Many performing songwriters are afraid of forgetting their lyrics when playing in front of an audience. While you probably thought this was an incurable problem, there are things you can do to get those lyrics flowing.
“What’s the next line?”
Often we start to think “okay, what’s the next line?” when we’re on stage. When we practice at home we usually don’t think so, but on stage we are afraid of getting lost and at risk of social exclusion, so that fear forces us to ask ourselves these questions. As if it would help us perform perfectly.
The opposite is true. Usually when we ask ourselves questions like “what now?” it makes us more nervous, 1. Because it reminds us that it is possible to forget the text (we didn’t even think of practicing it at home), and 2. That’s not what we usually do when we practice ourselves. This is a break from our routine. And the last place we want to take a break from our routine is when we’re on stage.
Focus on the right emotion
So how do we alleviate this situation? The key is to focus your mind on the emotion of the song and what the main character is experiencing. Your mind can only focus on one thing at a time. If you focus on your emotions and what your main character is going through in his lyrics, there’s no room for the question “what’s my next line?” because you are busy with other (important) things. Join the story to be told. See yourself as an actor.
Not only that, but when you start thinking about your character’s emotions, the Lyrics are there because you’re thinking about the whole story, not just a few lines. You think about the whole, not just a few small parts. You experience the story as it takes place, instead of enumerating a few lines in your head.
Another nice side effect of this way of thinking is that your presence on stage is better. Why? Well, one of the main works of the singer is the melting of emotions and lyrics. Text and word delivery should work together.
I am a big proponent that it is for this reason that no lyrics are allowed on stage.
Think about the last time you sat behind an open mica and saw someone sitting on your stool and singing the lyrics as you sat on a music stand in front of them. If you know what I’m talking about, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve seen a singer whose words are unrelated to the transmission of words. It must be when he doesn’t even know what words are going to come up until he sees them on the page in front of him.