4 Steps for Memorizing Lines and Developing Character Simultaneously

If you thought that memorizing your lyrics and spoken text was steering you away from

your instincts and impulses, and by extension your heart and soul, would you be willing to explore another path? Assuming you say yes, let me offer my perspective on why memorization alone can be and often is a roadblock we must navigate after the fact.

The left brain is where memorization occurs. The left brain is in charge of sequential, analytical and logical thought. It’s practical, detail-oriented, strategic. It’s the home of speech and language.

The right brain is more spatial and visual; it is nonlinear, intuitive and holistic. It sees the big picture. It plays a role in language, particularly in interpreting context—the circumstances in which an event occurs. It is emotional, imaginative, intuitive, and risk-taking.

The left and right brain “talk” to each other every minute of every day.

How do we wed the “conversation” between memorizing the text (left brain) and living the text (right brain)?

If by definition we do not emote, intuit, interpret, or trust risk-taking impulses with our left brain, we will not inhabit our text through memorization. We can learn it but we cannot live it.

If we could adopt a new way of memorizing that would immediately begin to incorporate our emotions, instincts, and impulses, wouldn’t we be on our way toward the desired result? In other words, our brain hemispheres would be communicating in concert to help us more readily and seamlessly inhabit the text and live the character on the page.

Here is a simple, effective technique I designed to combine the benefits of both our left and right brain during memorization.

Step 1: Sit in a comfortable place in your home with pad of paper and pencil (not pen).

Step 2: Grab your song lyrics, your monologue text, or your audition sides to refer to.

Step 3: Write the first sentence on your pad of paper and speak the words out loud as you write; not after you write, but as you write the sentence. This way, you are writing, speaking, and in essence, drawing the words into your muscles, both mentally and physically. You are beginning to viscerally digest your words.

Note: Your goal is to write and speak as much of the text as you remember each time, adding more text as you go until you have learned the entire piece.

Step 4: Notice how different the sentence begins to feel to you when you write and say it as opposed to silently memorizing it repetitively. Example: “If I loved you, time and again I would try to say all I’d want you to know.” Before I can move to the second phrase, I am stopped by the first phrase to consider exactly what I mean. Do I love this person in this moment, or am I musing about love and specifically love with this person?

Do you see how this time taken with your words allows you to begin to experience them viscerally and find your interpretation? Then, the next phrase, “time and again I would try to say all I’d want you to know,” brings even more opportunity to explore the words and feel the specific emotions that are triggered. And, you begin to decide who you are and what you can and cannot do as this person.

For example: “Time and again I would try to say.” Oh, you think, I must not be very sure of myself or why would I say “try”? Why wouldn't I say “time and again I would always say.” You see? You are building your character while you memorize. By writing and speaking your text aloud, you will have begun to experience yourself as this person, and you’ll be much closer to inhabiting your character.

With this method, it will be unlikely that you’ll ever forget your lines because you will have imprinted them on your right brain while simultaneously memorizing them with your left. To your success!

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