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How can I improve long term memory?

Posted By: Chemblue

How can I improve long term memory? - 05/15/19 08:45 PM

I know that my piano playing is better when playing from memory which my teacher agrees with. I have been playing piano since November 2016 aged 55. I do not do grades but used Abrsm to measure progress. My new teacher is fantastic and has taken my piano playing to the next level and currently working on Beethoven Sonata 14 1st movement. Sometimes I can play from memory and then another practice session forget. Why.

Regards

Blessings to you
Posted By: pianoloverus

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/15/19 09:47 PM

Do you have a plan and/or different techniques you use to memorize a piece? There are a lot of PW threads on the different techniques one can use to help memorization.
Posted By: Sam S

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/15/19 10:08 PM

Seems that we have discussed this a lot recently - if my memory is not failing! Different techniques work for different people, so you will need to find what works for you.

- Repetition
- Drilling
- Analysis of form
- Analysis of harmony
- Memorize what the page looks like (Ack! Doesn't work for me...)
- Memorize how it sounds
- Give names to sections that help you remember what happens there ("Low Bb", "c minor arp"), and even say the names out loud at the right time.
- My go-to technique - do whatever it takes to memorize a short section, and never look at the score again for that section - OK, I exaggerate, but divorce yourself from reliance on the score early in the process.

Sam
Posted By: Chemblue

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/15/19 10:17 PM

Thank you for your responses. The problem I have is that I seem to be able to play from memory for a number of weeks then suddenly struggle to remember. I am going through a difficult emotional time caring for my dying mother. Would this effect memory or is that just an excuse.

Look forward to receiving any advice
Posted By: earlofmar

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/15/19 10:26 PM

I can only speak about my own memory as I am no expert on the subject. When I first started piano six years ago I deliberately memorised everything. In those days I could memorise a piece within weeks and as they got harder within several months. The problem for me was the pieces were never secure and when I memorised I watched my hands and and then became dependent on watching my hands to play. I would also stop using the score once I had the piece committed to memory and found I was missing vital information, sometimes even notes. I had to learn to play and read the score simultaneously which I found very hard, harder actually because using this method seemed to switch off my ability (which I thought had been good) to memorise.

So coming to present day I still read from the score right from the start, and employ no deliberate memorisation. I wait for the piece to become embedded in my memory which for the grade five and now grade six pieces I have been studying seems to take over a year (bearing in mind a lot of my attention is not to memorise but to learn the new techniques). But the difference is I am not relying only on muscle memory as I would have in the early days but a mix of muscle, cerebral (having studied the pieces), visual and tactile memory. All of this makes the piece more secure and was highlighted yet again by my recent experience. I just returned from a two month holiday to Europe where I played next to no piano. When I went to play my pieces again I had some trouble at first but with slow run throughs (aided of course with the score) all the pieces were still there and within days were back to where I had left off. This would not have been the case in the early days when if I didn't play a piece for a month I had lost it all together.
Posted By: malkin

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 01:53 AM

My experience is that high levels of stress affect just about everything, so I'm not surprised to hear that memory may be decreased during a time of high stress.
Posted By: noobpianist90

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 02:08 AM

I have found that re-learning a piece does wonders for memory re-inforcement.

Lets say I finish learning a piece, then I stop playing it until it completely fades from memory. This takes time, sometimes over a year. Then I learn it again from scratch again. The second time, I learn the piece at a much faster rate, and the piece is also memorised a lot more firmly than the first. I am trying this out on 3 or 4 pieces. It's working out quite well so far. The more times I repeat this process, the stronger the memory gets. The hardest part about this for me is to resist the impulse to keep playing a piece that I really like.
Posted By: newer player

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 02:49 AM

Science has a long way to go before we have even a basic grasp of memory IMHO. Regardless, since I spend a lot of time memorising information, I looked near-and-far for helpful tools.

From a practical perspective, I found Piotr Wozniak has some helpful articles, particularly around learning strategies, repetition, sleep, exercise, diet. Pitor has been optimising a spaced-repetition system for three decades; his software is probably more useful for learning vocabulary or studying for a medical exam. But his articles are interesting and worth a quick review:

super-memory.com/index.htm
Posted By: outo

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 03:45 AM

Originally Posted by Chemblue
Thank you for your responses. The problem I have is that I seem to be able to play from memory for a number of weeks then suddenly struggle to remember. I am going through a difficult emotional time caring for my dying mother. Would this effect memory or is that just an excuse.

Look forward to receiving any advice


This happens to me too. The more routine something becomes the harder it becomes for me to really concentrate and that is the main cause of my memory failures. The only way to battle this is to take a break, let myself forget partly and relearn several times. It is a very time consuming process (months or even years) and I will never get to 100% because I am built that way. I also fail to remember my daily routines and familiar things occasionally, it's not just piano playing. But I have managed to reach a state where I can quickly get the piece back without digging out the score and recover from the occasional memory problems fast enough to continue playing. Only for one short piece so far because as I said it is a long and time consuming process...but it is a start smile
Posted By: Animisha

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 04:03 AM

Originally Posted by Sam S
Different techniques work for different people, so you will need to find what works for you.

Yes, but also: try to use more than one technique. The more connections you create with the notes that you need to remember, the easier it is to retrieve the memory.

Originally Posted by Chemblue
I am going through a difficult emotional time caring for my dying mother. Would this effect memory or is that just an excuse.

I am very sorry to read this, it must be very sad. Yes, this can effect memory and many other things as well. Be kind to yourself!
Posted By: Chemblue

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 09:43 AM

Thank you for all your kind responses. Blessings to you all
Posted By: dmd

Re: How can I improve long term memory? - 05/16/19 12:36 PM

I do not play much classical music anymore.

I have chosen the jazz route instead.

However, I do play some classical pieces (beginner) from time to time and one thing I have taken from the jazz genre is CHORDS and CHORD PROGRESSIONS.

When you know the chord progression (or chord) you are playing it makes it much easier to remember notes because they are frequently the notes in that chord.

So …. the first thing I do when playing a classical piece is to go through and write in the chords.

Then, as I play I am thinking chords and the note or notes I need along the way are probably within that chord.

Very helpful.
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