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Despite the fact that 'muscle memory' is supposed to be the least reliable on stage, from Yuga Wang's comments it would appear to be her main 'weapon' - 'the fingers just know what to do'.

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Originally Posted by dogperson
I now limit the score visualization to a few key trigger points, such as new sections, top of pages, etc. used along with other memorization tools such as kinesthetic, auditory and analytical, it is one more tool.— even if just a rusty one.

You are welcome, Animisha!

and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to contribute to this thread. Although I myself have no interest in memorizing, at least at this time while I am still trying to learn to read music and find the keys, I have found all of your shared ‘lived experiences’ of this wonderful group really insightful and helpful.

just a teeny update, to return to the mini book review:
I wanted to note that Animisha asked me to share “one strategy” from Stephanie Burns book, which I did (the visual memory of the written score bit). I left out all the rest, except at the top when I listed her ‘four memories’ or approaches.

The strategies in the little book, however, are closer to the list that @dogperson noted— absolutely, Ms Burns emphasizes the incredible importance of auditory, kinesthetic, analytical memory practice, along with visualizing the written score and hand patterns, and how you might integrate these in daily memory practice.

Animisha asked me to list one single strategy.

I’m afraid that by listing one strategy (visual), I inadvertently made the book sound like a ‘tips and tricks’ list that work for one person (the author), rather than what it was.

Instead, it’s just a brief summary of practical ideas that might work for people who have to memorize *music* based from research on memorization in learning labs all over the world, written by a PhD in Learning/Development (who also earned a degree in music from an Australian music college late in life).

She touched on many other memory practices (auditory, theory, etc) too! so: oops, my bad! I’m sorry if I made it sound like one of those annoying and facile Top Ten Tricks books.

Of course, each person is a wonderful constellation of skills, abilities, and natural aptitudes, as well as ‘gaps’ in all of those. Although it’s interesting to understand what “research shows…” and what that tells us about the human brain, ultimately each of us will have to find what work best for us.

I guess research (“this works for most people”) just gives us a starting point of sensible and curious things to try, if we are interested in music memorizing.

That said, about the one thing I decided to ‘feature’: it is so hard for ME to imagine learning how to visualize a whole score. Visual memory is a weak point for me: as other have noted, I am terrible at faces, etc..

However, because of the book and @dogperson’s comment, I now think that that might be a brilliant solution for me:

…. to experiment with Ms. Burns step-by-step ideas to visualize/memorize just a few KEY points (anchors) in a score just in case my “muscle memory” fails mid-performance. That seems small and do-able and like an interesting experiment!

Again, Thanks to everyone who contributed to the thread. It gave me lots of ideas, even if memorization is quite a way down the road for me!!

p.s.
67 years old, and a new beginning player (2 months), ~5 years childhood lessons followed by 45 year gap, newly retired, and loving this new adventure


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Originally Posted by mtb
Animisha asked me to list one single strategy

Mary, this was because I didn't want to burden you by asking you to write a full summary of the book! And what you wrote was so much more than I had hoped for.

Originally Posted by mtb
67 years old, and a new beginning player (2 months), ~5 years childhood lessons followed by 45 year gap, newly retired, and loving this new adventure

This is sooo nice! Yes, learning to play the piano (afresh, or again) is a lovely adventure. heart


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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Despite the fact that 'muscle memory' is supposed to be the least reliable on stage, from Yuga Wang's comments it would appear to be her main 'weapon' - 'the fingers just know what to do'.

See Living the life
As with every other musician I've heard on BBC Radio 3 when asked this question ('how do you remember all the notes?') - all the answers are variations of 'muscle memory' (MM), and in fact, MM is the term used by all the musicians whose English is fluent, not 'procedural memory'.

I'd hoped to hear at least one pianist talk about his/her photographic memory, because I'm curious about how they visualise the score, but no-one has ever mentioned having this gift (and I must have heard or read more than 100 interviews that touched on this subject), though it has been mentioned frequently that a few well-known conductors have (or had) this attribute - Lorin Maazel was one. (If you see a conductor conduct entire concerts from memory, it's likely he has photographic memory.)

It's not really surprising - after all, almost everything we do 'without thinking' depends on MM, based on lots and lots of repetition. Think of lifting a mug of coffee (other beverages are available) to one's lips. If we always use our RH to do this, switching to LH feels very awkward, and we might even spill some coffee if the mug is almost full. The hand might shake. And if you think the mug is empty but it's actually full (or filled with mercury rather than coffee smirk ), you suddenly can't lift it up......because you were expecting (from MM) a certain weight which turned out to be unexpectedly different.

Same for any sport that requires precision skills - scoring goals, hitting aces, even jumping over hurdles etc. Piano playing is no different - practice makes perfect, because it addresses MM directly. Eventually, we remember the exact sequence of movements, so we don't have to think about "which notes in which order?" when we play.

For instance, how would anyone play this piece, except almost entirely by MM?


Incidentally, just last night - because of this thread -, I thought of one piece that I composed when I was a teenager which I never wrote down, because I kept 'improving' it, adding more and more notes to it over a few months. It was actually my own cadenza to Mozart's K467 concerto, which I was learning for myself at that time (playing the orchestral as well as solo part). I hadn't played it again since then, and wondered if I could still remember it in its entirety (it lasted some five minutes - I was an ambitious kid trying to upstage Wolfie whistle ), several decades on. The first few notes were easy - I played them by ear, but then had to let MM take over as things got hectic and notes started flying all over the keyboard (ranging much more widely than is possible on Mozart's own fortepianos grin). Needless to say, I soon got stuck, and tried jumping to another section of the cadenza. Then I got stuck again. After several tries, I managed to "retrieve" most, but not all of my original final version of it. This morning, I had another attempt before I went to work, and when I returned home this evening, tried again just now, and.......yippie I finally remembered the whole thing, and was able to play it from start to finish. Or, my fingers 'remembered'. I just had to 'let my mind go' and allow my fingers to do their own thing.

In other words, pure MM........(and now, I'm going to add more fancy bits to it wink ).


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When we talk about the fading of memory, this applies to all its types, although not to the same extent - that's what happens with me , including MM.

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Artur Rubinstein states that he has a photographic memory of the score. He said that his father also had the same talent, extremely strong visual memory. I believe Gieseking also relied a lot on memory of the score. When it comes to something like the Flight of the Bumblebee, of course you can't come up with every movement on the spot, but if you just remember the start and stop points of the chromatic scale etc. you won't rely entirely on finger memory.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Despite the fact that 'muscle memory' is supposed to be the least reliable on stage, from Yuga Wang's comments it would appear to be her main 'weapon' - 'the fingers just know what to do'.

See Living the life
As with every other musician I've heard on BBC Radio 3 when asked this question ('how do you remember all the notes?') - all the answers are variations of 'muscle memory' (MM), and in fact, MM is the term used by all the musicians whose English is fluent, not 'procedural memory'.

I'd hoped to hear at least one pianist talk about his/her photographic memory, because I'm curious about how they visualise the score, but no-one has ever mentioned having this gift (and I must have heard or read more than 100 interviews that touched on this subject), though it has been mentioned frequently that a few well-known conductors have (or had) this attribute - Lorin Maazel was one. (If you see a conductor conduct entire concerts from memory, it's likely he has photographic memory.)

It's not really surprising - after all, almost everything we do 'without thinking' depends on MM, based on lots and lots of repetition. Think of lifting a mug of coffee (other beverages are available) to one's lips. If we always use our RH to do this, switching to LH feels very awkward, and we might even spill some coffee if the mug is almost full. The hand might shake. And if you think the mug is empty but it's actually full (or filled with mercury rather than coffee smirk ), you suddenly can't lift it up......because you were expecting (from MM) a certain weight which turned out to be unexpectedly different.

Same for any sport that requires precision skills - scoring goals, hitting aces, even jumping over hurdles etc. Piano playing is no different - practice makes perfect, because it addresses MM directly. Eventually, we remember the exact sequence of movements, so we don't have to think about "which notes in which order?" when we play.

For instance, how would anyone play this piece, except almost entirely by MM?


Incidentally, just last night - because of this thread -, I thought of one piece that I composed when I was a teenager which I never wrote down, because I kept 'improving' it, adding more and more notes to it over a few months. It was actually my own cadenza to Mozart's K467 concerto, which I was learning for myself at that time (playing the orchestral as well as solo part). I hadn't played it again since then, and wondered if I could still remember it in its entirety (it lasted some five minutes - I was an ambitious kid trying to upstage Wolfie whistle ), several decades on. The first few notes were easy - I played them by ear, but then had to let MM take over as things got hectic and notes started flying all over the keyboard (ranging much more widely than is possible on Mozart's own fortepianos grin). Needless to say, I soon got stuck, and tried jumping to another section of the cadenza. Then I got stuck again. After several tries, I managed to "retrieve" most, but not all of my original final version of it. This morning, I had another attempt before I went to work, and when I returned home this evening, tried again just now, and.......yippie I finally remembered the whole thing, and was able to play it from start to finish. Or, my fingers 'remembered'. I just had to 'let my mind go' and allow my fingers to do their own thing.

In other words, pure MM........(and now, I'm going to add more fancy bits to it wink ).

Valentina Lisitsa reads the score and can then recall the score in entirety as a scrolling document . There is a YouTube video when I can find it

There are others professional pianists in Chaffin’s book that use other methods.


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Excerpt from Chaffin’s book— concert pianist practice sessions

https://musiclab.uconn.edu/wp-conte...0/Practicing-Perfection-Chaffin-2002.pdf


"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
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
Despite the fact that 'muscle memory' is supposed to be the least reliable on stage, from Yuga Wang's comments it would appear to be her main 'weapon' - 'the fingers just know what to do'.

See Living the life
As with every other musician I've heard on BBC Radio 3 when asked this question ('how do you remember all the notes?') - all the answers are variations of 'muscle memory' (MM), and in fact, MM is the term used by all the musicians whose English is fluent, not 'procedural memory'.

I'd hoped to hear at least one pianist talk about his/her photographic memory, because I'm curious about how they visualise the score, but no-one has ever mentioned having this gift (and I must have heard or read more than 100 interviews that touched on this subject), though it has been mentioned frequently that a few well-known conductors have (or had) this attribute - Lorin Maazel was one. (If you see a conductor conduct entire concerts from memory, it's likely he has photographic memory.)

It's not really surprising - after all, almost everything we do 'without thinking' depends on MM, based on lots and lots of repetition. Think of lifting a mug of coffee (other beverages are available) to one's lips. If we always use our RH to do this, switching to LH feels very awkward, and we might even spill some coffee if the mug is almost full. The hand might shake. And if you think the mug is empty but it's actually full (or filled with mercury rather than coffee smirk ), you suddenly can't lift it up......because you were expecting (from MM) a certain weight which turned out to be unexpectedly different.

Same for any sport that requires precision skills - scoring goals, hitting aces, even jumping over hurdles etc. Piano playing is no different - practice makes perfect, because it addresses MM directly. Eventually, we remember the exact sequence of movements, so we don't have to think about "which notes in which order?" when we play.

For instance, how would anyone play this piece, except almost entirely by MM?


Incidentally, just last night - because of this thread -, I thought of one piece that I composed when I was a teenager which I never wrote down, because I kept 'improving' it, adding more and more notes to it over a few months. It was actually my own cadenza to Mozart's K467 concerto, which I was learning for myself at that time (playing the orchestral as well as solo part). I hadn't played it again since then, and wondered if I could still remember it in its entirety (it lasted some five minutes - I was an ambitious kid trying to upstage Wolfie whistle ), several decades on. The first few notes were easy - I played them by ear, but then had to let MM take over as things got hectic and notes started flying all over the keyboard (ranging much more widely than is possible on Mozart's own fortepianos grin). Needless to say, I soon got stuck, and tried jumping to another section of the cadenza. Then I got stuck again. After several tries, I managed to "retrieve" most, but not all of my original final version of it. This morning, I had another attempt before I went to work, and when I returned home this evening, tried again just now, and.......yippie I finally remembered the whole thing, and was able to play it from start to finish. Or, my fingers 'remembered'. I just had to 'let my mind go' and allow my fingers to do their own thing.

In other words, pure MM........(and now, I'm going to add more fancy bits to it wink ).

Valentina Lisitsa reads the score and can then recall the score in entirety as a scrolling document . There is a YouTube video when I can find it

There are others professional pianists in Chaffin’s book that use other methods.


Here’s the we interview with Valentina



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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by David-G
That is interesting, and so different from me. Except for checking in particular places in the score that I am actually hitting the right note, I positively do NOT look at my hands while playing. I find if I do look at them, it tends to put me off and I make mistakes.
Aren't you talking about playing from the score?

When playing from the score, I hardly ever look at my hands. But playing from memory is a completely different kettle of fish (= a whole new ball game for our American friends). You need all the help you can get - eyes, ears, feel.

I am not exactly talking about playing from the score. I do usually have the score in front of me. For pieces that I know well, most of the work is done by memory (of whatever kind), and the score just serves to "keep me on the rails". It also serves as something for my eyes to gaze on, so that normally when playing I do not look at my hands.

But if I try to play entirely from memory, with no score present, I am more successful if I do not look at my hands. If I do look at them, they seem unfamiliar and this can rapidly lead to disaster.

Interesting connection between fish kettles and ball games, by the way.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
As with every other musician I've heard on BBC Radio 3 when asked this question ('how do you remember all the notes?') - all the answers are variations of 'muscle memory' (MM), and in fact, MM is the term used by all the musicians whose English is fluent, not 'procedural memory'

I quote wikipedia: "Muscle memory is a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition".


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MM vs Photo M. I am not convinced.

I am playing this very very simple passage. F-G-A-F-Eb. As it happens you fall on the first F with finger 2. But since eventually you have to reach Eb your fingering goes 2-3-4-1-2. In other words you have to remember not doing 2 on the second F as it would be natural but 1 since then you want to reach Eb. How is photo memory helping you here ? Not at all ! You have to remember the fingering.

Photo memory might help a conductor but I maintain is of little help with a pianist. I have good photo memory and that does not save me from repeating the above passage 20 times before memorizing that.

One thing that does help is musical / harmony analysis. Knowing what scale / tonality you are in.

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Everything was already described in Lilias McKinnon's book Music by Heart in 1938 .

https://www.amazon.com/Music-Heart-Lilias-MacKinnon-1981-02-18/dp/B01K8Z9EF8

The aged students were not mentioned at all.

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Originally Posted by Nahum
Everything was already described in Lilias McKinnon's book Music by Heart in 1938 .

https://www.amazon.com/Music-Heart-Lilias-MacKinnon-1981-02-18/dp/B01K8Z9EF8

The aged students were not mentioned at all.


The link is to a book that is not available. Could you kindly provide a brief summary?


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Originally Posted by dogperson
The link is to a book that is not available. Could you kindly provide a brief summary?
I have a Russian version, here translating the table of contents.


Chapter 1. How views on musical memory developed
Ch. 2. Properties of memory
Chapter 3. 4 types of memory (auditory, visual, tactile, muscular)
Chapter 4 Book of own experience
Chapter 5. Conscious and subconscious (intervention of consciousness - passive attention - close union - the role of attention - musical meaning - individuality)
Chapter 6 Representation (mental vision)
Chapter 7 Musical thinking (student and artist - musical thought - accent - confidence - score - musical speech - phrasing - memory and phrasing - duality of attention)
Chapter 8. Mental photography
Chapter 9 Habit training (exercises - expressiveness and memory - simplifications - percussive bar - finger legato - the beauty of detail - repeated impressions - repetitions - imaginary training - mistakes - habit changes - orchestra habit)
Chapter 10. Performance from memory (training of habits - freedom - playing by heart - breaking habits - revitalizing impressions - tempo and memory - first performance)
Interlude
Chapter 11 Fundamental rules
Chapter 12 Chords (Headings - Memorization - Practice Hours)
Chapter 13. Arpeggio
Chapter 14. The meaning of details in music (what is a detail - rhythm and decorations - links - first impressions - fast music - headings - polyrhythm - work on touch)
Chapter 15. Polyphonic music (difficulties in voice leading - method of work - performance from memory - back to consciousness)
Chapter 16. Additional advice (Music of various types - musical language - an example of modern music - classical means - problems of musical development)
Ch.17. Teacher (musical instruments - classes - conversations about memory - a new piece - memorizing a melody - taste and associations - games that develop memory)
Chapter 18. Organist
Chapter 19. concert performer
Chapter 20. Vocalist
Chapter 21. Performer on strings and other instruments
Chapter 22. Conductor
Chapter 23. About memory (new in the old - technique and fingering - health - rest - perfect pitch - improvisation - memory for other things)
Chapter 24. From Fear to Confidence (Excitement of various types - a dangerous thought - questions to oneself - classes at the wrong time - hostile influence - restoration of peace of mind - overcoming excitement - creating a good mood - character and habit - what is happiness - appearance - radio broadcast - before a concert - creative uplift program)

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Originally Posted by marklings
MM vs Photo M. I am not convinced.

I am playing this very very simple passage. F-G-A-F-Eb. As it happens you fall on the first F with finger 2. But since eventually you have to reach Eb your fingering goes 2-3-4-1-2. In other words you have to remember not doing 2 on the second F as it would be natural but 1 since then you want to reach Eb. How is photo memory helping you here ? Not at all ! You have to remember the fingering.

Photo memory might help a conductor but I maintain is of little help with a pianist. I have good photo memory and that does not save me from repeating the above passage 20 times before memorizing that.

One thing that does help is musical / harmony analysis. Knowing what scale / tonality you are in.
I seem to remember that Valentina said that different scores can be a bit confusing and I can understand what she means. But as for knowing the scales and tonality, or even the key and time signatures, remembering these is not something that I find any use at all. All I need to know is whether a piece has four flats, sharps, or whatever. As for time signatures, the notes and the bars are all I need to know, but not really consciously if you see what I mean. Which all goes to show that we are all different. What works for one person won't work for another and I would certainly not recommend my methods to anyone else as magic formulas.


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"Muscle memory" is the colloquial expression for motor memory, a form of procedural memory. When discussing it in the context of learning and memorising the more formal terms are preferred.

Originally Posted by marklings
I am playing this very very simple passage. F-G-A-F-Eb. As it happens you fall on the first F with finger 2. But since eventually you have to reach Eb your fingering goes 2-3-4-1-2. In other words you have to remember not doing 2 on the second F as it would be natural but 1 since then you want to reach Eb. How is photo memory helping you here ? Not at all ! You have to remember the fingering.
A good reader would see the need for a finger change. It doesn't need to be memorised specifically and doesn't affect how photographic memory is used.
_____________________

I have a very visual memory and know where I am in the score that I learnt from but not necessarily the one in front of me - one of the few attributes I have in common with Valentina. I can find a line in a book by riffling quickly through the pages knowing where it is on the page. A photographic memory might even allow the page to be 'read'.

A harmonic analysis may not be as helpful as a structural one but both are better. In a classical sonata, where the structure is defined by the tonality, the harmony is more helpful.


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Originally Posted by marklings
MM vs Photo M. I am not convinced.

I am playing this very very simple passage. F-G-A-F-Eb. As it happens you fall on the first F with finger 2. But since eventually you have to reach Eb your fingering goes 2-3-4-1-2. In other words you have to remember not doing 2 on the second F as it would be natural but 1 since then you want to reach Eb. How is photo memory helping you here ? Not at all ! You have to remember the fingering.

Photo memory might help a conductor but I maintain is of little help with a pianist. I have good photo memory and that does not save me from repeating the above passage 20 times before memorizing that.

One thing that does help is musical / harmony analysis. Knowing what scale / tonality you are in.
Photographic memory is like having the score in front of you and reading it. For someone whose sight reading is great I can see how it can help. There are pianists who can sight read very complex scores so if they can "see" the score in their head they can certainly "read" it and play it.

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Originally Posted by Colin Miles
As for time signatures, the notes and the bars are all I need to know, but not really consciously if you see what I mean.
So how do you know that it has to be felt in a duple or triple meter? 6/8 and 3/4 are very different even though they might have the exact same note values in a bar.

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Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
Originally Posted by Colin Miles
As for time signatures, the notes and the bars are all I need to know, but not really consciously if you see what I mean.
So how do you know that it has to be felt in a duple or triple meter? 6/8 and 3/4 are very different even though they might have the exact same note values in a bar.
Not a problem. To me it is part of the music and I don't have to think about it. Yet another instance of how we all differ - and have to find our own ways of dealing with it all.


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Music theory - Key identification
by Animisha - 07/06/22 11:21 AM
Yamaha P-125 String Resonance
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Piano saver system? does everyone use this?
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Future-proof-ness of a silent acoustic grand
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Haessler
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