How To Memorize Worship Songs
Memorizing songs can be a daunting task. It’s scary to think you may forget a lyric or chord during a service. The truth is many people find it isn’t as difficult as they thought. After looking at WHY we should memorize worship songs it’s time to learn HOW to memorize them.
LYRICS: Memorization is all about finding patterns. First, try to identify any lines that repeat. Does each verse end with the same line? Are the pre-choruses the same? Knowing these patterns will decrease the amount you have to memorize.
I like to handwrite the lyrics as well. This seems to help me internalize them.
Nothing beats repetition. Sing the lyrics along with the recording several times. Then sing them on your own until they’re locked in.
MELODY: Lyrics aren’t the only thing to memorize. Get intimately familiar with the melody as well.
MAP: Finally, memorize the map of the song. How may times is each section sung?” Is there a Pre-chorus or a Chorus after Verse 2?
CHORD PROGRESSION: Regardless of the instrument you play everyone is working from the same chord progression. There are three great ways to memorize chord progressions.
Repetition: Play the progression over and over until it’s engrained and you can’t mess up.
Key: In most modern worship songs there are only 4-6 different chords used. They may come in all kinds of combinations but if you memorize what chords are in each key that will give you a big head start and a point of reference when memorizing songs.
Tonal Quality: Ear training is huge for memorizing songs. If you can tell what quality or feeling that each chord in a key has you can anticipate it before it arrives. Even if you forget a chord a trained ear can make the correct decision anyway.
TONE: If you’re playing an instrument that uses different tones (electric guitar, keyboard) you’ll also want to memorize what tone is used for each section of each song. Is the Intro a piano or pad sound? Do I turn the reverb on in the Pre-chorus or Chorus?
MAP: Be sure to memorize the map of the song as well. I’ve been caught knowing all the parts but unsure of when they come in the song.
BEATS: Drummers, you don’t have lyrics or chords to memorize but you’re not off the hook. Most of the songs you'll play are written with very specific beats that are crucial to the overall feel, flow, and energy of the song. Oftentimes they change with every section of the song. If you want to play confidently you've got some memorizing to do.
Begin by looking for patterns in the song. How many different beats are used? When does the same beat recur?
Nothing beats repetition. The next step is playing through the song until you’re confident with all of the sections.
DYNAMICS: Along with the beats you’ll want to memorize the dynamics of the song. What Bridge does it begin to build on? Is Verse 2 soft or full? The drummer often drives the dynamics so it’s important to know them well.
MAP: Finally, memorize the map of the song. Know how many times each section repeats and when it moves on.
1) Look At Your Music Less
You might be surprised just how much you’re staring at your music stand when you really don’t need to. Make a conscious effort to look away when you can.
2) Memorize 1 Song A Week
It’s hard to memorize 6 songs all at once. Start with 1 song a week and in a few months you’ll have most of your song rotation memorized.
3) Use A Cheat Sheet
You’ll find that with most songs there is only 1 section, progression or lyric you have trouble remembering. Try to get all of your notes for the whole service onto a single piece of paper.
How have you found success with memorizing songs? Let us know in the comments below!