Remembering all the lyrics to a tune, in the right order and attached to all the right notes can be a challenge! Over the years I've developed a technique that works for me and now, depending on the complexity of the song, it can take as little as half an hour to get a song into my noggin. Although I do believe it takes two performances of the song to get it to really stick. You have to break its cherry before a real live audience and then bed it down, so to speak.
Anyway, I recently read something to suggest some scientific justification for my technique so thought it was worth sharing. I am reading 'The Talent Code' by Daniel Coyle.
Through his study of 'talent hot spots' around the word, he has come up with some of the secrets to effective learning. He comes to the conclusion that talent is more grown that born.
We all know that repetition is important when we're learning something but that's not the sneaky little key. It's all about making mistakes. Hey I'm good at that! Your mind needs to be tested on what you're learning, making errors and fixing them. If you just sing along to the voice on the original track you're not ever truly being tested and it will take quite a long time to get the song words to stay put.
Here is my technique:
1. Get a recording of the song you need to learn
2. Get a backing track of the same song, in the same arrangement (itunes or www.karaoke-version.com are good)
3. Put the two tracks on a CD, playlist etc
4. Press play and repeat as necessary. You'll learn the song by listening to the original singer and the backing track will be testing you each time.
5. When you're comfortable, sing it for your flatmate (without looking at the lyrics of course)
6. Then sing it for the postman.
If you can do numbers 5 and 6 without any mistakes, then it's in baby!
The Talent Code also talks about a sweet spot. What you are striving for has to be only just out of reach - not miles away. It might be too big a task to do the whole song at one time. Break it into manageable bites - verses, choruses, 'la la' bits etc.
Like that smart ancient guy once said 'The longest journey starts with a single step'.