(This exercise is excerpted from “The Singer’s Guide to Powerful Performances” by Jeannie Deva.)
Here is an exercise to help you learn lyrics faster and express them with more feeling when singing.
1) This exercise is done without musical accompaniment and using printed lyrics for a song you are learning.
2) Choose an object in the room at least several feet away to use as your pretend audience member. Stuffed animals or dolls make it easier to imagine a person is there but any object will do.
3) Read one line of the lyrics silently to yourself. Then speak that line aloud directly to the object. Mean what you say as you speak the words. Imagine that the object is a person who is receiving and understanding each word of the lyrics. Don’t let yourself sound as though you’re reading the lyrics to the object. Read them to yourself and then speak the lyrics aloud as though you are sharing your own thoughts with a live person who is sitting or standing where the object is.
4) As you speak the words of the song, don’t assume airs of any kind or try to play a character. Be yourself. If you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious or don’t succeed in getting the lyrics across to the object, repeat the same line. Continue to repeat the line until you can comfortably and naturally get it across to the object.
5) Do this for each line of the lyrics until you can speak the entire song comfortably, as though you were actually speaking them TO someone.
This exercise is good for learning lyrics rather than trying to memorize them silently. Speaking the lyrics out loud with meaning — directed out to the object — speeds up the learning process. Using the ability you gain from this exercise when you’re on stage can also help reduce or overcome stage fright.