The First Step
There are many ways to go about memorising your music ready to bring into your vocal harmony group. Until notes and words are learnt it’s hard to start working on the finer details, but for many this can be quite challenging. Everyone learns in a unique way, some fast, some slower, some people learn just by listening, others needing to learn from printed sheet music, some need physical feedback and many combinations in between.
Several different techniques can be used to learn. I have tried all of them and some suit me better than others, whereas other friends get on with things that do not work so well for me.
Learning By Ear and Repetition to Learning Tracks.
This is the most common method for singers who do not read music, but most people need to do this to reinforce learning. You listen to your track repeatedly and sing along until you have learnt your notes and words. I drive round with a teach track playing on my CD player in the car, my iPad docked in the stereo in the kitchen when I am cooking and cleaning then out and about with my MP3 player and a speaker/ headphones. As someone who dislikes wearing headphones because I can’t hear myself singing along or anyone else around me, I am not a huge user of them. However there is a benefit to left/right balance with earphones and not being a nuisance to the people around you.
The best order of learning that I have discovered for me.
Listen to the full mix to get a feel of the music a couple of times.
Part Predominant. Now play the track and listen to it a number of times to let it sink in. Then repeatedly sing along until you know the words and notes securely. It might take you 20 times, it might take you 100 times, 200 times or more, although it will probably be quicker if you use alternative techniques in conjunction with this. Everyone learns at a different pace, so don’t worry. On iTunes, I can set a song onto continuous repeat so that is a great tool. Only once you are feel fully secure on your part, then move on a stage. Come back to this stage repeatedly to check your notes etc.
Left/ Right Part Tracks. Your part on one speaker and the other parts in the other speaker but more balanced than a predominant track. This is set to the side that you normally drive on, fabulous for headphone users and speaker balance can be adjusted if you wish on your device. On Apple products this can be done easily by going into settings, accessibility and then moving the left/right speaker balance slider to taste. Sing along with this until you are happy you can maintain your part. Then double check with the predominant track that no errors have slipped in. Be secure and then move on.
Full Mix. You are almost there. Sing to the full mix and learn to hold your part until you are happy and accurate. However, again I urge you to keep returning to the predominant tracks especially if you find you are not quite ready and make mistakes. It can be a fab idea to record yourself as it is easier to pick out where you need more practice.
Part Missing. The final stage. This is the point where you learn to hold your own place in the harmony. Sing what you have learnt to try and hold your own part. If you find this hard, keep practicing, go back a stage or two, check out with predominant tracks for any slipups. Record yourself to check for any problem you may have missed. However, keep at it until you are more than secure, then do it some more!
Then you can pat yourself on the back for getting through the first stage of the learning process. Well done. Please remember that songs do get rusty, errors creep in and make sure you keep practicing.