Here’s a good way to learn and memorize a song.–in a few days or a few hours if you have to.
Start as early as you can–there’s no substitute for sleep time when it comes to memorization.
This feels like a slow process when we want to dive in and learn all the elements at once, but it ends up being faster and creating a sturdier structure in your memory.
1. Start with text. Spend more time with the text than you want to. Read it. Say it. Pay attention to the punctuation. Give your imagination time to paste images to the words.
“If” — do I really? – “I loved” — what does that mean to me? — “you” — who am I singing to? What does he/she look like, smell like, their expression, their emotional state, – “time and again” — what times, when, where, how? What locations? When would I try? — “I would try to say” — What does my voice sound like, feel like? Would I be able to say anything? – “All I’d want you to know.” –All??? What do I want you to know? What’s the deepest most intimate thing I’d love to share with you, and knowing you knew that, accepted that, meant that you truly loved and knew and embraced me?
That’s just the first line.
2. Now you know what your text is about and something of what it means to you. Now learn your notes and rhythms.
Take your time with the melody, note values, and rests without the text. Hum, sing on different syllables, mark it vocally. Table any choices about how you’re going to sing it yet. Let the melody seep in. Look for dynamic markings, expression marks,
3. Speak the text in rhythm while deepening the images and questions you asked about the text before. Let your subconscious bring up all kinds of associations to the lyric, doesn’t have to make sense.
4. Put the text and melody/rhythms together. Sing gently, letting your imagination and instinct play with possible choices you’ll make vocally.
Now you’re at a new beginning point to grow with the song.
There’ll be times it’ll be helpful to go back and repeat/mix up some of these steps, like just being with the text again.
We form opinions and habits we’re not aware of. This is a good way to loosen up our perspective and see new possibilities.