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Playing from memory #2813712
02/11/19 05:35 PM
02/11/19 05:35 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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I was talking with the wife today about a new piece she was learning. I said that once you’ve leant to play it from memory you'll need to keep playing it occasionally to keep it fluent otherwise the memory will gradually fade over time. She said that's just me because once she's leant to play a piece from memory she remembers it forever without having to keep playing it and why my 92 year old Mum can still remember poems she learnt at school. She says she can still play pieces that she hasn’t played for years whereas if I don’t keep playing pieces that I've learnt to play (with muscle memory) they start to fade after only a week or two of not playing it. I wouldn’t now know where to start with pieces I haven’t played for several years. Is it just me or is that the same with anyone else?

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Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813717
02/11/19 05:47 PM
02/11/19 05:47 PM
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From my experience if you use memory in a "brute force" approach i mean just note by note it will be less effective than if you use musical resources as chord progressions, rhythmic patrons, sequences and so on.
Anyway i don't like to memorize the music. I only memorize those difficult passages that i have to practice so much than i finally get them on mi memory. But even then i prefer to look at the score. And generally i feel more comfortable reading. So i am not at all a memory oriented person rather the contrary. And if I memorize a piece and then don't play it for a couple of days well it's not that it goes away completely but it's really painful to get it right again.
Maybe you're also a reading oriented guy don't you?

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813719
02/11/19 05:48 PM
02/11/19 05:48 PM
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Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

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Tell your wife that I said that you are right and she is wrong. Let me know how that goes.

But I agree with you...

Sam

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813720
02/11/19 05:55 PM
02/11/19 05:55 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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Thanks Snail and Sam S, that’s a relief smile

I prefer to play from memory when I can as I can better concentrate on the feeling.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813731
02/11/19 06:05 PM
02/11/19 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Deckie
I was talking with the wife today about a new piece she was learning. I said that once you’ve leant to play it from memory you'll need to keep playing it occasionally to keep it fluent otherwise the memory will gradually fade over time. She said that's just me because once she's leant to play a piece from memory she remembers it forever without having to keep playing it and why my 92 year old Mum can still remember poems she learnt at school. She says she can still play pieces that she hasn’t played for years whereas if I don’t keep playing pieces that I've learnt to play (with muscle memory) they start to fade after only a week or two of not playing it.


Nothing is forever, not even diamonds (despite what 007 says).

Use it, or lose it.

Incidentally, I never forget "To forget or not to forget, that is the question" or "The course of true memory never did run smooth", but that doesn't mean my memory is infallible...... wink

BTW, for many decades when I hardly ever touched a piano (because I never owned one until nine years ago), I could still - whenever I came across a piano (or something resembling one) - play a certain piece that I never even set out to memorize. That was because I used it to warm up with, for several years, when I was a student, meaning that I'd played it thousands of times.

However, that doesn't mean that I'll always remember it till my demise........but I'll probably forget my birthday before I forget it.


"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: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813736
02/11/19 06:11 PM
02/11/19 06:11 PM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 241
Columbus, ohio, USA
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caters Online content
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I have played the K 545 sonata enough that it never really gets worse, even after a whole year of not playing it.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813747
02/11/19 06:26 PM
02/11/19 06:26 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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Thanks Bennevis and Caters. Maybe playing a piece that often does embed it in one’s memory permanently. I first learnt the piano at evening class 40 years ago and at the end of the last lesson we were all told to choose a first piece to learn and play to the rest of the class to progress from the tutor books we were using. I learnt to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata and I've been able to play it from memory ever since (though if there's been a long break of playing it I only need to play it through once or twice before I can play it properly again).

If I completely forget a piece after years of not playing it it's like starting from scratch again. But it only takes a few days to get it back up to speed where it may have taken months originally. So the memory must be still in there, it's just retrieving it that’s the problem.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813749
02/11/19 06:35 PM
02/11/19 06:35 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,715
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline
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Your wife is a superhero. You are normal.

I can play pieces from memory that I learned as a teen but I can’t play through a piece I learned last year, even with the music. Long term memory is good. Short term is not. Getting old sucks.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813750
02/11/19 06:42 PM
02/11/19 06:42 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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Thanks Gooddog, good to hear grin. Maybe your long term memory is good because you've had a lot longer to learn it.

It was just a friendly discussion with the wife but I think I need to test her.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Sam S] #2813752
02/11/19 06:42 PM
02/11/19 06:42 PM
Joined: Feb 2018
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Tell your wife that I said that you are right and she is wrong. Let me know how that goes.


If he tells his wife that he asked one of his mates about it, and the upshot was that she was wrong and he was right, I doubt he will be able to post the results back here, seeing as his wife will kill him and bury him in the back garden. Maybe laying an attractive patio afterwards on top of him.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813753
02/11/19 06:47 PM
02/11/19 06:47 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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Oh dear, maybe I might postpone the test eek.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813756
02/11/19 06:48 PM
02/11/19 06:48 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,105
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by Deckie
It was just a friendly discussion with the wife but I think I need to test her.
Yes - you definitely need to test her because she's making ALL of us feel terribly inadequate. grin

Live dangerously - go for it !! ha

Last edited by Carey; 02/11/19 06:51 PM.

Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
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Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813765
02/11/19 07:00 PM
02/11/19 07:00 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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No need to feel inadequate Carey, what I omitted to say was that she was talking about when she played the saxophone which she gave up and sold a few months ago. She's now learning to play the concertina and I said that learning new pieces was more like learning a poem than learning to ride a bike. There was probably an element of playing by ear to her claim but it did get me thinking, specially the bit about Mum at 92 still being able to recite poems from her childhood.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813772
02/11/19 07:13 PM
02/11/19 07:13 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,105
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by Deckie
No need to feel inadequate Carey, what I omitted to say was that she was talking about when she played the saxophone which she gave up and sold a few months ago. She's now learning to play the concertina and I said that learning new pieces was more like learning a poem than learning to ride a bike. There was probably an element of playing by ear to her claim but it did get me thinking, specially the bit about Mum at 92 still being able to recite poems from her childhood.
Thanks - all better now.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813773
02/11/19 07:14 PM
02/11/19 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Deckie
No need to feel inadequate Carey, what I omitted to say was that she was talking about when she played the saxophone which she gave up and sold a few months ago. She's now learning to play the concertina

There's no comparison between playing a single-line instrument and playing the piano, where a lot more than aural memory well as muscle memory etc are involved. It's pretty easy to play the former by ear - in fact, I can even play pop songs (that I can sing) by ear on the violin, though I never learnt how to play the violin.

The former is more like singing - I can never forget how to sing Happy Birthday even though I've never sung it in my life (because I've never been to anyone's birthday party, not even mine). In fact, I cannot forget several pop songs (ABBA, Bee Gees, The Beatles etc) that I last heard when I was......twelve: both the tune and the lyrics - and also the harmony (though last time I heard & sang the song, I didn't know the harmony, because I didn't know any harmony).


"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: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813775
02/11/19 07:17 PM
02/11/19 07:17 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 2,550
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by Deckie
I was talking with the wife today about a new piece she was learning. I said that once you’ve leant to play it from memory you'll need to keep playing it occasionally to keep it fluent otherwise the memory will gradually fade over time. She said that's just me because once she's leant to play a piece from memory she remembers it forever without having to keep playing it and why my 92 year old Mum can still remember poems she learnt at school. She says she can still play pieces that she hasn’t played for years whereas if I don’t keep playing pieces that I've learnt to play (with muscle memory) they start to fade after only a week or two of not playing it. I wouldn’t now know where to start with pieces I haven’t played for several years. Is it just me or is that the same with anyone else?

cmb13 had a longer thread about keeping repertoire fresh vs fading, which you might be interested in taking a peek at. Charles Cooke's book, Playing the Piano for Pleasure has an entire system for keeping a repertoire of a total of approx. 3 hours of music (about 25 pieces) fresh and in playing condition at any given moment.


across the stone, deathless piano performances
Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813782
02/11/19 07:41 PM
02/11/19 07:41 PM
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Deckie Offline OP
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You’re right Bennevis that’s a good point. I've never been very good at playing the piano by ear, maybe just picking out a tune with one finger but even that's still hit and miss so it plays no part in recalling the music I play (that I'm aware of). Sad that you were never invited to any birthday parties, sounds a lot like me frown.

Thanks for the links Tyrone Slothrop, I'll have a look at those.

Re: Playing from memory [Re: bennevis] #2813784
02/11/19 07:43 PM
02/11/19 07:43 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
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Seattle area, WA
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Originally Posted by bennevis
There's no comparison between playing a single-line instrument and playing the piano, where a lot more than aural memory well as muscle memory etc are involved.

Absolutely right!


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Playing from memory [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2813786
02/11/19 07:45 PM
02/11/19 07:45 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 9,105
Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
cmb13 had a longer thread about keeping repertoire fresh[/url] vs fading, which you might be interested in taking a peek at. Charles Cooke's book, Playing the Piano for Pleasure has an entire system for keeping a repertoire of a total of approx. 3 hours of music (about 25 pieces) fresh and in playing condition at any given moment.
Now I feel inadequate again...although I do remember reading about that in Cooke's book 50 years ago.


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: Playing from memory [Re: Deckie] #2813793
02/11/19 07:55 PM
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I know, I'm afraid I only have 4 pieces in my repertoire at the moment, all the rest have faded now (though any would come back fairly quickly if I had the inclination to practice them).

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