2017 was our 20th 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)
Best of Piano Buyer
 Best of Piano Buyer
(ad)
Faust Harrison Pianos
Faust Harrison 100+ Steinway pianos
(ad)
Wessell Nickel & Gross
PianoForAll
Who's Online Now
80 members (Beansparrow, Akaitsuki, AlainGeneva, brdwyguy, Buzz209, anotherscott, brennbaer, 18 invisible), 1,487 guests, and 610 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: May 2020
Posts: 60
N
Full Member
OP Online Happy
Full Member
N
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 60
Hello everyone. I wanted to ask for your professional advice how to properly memorize a piano piece and effective techniques you've proven along the years of teaching your students.

I am 37 y/o and have been playing since I was 16. I started with classical music as foundation, transitioned to pop music, a church pianist and learned improvisation and due to pandemic, started online lessons again on classical side to improve my technique.

However, sad to say I must admit whenever I sit on a piano without a sheet music, I can't play anything. I admit I became VERY dependent on my sheet music all electronically saved on my Ipad Pro 12".

I can play songs by memory that I've played when I was younger but now all songs I've studied and played there's no way I can finish them without relying and having sheet music in front of me.

It also makes me sad that pieces that I've studied and polished few months ago, when I go back and play it now even with my Ipad, I make mistakes again. Is this normal?

What's wrong with me? Am I having early dementia haha. Short term memory problem? How do I turn on my long term memory? Should I take brain food pills I saw at Costco?

Anyone who experienced this? What did you do? Tips? techniques how to memorize and put it on long term memory?

Sorry just venting out my piano frustration. So now every time I would learn and polish a piece I record it because who knows after few months if I attempt it I can't play that perfect so at least I have a souvenir recording of myself when I played it so good.

Thanks for reading and I hope to hear constructive suggestions on this forum.


Yamaha C3X SH <=Yamaha C3 PE <= Yamaha AvantGrand N2 <= Yamaha CLP-645 <= Yamaha P-140s
(ad)
Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,329
C
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
C
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,329
There are many ways to improve one's ability to memorize. However, it is still a struggle for me despite years of trying. It took me four years to memorize one hour's worth of classical music. And I've forgotten all of it now.

My most sincere advice is not to worry about it much. Your gift is likely sight-reading.
Here are some tips though if you want to spend time memorizing.

1. Really try to remember how a passage feels. Associate notes with the feeling, for example the rocket theme of Beethoven's Op. 2 no. 1. Exaggerate the movements to help remember them.
2. Sing parts. This will help you remember the sound. So for instance, sing one part of a three-voice fugue by Bach.
3. Analyze music so you know the harmonies. (This one doesn't help me much though.)
4. Have many signposts, spots from which you can begin. I place one almost every phrase.
5. Work in phrases, four bars per day. Sometimes, you can play the last phrase first. Then the two last phrases, then the three last phrases, so that you always head for more secure playing.
6. For passage work, think about how many hand positions you have and memorize where the thumb is for each hand position.
7. Play the work on many different pianos. Play for many different people.

Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 6,056
6000 Post Club Member
Offline
6000 Post Club Member
Joined: Apr 2009
Posts: 6,056
Thanks for that list Candywoman.

navi, it sounds like you might also be asking about retention--how to keep pieces in a repertoire.

(It's pretty obvious that neither memory nor sight reading are a gift for me. Perhaps my gift is persistance.)


Learner
Joined: Jul 2020
Posts: 295
Z
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Z
Joined: Jul 2020
Posts: 295
you can try Gieseking's method, this method is for concert pianist, piano teacher or serious amateur. It provides a very solid memory. It works very well with structured pieces, maybe some modern pieces are not suitable.
thanks again to Withindale to provide this precious document.
Gieseking


1970s' Petrof 125
youtube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrY5TdJHAB6HAYYgdgQliww
recent added: Beethoven woo80 var1-3 arpeggio test
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 6
Junior Member
Offline
Junior Member
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 6
You may be missing the forest for the trees. If you tried to understand this sentence by calling out every letter individually you'd never get the idea, but that may be close to what you are doing now with sheet music. Notes make scales and chords which are used to make sequences of ideas that all combine as a developing harmonic flow.

Last edited by tonystride; 03/18/21 10:22 AM.
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906



Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,301
I will take a different approach. WHY are you concerned about memorizing in the first place? There used to be this thing where we were taught that it "freed" you from the score and thus made space for you to be more into the music, blah, blah, blah.

Now a lot of teachers call it bullhooey. I haven't memorized anything in over 20 years, and I NEVER made my students memorize anything unless they were bound for university where it might have been required. In fact, I have read other posts here that the trendy thing to do among "younger" performers is to not memorize anything at all and give performances on stage with scores! What is the world coming to?! laugh


I do music stuffs
Yep, I have a YouTube channel!

Current:
1998 PETROF Model IV Chippendale
LEGO Grand Piano (IDEAS 031|21323)
YAMAHA PSR-520

Past:
2017 Charles Walter 1500 in semi-polish ebony
1991 Kawai 602-M Console in Oak
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 60
N
Full Member
OP Online Happy
Full Member
N
Joined: May 2020
Posts: 60
Thank you for the responses. I will try those tips mentioned and watch the video.

Isn't it when memorizing a piece it allows us to give more justice when playing it since we don't have to rely on looking at the sheet music? It also gives a nicer visual perception to the audience when you memorize a piece having no sheets when playing? It's like you're free interpreting it one less thing to worry looking and flipping pages.

When I visit places like if I'm on vacation and see a piano in a hotel/ visit friends and families with piano, it's a bummer because I can't play unless I have my Ipad with me. When people ask me to play something for them I would freeze and say sorry I don't have my tablet with me I can't play. Isn't it that sucks??? So I would bring my iPad every time wherever I go.

Funny thing all I can play are songs during my younger years studying that my teacher asked me to memorize like
Clementi Sonatinas or Bach Minuet Gmaj or The Entertainer, Fur Elise those beginner songs. Other than that NADA! You want me to play modern songs or some Mozart or Chopin well hold on I need my sheet music please!


Yamaha C3X SH <=Yamaha C3 PE <= Yamaha AvantGrand N2 <= Yamaha CLP-645 <= Yamaha P-140s
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,405
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,405
Hi Nav
I agree with knowing a few pieces by memory for those instances you need to play without the music. Could you possibly list what process you are using to memorize? You might get some useful advice.


"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: Jul 2020
Posts: 295
Z
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
Z
Joined: Jul 2020
Posts: 295
Originally Posted by SonatainfSharp
...In fact, I have read other posts here that the trendy thing to do among "younger" performers is to not memorize anything at all and give performances on stage with scores! What is the world coming to?! laugh
How do they practice a longer piece without interruption today?


1970s' Petrof 125
youtube:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrY5TdJHAB6HAYYgdgQliww
recent added: Beethoven woo80 var1-3 arpeggio test
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 363
R
Full Member
Offline
Full Member
R
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 363
Are there any methods you have tried to use consciously while memorizing. If I were to suggest something, it would be to take up a new piece, preferably somewhat simple, and then give yourself a certain amount of time to memorize a small section, say 8 bars. Give yourself enough time, say an hour. Within that hour, memorize the 8 bars as well as you can. After the time is up, take away the sheet music. If you forget something, do not look back at the sheet music, but keep trying to remember it. I can almost guarantee that you'll be able to recollect the section eventually.

Now, what do you do during that one hour? Observe as many different aspects as you can -- is it a call and response? What is the harmony? What patterns can you observe? Are there inner line which resolve? Think small, and think big. The more links you can draw to each measure, the better. Making your way around the memory of a score is in some part like making your way around a physical location. After this is over, try to recreate the whole thing in your mind. This is a real test of how well you've conceptualized the passage. Some people may visualize the score -- I personally just visualize my hands hitting the right notes in my mind's eye. It's easier to visualize a keyboard imo, and more readily applicable.

Try it out, and see if it works for you. Splitting it into manageable chunks is key -- otherwise you can go through the same few pages of music a million times and not memorize it.

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,486
T
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
T
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,486
I can't do it either. But then, I'm 68 and don't expect to. A couple of thoughts.......

I've read that what music you learn by age 20 is usually with you forever, and anything after fades. I'm not so sure how sharp that cut off is. Certainly I can play by memory things I learned in high school, but little after.

For a while I was a church pianist, because we couldn't anyone who could play to do it. My skill level was not really up to the task, so I compensated by practicing like crazy. By the end of a week's practice I had the hymns memorized by sheer effort and repetition, but if i tried to play them again Monday they were probably gone already.

Now if I play in public it's on brass rather than piano, so I'm not sure this applies. But I make no effort to memorize even a simple tune. It's just too unreliable. But to my surprise I've been able to convert to playing by ear, especially if I can do it in a familiar key. My ear playing on piano isn't there yet, but when I retire I hope to work on that.

I talked with someone who played I think at a theme park and had to memorize a new set very quickly regularly, and never had more than a day to put the set together. I'm trying to remember his approach, which I think he told me he learned from how soap opera actors memorize new lines every day. I might have forgotten some details, but it was something like this. He put his music on a stand, not directly in front but to the side. he would look at a short phrase, then turn away and play it, so he never played by reading; repeat for the next phrase. There was more to it, I think he used a metronome and had some system for linking phrases, but I have forgotten. I did try it and it worked back then.


gotta go practice
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,650
G

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014
2000 Post Club Member
Offline

Platinum Supporter until July 22 2014
2000 Post Club Member
G
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 2,650
I've come to realize, and mostly from the threads I've been reading recently on the topic, is that it largely depends on which approach you have mostly relied on from a young age. If reading, there is no reason really for memorizing much, at least in the beginning, so this does not get developed.

The first tunes I learned up until about my mid twenties were all by rote. If I didn't memorize them, they'd be lost after one go. So, I developed this skill so that didn't happen. I then started learning about chords and much later in life, how to read. But, it wasn't a big leap to memorize what I was learning by reading. The difficulty of course was in learning to read.

Without getting into the pro's and con's of either method, I would expect that it would be similarly difficult for someone to learn how to memorize after a lifetime of reading as it would be for someone to learn reading after a lifetime of just playing by rote, or ear or whatever to get it into memory. Either way though, it can be done and one should not detract from the other.

The suzuki method is the only one I have heard of that actually partially uses rote training early. From what I understand anyway. I've never taken it or know much about it.

Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906
Reading text is similar to music. If you read new materials each day like the morning paper, you get very proficient in reading.

When playing music, you can sight read at least 1 new piece a day. A lot of people including myself tend to work on familiar pieces that we already practiced for a few weeks than trying a completely unfamiliar piece.

Some pieces like the slow section of the Beethoven "Fur Elise" is straightforward & repetitive. Once you learn the note sequences, you can easily reproduce some version of it. Seasonal Christmas tunes and songs like "Happy Birthday" you'd hear every year. Playing the melody with some chords off your head like a lead sheet version shouldn't be too hard.

When playing a difficult piece, some learners are not good readers or at memorizing. They'd remember certain sections and fill in the rest by reading. People like myself prefer to memorize a lot. We'd learn a piece in sections or down to individual measures until we have all the notes memorized before playing the whole piece. Others would need the sheet music no matter how many times they repeat the piece or sections of it.

2 years ago I played a few movements out of a Handel keyboard suite on a public piano from memory. I worked on them for a few weeks so wasn't a big deal.

Joined: May 2016
Posts: 2,172
I
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
2000 Post Club Member
I
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 2,172
I've been thinking about it recently. I think beside muscle memory there are three basic ways of memorization: memorization by score visualization, memorization by keyboard keys visualization and aural memorization. Most probably all ways are involved to some extent for every person, but one way is usually dominant. Memorization by keyboard keys visualization is perhaps the most common, and aural memorization is the most rare because it requires advanced pitch and the skill of playing by ear. I rely mostly on keyboard visualization, too.

And on top of all these three ways there is one additional layer which is the memorization of theoretical constructs (patterns). It works for every way of these three and allows us to memorize a set of notes as one block, so not only we remember CEG notes visually in the score, or on the keyboard, or audially, but we also tag them as a C chord on the "theoretical" memory layer and it helps to solidify material in memory. Besides, when I visualize the keyboard I imagine tonic and dominant keys kind of more opaque, it creates centers of gravity that help to ease memorization, too, so theory is helpful in several ways.

My preferred way of memorization is to play a piece many times with a score until I remember it well both by ear and by muscle memory. After this I start phrase by phrase memorization by playing slowly and watching my hands and remembering what keys and patterns they play. When muscle memory and aural memory is already there to some extent, visual memorization seems much easier to me, but I know some people prefer to memorize right away after the first reading and some other prefer to memorize lying on a sofa, it's all individual.

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,486
T
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
T
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,486
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
When playing music, you can sight read at least 1 new piece a day. A lot of people including myself tend to work on familiar pieces that we already practiced for a few weeks than trying a completely unfamiliar piece.

I think you're confusing reading music, sightreading, and memorizing.

Children memorize more easily, and without trying to, than adults. I suspect children piano students memorize more quickly than we realize and that may interfere with reading. (At least, for those who actually practice.)

I don't know how many beginners are forced to "sightread" on any regular basis. I suspect it is small. When I first took piano lessons the only time ever the piano teacher had me sightread is if I'd finished a piece to her satisfaction and she wanted me to move to the next one. That could be weeks in between, and I'm pretty sure she used the same procedure with everyone.

That week or two on a piece may not result in memorizing for an adult so we're probably always reading. A child may have a different experience.


gotta go practice
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 2,172
I
2000 Post Club Member
Offline
2000 Post Club Member
I
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 2,172
                                 THEORETICAL
                                 CONSTRUCTS
                                MEMORIZATION

                     /                        |                     \

       SCORE                KEYBOARD                  AURAL
VISUALIZATION      VISUALIZATION      MEMORIZATION

                    \                        |                      /

                                      MUSCLE
                                     MEMORY

Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,405
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Offline
Silver Subscriber
8000 Post Club Member
Joined: May 2015
Posts: 8,405
As a child student, I wasn’t ‘forced’ to sight read; I wanted to sight read. No, I didn’t call it ‘sight reading’ but rather ‘playing something new to see if I liked it’. It was a different time when there was no internet; hearing new music was primarily because I played it. To me, it wasn’t a skill but something fun to do: classical, pop, musicals, anthologies of best of xxx decade. I tried it all.

Want to be good at sight reading? Go grab a score rather than click on YouTube.


"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 2004
Posts: 4,486
T
4000 Post Club Member
Offline
4000 Post Club Member
T
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 4,486
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
I've been thinking about it recently. I think beside muscle memory there are three basic ways of memorization: memorization by score visualization, memorization by keyboard keys visualization and aural memorization.

I like that, it's a good image.

For me, muscle memory is absolutely the worst. It comes the quickest but it is fragile, prone to errors, and when I get off there's no way back. Score visualization backed up by some aural is the most solid.

I've been told that using all three together makes the memorization more solid, that plus theory of course.

Aural memorization backed up by some score visualization is how I play by ear. Muscle memory really gets in the way here because then i lose the score. Yeah I'm confusing the memory and ear but they do get overlap.


gotta go practice
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906
1000 Post Club Member
Offline
1000 Post Club Member
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 1,906
When using muscle memory, most people don’t consciously think about the individual notes or chords they’re playing. Of course the more you understand how a piece is put together/ arranged, the easier to memorize.

I often get a chord mixed up with a similar one like CEG & CEbG. I don’t usually recall a specific chord is a C-chord or the notes of a chord I’d go as far as reminding myself a chord is happy or sad so it’s major or minor.

Page 1 of 2 1 2

Moderated by  Ken Knapp 

Link Copied to Clipboard
(ad)
Pianoteq
Steinway Spiro Layering
(ad)
PianoDisc

PianoDisc
(ad)
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad)
Mason & Hamlin Pianos
New Topics - Multiple Forums
issues with allegro 3
by saijin1 - 07/28/21 02:58 AM
U3 Contenders?
by johnbarnesiii - 07/27/21 09:45 PM
Kawai CA97 opportunity
by DFx - 07/27/21 09:23 PM
Download Sheet Music
Virtual Sheet Music - Classical Sheet Music Downloads
Forum Statistics
Forums42
Topics208,256
Posts3,117,026
Members102,259
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 - 2021 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