Learn a Song by Heart

You’re just about to let loose in one of your favorite songs. But oops, the lyrics are gone! This blog gives you some tips to learn a song by heart.

The voice is a talking instrument

One of the great things about singing is that mind, body and soul are in full swing at the same time.
When you sing, you can express deep emotions and even transform them.

The words of a song give body and meaning to music. An added dimension.
You are carrying this great instrument that is the only instrument that has words! So you might as well give yourself the present of learning a few songs by heart – to be enjoyed by you and those around you for a long time to come.
There’s great freedom in that.

Tip #1: Whisper the lyrics

You can really connect with the lyrics when you let go of the melody for a while. Try reading the lyrics out loud and then whisper them. Notice the difference. Whisper quietly and listen to the words. You’re creating a deeper connection to the lyrics, and connecting the meaning of the words to yourself. This is a great foundation for expressing your song.

Tip #2: Break up the song

If learning a song by heart seems a bit overwhelming, commit yourself to learning just a little bit every day. E.g. Day one could be a good day to learn the chorus. Day two repeat the chorus and add verse 1. Day three repeat verse 1 and the chorus, add verse 2, and so on.

Pay extra attention to the small, less significant words (e.g. that/this, of/at etc.) – they need a bit more repetition.
Before you know it, you’ll know the song by heart!

Tip #3: Express the lyrics

Say the lyrics out loud as if you are talking to a friend.
Now, play with the words. If you’re an introvert, this is the part where you can challenge yourself.
Add a bit of drama, exaggerate the expression of the song (what exaggerate means to you will of course depend on your temper). E. g. if the lyrics have a sad theme, sense the sadness in your voice, if it’s a romantic song, create a romantic mood. Be melancholic, joyous, seductive… Whatever you feel the song calls for.
See if you can get a bit out of your comfort zone. If it feels a bit awkward or out of character, you’re doing well!

Tip #4: Write down the lyrics

If you are a visual person, you might learn the lyrics best by writing them down. This will also make the lyrics more personal for you as you see the words in your own writing. You will eventually express the song in a way that only you can do it.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Negative Space

Feel free to leave questions / comments.


Be Happy with Your Voice

Be bold and brave like the robin; sing!

It’s time to remove a few road blocks for those of you who think you can’t sing. The fact is that everyone can sing, and it can bring so much joy into your life.

You can sing

Yes, you can. Just like drawing or dancing, singing is something you can learn. I would even argue that we can all sing to start with, but then often our culture or surroundings tell us otherwise. Or we choose not to cultivate that side of ourselves. But that’s a pity, because singing can be an endless well to joy, self-growth, empowerment and transformation.

Children sing a lot and they love their voices. Growing up, some become too conscious about singing or in the very worst case someone tells them that they can’t sing. Children mirror their surroundings, so if they grow up seeing that singing is embarrasing, that’s what they’ll pick up.
Or they could start changing their voices to imitate popular singers (which often has nothing to do with actual singing anyway).

So if you have some challenges with singing, a first step for you could be to take a moment to reflect on your relationship to singing, what you or others or society have told you about your voice and move on from that.

We’re on a path to more empowerment, more joy to share with others. And that’s what singing is.

What if you’re out of tune?

From time to time, I meet people who say I love to sing, but I know I don’t sing in tune. My experience is mostly that the people who are out of tune don’t realise it! If you are a reflective person and good at listening, you are probably doing pretty well.

Maybe there are some tones that you find difficult, it could be higher notes that you don’t use so often. They can be pitch perfect if you dedicate a bit of time to train your ears and your voice response.

Exercise: Tune Your Voice
A way to start getting your voice in tune is to quietly hum a simple song. It could be a children’s song, or some other music that you are very familiar with.
Sing low (close to your speaking voice), keep your voice very light. Then hum the song again a bit higher.
Now you can play with humming the song, each time starting at different pitches, e. g. low, then high, then somewhere in between… Don’t control your voice. Even if some of the tones are missing, your vocal chords are still working. Listen to the song inside of your head and let your body do the work.
If you hear that some tones sound out of tune, dive into those pitches for a while until they are in tune with your song.

NB! Singing should always be comfortable; if it’s easy, it’s healthy.

Be more creative

Singing is so versatile, there is no limit to your development and how and where you can use your voice.

On the days that are governed by a slight restlesness, I find that singing is a great way to reconnect with my soul. Your voice is always with you. And you can sing while you do the dishes, or the classics: In the shower and the car. I used to sing in harmony with our old vacume cleaner…

If you are really looking to recharge your batteries, sing in nature. There is great healing in singing by a waterfall or the sea shore.

The most beautiful thing about my work as a singing teacher is to help people discover their natural voices. When you hear the core of a voice, it’s like listening to someone’s soul. That’s the ultimate joy.

When you sing with your natural voice, you sing like you. And your voice is there, ready to be of service.

Happy Singing!

© Nína O’Farrell 2020
Photo by Radovan Zierik

Feel free to leave questions / comments.