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The Case of the Forgotten Lyrics

Probe with Rachel BennettLyle was a young, gifted singer-actor who would often delete entire lines of verses.

Lyle could remember a dance routine or a piece of text without any problems.

However when asked to learn song material, he struggled to remember the lyrics and could even forget what he had just managed to remember.

I assumed that there was nothing wrong with his retention skills since other aspects of performance were successful.

That Void Where Lyrics Go!

I had to start from the premise that Lyle was experiencing something akin to stage-fright.

After a brief chat it became clear that he had never really seen himself as a singer and that as a youth, he had preferred drama and dance as forms of expression.

Yet his obvious vocal talent had now earned him recognition with teachers and musical directors on his degree program and he was given increasingly demanding singing material to learn.

Safety Measures

Lyle needed to feel safe!

I focused on the narrative of the simplest songs and we explored all possible feelings, thoughts and emotions behind the lyrics, viewing them as we would in any dramatic reading.

Then we proceeded to re-build the song arrangement, as if from scratch, with all of these considerations in place.

This may sound like a lot of work – but it was playing to his strengths as an actor.

He simply hadn’t appreciated that he could view his songs as dramatic texts.

What Works:

Once he approached his songs exactly as he would a monologue, the lyrics began to stick!

It is the singer’s job is to take us on a journey through the sense of the lyric, whether it’s a simple love song or a folk tale.

Once this discipline is applied, the emphasis for the performer alters and the work becomes about the relaying of the tale rather than the remembering of the lyric.


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