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#2053355 - 03/24/13 09:17 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11804
Loc: Canada
I've been pondering the role of audiating since it came up. I'm not pondering whether it can be done, because I audiated long before I ever knew there was a word for it. For me audiation happened primarily with the types of music I commonly encountered. If it was atonal with little happening diatonically, I don't think it would have worked. But with other music, I'd look at the page and hear the music off the page. I could sing what's there, like you can read a text out loud, because I was hearing it anyway. In fact, I thought that's how people read music. So yes, I'm familiar with audiating.

But I am not familiar with the idea of audiating as a means of memorizing. Something else seems to be going on here.
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

It's sight-singing ........

I'm never surprised when I first actually hear a piece

To me it's like someone saying that he reads the script of a play, "To be, or not to be, that is the question." and then he listens to the actors, and he is not surprised that the actor says "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Why would you even expect to be surprised? I'm not catching the point. But more importantly, I'm not catching the role of this for memorizing.

Well, to push the analogy to theater, I am capable of reading a script, which is like audiating spoken words. But this does not make me good at memorizing. Or as a singer, where you must memorize melody plus lyrics. I don't see the role.

The only thing that I CAN see, is that this audiation is being compared to something that works less well. (Like, what is its significance?)

I'm still exploring while trying to get a picture. I'm thinking that this audiating is replacing something that has worked less well.
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
If you do it often enough it's better than sight-reading at the piano though it frequently reduces the 'sound picture' to a simpler level but it's enough to recognise themes, melodies and chord movement and you can build the picture deeper over time.

In what way is audiating better than sight reading? In order to achieve which thing, which can be better done than sight reading?

My sight reading used to be mixed with audiation. I heard what was on the page, and I played what I heard. I actually switched to learning real sight reading, where you see F# and play F# knowing that it is that black key which is F#. This gave me a greater degree of accuracy, and let me wend my way through more complex pieces. So I'm coming from the opposite end.

So I'm still trying to understand this. I'm thinking that maybe sight reading can be an unmusical activity, where you type out the notes and hear them afterward as pitches, but they don't coalesce as music. If that is what is happening, then I can see that audiating will give you the music as music. In that case it would be "better than sight reading"

So I think I'm beginning to follow.

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
But I miss less when audiating because I look more closely at the score than when listening to a piece and I can catch smaller details or make better sense of what I see.

THIS may be the clue.

Unraveling this from bottom to top I see this possibility:

- Sight reading is the act of typing out the notes by knowing F# is that black key, or the next note is that note a major 3rd up from the last one. It's not being heard as music. On the other hand, if you want to hear it as music, recordings may not be a perfect solution, because you may not be able to hear all the details. When you audiate (like a singer?), however, you are able to hear the details in a musical way, and for this audiating is a better solution than a sight reading without the music inputting itself, combined with recordings where the music whizzes by too fast to catch all of it.

So now I see the role of audiating. As so often with music, it would have to do with where a person finds himself.

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#2053416 - 03/24/13 11:22 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
So, for example, you could look at a passage from a score and you would know whether or not a performance corresponded to that passage or deviated from it?
It depends on the music and the degree of deviation. I cannot look at the score of a symphony and tell whether the violas are playing the wrong notes. But I can find my place rapidly in a score.

If I've heard a rock song many, many times I may or may not be able to reproduce the drum or bass line. If I've audiated it from a piano transcription I could probably tell whether the bass guitar was playing the piano bass line from the score I'd seen or was playing something else.

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
I should say, I'm familiar with music notation and can read reasonably well but being unable to audiate anything but melody and simple harmony (rhythm no problem) and without reference to a piano I could not make such a comparison with any reliability unless the passage in question were quite simple.
Are you "talking" only about music you haven't heard? Can you not hear a full orchestra when you recall, for example, a familiar symphony? Or drums, bass, piano, guitar and vocals in a well-known pop song?

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
That's why I'm testing it against the ability to audiate which I see as being all-encompassing.
All-encompassing? Can you elaborate on that? My understanding of audiation mightn't be the same as yours. Audiation is a recently coined word (within my lifetime) and I may have misunderstood it but I don't see it as all-encompassing. I compare audiation to visualisation.

Let me make an analogy that might convey my understanding. I draw. I can look at a photograph and make a quick linear sketch of it that's recognisable. I can look at a quick linear sketch of something or someone unfamiliar in detail and produce a recognisable tonal image of it. I can look at a caricature of a personality and recognise them from it when I see them on TV.

I can do this because of visualisation and I consider that process analogous to audiation. I have absolutely no idea how a police sketch artist works or what's involved. I know these things can be done.
_____________

I can't hear all the fine details in a chromatic passage but I get a good idea of what I will hear when I do hear it.

An 'audible sketch' is all I need to know how a piece goes and I can get a better idea of it than I can by sight-singing or sight-reading on the piano. I can also 'fill in' chromatic and harmonic detail at the piano without having to sight-read everything on the staves.

I can learn a song or simple piano piece from the score alone without necessarily being able to reproduce it on the piano in a play by ear mode. I may be pleasantly surprised by the richness of the harmony but it wouldn't be totally unexpected or make me lose my place in the music.

I can reproduce in my head the sound of a full orchestra, with or without the score, of a familiar work.

I know I'm not unique because I've worked with others that do the same sort of things.
__________________

I've briefly scanned keystring's post and I think she's got it but...

Originally Posted By: keystring
To me it's like someone saying that he reads the script of a play, "To be, or not to be, that is the question." and then he listens to the actors, and he is not surprised that the actor says "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Why would you even expect to be surprised? I'm not catching the point. But more importantly, I'm not catching the role of this for memorizing.
The music can have more than one thing going on. I can't sight-sing or audiate an unfamiliar fugue or a symphony without assistance and I can't be sure I've got the harmony right.

The advantage is being able to reconstruct the sequence of events in greater or lesser amounts of detail and at target speed. I can't do that on a piano.

Watch a typical youth singing a rock song then branching into air guitar for the solo with pitchless da-da-da's. They're audiating from memory. They can hear the guitars and drums.
_________________________
Richard

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#2053421 - 03/24/13 11:30 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1457
Loc: uk south
You didn’t respond to my later post so I’ll get straight to the point.

I listened to your Consolation 3 – you link to it here in your ‘shameless plug’ post in the AOTW thread linking to ‘My new Kawai’ showing off your new piano (congrats, by the way, a fine instrument).

You’ve put in a spirited effort but I should also say there are some aspects of your performance which need attention and since no one else has thought fit, I’ll lay it out - this will give you the opportunity to put things right and also maybe for you to throw some more light on ‘audiation’. As things stand, I’m finding it impossible to square what you’re doing with the supposed use of any such skills.

Let’s pass over the pedalling and 3 against 4 polyrhythms - these things will improve (the 2 against 3 are nice and smooth). What concern me are the notational errors – you’re playing glaringly wrong notes in more than a dozen places in this piece. When I asked if you could audiate in order to compare a performance against a score I’d intended to ask if you might be able to use it to verify the errors in your consolation 3.

For the moment, as an example, listen to your bar 29. Can you hear, audiate or whatever it is you do, to establish how the score differs from what you’re playing? It looks clear to me (perhaps it will to you too?) how this mistake might have seeded itself. Also how it is something of an indictment of your method which will always risk burning in these errors where, by contrast, the fail-safe of repeated and progressively improved reading can at any point put a student back on track.

Your other errors are less harmonious, less coherent but I’m ready to list them if it will help. Either that or find a teacher to oversee what you’re doing and to guide you to make the changes. A third option would be to have someone in the forum proof your early efforts to nip those kind of errors in the bud. You complained in an early post of my being unhelpful but if it doesn’t stick in your craw I could oblige.

Coming back to ‘audiation’ – I think there is much that is too vague about this alleged skill, too easy to lay claim to and too inaccessible to relate to others what we ‘hear’ mentally and with what accuracy. I don’t claim to be able to reliably audiate (to my definition!) but I can hear very starkly (and see from the score) your errors in the piece. You do claim to audiate yet you are apparently unable to hear the mistakes, or more exactly, you’ve been unable so far to do so. The other possibility, although I think it’s extremely slim, is that you can spot the errors through audiation but you cannot do so by listening to your performance and comparing it with another (entirely in the aural domain). And that’s what baffles me most of all; that one might be able to audiate to any useful extent while having an unreliable ear. At the moment, that is the intriguing paradox you present.

In your AOTW post you say:-
Quote:
…When we listen to ourselves we hear the smallest mistakes…

Some do, some don’t,
also;-
Quote:
But I miss less when audiating because I look more closely at the score than when listening to a piece and I can catch smaller details or make better sense of what I see.

- If you don’t ‘hear’ it, none of this is useful….

Returning to topic, I wanted to underline here how sharply your Liszt piece points up the risks we take when adopting flawed practising regimes – particularly when we find ourselves memorising the wrong things, and when we go about reinforcing those errors in the most elaborate, time-consuming, ways. Time is precious and there’s an ever-present risk of wasting it.

There’s a place for memorizing but one should be wary of turning it into a way of life and especially careful about the manner of doing it.

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#2053426 - 03/24/13 11:39 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Michael99
What you haven't said is a piece of how many measures and how many times do you play it everyday without mistakes and for how many months have you been playing this piece that you are trying to memorize, 3 months, 6 months, 18 months, 2 years?
This is awkward, rather than difficult to answer but if you're looking for detail...

I normally work on a piece one week on and a few weeks off, five or six pieces a day and twenty to twenty-five pieces actively current.

Example One - a typical Bach invention, sinfonia or suite movement in my normal working style (reconstructed from my practise journal).

It is typically a double page spread. I would divide it into four and treat each quarter as an individual piece. I spend about ten to fifteen minutes a day memorising a short passage in each hand separately, and join the hands when memorised. I frequently have to re-learn the passage a few times over the week before it sticks but the passage grows through the week. I would expect to have the quarter memorised at the end of the week with the hardest to memorise passage still in and out of memory. I will have the whole thing done in four weeks spread over sixteen.

Some months later I'll have to do it all again and memorise the whole thing in a fortnight but still in individual quarters but it will sound much better and be more fluent. I may well have gone over parts of it once or twice at weekends.

Another few months on and I'll have to do it all again but will usually join the passages on the third time and memorise the whole thing in less than a week. The next revisit I expect to memorise the whole piece in a couple of days and usually without having to refer to the score. I'll play it a few times a day over a couple of weekends to be sure. I'll be able to play it from memory then as often or as infrequently as I like and will generally be able to recall the whole thing in a day or two several years later.

Example Two - Mendelssohn's Song Without Words, Op. 62/3, for the upcoming recital in my older style of consecutive weeks (not as productive over time, I've found, as there is no progress from assimilation away from the piece and it encourages boredom/tedium).

October 15 to December 31 memorised the music as sound using the score, recordings and a couple of tryouts on the piano. I resisted sight-reading to avoid the introduction of wrong notes into a recital piece. I started at the piano on January 7 and have followed my plan with only minor deviations such as having to practise on Saturdays to make my weeks objective. Some weeks I was done earlier.

Jan 7-11 Memorised M1-4, M28-32 and M46-48

Jan 14-18 memorised M5-12

Jan 21-25 M13-20

Jan 28-Feb 2 M20-24

Feb 4-9 M25-28

Feb 11-15 M33-39 and join M1-20

Feb 18-20 M39-46 and join M28-38

Feb 25-Mar 1 M20-28 and practise M1-20, M28-38

Mar 4-8 practise M1-20 á tempo, M20-28 dead slow, M28-48 á tempo

Mar 9 to date, practise M1-28 and M20-48 at weekends only with preliminary recordings.

April 1 onwards, start recording.

Most weekends since January 12 I've gone over previous material except M20-28 when I was not confident in my ability to play it without errors until March 9 but the tempo (for that section) is rising steadily and I'm fully confident I'll have it in time.

I haven't used the score since mid February (though I still read it away from the piano now and again) and see no reason why I'd ever have to go back to it in my lifetime (which is not so long now smile )
_________________________
Richard

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#2053457 - 03/24/13 12:30 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I hope I'm not monopolising the thread...

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
A third option would be to have someone in the forum proof your early efforts to nip those kind of errors in the bud. You complained in an early post of my being unhelpful but if it doesn’t stick in your craw I could oblige.
I am overwhelmed by your generosity and shower you with gratitude.

Oh, my apologies for responding late...we have suffered weather damage in the garden and I am busy with reparations.

In this instance I will not take up your offer. I know these performances weren't my best and were offered in the rush of posting something I'd promised (rashly it seems) before the new piano became an old one. I did offer a disclaimer at the time. (If you'd like to do the same with the Grieg piece from the recent ABF Recital, however... smile )

Any pieces I post in future with recital quality intended I may well consult a third ear and, mayhap, even yours. I will, though, refrain from doing so in the piano bars or other more 'casual' posts.

Even Beethoven and Liszt played wrong notes (no, I'm not comparing myself). Recordings are so different from live performance. The tiniest error stands in perpetuity as the measure of one's ability at the time no matter how busy the day or trying the life outside the instrument. I think many can attest also to the effects of the red dot.

My left ear is in reasonable shape, my right ear comes and goes with the effects of tinnitus but my inner ear is still fully functional. Unfortunately, the connection from brain to fingers is still not perfect.

Again, I am grateful for your kind offer and am glad our past friction (your discomfort at what I say and my discomfort at what you don't smile ) has left no sign of bitterness.
_________________________
Richard

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#2053478 - 03/24/13 01:19 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
dire tonic, how do you memorize?
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#2053491 - 03/24/13 01:40 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Richard, I have tinnitus in both ears. I also have hearing loss. So far I have been fortunate not to have lost clear hearing of pitch up to the highest note on the piano. I can still hear beats on that note, but I need to turn up the volume of a DP to hear them, and on an acoustic I need to strike the keys really hard way up there. I may lose some of this in the next few years. It will be a huge loss for me.

The tinnitus is like crickets, and in fact it is so loud ALL THE TIME that I am not always sure when walking outside when I am hearing real crickets.

But this does not affect my ability to look at a score, one I have never seen before to music I have never heard before, and make corrections without even looking at the piano or at hands. I do this routinely while teaching. And my ability to audiate is the key to this.

Now of course there is music that is too complex for me to "hear mentally" with complete accuracy, which is what "audiate" means to me. And I agree it is a relatively new word. The built in spell-checker here does not even recognize it as a word.

However, for music such as Beethoven and Mozart I hear the music so clearly in my head that if I misread it, I will hear the wrong notes in my head just as clearly as if I strike them wrong on the piano. In other words, if I make a mental mistake, that will go right into my fingers and cause a corresponding physical mistake. I make such mental mistakes when I do not notice that an accidental has been cancelled or that a note remains sharped, flatted or natural later on in a complex measure. My mistakes will be logical, meaning that what I play wrong COULD be right. It would not sound bad. But for anyone who knows the piece I have misread, mentally, it will be obvious.

The danger in working alone is that ANY of us can at ANY time learn a wrong note or many of them and then have the mind accept them as correct. Exactly how we go about error checking is complicated, but when playing something that is not available in recordings, the danger is always there that something wrong will be internalized and will become permanent.

Here is how strong my ability to hear is, both from score directly and in comparison. If I play anything famous and accidentally learn a wrong note, I will hear something WRONG in the playing of someone famous. This "wrongness" comes from the fact that the person I am listening to is not playing the same thing as what I play. I then pull out the score and check. I have found some astounding errors in the playing of very famous people that are as logical and correct sounding as some of my logical and correct sounding errors.

But I would say that 80 to 90% of the time the wrong notes by famous players turn out to be right, and I end up thumping my forehead in irritation. I then circle the mistake and remind myself that it may be a LONG time before my fingers get used to playing the real notes, the correct ones, instead of my error(s).

I did not point out any wrong notes in your Liszt Consolation, but I have taught this piece for decades and some of them are really major mistakes. Not the brushing of a wrong key but true errors. Memorized errors.

The first one I remember (I can't find the link to your performance now) is in measure 9. You hold the Gbm7b5 chord (Gb Bb Db F) rather than resolving it to the C7 chord which is formed at the very end of the measure, where the Db in the LH 2nd finger slips down to C while that LH thumb slips down to E natural.

Note that I am telling you this from memory. Note also that I can see my fingers pressing down the correct keys. I am hearing all the notes very clearly.

But I do not play this piece from memory.

Do not think that I am picking on you. I know very well that it is easy to take pot-shots at someone else's work, and presenting your playing to the public takes guts.

On the other hand, when I sent DT (Dire Tonic) my best effort at transcribing a tune called "Death of Love and Trust" by Dave Grusin, which is not correctly notated anywhere, I did not turn down his offer to correct my work. I think he found a good 20 errors, maybe more.

I suspect that if he started from scratch and sent me his transcription, I might have heard some errors in his work.

In other words, no matter how advanced we are, it never hurts to have someone else very advanced check our work. And refusing help when there are wrong notes is like saying:

"Please don't help me. I like my playing just as it, with all sorts of things wrong."

That's just sticking your head in the sand, Richard.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#2053504 - 03/24/13 01:59 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11804
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Originally Posted By: keystring
To me it's like someone saying that he reads the script of a play, "To be, or not to be, that is the question." and then he listens to the actors, and he is not surprised that the actor says "To be, or not to be, that is the question." Why would you even expect to be surprised? I'm not catching the point. But more importantly, I'm not catching the role of this for memorizing.
The music can have more than one thing going on. I can't sight-sing or audiate an unfamiliar fugue or a symphony without assistance and I can't be sure I've got the harmony right.

The advantage is being able to reconstruct the sequence of events in greater or lesser amounts of detail and at target speed. I can't do that on a piano.

Ok, but how does this help with memory?


Edited by keystring (03/24/13 03:50 PM)

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#2053564 - 03/24/13 04:23 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Wow, I'm flattered by all the attention!

I'm not sticking my head in the sand, Gary, nor am I turning away the offer of help out of disdain. I am delighted by the offer, especially from a such a source, but consider myself unworthy. I have a local source I can make use of who is more commensurate with my skills.

I did not expect the pieces to come in for such inspection and I'll refrain from making casual submissions in future. I don't mind that level being aimed at my recital submissions - they're fair game. I may re-post the Liszt after the Mendelssohn recital and have had time to give it as much attention.

Originally Posted By: keystring
The conclusion that I wrote is that you seem to not hear the music as music when you sight read, and listening to recordings, these are too fast, so the audiation you do allows you to catch more of the music as music. So it appears that this is how audiation is "better" for you. When you say you've got it, is this what I got right?
No, Im afraid not. My scan was too brief. Mea culpa.

When I sight-read I don't have the technical equipment to hit the right notes at the right time or at the right tempo so I can't hear how the music is supposed to sound.

When I listen to a recording some of the underlying music may not be loud enough or clear enough in relation to the rest of the music, the tape hiss, the bass distorting and rattling the speakers or any other ambient distractions within my hearing like the coffee maker or passing traffic.

When I read the score I'm not restricted by physical inadequacies and not distracted by wrong notes.

I can't begin to describe how being able to play a song in one's head helps with memory. Walking is the process of catching yourself from falling by putting a foot out in front. How does stopping yourself falling help you to make progress?

I do hope the OP has gained benefit from this thread.
_________________________
Richard

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#2053569 - 03/24/13 04:32 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11804
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

I can't begin to describe how being able to play a song in one's head helps with memory.


Then I will remain unable to understand. I have audiated my entire life since I was small. I also do something which probably everybody here does: I can read words. The ability to audiate doesn't help me memorize, just like the ability to read words doesn't help me memorize. But I supposed that if I could not read a whole sentence fluidly, or grasp a paragraph after a brief look, it would be hard to memorize. I'll have to assume that it relates to this.

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#2053591 - 03/24/13 05:08 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
It doesn't help in the memorisation process, it's a check but if you can get to the end of the song or the script then you have a good idea that you know it. When you know it you can repeat enough that you don't forget it.

When I was doing Shakespeare I'd leave out huge chunks of text and the director would put it down to oversight. After a few instances he'd realise I don't know the lines and mention it. And at the mention they'd come flooding out. The system ain't foolproof but...
_________________________
Richard

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#2053856 - 03/25/13 08:19 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: PianoStudent88]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1457
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
dire tonic, how do you memorize?

The way it sinks in?...I’m not entirely sure and in any case these processes are peculiar to the individual and difficult to dissect. I’ve learnt my Mendelssohn pieces and I’m pleased it’s behind me but it strikes me as a monumentally extravagant use of time. I can’t be precise because I abhor routine but I finished the first, seemingly more difficult piece in a month and the second ‘easier’ turned out to be a pig and took longer. An hour here, half an hour there. Man-hours? No idea. I started to make notes, became my own lab-rat during the early stages, but they petered out so not worth offering here. Little bits, 2,3 maybe 4 bars. I’d reach a point where I’d just about got those 4 bars but then only if my life depended on it, the section broken into scraps...”now, what was that note?” (stabbing around hopefully), and sometimes only one bar of the four of my focus. At a point of familiarity just a hair beyond that, the idea is in a holding pattern and needs to be worked and repeated – still in pieces, painstakingly – without the score unless stuck at an impasse in which case I quickly crib the score then push it away. Finally, a sense of it being just barely fixed in the head. That’s critical point no1 for me. Probably another 5 to 10 minutes of repeated, progressively less shaky re-building the section from scratch checking the score only for those notes that need it. Then at some point, I’ll have played it through with relatively little thought. That’s critical point 2. Another 10 minutes of looping those 4 bars right now could save me an hour of grinding re-learning tomorrow. Inevitably, later that day, there may be blurring but recaps with the score become progressively easier. Each day I’d start from the beginning and run through the piece up to my new coal-face. From time to time I allow myself the luxury of locking in what I have – nothing new that day. I’d also periodically go to the most difficult part of the piece – a section I’d decided at the outset to learn out of sequence to give it an extra work-out. It worked ok for me but I was blighted by periods of half-hearted concentration – I’m sure there must be techniques to avoid that but I didn’t try. An earlier deadline would probably have sharpened focus, improved efficiency.

It never occurred to me how useful correct fingering could be in pointing which direction to go. I’ve still a lot to learn and I’ll do it again, maybe for another recital, but I’m not enamoured with memorizing as an approach to playing music or as a means to becoming musical. The more I think about it the more I favour reading. It can't be a coincidence that many of us polarise towards one or the other and like the lazy eye which becomes weaker with under-use I suspect poor readers lose out by neglecting it. It's not just a matter of different means - the ends are different also.

Didn't you mention having memorized a piece fairly well but that with the score you could play it faster? I suspect that’s probably the optimum approach. The appeal of memorizing is, of course, being able to play the piece on autopilot and just listen to yourself play, and - because I prefer to do it that way – only then thinking about expression. I’m still playing around with expression a lot and will for the next few weeks while trying also to make the best of unconquerable technical difficulties. I think one can do all that well enough at 90% committal to memory – just using the score in front of you as an insurance, gliding through, being outside yourself, listening.

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#2053861 - 03/25/13 08:26 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1457
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: zrtf90


In this instance I will not take up your offer. I know these performances weren't my best and were offered in the rush of posting something I'd promised (rashly it seems) before the new piano became an old one. I did offer a disclaimer at the time. (If you'd like to do the same with the Grieg piece from the recent ABF Recital, however... smile )



yes, there are glitches in the Grieg. Do you want them posted here? In a PM?

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#2053878 - 03/25/13 09:04 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: dire tonic]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
dire tonic, thank you for that explanation. It is interesting to me how different people's experiences are with memorization.

Originally Posted By: dire tonic
I think you mentioned having memorized a piece fairly well but that with the score you could play it faster?

Yes, exactly. Actually that particular piece in the last week has started to be more fluid from memory, and the tempo is picking up slowly, which surprises me. It had been such a challenge that I didn't think it was ever going to improve. I think the change was actually because I tried something I learned from Richard, which is playing it (from memory) but VEEEEEEERRRRRYYYY slowly, with no consideration particularly to rhythm, but rather thinking before each note about what the next note would be.

I'm thinking about your point about the optimum balance of memory and reading. I'm a much more natural reader than memorizer, but I want to learn how to memorize.

My primary reason that draws me to memorization is that I want to have a repertoire of memorized pieces that I can play if I happen to find myself near a piano.

Secondarily, I'm taking an RCM exam in May and want to have my pieces memorized for it (it's optional, but you lose 2 points per piece if not memorized. I'm not sure but that I'd be able to play at least 2 points better from the score, but I want to challenge myself with this.) If one is not interested in exams, this probably seems like a foolish reason, but it's something I want to try nevertheless.

Thirdly (and in support of the first reason, really), I think that by practicing memorization I will improve at memorization. Or, at least I hope that's the case!

Fourthly, sometimes there will be passages that are hard for me to play at tempo while reading, and I find that if I put in the work to memorize them, that then (even when playing from the score) I can play them better than if I didn't put in that work. My entire Mendelssohn Song Without Words in this category. Actually, I set it aside for about a month after memorizing it and now all the memory has fallen out of my mind (and I can't bear to redo all the work to rememorize it), but the increased ease in playing (while using the score) has remained.
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#2053923 - 03/25/13 10:45 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
yes, there are glitches in the Grieg. Do you want them posted here? In a PM?

dire tonic, I am gobsmacked!

This is very generous of your time and talent. Let it not be wasted on just me. How about a new thread for the purpose so that others might benefit from it? A public execution masterclass, if you will. smile

I will try not to be too defensive. smile
_________________________
Richard

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#2054073 - 03/25/13 03:06 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
Stubbie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 468
Loc: Midwest USA
Memorizing vs. reading controversy--people are everywhere along the spectrum. IMO, "everywhere along the spectrum" is about the best one can expect by way of resolution.

As for audiating, I'm not sure a beginner will have the musical maturity/ability to look at notes and hear the music. I can't. If it takes playing piano as a child or twenty or thirty years of playing as an adult, I'm out of luck. frown


The OP asked "How do you memorize music?"
--I break the piece down into chunks (size depends on the piece).
--I play these reading from the score using the five or seven or whatever number times rule.
--After a few days of that it's feeling more comfortable under my fingers (i.e. it's already going into memory) and I will alternate reading from the score with playing from memory. I like to end with reading from the score to make sure my last run-through is correct.
_________________________
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#2054078 - 03/25/13 03:16 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: Stubbie]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: Stubbie
Memorizing vs. reading controversy--people are everywhere along the spectrum. IMO, "everywhere along the spectrum" is about the best one can expect by way of resolution.

As for audiating, I'm not sure a beginner will have the musical maturity/ability to look at notes and hear the music. I can't. If it takes playing piano as a child or twenty or thirty years of playing as an adult, I'm out of luck. frown


The OP asked "How do you memorize music?"
--I break the piece down into chunks (size depends on the piece).
--I play these reading from the score using the five or seven or whatever number times rule.
--After a few days of that it's feeling more comfortable under my fingers (i.e. it's already going into memory) and I will alternate reading from the score with playing from memory. I like to end with reading from the score to make sure my last run-through is correct.




Thank you, Stubbie. I appreciate your post. I find it helpful. As I said, I'm not interested in discussing the merits, I just wondered if there were some methods people used that worked for them smile
_________________________
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

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#2054081 - 03/25/13 03:18 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
dire tonic Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1457
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
How about a new thread for the purpose so that others might benefit from it? A public execution masterclass, if you will. smile

I will try not to be too defensive. smile



No problem. Why don't you start a thread and I'll post some notes.

No chance of a masterclass from the likes of me, I'm afraid, just the basic stuff that's within my scope. But maybe others will be able to add something...

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#2054368 - 03/26/13 02:46 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: zrtf90]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Wow, I'm flattered by all the attention!

I'm not sticking my head in the sand, Gary, nor am I turning away the offer of help out of disdain. I am delighted by the offer, especially from a such a source, but consider myself unworthy. I have a local source I can make use of who is more commensurate with my skills.

OK, but wrong notes are wrong notes. Period. And if they are in your head, meaning in "one's" head, having those notes pointed out and corrected is valuable regardless of the source.

It is a different matter when "things go bump in the night". This is my humorous way of referring to the kinds of things that go wrong in live performances OR in recorded performances done in one take, no post-editing, no re-dos in a studio that allows endless takes until the result is unrealistically close to perfect.

Presenting your playing to a bunch of people who are not obligated to put themselves on the line in a similar manner invites trolling and arrogant put-downs. So of course people could come along and trash everything you are doing without offering anything in return, and such people will arbitrarily tear down things you are doing that are very good.

My point remains merely that ANY of us may memorize wrong notes, wrong rhythms or may miss things that are really important. Years ago I shared a recording I had made of "Footsteps in the snow" with an amateur pianist in another country who was a passionate listener.

He wrote me back: "I think you are missing note X in measure Y." After swearing in at least two languages, not at him but at myself, I located the mistake (and yes, it was memorized), then fixed it. And it was important.

At that time there was no YouTube to find umpteen recordings of the same thing. Since that time my playing has become much more accurate due to being able to compare almost anything I am preparing with some very fine players. Even so I can't be 100% sure that I catch everything that is wrong. Before presenting anything important to me to many people I would first ask a few trusted friends to "proof my playing".
Quote:

I may re-post the Liszt after the Mendelssohn recital and have had time to give it as much attention.

That is reasonable. If you do that and are open to suggestions, I would contribute. And for the record, I do NOT tear people down. That's not who I am and doing so would violate everything that I believe is right about teaching.
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#2054403 - 03/26/13 05:53 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2437
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Thanks, Gary. I'm continuing this in a new thread for the purpose to give this one back to the OP. I won't link to it, I'm sure you'll find it. smile
_________________________
Richard

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#2054446 - 03/26/13 08:51 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: heathermphotog
My daughter's teacher is already emphasizing both reading and memorizing for her (she's 7 and can do both already quite well). I see how much more she owns the music that she has memorized. And she'll just play it at any time she'd like, any place she's like. I just know that I can read well and what I'd like to be able to do is play when I do not have music in front of me (memorize). At this point I simply don't/can't do both - I don't know how, but I'd like to learn smile


Hello Heather. Might it not be a good idea to put your question of "how to" on the back burner for the moment, while your little girl is learning to spread her wings ?

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#2054487 - 03/26/13 10:37 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11804
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: landorrano

Hello Heather. Might it not be a good idea to put your question of "how to" on the back burner for the moment, while your little girl is learning to spread her wings ?

I don't see the relationship. What does the child's path have to do with the parent's path? Each person's learning is done by that person. By not trying to learn what she wants to learn, Heather doesn't speed up her child's learning. (I'm not following).

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#2054569 - 03/26/13 02:02 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: keystring]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: landorrano

Hello Heather. Might it not be a good idea to put your question of "how to" on the back burner for the moment, while your little girl is learning to spread her wings ?

I don't see the relationship. What does the child's path have to do with the parent's path? Each person's learning is done by that person. By not trying to learn what she wants to learn, Heather doesn't speed up her child's learning. (I'm not following).


Yes, I'm not following either ... I simply was wondering if anyone here had a certain way they did it, trying to get ideas for myself since I seem to have a hard time with it and I want to memorize some things smile
_________________________
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

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#2054635 - 03/26/13 04:33 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 813
Loc: New England, USA
I don't use any explicit methods other than the the well known divide and conquer approach.

Another question is how to maintain memorized pieces... Not easy at all... smile


Edited by Amaruk (03/26/13 04:33 PM)
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#2054953 - 03/27/13 05:00 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2472
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: heathermphotog

Yes, I'm not following either ... I simply was wondering if anyone here had a certain way they did it, trying to get ideas for myself since I seem to have a hard time with it and I want to memorize some things smile


Good, and may you soon play with the memory of an elephant ... but not with his hands, let's hope!

My remark comes from your specifying as motivation your observations of your daughter's progress.

Can you give an example of a piecethat you want to memorize? Can you play from memory a simple piece like Bach's famous menuet in G-major?

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#2054988 - 03/27/13 08:06 AM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: landorrano]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11804
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: landorrano

My remark comes from your specifying as motivation your observations of your daughter's progress.

I just went through heathermphotog's posts. I wouldn't come to the same conclusions by reading them. I also think that she is learning from how her daughter is being guided - the motivation springs from elsewhere. If the daughter is getting better guidance than was given by a first teacher, so that you know better ways of approaching piano, then all kinds of doors open. I learned from my child too, when both of us took lessons, but at different levels. That didn't mean that we did the same things. I adopted what suited me, which were better than what I was doing, and kept things that were good for me.

It makes absolutely no sense, that a parent should shelf her own growth, because her child is learning, especially when the parent has had years of lessons, while the child is starting out.

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#2055065 - 03/27/13 12:06 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
Ragdoll Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 689
Loc: Illinois
Quote:
Do you have a certain way that you do it that you find effective? I just can't seem to find a way to really get it done. I don't know why I find it so difficult other than as a child taking lessons my teacher stressed keeping my eyes on the music and not watching my fingers or the keys.


Hi Heather,

I only "conciously" try to memorize my pieces after I have done the above many times and practiced/played the piece several times. Then by the time I get there a lot of the memorizing has already been done.

I also try to work in sections of 2 (more or less depending on the difficulty) measures before I progress to the next 2 or 3. FWIW, I am still a beginner after 2.5 years of study although the pieces are longer and more complicated than beginning pieces.

I know that it's hard to do this when you have learned a few measures and have to resist the temptation to play what you know and then go on immediately to the unfamiliar new measures without stopping. It sound more like music. wink

I also study the score first and identify any repeated parts. You only have to learns these once. HTHs. smile
_________________________
Ragdoll

Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.


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#2055077 - 03/27/13 12:30 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: Ragdoll]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: Ragdoll
I only "conciously" try to memorize my pieces after I have done the above many times and practiced/played the piece several times. Then by the time I get there a lot of the memorizing has already been done.

In contrast, I memorize not at all by osmosis, so if I want to memorize a piece I tend to work on memorizing it as soon as I start learning it.

Originally Posted By: Ragdoll
I also try to work in sections of 2 (more or less depending on the diffi[culty) measures before I progress to the next 2 or 3. FWIW, I am still a beginner after 2.5 years of study although the pieces are longer and more complicated than beginning pieces.

This is what I do too, and I don't expect it to change no matter how advanced I get. Often I will proceed only 1 measure at a time, and sometimes only 1 beat at a time.

I like to start learning and memorizing from the end of a piece. That means you're always playing into strong parts that you've been working on longer.

Originally Posted By: Ragdoll
I know that it's hard to do this when you have learned a few measures and have to resist the temptation to play what you know and then go on immediately to the unfamiliar new measures without stopping. It sound more like music. wink

I agree! A lot of my learning has been learning how to be patient and focused enough to know what small bit to work on, and to just work on that small bit.

Quote:
I also study the score first and identify any repeated parts. You only have to learns these once. HTHs. smile

Me too.

From reading the score in advance, I have come up with a slightly different plan on the most recent piece I'm learning (Chopin's Prelude in Db major, Op. 28 No. 15). I'm going to depart from my usual learning backwards from the end. There are several phrases that are the same at the beginning, but change at the end. I'm thinking of first learning all the different parts, so they're all equally secure, and only then learning the same starting part that they share. I think this might make it easier for me to go to each different phrase ending as needed, rather than tending to go to the phrase ending I first learned with the shared start.

Another thing you can choose to do after looking over the score in advance is to start learning the hardest parts first. That way they get the most practice. (Or start with the easy parts for immediate gratification, but I've found that that immediate gratification just leaves me without any motivation for the hard parts, so I find it better to start with the hard parts.)
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#2055106 - 03/27/13 01:45 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: keystring]
heathermphotog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: keystring
Originally Posted By: landorrano

My remark comes from your specifying as motivation your observations of your daughter's progress.

I just went through heathermphotog's posts. I wouldn't come to the same conclusions by reading them. I also think that she is learning from how her daughter is being guided - the motivation springs from elsewhere. If the daughter is getting better guidance than was given by a first teacher, so that you know better ways of approaching piano, then all kinds of doors open. I learned from my child too, when both of us took lessons, but at different levels. That didn't mean that we did the same things. I adopted what suited me, which were better than what I was doing, and kept things that were good for me.

It makes absolutely no sense, that a parent should shelf her own growth, because her child is learning, especially when the parent has had years of lessons, while the child is starting out.


Thank you. This is precisely why I asked the question. As I watch my daughter's learning I see all the gaps in my own learning as a child and I am learning from how my daughter is being guided. I am seeing better ways to approach the piano than I was taught. One of those is memorizing certain pieces.

I have gotten some good advice here that I plan on putting into practice. Thanks so much smile
_________________________
~ Heather smile

Knabe WMV247
“When you play, never mind who listens to you.” ― Robert Schumann
“The piano ain't got no wrong notes.” ― Thelonious Monk

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#2055114 - 03/27/13 01:52 PM Re: How do you memorize music? [Re: heathermphotog]
PianoStudent88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3183
Loc: Maine
Some other tips:

I do analysis on my pieces, which can help me understand why certain notes are being used in certain combinations. That helps make the piece seem less like an endless series of random notes. For example, on the Chopin Prelude I'm learning, the harmonies for the last three measures are Ab7, Db, Db. (These are the only three measures I've memorized/learned so far.) If you have a piece you'd like to do this with, but aren't sure where to start, or have any questions, start a thread and we can look at it (provided we can get access to the score in some way).

One of the teachers in the Teachers' Forum has said that he starts his students from the very beginning memorizing some of their pieces. The effect of this is that they start memorizing with very simple pieces, and only slowly build the difficulty. This might be something to think of doing, so that you are learning to memorize by working with simpler pieces to start with.
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