How To Memorize a Song in 7 Simple Steps

In this article, I'll show you the way to memorize a song that will help you play with more confidence, expression, creativity, accuracy and enjoyment than ever before.

Seven Simple Steps to Memorizing Songs Successfully

  1. Learn to play the melody of a song with your right hand. Be sure to play with correct timing using with effective fingering-use the same fingering every time you play the song

  2. Write the chords of a song on an index card in 4 measure sections

  3. Play the accompaniment of the song while reading the chords on the index card

  4. Practice playing the song with both hands following the chords on the index card

  5. Keep your index card with you and memorize the chords away from the piano

  6. Learn 4 measures sections of the song at a time while thinking of the chord names as you play

  7. Play the entire song from memory at least 2X every day

Watch the Video Below To See Diana Explain How to Memorize a Song Using the 7 Steps

In one of my other blog articles, I've mentioned the importance of focusing on the left hand accompaniment as the secret to playing with good timing and rhythm. When it comes to memorizing songs, the left hand accompaniment part i.e. the chords, is actually the key to memorizing a song successfully. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean.


Why Is It So Important to Memorize the Chords of a Song?

Years ago, a guitarist friend of mine was working with a jazz organist, named Walter, who played exclusively by ear. They would rehearse the songs for an upcoming performance a few days ahead of time. On the night of the gig, when they were on the band stand, my friend said "Walter, let's play I Could Write a Book". The Walter would silently sing through the song at a fast speed in his head and reply, "no". My friend was in shock. What he eventually learned and shared with me was that the organist could "hear" every chord of the song in his head. IF there was even one measure of the song when Walter couldn't "hear" the correct chord, he would not play the song because it meant he would have to "fudge it" in that spot.

With this new knowledge in mind, I discussed this situation with my composition teacher, William Thomas McKinley, who was also an incredible jazz pianist. To my amazement, Tom told me that he felt the same way that Walter the organist did. The only difference was that Tom was an extremely knowledgeable and educated musician who knew music inside and out. Yet, if Tom was on a gig leading his jazz trio with bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Billy Hart, he would NOT play a song if there was a spot where he could clearly "see" the chord(s) of the song.


How to Apply the Seven Steps to Memorizing a Song Successfully