How to Memorize a Song

Three Parts:Familiarizing Yourself with the SongBreaking Down the SongMemorizing the Song

Memorizing the lyrics of a song can seem like a daunting task. But whether you're learning it for fun or for a performance, all it takes is practice. If you're not sure where to begin, turn on the song and start listening carefully.

Part 1
Familiarizing Yourself with the Song

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    Listen to the song. It’s difficult to memorize a song if you don’t know what it’s supposed to sound like. These days, you can download most songs off the internet from companies such as iTunes or Amazon. Concentrate completely on the song as you listen to it, so you can absorb the lyrics and melody.[1]
    • It’s best to listen to the song with headphones because you’re be better able to block out distractions and listen more closely.
    • If you’re learning an original song that a friend, classmate, or acquaintance has written, ask them for a recording of it. If they don’t have one ready, have them perform the song for you and use your phone to record it.
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    Read the lyrics. Even when you’re listening to the song, you may not always get the words right, so it’s important to verify that you know what the correct lyrics are. Buying the sheet music for the song or asking the composer for the official lyrics if it’s an original piece is the best way to go. However, you can also find the lyrics for virtually all songs online, but be careful with sites that provide user-generated content -- the lyrics may not be accurate.[2]
    • After you’ve studied the lyrics for a while, it’s a good idea to read along with them as you listen to the song. That can help you really start to understand how the song’s melody works in conjunction with the lyrics.
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    Map the song. Once you’ve listened to the song and studied the lyrics, it helps to break down the song into its components, such as the intro, verses, chorus, and bridges. Listen to the song again, and on your copy of the lyrics, label each section so you understand how the entire arrangement flows.[3]
    • Once you’ve mapped out the song, listen to it again with your notes. That way, you can make a connection in your mind with the lyrics that correspond to each part of the song.

Part 2
Breaking Down the Song

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    Learn the melody. Before you start worrying about memorizing the lyrics, it’s important to get the tune of the song down. In many cases, the melody can actually help remind you of what the next words in the song are. If you can read music, you can study the sheet music to identify the notes that comprise the melody. Otherwise, listen to your recording of the song to hear how the vocalist sings the melody.[4]
    • When you’re first singing the melody, you don’t have to use the correct lyrics. It’s often easier to just use “La” for each word until you’ve got the melody down.
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    Analyze the lyrics. In many cases, it’s easier to memorize lyrics when you understand the song’s meaning. That’s because you can start to visualize certain parts of the song, and the images that you come up with may help you remember key phrases or lines. If you’re having trouble understanding the song, websites such as and offer analysis of many popular songs.[5]
    • You may want to search online for articles where the writer or composer of the song discussed its meaning. The song’s creator is the best source for that information.
    • If there are words that you don’t understand in the lyrics, look them up in the dictionary. It’s often difficult to remember words if you don’t know what they mean.
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    Study the song in sections. When you’re ready to sit down and learn the song, it helps to work on it in separate parts, so you’re not overwhelmed by the process. For example, you might start with the first verse and move onto the next verse once you’ve gotten that part down. The chorus is often a good place to start, though, because it typically recurs throughout the song, so you’ll have memorized a larger percentage of the song if you learn it first.[6]
    • It’s often a good idea to start with the most difficult section of the song. Whether it’s second verse that has a lot of wordy lines or the chorus which moves very quickly, memorizing the toughest part will usually require the most work, so it’s best to get it over with first.

Part 3
Memorizing the Song

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    Sing the song with memory aids. When you first start trying to sing the song from memory, you may have trouble coming up with all of the words. Try to work your way through using aids that can help jog your memory, such as flashcards. They’ll allow you to recall the words on your own, but provide support if you get stuck.[7]
    • Create flashcards that feature the first few words of each section of the song, such as the first verse, the chorus, and the bridge. Run through the cards, coming up with the rest of the lyrics for each section until you can sing the entire song without them.
    • If you want to challenge yourself to come up with all of the words on your own, try drawing pictures on the flashcards that depict specific sections of the song to help you remember the lyrics.
    • Acting out the song as you sing it can be another helpful memory aid. Make an effort to link specific lyrics to certain hand gestures or even dance moves that will help remember the words without having to look at your lyric sheet.[8]
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    Sing along with the recording. When you feel like you have a good grasp of the lyrics, it’s time to start practice singing along with your recording. You’ll have the original vocalist to help you along in case you have trouble remembering any parts, so you can build confidence with the song.[9]
    • You should begin practicing along with the recording a day or so after you first start learning the song. You can have the lyrics or flashcards in front of you for quick glances, but try not to rely on them to remember the words.
    • A day after you first practice singing along with the recording, do it again, but this time, don't have the lyrics on hand. Instead, use your memory to come up with the words.[10]
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    Sing without the recording. Once you can sing along with the recording without making any mistakes, it’s time to take away that safety net, and practice singing by yourself. In the beginning, it helps to have musical accompaniment to provide cues to help you along. However, you should eventually get to the point where you can sing the entire song without the recording or a back-up instruments because not every band that you work with may perform the song in the exact same way.[11]
    • Start singing without the recording approximately a day after you successfully sing along to the recording without the lyrics. The first time you do it, you don't necessarily have to be perfect -- you can just sing through the lyrics without any music, taking time to ensure that they're correct.
    • Practice singing the song on your own every 24 to 36 hours to help improve your chances of memorizing it. You'll want to do this for several days until you're successfully singing the song all the way through. Once you've memorized the entire song, you can practice just once or twice a week.[12]
    • If you make a mistake when you’re singing, stop the recording and figure out your mistake. Start the song over, continuing to work on any weak sections until you can get through the entire piece without issue.
    • If you don’t have a band or musician to play the song with you, look for a Karaoke version of the song that you can practice with.
    • When you’re singing without any musical backup, it’s a good idea to have a metronome on hand to help you keep the beat. That way, you’ll know that you’re not rushing or slowing down the song too much.


  • If you're having trouble remembering what verse goes where, try making a cheat sheet with a quick summary of each verse in order. Look for a pattern or a storyline within the song that will help you remember.
  • You may want to listen to different versions of the song, performed by different vocalists, to see what facets of the song stay the same in each interpretation.
  • If you are going to perform live, look on YouTube or other video sites to see if there are any live performances of the song that you’re learning. They may be helpful when you’re trying to memorize the piece.
  • Once you’re more familiar with the song, you may actually want to record yourself singing it, so you can listen to your version over and over to help with the memorization.

Article Info

Categories: Songs and Song Writing