahhs,"
"mmms," or whatever you hear during the song
that might not be included in the lyrics. Once you have the
words down, you can begin working on creating a notation system
to help you remember how the song goes. For example, when a
syllable of a word goes up in pitch, I draw a line above the
If it goes
down in pitch, I draw a line underneath it. For words that are
sung with no pause in between, I usually put a hyphen in between
them. If there is a longer pause between two words, I put a
comma in between them. Sometimes I change the spelling of a
word on my lyric sheet if it helps me remember how the original
artist sings it. For example, the artist may pronounce "baby"
more like "bay-bay".
that are sung with no pause in between, I usually put a hyphen
in between them. If there is a longer pause between two words,
I put a comma in between them. Sometimes I change the spelling
of a word on my lyric sheet if it helps me remember how the
original artist sings it. For example, the artist may pronounce
"baby" more like "bay-bay".
4: Practice, practice, practice!
point, I listen to the song while simultaneously reading the
lyric sheet over and over until I can sing the song without
looking at the lyrics. This forces me to have the song memorized.
Memorizing the song will helps in many ways. It builds self-confidence
while youre on stage, you are more relaxed, and you can
walk away from the screen or look at the audience if you like,
which is always impressive. Once you can sing the song without
hesitation, youre ready for the spotlight! Do you want
to go a step beyond? So far, youve been practicing while
listening to the original artist. For the ultimate test, see
if you can sing the song without the original artists
without looking at the lyrics. If you have the
Karaoke CD version of the song, you can listen to it in a regular
CD player and sing along. If you dont have the Karaoke
version of the song, consider asking your local Karaoke KJ to
record the song (without a singer, of course) onto a tape for
you to practice with.
luck and happy singing!
with the kind permission of
Richard Baisner a.k.a.