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For me, memorisation begins with the sound before I go near the piano. When I start practising I typically memorise as I go because the material is usually beyond my reading ability. I tend to only practise as much as I can remember. I don't play through from the score because I can change fingering on the fly too easily without it being cemented and that slows down the whole process exponentially.

When I'm memorising a piece I CAN play from the score I'm at the same stage as Morodiene after the piece has been 'perfected'. Here I play through each phrase, or part thereof, until I can play it three times or more from memory. Repeat daily until I can play all the phrases (individually) without having to read them first. Then I start going through two or more phrases at a time. The more I struggle to recall, the stronger the memory gets. The more I look back at the score the longer it all takes.

When I can play the whole piece (or all the pages of it individually) from memory then I can start my 'perfecting' stage.



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Originally Posted by bolt
In my case I always have the piece memorized, without much effort, before I can play it well.


Same here. It actually becomes an inconvenience, as I have to forget and re-learn during polishing wherever I decide to change chords or grace notes. (Of course on the classical side, they don't tamper with the charts as much....)

Right now, I'm trying to see if I can learn two versions of the same piece, James P. Johnson's "Charleston": A stride version that I find very difficult, and a simplified version with easy chords for the bass and more work for the right hand.


-- J.S.

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Hello Bolt,

Thanks for asking.
Quote
I'm curious: can you hear the piece in your head accurately?

The simple answer to your question is "No". I can´t hear the music in my mind. In true, my process is:
- Read the sentence ahead while play note previous read. my head is busy with this process.

My goal in last year (2013) was just read (sigth read). For one year I focused in this action. Now I can read (still not very well), but I think that I lost others skills.

So would those skills that I want to get. But the problem is I do not know what these lost skills because I'm newbie smile


Real difficulties can be solved. Only imaginary difficulties ones you can't.
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Quote
By this time, memorization should be rather straight forward. Chances are you have little bits and pieces already memorized (most likely the hardest parts that you had to spend the most time on), and it's a matter of focusing on the other parts not quite there and then connecting the dots. My teacher used to have me do the "Sacred Four" steps:
1) Play through with the sheet music in front of you, slowly, and paying attention to all details (dynamics, articulations, etc.)
2) Play through with the sheet music, up to tempo, paying attention to all details
3) Play through without sheet music, slowly, paying attention to all details
4) Play through without sheet music, up to tempo, paying attention to all details


Amazing post.
I will try your sugestion and back with the results...

Thanks a lot,


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Originally Posted by zrtf90
For me, memorisation begins with the sound before I go near the piano. When I start practising I typically memorise as I go because the material is usually beyond my reading ability. I tend to only practise as much as I can remember. I don't play through from the score because I can change fingering on the fly too easily without it being cemented and that slows down the whole process exponentially.

When I'm memorising a piece I CAN play from the score I'm at the same stage as Morodiene after the piece has been 'perfected'. Here I play through each phrase, or part thereof, until I can play it three times or more from memory. Repeat daily until I can play all the phrases (individually) without having to read them first. Then I start going through two or more phrases at a time. The more I struggle to recall, the stronger the memory gets. The more I look back at the score the longer it all takes.

When I can play the whole piece (or all the pages of it individually) from memory then I can start my 'perfecting' stage.



zrtf90!!

Tks a lot,
I liked this strategy. I will try and back with the results... smile


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An alternative for those who might find it helpful.
(Morodiene's way is great too and many people use it)

Listening OR initial sight-read >> Learning melody line and structure >> Memorizing melody line and structure including dynamics, articulation, expression, tempo >> Learning the other notes >> Memorizing the other notes, one voice at a time if necessary

For music without a melody line or with multiple melody lines we can learn them one line at a time or skip around based on what voice should be loudest at the time, or learn certain "landmarks" like the bass notes of big arpeggios, whatever will help us the most on that particular piece.


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I might not have been clear - was asking about a piece you have already been working on, that you're familiar with. Can you imagine it in your head in any way?

I usually have a pretty clear imaginary reference audio in my head of any piece I have memorized as I play from memory. Not exactly the same as hearing it.

Originally Posted by rwvaldivia
Hello Bolt,

Thanks for asking.
Quote
I'm curious: can you hear the piece in your head accurately?

The simple answer to your question is "No". I can´t hear the music in my mind. In true, my process is:
- Read the sentence ahead while play note previous read. my head is busy with this process.

My goal in last year (2013) was just read (sigth read). For one year I focused in this action. Now I can read (still not very well), but I think that I lost others skills.

So would those skills that I want to get. But the problem is I do not know what these lost skills because I'm newbie smile


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Learning more about theory and composition will make it much easier to memorize. I am one of those who is good at memorizing and (very) bad at reading, and I think it is because I have a jazz background (on another instrument), so I think of a piece in terms of the music theory rather than individual notes. For example, in the beginning of Chopin's Eb Nocturne Op.9 No.2, I think "Eb Major broken chords in the left hand, bass descends down to a C7, F diminished, F minor..." For the melody, I rely mostly on ear training. I'm sure that you can sing melodies and remember what they sound like; if you train your ear to be able to automatically associate scale degrees with sounds, memorization will suddenly get a lot easier. You will not even have to worry about memorizing melodies; once you can hum it, you know how to play it on the piano.

I remember the method that I used for ear training back in college: I recorded myself playing certain intervals randomly around the keyboard (sequentially and as chords), then saying their names after a few seconds. I would listen back and try to name the interval before the recording named it. Of course, after a while you have to change the recording if you memorize the order of the intervals -- but it's a good sign if you're starting to memorize intervals anyhow.

The way you phrased your question is telling: "how to memorize all notes." Nobody really memorizes notes; we generally remember the harmonic concepts happening in the composition, and let muscle memory take care of the rest. I confess that sometimes I have completely forgotten both the notes and the harmony, but my hands remember how to play a piece, seemingly independently of my mind. I can play many pieces from memory, but I couldn't write any of them on paper from memory. Nobody can memorize individual notes, especially in long and complex pieces, but a combination of compositional structure and muscle memory makes memorization much easier. Charles Cooke's book "Playing the Piano for Pleasure" has a chapter on memorization which describes this approach in detail; I recommend it.

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