Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.7 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Find a Professional
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Advertise on Piano World

(ad)
Accu-Tuner
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Who's Online Now
88 registered members (AndrewJCW, ArturC, 36251, amyram, anotherscott, accordeur, andrea monza, 26 invisible), 1,760 guests, and 17 spiders.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords & Scales
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
To memorize or not to memorize ... ? #2588749
11/20/16 01:00 PM
11/20/16 01:00 PM
Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 293
pianopi Offline OP
Full Member
pianopi  Offline OP
Full Member

Joined: Sep 2016
Posts: 293
Just wondering what your opinions are on memorization.

Personally, I don't like memorizing at all. I like having the score in front of me because of the aesthetics of the written music. I much prefer looking at the music than the blank face of the piano. Or than looking at my hands - I get distracted with watching how my hands handle the piano (I love watching the hands of pianists when they play). When I watch my hands I forget what I am doing and everything stops.

The only time I might memorize is if I have to turn a page and then turn it back over for a repeat. I am much to lazy to do that!


"Genius is not the sign of demigodliness, but the sign of having a profoundly practical mind" - anonymous

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTc4esj9xQG6NjLIr9an29Q
Piano & Music Gifts & Accessories (570)
Piano accessories and music gift items, digital piano dolly, music theme party goods
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588757
11/20/16 01:23 PM
11/20/16 01:23 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
Gold Subscriber
BruceD  Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
I have long been an advocate of playing with the score, but that has been due to circumstances rather than to musical or aesthetic reasons. I have long been involved in a summer Piano Academy where the emphasis is on getting as much instruction and as much performance practice as possible with varied repertoire, and to this end (some, indeed most) instructors have encouraged using the time not to memorize but to bring as much material as possible to the sessions. For many of us, this means working from the score.

That said, it does not mean - in most cases at least - that we are relying totally on the score for our performances. Most of the works performed are "almost memorized," and the score is there to help us avoid memory lapses that are engendered by the extra stress of public performance. We are not, however, reading every note of the score as we perform. There is a certain amount of stress avoidance by having the score on the music desk, knowing where you are on the page even if you are not "reading" the score, thus enabling you to concentrate on interpretation.

There are many cases, however, and not just page turns, where memorizing is really helpful: negotiating difficult jumps where looking at the keyboard is practically essential, for example. The more I do that bit of memorizing, the easier it becomes to memorize more. A piece that is totally and solidly memorized can - emphasis on the word "can" - lead to a more artistic performance, but the work has to be so solidly memorized that the performer's focus can be on interpretation and not on concentrating on trying to avoid a memory lapse. Such concentration may even lead to a memory lapse.

Some professional performers are performing with score these days, but, as I mentioned above, it's not because the works are not or cannot be memorized.

It's finally an artistic choice. If using the score can be done unobtrusively, without giving the effect that the score is an absolutely essential "crutch" to guarantee a performance, if page turns can be handled efficiently (or with a reliable page turner), then use the score.

Using the score for the "aesthetics of the written music" has no aesthetic benefit for the audience. To many in the audience who are conditioned to professional performances without the score, the score may even be a distraction.

Being distracted by watching your own hands while you play is something that, with practice, you can overcome. You don't necessarily have to watch your hands while you play, but please, don't stare at the ceiling as if you are looking for inspiration from the floodlights!

Whatever you do, keep in mind that memorizing is a valuable tool not to be totally dismissed, and it's a skill that can be developed with practice like any other skill. For most of us, the more one memorizes the easier it becomes to memorize. In the minds of many, memorization frees one from the printed page and enables one even more to concentrate on interpretation.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588758
11/20/16 01:28 PM
11/20/16 01:28 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
B
bennevis Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
bennevis  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
There's no need to memorize anything unless you have to. The majority of professional classical musicians never do. The ability to sight-read well is far more important, in most jobs in music.

My first three teachers never memorized a piece in their lives, because they never performed as soloists. (As collaborative pianists and accompanists, yes).

I never memorized a single piece until I needed to, for my performance diploma (ten years from starting lessons). If I'd gone for a teaching diploma, I wouldn't have needed to memorize my pieces.

It's only in the last few years, since I started playing a monthly solo recital, that I began memorizing pieces that I wanted to perform. Principally because I don't have a personal page-turner wink (OK, also because it looks better to an audience......).

It takes me three to five times as long to learn a piece to play from memory, compared to learning a piece to play from the score, so I have to be very selective about what I choose to memorize. And I have had my fair share of memory lapses........


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588780
11/20/16 03:09 PM
11/20/16 03:09 PM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,162
W
wouter79 Offline
5000 Post Club Member
wouter79  Offline
5000 Post Club Member
W

Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 5,162
For me memorization helps a lot as I do not need to read and think anymore and can spend my time more on listening. Also in some places it helps if you can actually look to get the fingers at the right position.

For the really hard pieces, there's no chance that I can read all the notes at the required speed, so memorization is a must there.

You do not need to watch your hands if it is distracting.

Looking up can help sometimes, I believe it changes the ear frequency response which can give you some additional listening attention. But as said, it's too often interpreted as 'looking for inspiration' or something. But you can still try it at home.




[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588787
11/20/16 04:02 PM
11/20/16 04:02 PM
Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 430
AZ, USA
Tuneless Offline
Full Member
Tuneless  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2013
Posts: 430
AZ, USA
Does audiation help with playing from memory as sort of a substitute/crutch for memory when you have frequent memory lapses, and will this eventually help to play by ear?


Cynthia

Roland FP-50
Conover Upright, 1888/9, but a very low mileage piano. http://www.pbase.com/schnitz/conover_upright_piano__1888_or_9 .
Tuneless = Don't play piano yet but getting there.
I'm technically very capable. I love my piano and love tinkering with it.
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588803
11/20/16 05:23 PM
11/20/16 05:23 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
pianoloverus  Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
My strong opinion, expressed many times before, is that for amateurs memorizing is usually a terrible waste of time. Unless a pianist believes they play better without the score, performing from memory almost always greatly increases anxiety.

But perhaps more importantly, the extra time needed to memorize could be SO much better spent learning new repertoire, practicing technique, sightreading, reviewing old rep, doing your laundry, etc.etc.! And IMO most of the reasons given in favor of memorization are not really good when amateurs are involved. For example, if page turns are practiced they can be easily negotiated although this will sometimes necessitate memorizing a few measures. For most all(not all) amateurs, I think the benefits gained from freedom of fear of memory lapses is much more important than any "freedom" some feel when performing w/o the score. Playing with the score does not mean one has to be looking at the score when technical demands, leaps for example, could be helped by looking at the keyboard.

For professional soloists, memory is usually required or expected or at least encouraged but that group is less than 1 out 10,000 pianists.

I used to do Christmas recitals at senior centers. After quite a few years my rep evolved to around 1.5 hours of music involving over 100 pages of fairly advanced jazz arrangements. If I had tried playing from memory, I would have been lucky to have 15 minutes worth of music because I have only a small understanding of jazz harmony so memorizing would have been even more difficult than if I was playing classical music.

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588826
11/20/16 06:56 PM
11/20/16 06:56 PM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
P
prout Offline
4000 Post Club Member
prout  Offline
4000 Post Club Member
P

Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,468
Southwestern Ontario
If the repertoire you are playing is at performance standard, then you already have effectively 'memorized' the score. No one reads every note on the score at performance standard any more than you read every letter that forms words in a book that you have read before.

The score simply provides you with 'playing points' as it were. It reduces your stress and allows you to concentrate on the creation of music.

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588837
11/20/16 07:22 PM
11/20/16 07:22 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
B
bennevis Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
bennevis  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
I can't resist giving this link (which I've given before in another thread on the same subject) to an article by a highly respected professional pianist:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2007/apr/20/classicalmusicandopera1


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: bennevis] #2588855
11/20/16 08:01 PM
11/20/16 08:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
B
bennevis Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
bennevis  Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
B

Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 12,225
....and re-reading that article again makes it plain how most professionals memorize: by playing the pieces again & again & again & again, until it's securely lodged in the muscle memory, such that it's impossible to go wrong.

Until it does, because.......basically, you forget. Something distracts you, or a stray thought enters your head (like, did I forget to lock my front door when I left my house to come here?) - and suddenly, you've forgotten where you are in the piece, or what comes next. Hopefully, your fingers can still keep going on autopilot until your mind re-focuses. Or it doesn't, and you're really in trouble. Can you improvise something in the same key until your fingers find their way back, or skip to a new section without a jarring change?

It's quite easy to memorize short pieces that have a regular and repetitive meter, simple melody and logical harmonic progression - like the first piece of Schumann's Kinderszenen (which took me all of ten minutes to memorize, despite never having seen the music before). But when you get into real complexity, in a long piece with frequent changes of texture, harmony, key and rhythmic profile, even after playing it 100 times perfectly from memory doesn't guarantee that when you perform it, you won't lose your way.......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588858
11/20/16 08:11 PM
11/20/16 08:11 PM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
western MA, USA
hreichgott Offline
3000 Post Club Member
hreichgott  Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,390
western MA, USA
pianoloverus, most of my students choose to perform from memory. I do not require memory at studio recitals, but probably about 80% play from memory anyway, due to feeling most comfortable that way.
I honestly think that for most of them they memorize their music because they find it less of a pain than taking out the book and turning to the correct page. My daughter does exactly the same thing when practicing as soon as she can manage it with a piece.

I am most comfortable from memory as well (given that I've prepared adequately) and although a memory lapse is always possible, I'm much more likely to have reading errors when nervous.

PS I definitely did NOT just perform all of Oliver from memory.

Last edited by hreichgott; 11/20/16 08:13 PM.

Heather W. Reichgott, piano

Working on:
Beethoven - Diabelli Variations Op. 120
Beethoven/Liszt - Symphony no. 7
Tommy (whole show)

I love Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and new music
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: bennevis] #2588859
11/20/16 08:11 PM
11/20/16 08:11 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
pianoloverus  Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
Originally Posted by bennevis
I can't resist giving this link (which I've given before in another thread on the same subject) to an article by a highly respected professional pianist:

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2007/apr/20/classicalmusicandopera1
And I think everything said there applies ten times over for amateurs(99.9 of pianists).

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588904
11/21/16 01:18 AM
11/21/16 01:18 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Carey  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
I've personally not had university level training in piano in over 40 years, so am admittedly out of touch. However, I assume that graduate level piano performance degree programs STILL require memorization of all solo recital repertoire.

Memorization and solo performance were never easy for me. I was always more comfortable and skilled as a collaborative pianist. Unfortunately, degree programs in collaborative piano were almost non-existent when I was a grad student. A performance degree was the only option. Had my alma mater offered collaborative piano back in the day (as they do now), I would have definitely pursued it.

Nevertheless, with either a performance or collaborative piano degree, one is still faced with the challenge of actually making a living in music - so the more flexible one can be, the better. smile

Now as an amateur playing for my own enjoyment, I am able to memorize music if I wish - but prefer to use the score when playing in public - even if I don't really need it.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: hreichgott] #2588920
11/21/16 08:53 AM
11/21/16 08:53 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
pianoloverus Online content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
pianoloverus  Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 25,776
New York City
Originally Posted by hreichgott
pianoloverus, most of my students choose to perform from memory. I do not require memory at studio recitals, but probably about 80% play from memory anyway, due to feeling most comfortable that way.
I honestly think that for most of them they memorize their music because they find it less of a pain than taking out the book and turning to the correct page. My daughter does exactly the same thing when practicing as soon as she can manage it with a piece.
My guess is that most of your students are performing relatively short pieces and not half hour selections where memory could be a bigger problem. It's good that they're not nervous about memory lapses.

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588924
11/21/16 09:18 AM
11/21/16 09:18 AM
Joined: Oct 2015
Posts: 248
J
Just Steven Offline
Full Member
Just Steven  Offline
Full Member
J

Joined: Oct 2015
Posts: 248
There are things that can make an endless debate.
Some people can hear music as hearing human speech.
Some can play a long difficult piece or recite poetry by hearing it only once.

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: Carey] #2588927
11/21/16 10:00 AM
11/21/16 10:00 AM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,232
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

3000 Post Club Member
Sam S  Offline

3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,232
Georgia, USA
Originally Posted by Carey
I've personally not had university level training in piano in over 40 years, so am admittedly out of touch. However, I assume that graduate level piano performance degree programs STILL require memorization of all solo recital repertoire.


I'm taking lessons and classes in my old age at the local university. Yes, I have to memorize everything. Only the piano majors have to do this - all the other instrumentalists can use the music. At my age, you can guess how well its going. If I have to drop out, that will be the reason...

Sam

Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588932
11/21/16 10:56 AM
11/21/16 10:56 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
Gold Subscriber
BruceD  Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
The music historians don't agree whether it was Clara Schumann or Franz Liszt who first put us in this dilemma of performing from memory. Blame either or both!

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: Sam S] #2588934
11/21/16 11:04 AM
11/21/16 11:04 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Carey  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted by Sam S
Originally Posted by Carey
I've personally not had university level training in piano in over 40 years, so am admittedly out of touch. However, I assume that graduate level piano performance degree programs STILL require memorization of all solo recital repertoire.
I'm taking lessons and classes in my old age at the local university. Yes, I have to memorize everything. Only the piano majors have to do this - all the other instrumentalists can use the music. At my age, you can guess how well its going. If I have to drop out, that will be the reason...

Hang in there Sam !! grin

The apparent double standard for other instrumentalists in school used to bother me as well. As an accompanist, I was always amazed at the speed with which instrumental majors would crank out their graduate recitals - compared to the amount of time it took for piano majors. I'm guessing there are some universities that do require instrumental majors to play all or a portion of their solo/accompanied repertoire by memory. I assume that memorization is still required for voice majors.



Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: BruceD] #2588935
11/21/16 11:06 AM
11/21/16 11:06 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
9000 Post Club Member
Carey  Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,423
Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted by BruceD
The music historians don't agree whether it was Clara Schumann or Franz Liszt who first put us in this dilemma of performing from memory. Blame either or both!

By raising the bar, they made life miserable for many !! ha


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: Carey] #2588937
11/21/16 11:10 AM
11/21/16 11:10 AM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
Gold Subscriber
BruceD  Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 22,965
Victoria, BC
Originally Posted by Carey
[...]
The apparent double standard for other instrumentalists in school used to bother me as well. As an accompanist, I was always amazed at the speed with which instrumental majors would crank out their graduate recitals - compared to the amount of time it took for piano majors.[...]


And of course we have to be righteously indignant over the fact that "other instrumentalists" have to learn a single line of one note at a time (maybe a few double stops for stringed instruments) while we have two clefs with multiple and simultaneous notes in each. Oh, the inhumanity of it all!

In the end, however, (and with all due respect to them and their instruments) they need us more than we need them!

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: To memorize or not to memorize ... ? [Re: pianopi] #2588946
11/21/16 12:02 PM
11/21/16 12:02 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,232
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

3000 Post Club Member
Sam S  Offline

3000 Post Club Member

Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,232
Georgia, USA
Yes, the voice majors memorize - so do the percussionists - at least the marimba/xylophone performances I have seen are memorized.

What really surprised me was that there was a faculty recital shared by 6 or 7 faculty members. My piano teacher played - and used the music. Do as I say, not as I do?

Sam

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

(ad)
Pianoteq
PianoTeq Bechstein
Shop our Store for Music Lovers!
PianoSupplies.com is Piano World's Online Store
Please visit our store today.
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
lead sheet - Someday We'll All Be Free
by seniorblues. 10/14/19 04:30 PM
Brahms, Op. 76, No. 3, Opinions
by BruceD. 10/14/19 03:02 PM
Baldwin Piano 245
by gentlebreeze. 10/14/19 02:35 PM
Anybody do LRCM or LRSM?
by spk. 10/14/19 01:41 PM
Stretches in the middle registers
by Ghostnotes. 10/14/19 10:44 AM
What's Hot!!
Our August Newsletter is Out!
------------------
Mason & Hamlin Piano Factory Tour!

-------------------
Posting Pictures on the Forums
-------------------
Forums RULES & HELP
-------------------
ADVERTISE on Piano World
Forum Statistics
Forums41
Topics194,520
Posts2,879,172
Members94,657
Most Online15,252
Mar 21st, 2010
Please Support Our Advertisers


Faust Harrison 100+ Steinways

Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver

 Best of Piano Buyer

PianoTeq Bechstein
Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers


 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter |


copyright 1997 - 2019 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.1