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How can I improve long term memory?
#2915830 11/24/19 03:07 PM
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Hi

Hope you are all well

For the last 3 weeks I have been learning Shostakovich Piano Concerto No 2 movement 2 with my teacher, who incidentally is fantastic and I am very blessed. Prior to this I have been learning Beethoven Sonata 14 second movement which had been going really well. Working full time and many hours I have little time to practice so have concentrated on Shostakovich now I am struggling to play Beethoven from memory why. I was hoping to play this for my family on boxing day after starting the piano 3 years ago aged 55. Please advise.

Look forward to hearing from you

Blessings to you

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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915852 11/24/19 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
I have been learning Beethoven Sonata 14 second movement which had been going really well. Working full time and many hours I have little time to practice so have concentrated on Shostakovich now I am struggling to play Beethoven from memory why. I was hoping to play this for my family on boxing day after starting the piano 3 years ago aged 55. Please advise.

My advice?

Don't bother to play the Moonlight second movement from memory. Seriously. It's just one page long, but it's got lots of complicated chords, so play it from the score......unless you really, really want to waste lots of time just to memorise it.

(BTW, I never played any piece from memory when I was a student, until I was about to finish with lessons after ten years - not for my teacher, not for my examiners, not for anyone).


"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: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915867 11/24/19 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Hi

Hope you are all well

For the last 3 weeks I have been learning Shostakovich Piano Concerto No 2 movement 2 with my teacher, who incidentally is fantastic and I am very blessed. Prior to this I have been learning Beethoven Sonata 14 second movement which had been going really well. Working full time and many hours I have little time to practice so have concentrated on Shostakovich now I am struggling to play Beethoven from memory why. I was hoping to play this for my family on boxing day after starting the piano 3 years ago aged 55. Please advise.

Look forward to hearing from you

Blessings to you



Not sure about your family, but I can't imagine they'd mind if you used the music.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915870 11/24/19 04:20 PM
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Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember. I play better from memory without sounding over confident which I am not.

Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915874 11/24/19 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember.


That's easy. The more things you try to remember, the higher the probability that you will forget something.



Originally Posted by Chemblue
I play better from memory ….


Of course, you are looking at the keys.

That is the trade-off.

If you want to have things "easier" play while looking at the keys..... but forgetting is part of the bargain.

If you want to be able to play more pieces without "forgetting", play from the score.

There is no way around that.

Some theorize that long term memory can be improved by sleeping more.

Good Luck


Last edited by dmd; 11/24/19 04:31 PM.

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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915876 11/24/19 04:29 PM
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Welcome to my world. I am 65, soon to be 66. I can play something in a recital, from memory, and do very well. Set it aside for a week and I have to spend a couple of hours to get it back. I think it is age related.

Sam

Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915878 11/24/19 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember. I play better from memory without sounding over confident which I am not.

You seem to have a thing about playing from memory, judging by many of your previous posts, which is rather unusual for a student in the UK, where it's taken for granted that the only people who perform from memory are (would-be) solo concert pianists.

If you really, really, really want to play a piece like that from memory, there are no short cuts. Keep practising the piece repeatedly and every day (preferably on two different practise sessions), practise starting from various points in the piece, make sure you know the piece inside-out, including the cadences, the harmonic progression etc. Don't just rely on muscle memory.

Even then, there is no guarantee that your memory won't fail you when you come to perform 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: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915882 11/24/19 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember. I play better from memory without sounding over confident which I am not.



Because you remembered it then, and now you forgot.
I'm not being glib. It's just how memory goes.

Now, where are my keys?
And my glasses?

But seriously--who are all these people at work who seem to know me?


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915896 11/24/19 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Hi

Working full time and many hours I have little time to practice so have concentrated on Shostakovich now I am struggling to play Beethoven from memory why.



I think you answered your own question.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Sam S #2915917 11/24/19 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Welcome to my world. I am 65, soon to be 66. I can play something in a recital, from memory, and do very well. Set it aside for a week and I have to spend a couple of hours to get it back. I think it is age related.

Sam


I'm 58 and I have the same problem but I can remember my phone number when I was a kid, really strange.



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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
bennevis #2915925 11/24/19 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
If you really, really, really want to play a piece like that from memory, there are no short cuts. Keep practising the piece repeatedly and every day (preferably on two different practise sessions), practise starting from various points in the piece, make sure you know the piece inside-out, including the cadences, the harmonic progression etc. Don't just rely on muscle memory.

Even then, there is no guarantee that your memory won't fail you when you come to perform it.


I almost always keep the score on the music stand while playing. I agree with Bennevis that playing from memory is not terribly important for us amateur musicians. That said...

I tend to memorize hands together, as one hand cues off the other. Typically I can more easily memorize the right hand part, probably because it usually contains the melodic elements and it's my dominant hand. When I'm having problems memorizing, I'll see how well I can play just the left hand from memory, and the results are often not great, suggesting that I don't really have the piece memorized. The harmonics are often in the left hand, and getting the harmonics down perfectly helps one not to rely just on muscle memory.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915932 11/24/19 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember. I play better from memory without sounding over confident which I am not.


It just may mean that you have not learned that piece sufficiently well for it to be more securely ingrained in your memory. What memorization techniques had you been using to memorize the work?

Regards,


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915939 11/24/19 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
Sorry I have probably not explained myself clearly. I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember. I play better from memory without sounding over confident which I am not.


With all that you have going on in your life, are you able to totally focus on your Beethoven piece?

When the memory lapse happens, are you able to skip to the next section from memory or do you have to start from the beginning?


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Serge88 #2915950 11/24/19 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Serge88
Originally Posted by Sam S
Welcome to my world. I am 65, soon to be 66. I can play something in a recital, from memory, and do very well. Set it aside for a week and I have to spend a couple of hours to get it back. I think it is age related.

Sam


I'm 58 and I have the same problem but I can remember my phone number when I was a kid, really strange.


I think it would be great if I could dump all the stuff I don't need from memory--like friends' addresses and phone numbers from 1964 and make room for things that would be useful now. But evidently that's not how it works.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Serge88 #2915951 11/24/19 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Serge88


I'm 58 and I have the same problem but I can remember my phone number when I was a kid, really strange.



Me too, and even friends' phone numbers. I think when you're younger, it's easier to move things from short-term memory to long-term and permanent memory.

Keeping things in my memory these days, especially piano, is all about repetition and semi-regular review. And sleep. Plenty of sleep.


Last edited by TheophilusCarter; 11/24/19 07:37 PM.

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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2915953 11/24/19 07:44 PM
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Time machine?


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2916140 11/25/19 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Chemblue
I am trying to ascertain why I was able to play from memory about 3 weeks ago and now struggling to remember.
You weren't playing from long term memory. Playing it every day keeps it in short term memory. That's a very slow way to get it into long term memory.

Getting it quicker into long term memory means leaving more time between repeats and knowing it rather than just having the motor memory. Know the first and third phrases begin on Db, the second and fourth on Gb, etc. Read through it away from the piano (audiating it), do the same without the score, read through it at the piano using slow reading speed, not playing speed, play through it at the piano without the music and and breaking motor memory by using a much slower tempo, looking away from the piano or closing your eyes.

I recommend the Graham Fitch Feedback Loop. Learn a phrase, imagine how it should sound, play it, review how it went. Don't use many repetitions until it's in memory. Only when you have it in overnight memory should you start building motor memory with more repetitions.

If you want to play it from memory around boxing day, you'll need to learn it again, perhaps in individual phrases, (it shouldn't take long this time) and leave a day or two before trying to play them again. You might separate out the Trio and work it on alternate days. It helps to learn the music thoroughly and not just use repetition and motor memory. If you struggle to remember don't go straight back to the music but try and force it. If there are regular spots where you forget then find ways of memorising the music there; what are the notes, what is the harmonic progression or melodic sequence, etc.

If you need to check the music, go away from the piano, look at the score, learn something about it to help you remember next time, then go back to the piano and try to play from memory.

Originally Posted by malkin
I think it would be great if I could dump all the stuff I don't need from memory--like friends' addresses and phone numbers from 1964 and make room for things that would be useful now. But evidently that's not how it works.
No, memory is not space that fills up but an array of neural connections. The more you memorise, the more connections you grow so the more you can remember.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2916183 11/25/19 11:44 AM
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It helps a lot if you're remembering via music theory, understanding the concepts of how the piece is moving around and what is happening in terms of chords and modulations rather than individual notes. It vastly lessens the amount of specific information that you have to keep in mind.

But in general, ignoring a piece for weeks that you've only learned relatively recently almost ensures that it will fall out of memory. Play completed pieces through at the end of your practice session as a reward at least a few times a week to keep them in memory.


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Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2916216 11/25/19 01:53 PM
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Most people including myself can only memorize a piece to a certain point. If you rely on memory alone, you can probably retain some or most parts of a piece depending on the difficulty. There was a Waltz I worked on over a year ago. The intro and the ending are similar so I don't have too much trouble playing. The part in the middle I have to relearn from the sheet. If you leave a piece on the shelf long enough, don't be surprised to have to relearn some or all of it from the sheet.

There are pieces that I'd retain longer if I use them as warm-up pieces at least once a week. And if a piece has a lot of repetitions, I can relearn a few notes and reproduce the rest. The only thing I'd need to work on is the fingerings and get comfortable playing.

The piano teacher John Mortensen posted a few videos online that people should learn to play the Fake Book / Lead Sheet version of their pieces. After a while if you forget half the notes, you can still reproduce your version of a piece with the melody and an acceptable bass for accompaniment.

I don't learn my pieces from rote. I'd break a piece down into sections and try to find some sort of repetition or pattern. I'd listen to a piece I played a few times by making a quick recording off my phone or my keyboard record button. I'd be learning not just the notes but some sort of sequence that I can put back together easily a few months later. Back in 2014 I attended a memorable Christmas church service. Due to a power blackout the service was conducted in candlelight. I heard a piece with 3 verses, found a version online with a lot of chord arpeggios on the bass. You hear the melody many times so won't forget it. I learned the chord sequences and to this day still retain the piece. After a while I'd need to get comfortable with the finger sequences but the rest is already in my head.

Re: How can I improve long term memory?
Chemblue #2916222 11/25/19 02:05 PM
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I struggle with memorizing music too. Is there other tricks than just practicing? Such as writing it down? I am learning the violin and piano. The crazy part is I can plan something on the violin and if I try it on the piano can't remember the notes so I have to plan it on the violin and watch my fingers. I good at sight reading but stink at planing from memory.

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