Play Better... Pray Better!

Tefilla from the Heart

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How am I supposed to Learn all those Lines?!

1. It helps to break the piece up into several much smaller sections. Focus on learning only one of those small sections at a time (in order!). Don't move on to the next section until you feel you know the first section pretty perfectly and have tested yourself -- or even better, ask someone else test you on it, out loud of course, as he or she looks at your script and checks your every word. (No pressure!)

2. When you move on to start learning the second section, only focus on that section, don't think about the first one at all during this stage. Then, once you've tested yourself on this next section (as above) and know it pretty perfectly on its own...

3. is the time to go over both sections together from the beginning. This helps you remember the first part as well, and also make sure you know which section comes next! You may need to create another little trigger that links the last word of one section to the first word of the next section for ultimate fluency.

4. Repeat this process until you've learned all of the sections (in order!), and after each small section learned (perfectly of course ;] ), be sure to go over the whole piece from the very beginning until you feel confident that you know it well before moving on to the next section.

5. Your objective is to be able to recite your lines without thinking about them at all. Once you can recite the whole piece extremely quickly, monotone, and only pausing maybe slightly once or twice throughout, then carrying on speedily as ever -- then you're pretty good to go! Congratulations!


Another Extra Important Hint!

*** As you test yourself, make note of the sentences you keep getting stuck on (it will happen, don't worry!). Then, in between self-tests, look back and try to make up extra triggers to link the end of the previous sentence to the beginning of the next sentence you have trouble remembering. (It could be as simple as remembering that the first letter of the next line is what comes at the end of that sentence that, before, was followed by a big blank in your mind!)

* It is also a good idea to create similar transitional reminders in between each section to be sure you will deliver everything as fluently as possible.

* However well you know your lines in your own home, chances are that you will not know them any better when you're in front of more people or on stage!


But don't worry...I think you'll do just great!

Very, Very Important!

When you are learning your lines, DON'T try to think of how are going to say it or how anyone else would say it -- at all!!! Try your best ONLY to learn the words on the page and not think too much about the meaning -- except in a very general sense, and preferably only if thinking of the general context helps you to memorize, or to create your transitional reminder triggers.

Along the same lines, when you self-test, ONLY test yourself on the words. Do not try to perform it at all! And when you ask someone else to help test you, it may help to tell them in advance that you are doing it this way (they'll probably ask :] ).

Some Great Extra Tips!

* Be sure you don't make the sections too big or too small!

* I think it helps to make small marks on your script with a pen or pencil to physically delineate the sections you've created. I advise a small diagonal line at the end of the final sentence of each section, but feel free to do whatever you find works for you.

* Try hard to resist the temptation to move on to the next section before you know the previous one really, really well. If you move on when you only know it "okay" but not amazingly, chances are it'll all only get fuzzier in your mind as you try to learn more.

* Don't feel that you need to learn it all in one day -- in fact, it is not a very good idea to do this, and is very unlikely to work! Count the number of weeks between the day you start and the day by which you need to know your lines and figure out how many sections you need to learn per week.

* Try not to skip ahead of your schedule. It's better to go over the same lines for a bit longer & know them even better before adding more words into the mix!

*Even once you know your lines this well, try going over your lines whenever you get a chance; waiting in line, washing a few dishes, or doing some other physical task that you can still do proficiently enough while thinking about lines at the same time :)

And for those of you who are a bit more techie...

Some people find that recording their lines and listening to them over and over (and over and over!) is a much quicker and easier way of memorizing them. You still have to pay attention to them, of course, but even as "background music," it can be a great help, sometimes in addition to the more traditional methods, described above.

           Using as many channels as possible, i.e., visual (looking at the words) and audio (listening to them spoken), can speed up the process. But if you record them -- **remember to record just the words, without putting emotion into them! The emotion comes later, during performance, once you already know all the words and don't have to think about them anymore.

          (Doesn't that put a new light on the "repetitive" Tefillas we say, that we already know practically by heart b/c we say them every day?? What a bracha! Now we are free to put emotion into what  we're saying and be present b/c we're not worried about forgetting our "lines"!)