I’m playing several shows over the next few weeks that will involve memorizing a large number of songs, and I’ve really been challenged to hone my memorization skills. Here are 5 things I’m doing to keep from going blank onstage:
1. Take notes, then leave them at home
I write out notes, key signatures, and other details, even if I never use them live. The act of writing helps me remember better, even when the notes aren’t in front of me.
2. Don’t cram
It’s almost impossible to memorize music 24 hours before you get onstage. Practice a bunch when you first get the setlist, so you don’t have to jam in long practice sessions at the last second that won't be that helpful.
3. Listen to the music you’re working on
Create a Spotify playlist and listen to the music as many times as you can. Sing along with it (if you suck at singing, do it while driving) so that you can memorize the melody and keep it as the central focus.
4. Practice more frequently, for shorter periods of time
Break your practicing into 2-3 times a day instead of just once. This will help you stay fresh, and cement what you’re hearing into your memory.
5. Write notes on your setlist
Anything you’re having a hard time remembering should go on your setlist, including key signatures and tempo markings.