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Memorization
#930459 07/31/08 10:19 PM
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How much do you rely on it? Do you memorize the piece as you learn it, bar by bar or after fluently learning to read the entire piece? Clearly, memorization is a good technique to have. Conert pianists have no printed pages in front.


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Re: Memorization
#930460 08/01/08 03:42 AM
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Are you asking about our own playing, or how we teach our students?

If the former, I don't rely on it at all. The vast majority of music I perform is ensemble, and not many ensemble pianists play from memory (I've only seen one vln/pf duo ever do it in concert). I always read through things before working on difficult parts. I don't think that even when I was doing more solo work and memorising lots of music that I ever memorised it bar by bar as I was learning it. It seems a very bitsy way of learning a piece. I'd rather grasp the overall structure first.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Memorization
#930461 08/01/08 09:08 AM
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"Memorization is a good technique to have"--I definitely agree with ClassicalMan. Like Currawong, most of the performing that I do is accompanying/ensemble music, but I sometimes find that the only practical way to play a passage is from memory. For example, I was playing a Schubert sonatina for violin & piano, and the first eight measures were octaves in both hands--I had to look at my hands as I played in order to make sure I would hit the right notes! Memorizing enabled me to play that passage securely.

However, I have never felt comfortable requiring my students to perform from memory. Because I care more about how a piece sounds than whether or not there is a piece of paper on the music rack, I allow students to have the score in front of them for reference (and security) as they perform. Many of my students do choose to perform from memory (and I give them special recognition and mention at recitals)--but it's always their choice.


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
Re: Memorization
#930462 08/01/08 10:28 AM
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I teach my students memorization by the way I teach them to practice. As we begin a new piece, we look through it to discover the major parts. We then look for subsections within each part. We mark the parts, and then, after a play through to get a feel of the piece, the student begins refining the piece by working on each section as a single entity. Thus, they are learning the structure of the piece as they learn the whole. When I comes time to perform, they merely reassemble the whole, or to put it another way, they string together a series of memorized pieces. The piece is generally memorized long before it's totally refined.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Memorization
#930463 08/01/08 01:45 PM
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Memory is important, whether or not one intends to play with a score. I therefore rely on it heavily for myself and with me students.

I teach that there are 4 primary sources of memory: I will even go to the controversial length of ranking them in order of importance (as I have found to be the case)

Aural
Analytical
Visual
Tactual

I list tactual last, not beacuse it is not important, but because, if one plays accurately over and over, with the same fingering, it is the only one that is a given.

-P-


Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
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Re: Memorization
#930464 08/01/08 02:00 PM
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Yes indeed. The aural, visual and tactile will occur automatically through practice. If practice is playing correctly, then the performance memory will be correct; if the practice is a progression of wrong notes slowly resolving to correct notes (to over simplify), then the memory will be confused when under pressure.

It's the analytical which most teachers tend to overlook, and thus students don't do it.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Memorization
#930465 08/01/08 02:02 PM
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I agree 100% with John......the practice MUST be correct.

H1


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Re: Memorization
#930466 08/01/08 03:31 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by pianoexcellence:
Memory is important, whether or not one intends to play with a score. I therefore rely on it heavily for myself and with me students.

I teach that there are 4 primary sources of memory: I will even go to the controversial length of ranking them in order of importance (as I have found to be the case)

Aural
Analytical
Visual
Tactual

I list tactual last, not beacuse it is not important, but because, if one plays accurately over and over, with the same fingering, it is the only one that is a given.

-P-
I would love for you to elaborate on this, I didn't want to steal the thread too much so I posted here - http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/2/18565.html

Re: Memorization
#930467 08/01/08 04:08 PM
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Whiteside fixates on aural memory...and as you mentioned Liemer fixates on the analytical side.

I agree that visual has the two components.

The thing is that none of these are mutually exclusive...
The ear guides the tactual response...many other connections can be made

My personal favorite memory tool is closing the eyes...visualizing a keyboard, then watching your imaginary hands play the piece in front of you while humming along. You may need to slightly wiggle the fingers as you imagine, to involve the tactual.

I find that this is a practice method that really involves all aspects of memory. It takes a lot of practice and concentration. At first, the image is very "slippery", but after a while, you can get it to hold still. If you can play and entire piece like this, I can all but guarantee that you will not have any memory slips in performence.

It's great for when you can't sleep at night.


Music is the surest path to excellence

Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
Pianoexcellence Tuning and Repairs
Re: Memorization
#930468 08/01/08 05:26 PM
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When I said I don't rely on it at all, I didn't mean that memorisation doesn't happen. It does, and as lalakeys points out, there are times when using the score where you need to look at your hands, so you have to be pretty familiar with the music. I suppose if I had thought that was what you meant by memorising I might have said something slightly different. But total memorisation of a piece is something I generally don't do any more, though I like to think I still could smile .

Like lalakeys, I don't insist my students play from memory. And like John, we examine the structure of a piece in detail.

What I see sometimes in posts on PW is the bar-by-bar memorisation method which is a substitute for fluent reading. You know, the sort that hammers it into your fingers slowly adding a bar at a time (often by people who admit their reading is poor) and then never looking at the music again. I'm not an advocate of that!


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Memorization
#930469 08/01/08 06:44 PM
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No, nor is that a good way to learn a piece of music. Of course, many pianists do that, but their ability to read other, new music is severely curtailed. Actually, when dealing with transfer students who have been taught that way, I find I have an overwhelming urge to go get that teacher and pull their finger nails out, as a suitable punishment for inflicting such unnecessary pain on their students.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Memorization
#930470 08/03/08 12:05 AM
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I see someone mentioned that practice must be correct, but as a student don't I practice to work out errors and fine tune a piece? I always have errors that I try to eventually remove.

Mark...

Re: Memorization
#930471 08/03/08 06:04 PM
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Originally posted by Mark...:
I see someone mentioned that practice must be correct, but as a student don't I practice to work out errors and fine tune a piece? I always have errors that I try to eventually remove.

Mark...
Interesting you should say this, Mark. I have heard the "perfect practice makes perfect" thing quite often around PW, and whereas it's obvious to me that it's a Bad Idea to repeat a mistake over and over, and a Good Idea to make sure you have it right, some seem to take this to such an extreme that they want to prevent all mistakes before they happen. A few things wrong with this, in my view:
[1] You can't prevent all mistakes.
[2] To have this as your aim results in careful playing, not musical playing - ie it's a negative aim, not a positive one.
[3] If you only allowed yourself perfection, you would never be able to do any sight-reading, or any quick reads through something to see whether it appeals to you.
[4] There is a value in making a mistake and analysing why you made it. This usually results in a surer solution than if you only fluked the right note in the first place.

Maybe I'm putting up a straw man when I mention the "perfect practice" brigade. If so, I apologise smile . I suppose I'm talking about an extreme position which not many would hold. But I'm with you, Mark, on practice being a working time where you solve problems. If you don't have any you can move onto something else, can't you? smile

[edit] I wasn't referring to you John smile and what you said about practising correctly, or going from a string of wrong notes eventually to right ones. I'm with you there - it was a more extreme view I've heard at other times.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Memorization
#930472 08/03/08 07:46 PM
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Why do you desire to memorize something if it is not well played? If you don't have enough perspective of the piece for the complete understanding of it musically, and you can't control yourself to "get it proficiently, for Pete's Sake, why would you want to memorize it in this condition.

And, don't tell me you'll fix it after you memorize - you won't - the brain will hold on to it with any error until you are exhausted from trying to fix things.

If in your scrapbook of pictures, every photo of you made you look strange, ditzy, goony, lost, not you as you see yourself, you'd want to be better prepared for the photo in the first place.

I'm going to say something that my mother always said when giving an opinion: "Do you agree with me or are you wrong?" She also said:"Any one in their right mind would agree with me."

I don't really mean to be rude, I just wanted to use that for once in my life, and this was my once. Promise.

Give a new prespective to what you are accomplishing when you poorly memorize - that must mean you are poorly playing and poorly intrepreting it from the written page too. So where should you start? At the first step which leads you astray.

Memorization should be the final product of working on the piece - after security and accuracy and musicality is obtained.

Re: Memorization
#930473 08/03/08 07:54 PM
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"And, don't tell me you'll fix it after you memorize - you won't - the brain will hold on to it with any error until you are exhausted from trying to fix things"

Well, I think that depends on the kind of error. When I have something solidly memorized (and perfectly memorized, which isn't the same thing), I can still make an occasional mistake - it's hot my hands are sweaty and I slip off a key and hit the white one next to it.....I get momentarily distracted and reach for an octave and I just miss.....this doesn't mean it is built into my learning and knowledge of the piece. It could mean there is a cat standing on my note....


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Re: Memorization
#930474 08/03/08 08:48 PM
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I'm not sure to whom you're addressing those remarks, Betty, or to what specific view. As it came straight after my post, it seemed like it was to me. If you read my posts in the thread carefully I don't think you'll find I disagree with your view on memorising after a piece is well learnt. I also don't think you'll find I advocate making mistakes - only that it's not a realistic goal to aim to never make any, and that a mistake can be illuminating.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Memorization
#930475 08/03/08 09:21 PM
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[1] You can't prevent all mistakes.
[2] To have this as your aim results in careful playing, not musical playing - ie it's a negative aim, not a positive one.
Currawong,

I received this same information from my own teacher and it liberated me. She referred to as "stealing the joy of the music from myself". As an older adult student, I'm grateful to have you say the same thing. That absolute perfection can be a negative goal.

Debbie


"Do you listen when you play, or do you just put your hands on the keyboard and hope for the best?" Author: Unknown
Re: Memorization
#930476 08/03/08 09:34 PM
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Originally posted by Debbie57:
As an older adult student, I'm grateful to have you say the same thing.
Hi Debbie. I mostly teach "older adult students" - perhaps you can tell wink .

It liberated me, too - in performance particularly (of which I do a fair bit). I know we've gone a bit off-topic but many of the issues are related.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Memorization
#930477 08/03/08 10:38 PM
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Let me be a contrarian for a moment.

It seems that 99% of all students play faster than their ability to read the notes correctly, and to execute them, along with phrasing, dynamics, etc., correctly.

This is assuming that you're learning a piece roughly in line with your level of advancement.

For example, you can just barely play Bach's Minuet in G. No matter how slowly you try, your brain, nervous system, muscle and skeletal structure is going to be overwhelmed if you try to play his Italian Concerto.

But let's assume that you can play the Invention #4 very well, and your teacher now assigns #8. You can and should play it through almost note perfectly on the first read, but most students will not, because they will give in to the temptation to play faster, far, far faster, than their ability to read and execute a new piece.

When teachers say, "slow practice," what does a student hear? Instead of going 100mph, slow down to 95mph. What does the teacher really mean? Instead of going 100mph, slow down to 5mph.

The other aspect of practice is breaking the musical work down into sections. My guess is that 99% of students resist doing this with every fiber of their being. It is far more fun to play through a piece several times, than to divide it up into very small segments and work out the details. It is an excruciating process for most, and I would hazard a guess this is why most do not succeed.


"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA
Re: Memorization
#930478 08/03/08 11:00 PM
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That was to Mark, Currawong. Sorry for the way it seemed to you.

But, I do think we can avoid mistakes in the under construction study.

I am a good sightreader and I teach analysis of the pieces we work on. Relying on that background, music plays better when you can avoid making mistakes. (My opinion.) I think a student can be trained to that degree in all levels of learning that they have participated in so that when the music gets difficult, they have some good habits to read and plan with.

The kinds of mistakes I meant were learned mistakes - not slippages and a wrong note occasionally.

Perfection is not as important to me as having high standards and a recognition for excellence.

Maybe there is a big difference in those who memorize too easily and those who must put lots of effort into learning to memorize?

I didn't mean to superimpose my remarks on anyone elses, it simply was my thoughts on the process of learning a piece and memorization as I understand it to be.

Betty

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