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Mary E. Graham Headshot

How to Learn the Lyrics to a Song in 27 Easy Steps

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CASSETTE TAPE
Riou via Getty Images

As a parent you can't help but dream big for your kids. You want them to be better than you, you want them to be kinder, smarter, wiser. You want them to learn the value of a dollar, know what a hard day's work feels like and how to love others well.

You know what else I want my kids to be able to do? Learn the lyrics to their favorite songs the way I did... in only 27 easy steps:

Step 1: Put the cassette tape in the dual-cassette player and hit both "Record" and "Pause" while you wait for your favorite song to come on the radio. This might take some time, please be patient.

Step 2: When your favorite song finally comes on, pray the DJ doesn't talk over the opening because that just kills your recording. Then hit the "Pause" button so your tape starts recording.

Step 3: Listen intently for the song to be over so you can get a clean copy; hitting stop at the perfect moment between two songs is an art form.

Step 4: Hit "Rewind" on the tape while you get out your Trapper Keeper and Lisa Frank pencil to write down the lyrics.

Step 5: Hit "Play," very carefully listen to the first two to three lines, and then hit "Pause" as you write down the words.

Steps 6-25: Keep hitting "Play" and "Pause" as you copy down the lyrics to your jam, occasionally rewinding a little to double-check for accuracy. There's nothing more embarrassing than singing a song at the top of your lungs and getting the words wrong.

Step 26: Rewind the song so you can practice your performance.

Step 27: Rewind the song so you can practice your performance. Again. And again. This method will take some time, but don't give up. The best songs will stay with you forever.

The idea that my children can easily Google the lyrics to any song, that they'll never suffer the humiliation of singing the wrong words in front of someone they're trying to impress and that they will never experience the agony of waiting for their favorite song to play on the radio seems like a travesty of epic proportions. How will we teach our children character, patience and shorthand if all their song lyrics are just a few clicks away?

As parents who want nothing but the best for our children, I think this skill is paramount to the success of our youth. The perseverance, work ethic and focus it took to learn a song you loved prepared you for adulthood in countless ways. And we're doing a disservice to the next generation by not passing this on. Write your congressman. Write your teachers. We need to save our youth and it starts with these 27 easy steps.