2022 our 25th year online!

Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 3 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments.
Over 100,000 members from around the world.
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Shop our online store for music lovers
SEARCH
Piano Forums & Piano World
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
72 members (astrotoy, AaronSF, 36251, adrian4444, AJB, accordeur, anamnesis, anotherscott, 20 invisible), 852 guests, and 366 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
(ad)
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Hop To
Page 1 of 2 1 2
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
OP Offline

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186
I wonder what you guys think of the videos below, which seem to epitomize the contrast between learning music like you did as a child (muscle memory) vs. more analytically as an adult. Chick Corea seems to be advocating for simply repeating the piece again and again until you "know" it, which sounds like muscle memory to me. He actually discourages having a conscious map of the music in your mind. Zhdanov, on the other hand, advocates what I see many classical teachers saying, which is to use various more conscious methods to memorize a piece and NOT relying on muscle memory. Personally I am only able to utilize muscle memory, and I experience its pitfalls every time I play in front of others. Muscle memory is easily derailed by nerves or other distraction. But somehow it works for Chick. Maybe it only works for people who don't experience much stage fright? What do you guys think? Here are the videos:





Daily driver: Yamaha Avantgrand N1
First crush: Kawai GL10, MP11SE
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Joined: Nov 2019
Posts: 377
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Joined: Nov 2019
Posts: 377
In my opinion, the answer to a solid memory of music (for performance) is to combine the different types of memory: muscle, analytical, etc. and not to rely on a single one. I like how this music professor puts it:



Talão

Yamaha U3 and Kawai MP11SE
My piano journey (playing since July 2019)
10 weeks into Duane Shinn's 52-Week Crash Course
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
I’m of the analytical school, and have bern since I read Chaffin’s book ‘practicing perfection: the role of memory in piano performance’. The first half of the book is how virtuostic pianists memorize in written summary form. Almost all say that muscle memory alone fails you when you need it most . Linked below is a summary of the book

https://memorisingmusic.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/practicing-perfection-book-review/

Last edited by dogperson; 01/20/22 10:41 AM.
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
Thanks, Talão. I've seen other videos by that professor and like the way he teaches. He doesn't mince words. In the video you linked to, he makes a strong case for knowing and applying music theory during the memorization process, which is something I blew off growing up when my music teacher tried to teach it to me (and now wish I hadn't).

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Originally Posted by MrSh4nkly
Thanks, Talão. I've seen other videos by that professor and like the way he teaches. He doesn't mince words. In the video you linked to, he makes a strong case for knowing and applying music theory during the memorization process, which is something I blew off growing up when my music teacher tried to teach it to me (and now wish I hadn't).

It doesn’t need to be a full theory analysis to still be helpful: try ‘next chord is E flat minor’ to mark a problem spot’. Or ‘next section is minor key’. Use the theory as major land marks


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
Originally Posted by dogperson
It doesn’t need to be a full theory analysis to still be helpful: try ‘next chord is E flat minor’ to mark a problem spot’. Or ‘next section is minor key’. Use the theory as major land marks
Thanks for the tip. When very young (<13), I could rely on muscle memory for recitals without issues. Kids tend to be less self-conscious before their teens. Straight motor memory when playing for others proved to be more and more unreliable with age, so, like Emery, I'm looking for something more.

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Originally Posted by MrSh4nkly
Originally Posted by dogperson
It doesn’t need to be a full theory analysis to still be helpful: try ‘next chord is E flat minor’ to mark a problem spot’. Or ‘next section is minor key’. Use the theory as major land marks
Thanks for the tip. When very young (<13), I could rely on muscle memory for recitals without issues. Kids tend to be less self-conscious before their teens. Straight motor memory when playing for others proved to be more and more unreliable with age, so, like Emery, I'm looking for something more.


I had the same experience: as a kid, brute repetition worked, and My teacher never discussed how to practice or how to memorize. I was fearless about performing anywhere, anytime. As an adult, brute repetition just is inefficient for practicing and doesn’t work so well for performance. I’ve basically had to regroup how I was doing both. And now I have performance anxiety, which I am trying to beat down.
New day equals something else to learn.


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 32,377
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Online Content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 32,377
I think those that say they only use muscle memory don't realize that they probably also use aural memory to a significant extent also.

For the last 60+ years I have not memorized a single piece and just use the score. Even as a teenager I only memorized a few pieces for exams or studio recitals. This has allowed me to learn more than 10x the repertoire than I would have learned if I tried to memorize the music.

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think those that say they only use muscle memory don't realize that they probably also use aural memory to a significant extent also.

For the last 60+ years I have not memorized a single piece and just use the score. Even as a teenager I only memorized a few pieces for exams or studio recitals. This has allowed me to learn more than 10x the repertoire than I would have learned if I tried to memorize the music.

This question was what method do you use to memorize’. I memorize very few (2-3), but I want my memory to be reliable. Those that try to keep 30 in memory need to also address the question of which method.


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
OP Offline

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186
So no love for Chick's method? It's what I expected, and I can't say I disagree as Chick is the only one I've encountered who promotes using muscle memory only. However, it seems to work for Chick. Is he just an outlier?

I wonder if there is a different way to approach this, as I expect accomplished musicians who don't read music must do (like Dave Brubeck). For them, playing music may be more like dancing or martial arts forms. The goal is to be able to perform subconsciously, or to "know" as Chick puts it. I wonder if people like Chick have success with this method because of their state of mind. I imagine it's a combination of conquering nerves to the extent they can shut them out during performance and getting into a "zone" that likewise shuts things out. Sort of a Zen state, I guess. So I wonder if an alternative to the analytical way of memorizing would be to use Chick's method in combination with some sort of Zen or meditative state.

What do you guys think? Anyone ever successfully pursue such a path?

Last edited by Emery Wang; 01/20/22 12:56 PM.

Daily driver: Yamaha Avantgrand N1
First crush: Kawai GL10, MP11SE
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,297
L
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,297
I dislike this term “muscle memory.” Muscles have no memory. The brain remembers movements and sends signals to the muscles to move.

Musicians are athletes of the small muscle groups.

Last edited by LarryK; 01/20/22 01:39 PM.
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,098
S
3000 Post Club Member
Online Content
3000 Post Club Member
S
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,098
Originally Posted by LarryK
I dislike this term “muscle memory.” Muscles have no memory. The brain remembers movements and sends signals to the muscles to move.

Musicians are athletes of the small muscle groups.

Agree with that. Even if they did have memory, they dont move by themselves. It is all controlled by the brain, who stores memory of mouvements. Like any memory, it is something that can be developped with practice.


Blüthner model 6
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
OP Offline

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186
Yes, "muscle memory" is just an expression. Memories reside in the brain. But, I wonder why the brain's memory of movement gets derailed more easily than its memory of the written score or chords. Perhaps it's because movement memory resides more in the subconscious compared to the others?


Daily driver: Yamaha Avantgrand N1
First crush: Kawai GL10, MP11SE
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
Yes, "muscle memory" is just an expression. Memories reside in the brain. But, I wonder why the brain's memory of movement gets derailed more easily than its memory of the written score or chords. Perhaps it's because movement memory resides more in the subconscious compared to the others?

The bullet proof musician calls it ‘serial chaining’. His theory is it fails if your performance and practice environments are different. This is simplified— the full discussion is in the link.

https://bulletproofmusician.com/musicians-seem-memorization-naturals-can-become-one/


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
OP Offline

Gold Supporter until Nov 1 2022
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 1,186
Great article, thanks for that dogperson. Though I wish for the simplicity of Chick's method, it seems only a few can make it work. For the rest of us, the methods in the Bulletproof Musician article and others like that sound like the way to go. I just need a way to implement these methods that doesn't feel so darned tedious.


Daily driver: Yamaha Avantgrand N1
First crush: Kawai GL10, MP11SE
Current fling: Petrof III
Foster child: 1927 Kurtzmann upright
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,297
L
3000 Post Club Member
Offline
3000 Post Club Member
L
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 3,297
I used to run seriously and I read a fascinating book on running and the brain which describes the central governor theory:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_governor?wprov=sfti1

I wonder if such a theory also applies to a musical performance.

So, if a runner is standing on the start line of a race, how does the brain decide the firing rate of the muscles to complete the course? The runner has never run this course before.

The answer appears to be that the brain does forward planning based on the paces run in training. The brain knows prior distances that have been run and at what pace, so, it picks a firing rate based on that information.

Of course, it’s not always perfect, as a course can be much more difficult than the one seen in training.

I think a similar thing is done when performing a piece of music from memory. The brain plays back the muscle movements at tempos performed in practice.

I remember a music student telling me that she noticed her tempo dropping during very long pieces. I think one explanation is muscle fatigue, fatigue of the small muscle groups.

Last edited by LarryK; 01/20/22 02:56 PM.
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
Originally Posted by Emery Wang
So no love for Chick's method? It's what I expected, and I can't say I disagree as Chick is the only one I've encountered who promotes using muscle memory only. However, it seems to work for Chick. Is he just an outlier?
At 1:35 in the video you posted in the OP he indicates he writes music, so I think on some level, perhaps subconsciously, he's relying on an understanding of music theory more than he may care to admit.

Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
Regarding the second memorization technique the author mentions here, which the article calls "content addressable access," Margaret Wacyk recommends learning to begin the piece from a number of key sections throughout the score, labeled 1 through whatever number, and then randomly scramble playing them from memory:


Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Offline
Gold Subscriber
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 10,454
@Mr S
Great tutorial— I’ve now subscribed to her tutorials


"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

It's ok to be a Work In Progress
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
M
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
M
Joined: Aug 2021
Posts: 222
Originally Posted by dogperson
Great tutorial— I’ve now subscribed to her tutorials
She's a wonderful pianist and teacher. I like how she sits fairly low in relation to the keyboard (enhances "pulling" action with the fingers that helps me play tightly spaced, difficult passages more evenly).

On another note, I think it was the professor in a video earlier in this thread who talked about playing the piece incredibly slowly from memory. Any tentativeness or uncertainty is magnified when doing that, which I take as a warning to drill the heck out of such passages until the hesitancies are completely gone, as phrases with those in them are the most likely to break down, then snowball into even more unforced errors, when under pressure to perform.

Last edited by MrSh4nkly; 01/20/22 04:37 PM.
Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Best of Piano Buyer
Piano Buyer - Read the Articles, Explore the website
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Kawai ES520 Teardown
by KawaFanboi - 05/20/22 01:00 PM
My Kawai RX3 finally started to sounds like Kawai
by Joonsung - 05/20/22 12:52 PM
I need some advice
by Lúthien - 05/20/22 12:23 PM
Harmonization by pentatonic chords
by Nahum - 05/20/22 06:25 AM
Studio Grand from XLN audio for 62€
by klausi6 - 05/20/22 06:23 AM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums43
Topics213,159
Posts3,193,175
Members105,328
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

Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads



 
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 | MapleStreetMusicShop.com - Our store in Cornish Maine


© copyright 1997 - 2022 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission
Powered by UBB.threads™ PHP Forum Software 7.7.5