Best Way to Learn a Song

Perhaps you just want to know the fastest way to learn a song but learning your own music with ease and accuracy takes time and attention. This step by step guide will not only provide tips on how to memorize a song, but more importantly will provide some guidelines on the best way to learn a song so you feel confident with your prepared piece going into that performance or audition.

Make two copies of music

Make one for your repertoire binder and one for your audition binder. The copy for the repertoire will be for all your personal markings and goals. You want the audition copy to be clean and easy for the audition pianist to read with only markings of cuts and any relevant information to communicate. See how to organize your music for more tips on keeping your music in order. 

Research the show

  1. Read a synopsis of the show which you can find on Wikipedia or better yet get your hand on the libretto and read the entire play!
  2. Listen to the song.
  3. Watch the show if accessible and listen to the entire show recording. (Spotify is a great FREE resource.)
  4. Watch at least 2-3 clips of other performances. Analysis what you like and don’t like about certain performances.
  5. Watch clips of all songs performed by that character and start developing character themes and observations.

How to Learn a Melody

Do your character analysis

Do a deep dive of the character from physical characteristics to family background. Understand the characters’ objectives, obstacles and tactics they use to get what they want. See the character analysis worksheet for a more detailed outline.

Perform as a monologue

  1. Write out the lyrics like a poem. This will help you to understand the story away from the melody. It will allow you to dive deep into the meaning. Look up any words that you might not know or need further understanding.
  2. Memorize. (YES, before you even make a peep.)
  3. Perform as a monologue as you would on stage or for an audition.

Learn the melody

  1. Speak the words in rhythm on a ta or ti.
  2. Sing the melody on a neutral vowel like [a] or [u] with lots of glides and slides. This will help you establish the line of the song and really connect with your breath.
  3. Optional but STRONGLY recommended. If you really want to level up, sing the melody on just the vowels of the song. Yes, this can be challenging and sound like you just had dental work done, but this will really help your body memorize the core line.
  4. Lastly, put melody and text together.

Put it all together

  1. Memorize melody and words as a unit.
  2. Perform as a showcase song or an audition piece.
  3. Practice in front of other people who you trust and ask for feedback both grows and glows!
  4. Video yourself for self analysis. You are your best teacher, but as your teacher does it is important to be constructive AND kind.