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#930489 - 08/05/08 07:55 AM Re: Memorization  
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keystring Offline
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Oh, I understood "ego" in the sense that it often seems to be used by music teachers - pride, hubris. In the sense that you are using the term, I don't know what "it" (the ego) does. "I" set out to memorize the music I play or sing, and haven't encountered any difficulties in doing so. Vocal is a bit harder since you must also memorize lyrics, sometimes in a foreign language, as well as not having any physical reference for pitch if you want to sing a capello, on key, and remaining on key. But it can be done. My biggest challenge was Mozart's Requiem two years ago, having joined the choir when it was already in its third or fourth week. I have no idea what my ego was doing, but that Requiem is still stored in memory where I can pull it out any time I want. I don't know about deep waters. It seems a normal thing to do. But I also see memorizing music as something that is done with understanding, underlying forms, rather than rote chains of notes - the idea of unfolding a sensible sequence, so to say.

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#930490 - 08/05/08 08:12 AM Re: Memorization  
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I think it was Merleau-Ponty somewhere who commented that the problem with the cogito is not the '...therefore I am' but the 'I think'. Thoughts do not of necessity posit a 'thinker'. (as neither do memories)


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http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#930491 - 08/05/08 08:27 AM Re: Memorization  
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I'm not sure how I can use that. Whether or not there is an ego, or what that ego might be, it is possible to memorize things and it's not that hard. There are ways of approaching it.

#930492 - 08/05/08 08:43 AM Re: Memorization  
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Yes, there is an ego and no, memorizing is hard.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#930493 - 08/05/08 08:53 AM Re: Memorization  
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There is an ego. I cannot use that in the practical application of memorizing music. I do not find memorization hard, and I use a process to do so. Do you have strategies for memorization to help those having difficulty, since that is the purpose of this thread? I still don't know how to make use of what you are presenting.

#930494 - 08/05/08 09:36 AM Re: Memorization  
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Unlike keystring, I've always found it MUCH easier to memorize vocal music than piano repertoire. For me, remembering one pitch (and word or syllable) at a time is much more "do-able" than remembering fistsful of notes. And it also makes more sense to me to perform vocal music from memory, because the performer can look at and interact with the audience as he/she presents the text as well as the tune.

Except for the occasional student who has perfect pitch, my piano students who also sing all tell me that it's easier for them, also, to memorize vocal music. And although I've never required piano students to perform from memory, I do require my vocal students to perform without the score. If they have a slip, they can glance over at their accompanist (yours truly!) and I will "mouth" the words.

Also, I notice that the school-sponsored solo & ensemble contests (for middle and high school students) require vocal contestants to perform from memory, while instrumentalists (including pianists) are not required to memorize. Instrumentalists do, however, have to play scales.


Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir
#930495 - 08/05/08 09:47 AM Re: Memorization  
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Quote
Originally posted by lalakeys:
Unlike keystring, I've always found it MUCH easier to memorize vocal music than piano repertoire.
True. Melody is an aid to memory. All oral traditions - epics, sagas - are singing traditions.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#930496 - 08/05/08 10:02 AM Re: Memorization  
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Lalakeys, a correction to what I seem to have conveyed. I do not find it more difficult to memorize vocal music. There is more to memorize since lyrics must be memorized, some with stanza after stanza. Once or twice the lyrics just won't gel. To whit:

(Lost Lagoon - Pauline Johnson)

"It is dusk on the Lost Lagoon,
And we two dreaming the dusk away,
Beneath the drift of the twilight grey,
Beneath the drowse of an ending day,
And the curve of a golden moon.

It is dark in the Lost Lagoon,
And gone are the depths of the haunting blue,
The grouping gulls, and the old canoe,
The singing firs and the dusk and you,
And gone is the golden moo-oo-oonnnn.

O lure of the Lost Lagoon,
I dream tonight that my paddle blurs
The purple shade where the seaweed stirs,
I hear the call of the singing firs
In the hush of the golden moo-oo-oo-nnn-nnnn-nnn."

It's the only one I have never managed to memorize completely. Especially problematic are:

"purple shade where the seaweed stirs, ... call of the singing firs..."

mixed itself up with ...
"depths of the haunting blue - grouping gulls, old canoe, singing firs and the dusk and you"

I would forget what colour the shade was, and also end up with "squawking gulls, old canoe, purple pines and the dusk (dawn) and you...."

I have memorized lyrics in English, German, Latin, French, Croatian, and Italian - but the purple pines et alia elude me to this day. Can anyone figure out why?

KS

#930497 - 08/05/08 10:21 AM Re: Memorization  
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Addendum: When I was in my first ultra-amateur choir, the singers had to memorize the music by rote, played by the pianist. The also associated the melody to the words. A section that had a vowel, such as "oo-oo-oo-oo-oo" as though instrumental would have them totally lost. (It was one particular piece which had me catch on to that.) On the other hand, instrumental-type "oo" music had me right in my element. I would learn the melody and attach the lyrics. For them it was the reverse. I would also study and hear all the voices, so that the various harmonizations, fugal type passages or whatever would play themselves out in my mind.

My way of learning music was not compatible with the last choir either, even though admission was by audition. For me the music had to make sense. We were doing a Requiem of the classical era. I studied the passage, understood its structure, where the modulations etc. were. When I learned to sing the music, even initially sight reading, it had to be in the framework of its structure.

I joined the choir late and they told me the wrong movement for the next rehearsal. Even this choir was learning by rote and the music was "meaningless". The accompanist would play a sequence of notes, as much as their memory could hold, and they set about memorizing this chain of notes and then going on to the next chain, interval by interval. I couldn't function like that. I sat in the back for half an hour, pencil in hand, studying the the music, making little notes half in solfege, half in notes about harmonic progression (modulates to dominant etc.). Then I was able to function with the choir. However, then I had a new problem. I had the passage down pat and it was half memorized, while they continued chain-learning which took forever and it was unpleasant to sit through.

The choir gave me a CD which they all memorized by playing it over and over wherever they went. I don't function like that. I studied the music, its structure, worked on difficult passages. Within three weeks I had the entire Requiem memorized. The choir needed its notes to the very end. I started using the CD after I had memorized the music for timing, remembering points of interpretation etc.

What I was seeing were two ways of approaching music and memorizing that music. I related to music in a totally different way than the members of this choir. Within a single rehearsal I learned passages they were working on the second week in a row, so that I was able to sing them consistently within about 10 minutes of any passage, while they struggled. This has to be approach and not ability. If I had tried to approach the music in the manner that they did, I would have struggled as well.

Might these experiences be pertinent in the present context?

#930498 - 08/05/08 10:23 AM Re: Memorization  
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Probably not.


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#930499 - 08/05/08 10:35 AM Re: Memorization  
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I can give reasons for their pertinence. Can you give reasons for them not being pertinent? Can you also give an approach or approaches toward effective memorization?

#930500 - 08/05/08 10:54 AM Re: Memorization  
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I think you'd need to be a piano teacher/player to understand the nature of memorization on the piano. The waters just get muddied otherwise.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/

#930501 - 08/05/08 10:54 AM Re: Memorization  
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Quote
Originally posted by keystring:
I can give reasons for their pertinence. Can you give reasons for them not being pertinent? Can you also give an approach or approaches toward effective memorization?
+1

There are millions of people who know what "not to do".

There are the brave few who choose to be sepecific and explain how something can be done.

Yes...we know KBK...you cannot explain how you teach over the internet because what you do with students is "magical and mysterious". We would have to come to a lesson, then our horizons would be broadened, and the magic would take place.

I am in no position to guess whether your system works or not. You are probable a fine teacher. and I'm sure that some students flourish under. You should however realize, that your method of presenting yourself..."you're wrong, but I won't tell you what is right because music is too big and vast and powerful"..., precludes you from adding much value to our conversations.


Music is the surest path to excellence

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#930502 - 08/05/08 11:02 AM Re: Memorization  
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
You should however realize, that your method of presenting yourself..."you're wrong, but I won't tell you what is right because music is too big and vast and powerful"..., precludes you from adding much value to our conversations.
Conversations are they now? They seem mostly monologues from where I'm sitting. Besides, I can't help it if words mean what you want them to mean.


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#930503 - 08/05/08 11:43 AM Re: Memorization  
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Answering my own question which I admit was probably a bit rhetorical, since I did suspect it could be pertinent:

My approach in this area is the same on piano as for any other instrument. I have no difficult memorizing music, I don't need to memorize it because of a weakness in sight reading - it is effective, relatively quick, and it stays.

I offered up the contrast as food for thought in case someone may find it helpful. The singers memorized chains of notes without analysis, understanding, or phrasing and did so by rote. When I tried to approach music as they did, because I was there among them, I found it extremely difficult. When I returned to my approach, I was able to handle difficult phrases that they struggled with, and to do so in a fraction of the time. I had also memorized the entire repertoire within a few weeks.

The question is: What is it that I was doing which made it easy, and how were our approaches different? If I go to the difficult passages, I would say that I did not so much memorize a series of intervals, as to understand the structure and sense of the passage.

In a very similar fashion, I understood the repertoire as a whole. It made sense to me. There was movement from point A to point B, certain modulations and patterns that made formal and musical sense. In that sense I do not memorize chains or sequences of things. It is not quite a co-creation with the composer, but in some ways it is. You know you have an ABA pattern, that it wants to move up to the dominant over there, that this and that theme repeats itself and does various acrobatics - itself but in disguise. In playing or singing you are moving from point to point, the music "unfolds". You might have to memorize this melismatic section over here, and that strange run over there, but even those things are hovering or dancing around predictable patterns.

In one case you have committing a sequence of notes to memory without understanding or vision of any patterns. My impression was "utter meaningless", "no sense of direction" when I tried to work that way. If there is a counterpart to piano, where someone may be memorizing chains of notes, or not analyzing the music as music first, then maybe that contrasting view of two approaches can give perspective.

I know that choir is not piano, but I do also play piano. The process is the same. In some ways it's easier, because the more modern music is structured in chord progressions and then the patterns become ultra-visible.

In the course of my time at PW I have noticed that at least some teachers include analysis of the music as one of their prelimary steps. I have read that students doing such analysis already have memorized the music to some degree, though they may not be conscious of it. My experience would be in line with that.

I offered up the first choir, because this choir was actually experiencing music in a much different manner than I knew. They memorized words, and then associated melody to the words. That is a mode of learning or a mode of perception by association, and knowing that various modes of this kind exist could be a valuable tool. Can we change these modes or approach things from various angles?

Either these observations are helpful to someone, or they are not. I had enough of sense that they might be that I dared to write them down, though I must admit that the poetry of the Lost Lagoon was mostly self-indulgent whimsy.

#930504 - 08/05/08 11:49 AM Re: Memorization  
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Quote
Originally posted by keyboardklutz:
I can't help it if words mean what you want them to mean. [/QB]
Communication is tricky, so you are right. Having recently studied communications in some business courses I have taken, I can appreciate what you are saying.

All it means is that we need to practice. I use this forum as a means to sharpen my communication (the spelling mistakes in my last post seem to negate this statement).

Give it a shot KBK.


Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs
#930505 - 08/05/08 11:59 AM Re: Memorization  
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How about a shot over the bow? Piano mastery is a received tradition, even secret, as the essence can't be put in words. I'm sorry if you don't see the miracle of its transmission (what teachers do).


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#930506 - 08/05/08 01:15 PM Re: Memorization  
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I have been taught that one must know where to direct one's attention. I believe that is pertinent to this thread.

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