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Joined: Sep 2009
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What techniques are you using for really memorizing the piece ?
i mean concert ready or playing in public...

some techniques i can recall are:

playing blindfolded
HS and HT practice
rote memorization
play without the music in front of you
play until you are not able to make mistakes

Last edited by MadLiszt; 11/24/21 10:28 PM.


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But seriously, I have been a muscle memory performer my whole life and it's starting to feel ineffective, I too would love strategies folks have successfully used to help memorize faster/better.

On a side note, my upright Yamaha places the music very close to the keys, and I think this is worse for memorizing than say, a grand where the music is farther above the keys. It's too easy for me to glance between my hands and the music - whereas when the music is farther away, the time/distance of glancing between hands and music necessitates more sustained time looking away from the music, I think, which leads to quicker memorizing.

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Know the harmony.


never taught a child who had poor technique, just poor practice
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Have a look at Music in your head. It was advertized here at PW a few years ago and I bought and read it. It has a lot of good ideas and helped me. But it is hard work of course, as with anything worthwhile.

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Of course the other technique is to start playing age 5 smile


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For me, the most important thing is to pay attention to my own playing, as I am learning the music, while having the clear intent to understand what I am doing. Going by rote is not nearly as effective.


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Memorize from end to beginning, I.e. memorize the last two bars, then last four. Then you’ll be more and more secure as you play the piece.

Also memorize places to start in case of breakdown.

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A lot of muscle memory for sure. Remembering the top melody line is much easier unless you make an effort to memorize the lower lines separately. Otherwise I play mostly by muscle memory.

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Originally Posted by RubberFingers
Memorize from end to beginning, I.e. memorize the last two bars, then last four. Then you’ll be more and more secure as you play the piece.
But less secure near the beginning.

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I try to involve all my senses, just not muscle memory, as it will fail when you most need it. Spatial: the distance between one note/chord snd the next. Visual: I can visualize the score but only in slow -appearing fragments. I therefore just concentrate on the score appearance at section beginnings. Memory: I memorize the differences in repeated sections, such as 1st time is major, 2nd is minor. Sound: humming or poorly singly the melody.
Away from keyboard: playing on top of the table without the score.

A good thing that I don’t do: spaced repetition. Play it memorized and then leave it alone for a few days and try it again. Relearn anything forgotten. Repeat and gradually increase the time between repetitions.

Last edited by dogperson; 11/25/21 03:53 PM.
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I don't have any words of wisdom to offer, as I only started memorizing pieces seriously a decade ago (because I started performing from memory), and currently only have about three hours of music in my memory, of which 2/3 are secure enough that I can perform them anytime, anywhere, whereas the rest need a quick refresher if I intend to program them. (Prior to that, any piece I could play from memory got in there by accident......)

My methodology is always the same when contemplating learning a piece to play from memory: do I want to keep the piece in my rep forever and continue performing it regularly (i.e. do I like it enough)? If there is any doubt, I don't memorize - I just learn it to play for my own satisfaction (or even just sight-read it, then play it a few times from the score, then discard wink ). Maybe later on, if I really, really, really want to perform it, I'll memorize it......but very few pieces go that way. My first instinct is usually right whistle.

If I decide at the outset that I want to memorize, I'll start learning it that way. An initial sight-read through to determine which bits need work, or fingerings to be sorted out, and which bits are especially difficult to keep in the memory (the two don't often coincide). Then I start memorizing while learning, one short section (a phrase or two, maybe a whole page if it isn't too complicated) at a time, starting at the beginning (always a good place to start, as Julie Andrews told us). From then on, I always start and finish every practice session by playing what I've learnt from memory: if my memory fails, I go back and make sure I get it right before I close the fallboard (though my piano hasn't got a fallboard). It takes as long as it takes, and I use every trick in the book (plus tricks outside the book) to help/jolt/imprint my memory: patterns (in the score as well as at the keyboard), hand & finger positions on keyboard, 'feel' of keys beneath my fingers, 'shape' of my hands in any particular section, harmonic progressions, accidentals, modulations, rhythmic quirks, signposts of any sort that help my memory. And of course, once memorized, I make sure that I can start playing from any of several points in the piece: essential if I have a memory lapse. Therefore, I might start a practice session by starting from one random section that comes into mind, rather from the beginning, and keep playing through to the end, or stop and start again from another section. Or even stop and play a completely different piece, then switch back to the one I'm learning with hardly a pause. Sometimes, when I'm in the mood, I'll switch back and forth between two or more pieces, playing a section of one piece, then jumping straight into a section of another piece, just to check my memory grin

But the bottom line is, most of my playing memory is muscle memory. (And it works well, and especially with fast pieces with lots of notes, which are the ones I prefer - 90% of my performing rep are fast or faster.....)
As one well-known pianist puts it: "If you play a piece enough times, you remember 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."
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Bennevis
If you read Chaffin’s book, ‘practicing perfection’, the first half of the book is full of statements from virtuoso pianists who state that muscle memory alone is not reliable. Since it works for you — kudos!


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Bennevis
If you read Chaffin’s book, ‘practicing perfection’, the first half of the book is full of statements from virtuoso pianists who state that muscle memory alone is not reliable. Since it works for you — kudos!
90% of my memory is muscle memory, but as I said, I also use every trick known to man or beast to reinforce it.

With slow pieces (if I bother to memorize them), most of my memory is actually harmonic, plus "positions" & patterns based on the harmony. For instance, the Pathetique slow movement. (And I don't mean Tchaikovsky's Pathetique.....)


"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."

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