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#1863058 - 03/16/12 11:44 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
I agree with the value of having at least one or a few pieces memorized, but I have a different motivation.

I had memorized the Petzold Minuet in G last spring, as an exercise in trying to memorize. Then I let it lapse. Then I had a brief opportunity to play a harpsichord and a clavichord, and had nothing I could play frown . That motivated me to bring the Minuet back into memory. I've now taken it for a spin on a digital at the local music store, and am hopeful that I'll get a chance with it on a fortepiano soon smile .

I also have two Satie pieces memorized now. I'm slowly aiming for 10 pieces memorized, but not putting any great pressure on myself to reach that goal, just slow and steady as a piece feels right for taking on the task of memorization.

My memorized pieces probably won't be the hardest things I'm working on; that's OK, I think people are happy just hearing piano music, and I feel just playing at all is impressive enough.
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#1863082 - 03/16/12 12:19 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: PianoStudent88]
SwissMS Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 761
Loc: Switzerland
This is a very timely thread for me. In the past I could not play anything without the music in front of me. In some ways, I don't think I ever thoroughly learned anything. If I was out somewhere and saw an available piano, there was no way I could just sit down and play something. I started really focusing on memorizing more complex pieces in the last six months, and the experience has been very interesting for me. I used to think that I had a very poor memory because I would have lapses when I tried to play a piece without the score. For me though, it seemed to be a lack of focus. I have started trying to memorize as I learn each chunk, when I start a new piece. That seems to work. By the time I can play a section at speed, it is already memorized. I also seem to be able to play with more expression when I have a piece memorized as well. That could be because I am more confident, in that I know what is coming next. Another factor for better or worse, I watch my hands when I play from memory, and I think the visual cues reinforce the memory. I am still experimenting, but I seem to play a piece better if I have it committed to memory.
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#1863092 - 03/16/12 12:38 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: SwissMS]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Originally Posted By: SwissMS
(...)I started really focusing on memorizing more complex pieces in the last six months(...)

Well, that's strange for me... I can read/play a sheet two or three times and then my hands just go to the keys. I supose memorization is kind of natural for me so I never had to "focusing in memorization".

For example: I'm working on an Eunadi piece and after about 2 hours I realized I have memorized half the piece just because I reached the third page (in a total of five pages). And I still can play by memory my first ABF recital submission recorded in November 2010 as all the pieces I learned/recorded so far.
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#1863113 - 03/16/12 01:17 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3181
Loc: Maine
I'd love to see a study comparing the effortless memorizers with those for whom memorization is harder.
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Ebaug(maj7)

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#1863159 - 03/16/12 02:33 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california

Originally Posted By: CarlosCC
I can read/play a sheet two or three times and then my hands just go to the keys. I supose memorization is kind of natural for me so I never had to "focusing in memorization".
..For example: I'm working on an Eunadi piece and after about 2 hours I realized I have memorized half the piece just because I reached the third page (in a total of five pages). And I still can play by memory my first ABF recital submission recorded in November 2010 as all the pieces I learned/recorded so far.


Carlos this is very impressive, particularly given the relatively short amount of time you've been playing. I don't know if you saw my post in the skill acceleration thread, but it probably is more germane to this subject:

Quote:
I also don't think people always distinguish between memorization and playing by ear. They really aren't separate activities since, unless you have perfect pitch, you have to remember how certain progressions sound in order to play them, which notes go with which voicings, and how dissonant ones can go with chords when played with certain rhythmic emphases but not with others. No matter what stage I'm at working a piece, I therefore, find it helpful to play the melody with just the basic chords to remind myself before I take up learning the full arrangement again. I also try to never play a sequence of notes without knowing what the main chord is they are voicing and how it relates to the more basic bare bones version I played when I started my practice.

So, that said, I'm wondering if you are actually able to do this because of an ability to play by ear, where looking at the music has you organizing all the theoretical information, progressions and their arrangement, and coordinating them with aural and tactile sensations. A second possibility is that you have a photographic memory and can see the sheet music in your mind's eye as you play. Which one do you think is closer to the truth, if either?

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#1863168 - 03/16/12 02:59 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Prelude: I studied piano for around 8 or 10 years between age 6 and 18, but I really came away with nothing aside from an understanding of how to read music and the circle of fifths. Only 1/2 of one recital piece stuck with me. I am currently 45. I began self-teaching myself piano 22 months ago ...

Originally Posted By: Isabelle7007
Anyway, memorizing a song seems intimidating to me. How do y'all do it? A few bars at a time? Or do you practice so much by sight-reading that memorization falls into place after so long?


I memorize all my music, and that is my goal. At this time I have 21 pieces solidly memorized, but none are perfect in execution. I am working on 25 pieces daily, 4 aren't memorized, and adding a new one every month. None of my current pieces are longer than around 80 bars of music... I think. They are a mix of bagatelles, pop songs, anime music, classics, and older hits spanning from circa 1750 to 2011.

When I began playing again, though knowing how to read music, I had to write down all the letter of the notes on the music. I'd then try to play from sight while relying on the letters. Now, almost 2 years on, I have stopped using letters and am reading off the music as I play. It is slow, though, at first.

I play each memorized piece at least once a day. The ones I am learning are played 3+ times a day. It takes 3 hours in the morning, but I spend a lot of time goofing around between pieces after the first 50 minutes to play the initial 21 pieces.

Each new piece is broken down into 8-bar (or around there) segments which I tackle weekly and then add on and on and on. Some songs are divided out further into sections which repeat or divide clearly from the next sections, and I will learn parts of those before then getting a whole section smooth and moving on (think of Moonlight II as a piece with these kinds of sections, or any famous ragtime). USUALLY I will memorize an 8-bar section after a couple weeks of practice, and I overlap studies to keep progressing. At the moment I am learning "As Time Goes By" and have the intro down after 2 weeks, the main 8-bar is almost memorized, the last 8-bar section is struggling to become memorized, and when done they need to be tied together and smoothed to make the final piece within me: memorized and flawlessly recalled.

In 2013 I am set to memorize a few longer classical pieces by Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Chopin. I plan to memorize 46 pieces by summer 2014. It's just my goal and the way I go with the studies.

Keep repeating and repeating. The stuff gets memorized as a set of conjoined motor reflexes. One of my biggest problems is that if I get derailed WITHIN a piece, I am playing by reflex and have to stumble around to find where I was before I can continue. My oldest pieces are a bit better off and I can go again within 3 bars of where I broke.

My sight reading is way better, now. By summer 2014 I expect that I can rather quickly read and play from music, while at the moment it is tedious to read and play but I do it. All things improve with effort and repetition.

Some pieces are utter heck to memorize. I have had the hardest time getting down MOONLIGHT I because it was SO boring... I would drift off in the middle. Also "Piano Bar" by Yoko Kanno is whooping my butt. I play the first 1/4 3x every morning since November and it is STILL not memorized, but it is close... that's a jazz improv piece, though, and it is probably above my present skill level.

Why be discouraged? That's self-indulgence. Yoda says "Do or do not, there is no try", and Jesus preached about Satan speaking through your heart as despair to sift you from all the good and Godly. So just forget that crap and play again and again and again, and use your head to figure it out. It falls into place... now, maybe in a few months, or years, or by age 60 or 70, but it will get there.
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
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#1863171 - 03/16/12 03:11 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Eglantine Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 01 2013


Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 804
Loc: Another Country
This afternoon, I played the LH (ground bass) in a Purcell piece I'm doing many, many times, without looking at the music. Part of the reason was to memorise, and part was that the RH variations are written in such a way that they were encouraging me to not treat each round of the LH ground bass exactly the same, no consistent fingering. So I wanted to hammer it in with consistent fingering that would not vary regardless of start point/variation.

When I went back to HT with the music in front of me, the whole piece was immediately so much better, much more fluid and certain, suddenly no hesitations or mistakes. (And that after feeling I hadn't made any progress for a couple of days.)

I don't find memorising easy, but as far as my playing is concerned, it is helping me to improve my playing - even when I'm looking at the music!
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J.S. Bach, Einaudi, Purcell, Froberger, Croft, Blow, Frescobaldi, Glass, Couperin
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#1863211 - 03/16/12 04:09 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Starr Keys]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Originally Posted By: Starr Keys

Originally Posted By: CarlosCC
I can read/play a sheet two or three times and then my hands just go to the keys. I supose memorization is kind of natural for me so I never had to "focusing in memorization".
..For example: I'm working on an Eunadi piece and after about 2 hours I realized I have memorized half the piece just because I reached the third page (in a total of five pages). And I still can play by memory my first ABF recital submission recorded in November 2010 as all the pieces I learned/recorded so far.


Carlos this is very impressive, particularly given the relatively short amount of time you've been playing. I don't know if you saw my post in the skill acceleration thread, but it probably is more germane to this subject:
(...)
So, that said, I'm wondering if you are actually able to do this because of an ability to play by ear, where looking at the music has you organizing all the theoretical information, progressions and their arrangement, and coordinating them with aural and tactile sensations. A second possibility is that you have a photographic memory and can see the sheet music in your mind's eye as you play. Which one do you think is closer to the truth, if either?


Just a quick answer (I'll read carfeully your interesting note to do a proper answer).
To be honest, I think I don't have a phopographic memory, but I don't know... I just "listen" the music in my mind and I realize I'm pressing the right keys. I do some previous work regarding with strucure and dynamics, not on piano, but taking notes and doing signs directly in the music sheet. I also listen some times the piece I want to learn before puting hands on it.

I thought that memorizing was "easy" or natural for everyone until I realized, through PW foruns, that it wasn't. I don't know what is "improving my memorization ability".

btw: during my busy work day I'm always "singing" piano pieces in my mind blush
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#1863253 - 03/16/12 04:58 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: CarlosCC
Just a quick answer (I'll read carfeully your interesting note to do a proper answer).
To be honest, I think I don't have a phopographic memory, but I don't know... I just "listen" the music in my mind and I realize I'm pressing the right keys. I do some previous work regarding with strucure and dynamics, not on piano, but taking notes and doing signs directly in the music sheet. I also listen some times the piece I want to learn before puting hands on it....btw: during my busy work day I'm always "singing" piano pieces in my mind blush

Thanks, Carlos, for your thoughtful response. I would very much appreciate hearing more on what your process is once you've had the time to reflect on it a little more.

I think it might help a lot of us, too, because whatever it is you are doing unconsciously or semi-consciously,we might be able to develop our ability to do with more information.

I do memorize off the sheet sometimes and am a lot quicker at it now that I can apply theoretical analysis and ear training, but I'm not as fast as you, and I think few people are who haven't been playing a very long time. What a gift!

BTW -- you might test your ability to play by ear sometime by learning to play a song you like from just a recording and lead sheet. The latter will give you all the important structural information you need and you can still makes notes on dynamics and phrasing from the listening to the recording. If you have a good ear, it should do the rest. smile


Edited by Starr Keys (03/16/12 05:05 PM)

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#1863388 - 03/16/12 08:49 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2409
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: CarlosCC
btw: during my busy work day I'm always "singing" piano pieces in my mind blush

That'll do it!

The other advantage of memorising (as an earlier post mentioned playing anywhere there was a piano) is that you can play anywhere, piano or no.
Studies have shown that the neural connections form in the brain just by imagining playing the right keys. The technique is frequently used in training athletes.
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#1863394 - 03/16/12 09:02 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: ClavBoy]
RUSS SHETTLE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 301
Loc: Brandywine, Maryland
Originally Posted By: ClavBoy
Hi

I've the same problem like you, I'm 48 years old. There are so many tips on how to memorize, but the only thing having found that works for me is to repeat the pieces over an over again.
It helps also to hear the piece from a recording as often as possible.


You are exactly right. I play by ear, meaning, I've never learned to read sheet music though I tell you all about the parts of written music to include key signature. I learned enough theory to play songs with chords and melody and improvise my own style. Regardless, to get it right, you simply have to play it over and over and over again until you can play it without really thinking about it as if you’re just willing it to happen such as in a dream. There would be no difference in my view. You could read a piece and play it perfectly but slowly at the start but to really play it well you would be doing the same. In order to play a song by ear you have to know that song as if you written it yourself. Listen to the song 100 time until you’re sick of it. Listen until you can hum the song to yourself perfectly. Then, you can play the note for note without wondering if it's right because you know it right. I think the best musicians in the world are those who play without any sheep music in front of them. Make a song your own.
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Yamaha CP5
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#1863895 - 03/17/12 09:14 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: RUSS SHETTLE]
Isabelle7007 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 11
Loc: UT
Wow, Rusty, that is impressive!

I realized I do have probably half of Avalanche memorized, from my youth. I think I'm going to buy the sheet music...after all, I'm half done already! Sorry, I'm a little lazy sometimes. I do have a tendency to "slop" my way through lots of songs, without perfecting them. SOOOOO, my intention as I take up piano again is to use a lot of self-discipline, and patience with myself and my learning.
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1995 Young Chang Pramberger Signature Series Bubinga


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#1863965 - 03/18/12 02:12 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: PianoStudent88]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I'd love to see a study comparing the effortless memorizers with those for whom memorization is harder.


Your not likely to ever find such a study because there is no ethical way to control for the prior learning of the subjects, which adversely effects a person's ability to memorize. Even people at the same basic pianistic level will have had vastly different experiences which emphasise vastly with different facets of piano playing. And here I am only referring to explicit (as contrasted with procedural) forms of memory.

Nevertheless, in terms of "effortless memorizers" there is already a lot which science can tell us.

The first thing is to understand the distinction between procedural and explicit forms of memory. Procedural memory is what most people incorrectly refer to as "muscle memory" or "finger memory." This is the kind of memory you get when you repeat a score endlessly and it just seems to flow out of you without any real mental effort. Explicit memory can best be summed up as essentially “knowledge” or “facts,” which you can recall. So for instance, if you can write out the score from memory, then you would be using explicit memory.

So-called "Effortless memorizers" are of three types: 1) Those that solely rely on procedural memory. 2) Those that have gained enough expertise to chunk knowledge efficiently. 3) People with synesthesia.

1) It should be noted that there are no "effortless memorizers" of procedural memory. Everyone has to put in the same basic amount of work (which diminishes as a function of expertise). The "effortless" part comes into play because of the fact that they build up their procedural memory of a piece of music and then do not seem to need to do any work beyond that. For a good portion of the people this, in and of itself, is not a good way to go about memorizing a piece of music, for the simple reason that thoughts (e.g. doubts about one’s understanding of the music) are very good at de-railing this type of memory. Nevertheless, there are some notable pianists who seem to exclusively rely on this type of memory. The people who do rely on this, tend either to be people who never question how their memory works (out of fear) or they tend to be people who just generally do not introspect (children are the best example of this – but many adults do it too, especially if they have gotten into the habit of not doing it as children).

2) As concerns the second group of effortless memorizers, these are people who exercise a strong explicit understanding of the music they play, in conjunction with their procedural memory. These people can literally write the score out from memory (the former group can not). The effortlessness here is achieved by their wealth of experience, which has enabled them to "chunk" musical information very efficiently. Here is an example of what I mean by chunking. If I ask you to memorize the following letters in this order:

bohieoevvephermcneatotrisevvslsaeeteohtegtred

You would think it basically impossible. However, if I ask you to memorize this:

beethovenisthegreatestcomposertohaveeverlived.

you would have no problem, even though both lines contain the same letters, just in a different order. In the first case you have not learned any good way to chunk the information (i.e. you have no prior learning to draw upon to aid your memorization of the letters). However, in the second case you use your mastery/expertise of English to split the line up into 9 different words, all of which are associated with some kind of "meaningful content" (and can thus be considered a "chunk")*** as it were. Thus, you have drawn upon what you know to transform 45 meaningless things into 9 meaningful things. Glenn Gould is a famous example of this principle put into practice. In his younger days he suffered a rather severe memory failure at a recital. Following that, his instructor, Alberto Guerrero, taught him to memorize the score first away from the piano and then, from this explicit memory of the score, learn the piece (i.e. build the procedural memory) at the piano. In an interview, Gould admitted that this was initially a devilishly complex undertaking at first, but he did improve at it with time (i.e. as more experience was acquired to allow him to create meaningful chunks).

It must be said, that from a purely associative point of view, this actually a brilliant strategy since it makes both the procedural and explicit understandings mutually reinforcing insofar as processing one will prime (or potentially cause) you to process the other; furthermore, such a process leaves little room for doubt since you have effectively proved (by building your procedural memory off the back of your explicit memory) that you truly know the score inside and out.

***It is important to understand that the subjective form of the content/chunk (be it visual, tactile, linguistic, or whatever) is not important. What is important is that it is the content itself, in whatever form it takes, is meaningful to you. The basic psychological principle at work here is "Depth of Processing Theory." The "deeper" (i.e. more meaningful) something is to you, the more likely you are to actually recall it.

3) The third group is something of a biological rarity. There are different types of synesthesia, but the one that is relevant to music is when sound is subjectively perceived as colour (in addition to being perceived as sound). This has a two-fold advantage of 1) giving a person perfect-pitch (since they associate each pitch with a colour) and 2) giving people a genuine visual representation of a particular sound. This second point is the most important because all normal healthy (and visually intact) humans have a remarkable capacity to memorize visual stimuli. A person with synesthesia effectively gets to take this remarkable capacity and apply it to music, involuntarily. People like Franz Liszt, Rimsky Korsakov, and Jimi Hendrix all famously had this condition.

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#1864009 - 03/18/12 06:43 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: polyphasicpianist]
SwissMS Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 761
Loc: Switzerland
PPP, your description of memorizers by type is very interesting. I can definitely say I am not in group 3! grin The pattern recognition is definitely the key and the problem for me. Once I recognize how a progression goes, the easier it is to remember. Most pieces have similar repeating sections so once you learn one you can apply it to others. I memorize both by hearing the music in my head, and by knowing where the hands are supposed to go. The problem comes along when the pattern is complex or dis-harmonic. Bach's Prelude BWV 851 in D minor has been a bear for me to learn much less memorize. The first half is logical, progressive arpeggios in the right hand. After that there are some discordant progressions that I really struggle with. It just does not sound right, so my ear is leading me astray. So the pattern recognition for me is both aural and physical. I listen to you tube videos of the pieces I am learning everyday, to try to teach my ear what to listen for.

Hands separate practice seems to really help also. When I do a lot of hands separate, everything seems to lock in quicker when I put it together.

The last technique that I use, is Chang's "Mental Practice". Away from the piano, for example before I go to sleep at night, I will play a piece in my head. It quickly reveals were I have gray areas that I am not sure what the next note is. This technique improved my memorization skills more that anything else. I find though that I cannot work on memorizing more that one piece at a time or I get confused.
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#1864757 - 03/19/12 02:23 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Starr Keys]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Originally Posted By: Starr Keys
I think it might help a lot of us, too, because whatever it is you are doing unconsciously or semi-consciously,we might be able to develop our ability to do with more information.

I do memorize off the sheet sometimes and am a lot quicker at it now that I can apply theoretical analysis and ear training, but I'm not as fast as you, and I think few people are who haven't been playing a very long time. What a gift!

As promise, I was thinking about this subject during the weekend. The main question I repeated to myself was "Why do I memorize pieces?". Note that I used the word "why" instead of "how".
I'm not going to do a deep analysis like PPP did (thanks! great comment) and I think anyone can get frustrated at not being able to memorize pieces. The same for those that are (still) poor sight readers (like me...). Each one has it's value.

Anyway, and to answer to StarrKeys's chalenge, I'll try to describe the process that I take in learning a piece. It's more or less like this:

1) I listen something that catches my attention. In some cases I only like a section of a piece, but that's the trigger to pay attention to all piece;

2) I get "in love" with the piece... I listen several times the piece and I get more and more envolved with it;

3) I try to read the music sheet to see if I'm able to play it (technical speaking). Unfortunately, there are many pieces I'm in love but I can't get close to it...;

4) Once I fell "I think I can do it", I start reading more carefully the sheet while the music goes through my mind (I know the melody and dynamics very well, due the step 2), so I begin to "see" the sounds, the dynamics, and rithms and I made the respective reading in correspondent tabs. I take some notes. This phase can run between 15 minuts to a couple of days. Depends on my free time and, of course, on the music variations and complexity;

5) It's time to play the piano smile

6) And then it start to happen. I just need to know the "design" of the the firsts two or three chords, or tabs, for each session and then the music starts to flow naturaly. I start to progress in the piece and I do some more signs, directly in the sheet music, to clarify special or more difficult parts;

7) During this process, I know when sometthing is wrong just because... it sounds bad. When this occurs I check the sheet to be sure about the right keys, or to check author's signs on the tab/session. I play it (tab or section) until I get the right sound (that's the moment I say: "Oh great! I get it!). In this phase almost everyting is already played without reading the music sheet;

8) At the end of each learned section I took a detailed reading of the sheet while the music flows on my mind, not on piano. Sometimes small details are corrected and tested;

9) All sections are learned by this method. When I made a major mistake in any section (even in the last one) I start playing again from the beginning of the piece. I think this is a kind of punishment, but it's usefull because every time I repeat the sessions already learned, mistakes are fewer and fewer (this is practicing, right?). Discipline is required in this stage;

10) Finally, and without reading the music sheet, I can play all the piece with a decent flow (by memory). I seize the piece while I'm in love with it and some passions last for a lifetime.... Until the next one. As with real life, love must be cultivated often.

Other things:
- I never play a piece with the memorization goal... I focus on the pleasure goal.
- I start progressing from the beginning to the end of the piece. I never start studying in a middle session just because it's "dificult" or other reason;
- I never jump a session or tab.
- Both hands at the same time. Always! - I know there are lots of discussions in PW about this subject...
- The progress must be solid and consistent: I only advance to the next session once the previous session is understood or, better, "decoded". In some sections I know that speed and dynamics came later, with practicing; but the important is to decode the session (right feeling, right sound, right notes, right fingers, right rithm, etc).

Summarizing, I can say there is a "love stage", a "decode" phase, a "practicing" phase, and finally, the phase of the "pleasure".
That's it. Sorry for this long post, but hopefully worthwhile.
_________________________

Youtube channel
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Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#1864889 - 03/19/12 06:17 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Thank you, Carlos, and no need to apologize to me. I'm thrilled you provided so much detail. I think it deserves a detailed response. Given, my need to protect my arm, I think the best way to accomplish that is with a point for point comparison on my own procedure with yours.

1. Same.
2. Same.
3. Same.
4. "I begin to see the sounds"????--do you mean you see the sounds as written notation? Are you saying you can sight sing them in your head? ... "I take some notes"-- What kind of notes do you take? Are you talking notes about dynamics and phrasing only, or notes on how each tab/chord is expressly played in each section -- for instances, as arpeggios, as runs, as block chords, etc.
5. Yes. I usually also start playing after the same general preliminaries.
6. " I do some more signs to clarify special or more difficult parts"???--Do you mean you have your own shorthand or are you talking about doing chord and progression analysis here?
7. Yes, when I've got the general design for how it all fits together, I also look back at the music to fill in the gaps in my memory and listen to the music if I have a recording. I try not to keep the sheet music on the piano or read from it at this point.
8. "At the end of each learned section I took a detailed reading of the sheet while the music flows on my mind, not on piano"--Again, it sounds like you are talking about silently sight-singing. I can't do this. Maybe this is the key to your superior memory, since it seems up to now we're doing everything else pretty much the same way.
9. "All sections are learned by this method. When I made a major mistake in any section (even in the last one) I start playing again from the beginning of the piece."--I do this sometimes, but more often I just play the problematic section and what comes directly before or after it (the transitions).
10. "Finally, and without reading the music sheet, I can play all the piece with a decent flow (by memory). I seize the piece while I'm in love with it and some passions last..."--Here we really differ, and maybe this is where I go wrong. I often lose my passion in the process of trying to get it memorized and recorded by a deadliine.

Other things:
Same, except for the first (At least in the earlier stages, I focus on both) and second point (I often take the most difficult part first, because I know it will require the most practice).


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#1865319 - 03/20/12 11:56 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Rusty Fortysome Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/11
Posts: 194
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Isabelle7007
Wow, Rusty, that is impressive!
...
Sorry, I'm a little lazy sometimes. I do have a tendency to "slop" my way through lots of songs, without perfecting them. SOOOOO, my intention as I take up piano again is to use a lot of self-discipline, and patience with myself and my learning.


Playing well is better than playing sloppy or thoughtlessly.
Playing sloppy and thoughtlessly is better than not playing.
Not playing isn't better than anything... it's a complete waste.

Remember that every moment you play is drawing you closer to something. It is at the very least bringing you to greater comfort with the coordination of playing a keyboard. If you don't play, you won't even do that. You can relate all arts to sports--doing light weights or walking is better than sitting, but doing the sport is better than doing light weights or walking, and doing the sport best and applying yourself is better than just swinging the bat or racket or club without thought.

Just sit down and do it. Do it 30 mins/day... and hour is better... two is very good, and if you jump on the piano in any spare window in day and night, you'll be working it quicker.

I get lazy too when it comes to the tough stuff to play. I will play all through and then when I am trying to learn, I take breaks and lay about between sections as if I have just been lifting boulders at a construction site. Ridiculous.
_________________________
Currently working on/memorizing...
"It's You" from Robotech
"He's A Pirate"
"Crazy Bone Rag"
"Claire DeLune (finally)"

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#1865925 - 03/21/12 11:59 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Starr Keys]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Originally Posted By: Starr Keys
Thank you, Carlos, and no need to apologize to me. I'm thrilled you provided so much detail. I think it deserves a detailed response. Given, my need to protect my arm, I think the best way to accomplish that is with a point for point comparison on my own procedure with yours.

4. "I begin to see the sounds"????--do you mean (...)
5. Yes. I usually also start playing after the same general preliminaries.
6. "I do some more signs to clarify special or more difficult parts"???--Do you (...)
7. Yes, when I've got the general design for how it all fits together, (...)
8. Again, it sounds like you are talking about silently sight-singing. (...)
9. I start playing again from the beginning of the piece."--I do this sometimes, (...)
10.Here we really differ, and maybe this is where I go wrong. (...)
quire the most practice).

You're welcome! This has been a great opportunity for me to think in a structured way in this interesting subject.

Follwing the "script":

4. "Are you saying you can sight sing them in your head? What kind of notes do you take?"
I don't know how to explain it but, yes, I agree. I can sight sing the sounds in my head, yes... I just read the sheet and I can make a correspondence to the melody and more relevants sounds (LH+RH). See the answer above about the signs.

6. "Do you mean you have your own shorthand or are you talking about doing chord and progression analysis here?"
For sure! Now that you underlined that aspect, It's true that I have my own signs (exclamation points, arrows, circles around special notes, numbers to clarify diferent sessions, lines and curves to express dynamics, and so on. On every things that I have to pay attention). It's like having a rally road book instead of a road map. See the diference? Sometimes, when chords seem non-logical (at least at a first impression) I also signed them. No chord/progression deep analyses here.

7. "I also look back at the music to fill in the gaps in my memory and listen to the music if I have a recording"
It's not very usual for me to listen my own records, but I agree 100% that's the best method to improve the performance. I really note many improvement points when I record something.

8. "Again, it sounds like you are talking about silently sight-singing."
Yes. I can say it's a kind of silently sight-singing.

9. "I do this sometimes, but more often I just play the problematic section and what comes directly before or after it."
C'mon, of course sometimes I get tied in a problematic session, and I try to repeat it several times in a row (not more than 4 or 5 times until I get it decoded) . But, if it happens too much times in a piece, hmmmm, maybe you didn't evaluated correctly the technical level of it.

10. "Here we really differ, and maybe this is where I go wrong. I often lose my passion in the process of trying to get it memorized and recorded by a deadliine."
Just a tip: IMO it's difficult to have passion for something when you have pressure, like a deadline. Remember that I never learn a piece with the memorization goal. Far less to fulfill a date (not even for ABF recitals!)

I'm loving this thread. It is very curious how we are all different.
_________________________

Youtube channel
Box.com MP3 records

Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#1866062 - 03/21/12 04:33 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Rusty Fortysome]
Isabelle7007 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 11
Loc: UT
Whoops, sorry. Private message accidentally posted.


Edited by Isabelle7007 (03/21/12 04:36 PM)
_________________________
~Belle~

1995 Young Chang Pramberger Signature Series Bubinga


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#1866576 - 03/22/12 12:15 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: CarlosCC
I'm loving this thread. It is very curious how we are all different.


Me too! You have been very helpful to me, especially in regard to your advice about never memorizing as a goal (a paradox, since it seems this can lead to doing it more efficiently and faster than anything else) and never working on a piece under pressure in order to keep the passion for the music alive. I especially appreciate your emphasising and reinforcing these two pieces of advice for me.

For a long time I've been fascinated by the idea of mental practice and you have helped me to understand how it works towards memorization. I don't know if you saw this interview on the subject with the great pianist Glen Gould, recently posted in another thread, but I'd imagine you'd find it very interesting:

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,1894.msg14707.html#msg14707

BTW, I have my own "signs" that seem to function as mnemonic devices. Some of them are similar to yours and I continue to add to them.

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#1867029 - 03/23/12 06:02 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Starr Keys]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
Originally Posted By: Starr Keys
(...)I don't know if you saw this interview on the subject with the great pianist Glen Gould, recently posted in another thread, but I'd imagine you'd find it very interesting: http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,1894.msg14707.html#msg14707


Thanks, it's very interesting.
I found some similarities with what I do including the "mental preparation" before beginning to study a piece.
_________________________

Youtube channel
Box.com MP3 records

Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#1867736 - 03/24/12 01:18 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: CarlosCC]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: CarlosCC

Thanks, it's very interesting.
I found some similarities with what I do including the "mental preparation" before beginning to study a piece.


Glad you liked it. Thanks for the feedback. smile

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#2007373 - 01/01/13 08:06 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
CarlosCC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 1376
Loc: Lisbon, Portugal
I saw this video on the internet and it's interesting the link between technique, sight reading, and memorization. Not that I have problems memorizing pieces, but can be useful for those who work hard in this area.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ISxKSMbIWtE#!


Edited by CarlosCC (01/01/13 08:08 AM)
Edit Reason: youtube embebed movie problem...
_________________________

Youtube channel
Box.com MP3 records

Self-taught since 12/2009
Don't play what's there, play what's not there.

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#2007693 - 01/01/13 09:28 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
I do sometimes wish I could sit down and play when I don't have my sheet much with me. But I've found two things to be true upon re-taking up piano in my 50's that were not so when I played as a child.

One is that it take hundreds, plural hundreds, of repetitions to fix a piece firmly enough in my memory that I can play it again say a week later without stumbling. The pieces I learned when taking lessons 40 years ago would be "automatically" memorized once I had played them, say, 12-15 times. It now takes 20 times that many repetitions. Somewhere along the line I lost the knack for remembering how songs are played.

The other thing that I don't recall being true back then is how quickly a piece disappears from memory if I don't play it. Now in all honesty, maybe it's just that I've stopped short of really, truly, thoroughly memorizing tunes because it takes so darned long. But I can have one down well enough to close the book and play it correctly (that takes maybe 50-100 time through the song) and if I come back to it 48 hours later it is mostly gone.

So I just gave up. At least 99% of my piano playing is either right here at home where entire shelves of sheet music are sitting in the piano room or in some other situation where I'm visiting somewhere that I know has a piano so I take some music with me. It's just not worth giving the bulk my limited playing time over to rote repetition. Man I miss the days when I could already have a piece in memory even while still working out the last few technical kinks. But that seems to have been a "use it or lose it" kind of deal.
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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#2007810 - 01/02/13 05:25 AM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
ClavBoy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/11
Posts: 67
Loc: Germany
Hm, it's interesting to read so much from people that can actually look at the score for the most time and still find the right keys on the piano. Wish I would be able to do that too!
I'm learning the piano for a bit more than a year now and still I cannot just close my eyes (or follow the score) while playing even the pieces that I'm able to play (which are not that many). I know which notes to play but just cannot target the keys in the required speed to play a piece satisfactory.

Is this (blindly finding the right keys) something that will come automatically with time? Or would it make sense to practise that with some of the easier pieces?

So, I have no alternative than to memorise the pieces I want to play which of course takes a great amount of time (I have to admit that I don't practise a lot in the last time due to many distractions...). I just play the same bars again and again until I can remember it and then go to the next bars. Only exception to this is the Bach Prelude (BWV 846), somehow I cannot remember it completely so I have to look on the score from time to time. Surprisingly it works for the piece and doesn't for other ones. Maybe because the prelude is relatively easy structured with all these repetitions so there is enough time to glance at the score inbetween bars.

Is it even possible to play demanding pieces without looking at the keys? I always thought for "professional" players the scores are only there as a reminder or for an emergency (sudden memory loss). Do you think Lang Lang could play pieces like Schubert's "Fantasia in C, D760" with closed eyes?

Edit: Just saw part 2 of the video, CarlosCC linked, oh my, he really plays perfectly with his eyes closed; how to do that???)


Edited by ClavBoy (01/02/13 05:59 AM)
_________________________
Roland FP-7F

Working on:
Schumann: From Foreign Lands and Countries, op. 15; Burgmller op. 100, Arabesque; Tchaikovsky op. 39 no. 15, Italian Song

Dreaming of:
Some Scott Joplin pieces i.e. Bethena. Still years to go for that...
Satie: Gnossienne No. 1. Maybe a bit earlier



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#2008091 - 01/02/13 04:50 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: PLMS]
WelshMikey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/18/12
Posts: 24
Loc: Wales
For me personally it takes me so long to learn how to play a piece by the time I have it all together and have played it say 5 times completely I can literally play it with my eyes closed. Its more about muscle memory than brain memory, my mental memory skills are terrible but my hands have repeated the piece so many times they just know where to go. Personally I am getting into improvisation and think mastering that skill is more useful than either sight reading or memorization of written pieces as it allows you to sightread just the melody in most pieces then make the rest up.
_________________________

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#2008218 - 01/02/13 09:22 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Brent H Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/11
Posts: 843
My nephew is a professional singer and keyboard/piano player, lot of jazz stuff. For him "sightreading" consists of looking at the sheet music, sort of humming the melody while he glances at the harmony in the accompaniment and then sitting down to the piano to play it from "memory". What he's really doing is improvising on the melody and chord progression.

I suspect if you made him sit down to sightread something and play it exactly note for note as written either he'd quit halfway through or his head would explode!

With my meagre talent, I have to settle for being able to just play the notes on the page. I'd give a great deal to have 1/10 of that improvisation/playing by ear ability but at this point it seems unlikely to develop late in life given its total absence to date...
_________________________
Current Life+Music Philosophy: Less Thinking, More Foot Tapping

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis

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#2008516 - 01/03/13 12:39 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3552
>http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ISxKSMbIWtE#!

from that video:

>don't listen to recordings

>don't put in fingerings. We change it all the time anyway

I don't agree with all that.

He can play that piece almost at tempo right away. Seems this piece is well below his actual level?
_________________________

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#2159316 - 09/28/13 07:24 PM Re: Memorization vs Sight reading [Re: Isabelle7007]
Jessiebear Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/13
Posts: 172
Loc: New Zealand
Sorry to bump, but what a fascinating thread! I agree that memorizing is definitely helpful for the more intricate parts of a song.
I don't start pieces with the intention of memorizing them, but if I really *click* with a song and become passionate about it, it happens to a certain extent. Like Carlos, I 'hear' a song in my head even when I'm not playing it, and going about my day. It helps to have Youtube for this to get it cemented in my brain, my playlist includes all my current working pieces LOL.

I hardly look at the keys when I'm playing now. And will often catch myself gazing above the piano somewhere, if it's a song I'm well familiar with. I 'see' the score in my minds eye, is the best way I can describe it.

Lastly I agree with whoever said on page 1 that it's good to have a few songs to play for friends, because they're gonna ask, and isn't that the whole point of piano, to share music?
_________________________
Inspired by Einaudi and Tiersen.

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