Prompt! I Can’t Remember My Lines

Revising your parts for a show can be daunting. Be it music, choreography, or script lines, you are capable of more than you give yourself credit for.

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A bird hesitates before soaring into an orange-coloured sky

When I think about how much is stored in my memory, I marvel at the power of the human brain to store so much data and interpret meaning from that.

Just pause for a moment and think about how much you recall from today’s events.

Think of something from your childhood that you recall. How amazing is it that you can remember things from so long ago!

It still freaks me out when I think of how much music I know in my head…a lot!

I once read, “you remember 10% of what you read, 20% of what you hear, 80% of what you practise, and 95% of what you teach someone else.” ~ William Glasser, Education Psychologist.

Here are some tips to improve your memory recall

Optimism goes a long way to your body retaining data because memories are often associated with our feelings.

Positive feelings in our life tend to remain with us for longer. You don’t get much out of a rehearsal when you are in a sour mood.

Mindfulness eliminates distraction. Try to focus solely on the task of learning your part.

Complete awareness of your context during practise will help your memory recall. Notice where and how you are standing, and breathing. Pay attention to how your body feels when you sing, block a scene, and dance a routine.

Your brain looks for patterns therefore the more context and associations we can give our brains, the better our recall will be.

Chunking information is a useful tool. The less data you have to remember, the better the brain is at recalling it. For example if my mobile number is 0 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, there are ten individual pieces of data in that phone number.

If I chunk it into three groups: 0412 345 678 then there are only three pieces of data and you can easily remember my phone number. However, it isn’t actually my number so don’t bother calling it.

Spaced repetition is a great technique for memorisation. Repeat the data you are learning, take a break from it, then repeat it again in small sections.

Believe that you can achieve that seemingly insurmountable task. Self-efficacy is proven to improve performance.

Furthermore, the performing arts is a sport for the courageous and passionate, which means that if you possess either or both of these virtuous traits, then you are attracted to the art of performance.

Like any artistic skill, it requires rigour and discipline to master it.

Be brave in rehearsal and make loud mistakes. Mistakes are like a highlighter. They draw attention to the parts of the music, lyric, or script that you have not yet refined.

This is a good thing because you can work out the sections to target in your personal rehearsal time.

Don’t be sorry, just work on the problem areas. It won’t go away unless you tackle that concern head on.

When I was younger, one of my directors told me that I apologised too much. Realising I had a perfectionist streak, he advised me to stop apologising and just work on the areas I felt I needed to say sorry for. This works for me. Find what works for you.

Take the initiative to revise your lines, choreography, blocking, lyrics, and harmonies in your own time.

Play around with your instrument, your voice, your movement. Explore different ways of characterising and delivering your lines, and have fun in practise!

The time you invest in that application will build up your confidence in the context of the group performance. There is nothing more motivating than progress and learning new skills.

Better yet, you get to share that with others. You are a note within a chord, and that harmony depends on you.

You belong to something important so rise to the occasion and assume your rightful place. This can only be achieved through hard work because talent only gets you so far.

Final tip: You will only remember 10% of this article unless you apply the advice herein, or share it with someone else. Happy practising!

2 Comments

  1. I took two acting classes and voice and diction while being a theatre minor. I had to memorize scenes, monologues and even how an accent. Memorizing that was difficult to do: the way that helped me with lines was write them out on notecards and say the lines going from class to class. Because it took me a while to even memorize one scene or one monologue, I am even more impressed with the actor’s ability to memorize all their lines

    1. Notecards are a great strategy. Your example is one of spaced repetition. Thanks for sharing your tips on what worked for you. Depending on your learning style, your strategy will be different. A wise person once said to me “you do you”.

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