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#2068094 - 04/21/13 03:32 PM Musical Memories
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
In a previous post, I was challenged for the inclusion of 'playing with no sound' into my practice and there was some resistance as this might seem counter intuitive. So this week, I questioned one of my teachers for the benefits of this approach and he explained about the musical memories :

1. Sound - you can hear you are playing it right
2. Sight - you can see you are playing it right
3. Muscle memory - your muscles "remember" the right position to be in to play something
4. Mental memory - the ability to see in your mind what you should be playing

If you read and play with no sound, you are training your other 3 musical memories and not relying only on sound.


Remember that I am a beginner. I am interested in hearing your thoughts.


Edited by JosephAC (04/21/13 03:38 PM)

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#2068103 - 04/21/13 03:43 PM Re: Musical Memories [Re: JosephAC]
Oongawa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/14/12
Posts: 293
I don't know if it was helpful, but I tried this and was astounded at the difficulty!

Certainly, it did require much more focused attention.
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'69 Mason & Hamlin Model A

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#2068110 - 04/21/13 03:55 PM Re: Musical Memories [Re: JosephAC]
JosephAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/12
Posts: 168
Loc: Melbourne Australia
It could mean that the non-sound memories are underdeveloped, ???? I am used to it as I have been doing it for a while now. It seems to be working for me.


Edited by JosephAC (04/21/13 03:56 PM)

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#2068117 - 04/21/13 04:13 PM Re: Musical Memories [Re: JosephAC]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1100
Loc: Southern California
I play with the sound off to help my memory. I also had an issue with my Yamaha NP11 where the best way to get a clean recording was to have it do a direct connect, and record without any audio feedback. In both instances, I received a few comments about how playing with the sound off was a bad idea, and should be avoided if possible.

I have been on enough Internet forums to realize that anybody can say anything. Sometimes a beginner says something and another person thinks it is authoritative, just because that other beginner was on the forum for a longer time. Sometimes it is just another beginner offering their opinion. Sometimes it is something more.

If the original poster wants more feedback, I suggest editing the topic if possible to something like: Playing with the Sound off? Musical memories covers a wide range of topics, and I haven't seen any others on the forum playing with the sound off.

Different people learn in different ways. I don't enjoy playing with the sound off. However, it does help me memorize. I also like to try it with my eyes closed, and also away from the instrument entirely. If I can remember a piece without sound, without sight, without touch, it tends to be much deeper in memory than if I can't do those three things.

I wonder how sound off effects more intermediate topics such as chord voicing. I would imagine it to be a huge disadvantage, but I am just a beginner. Another issue is that ear training is a big deal. I'm not sure how the original poster is addressing that. If a good percentage of a beginner's time is spent with the sound off, it would seem that ear training would lag behind.

/edit to add: some old school pianists use a dummy keyboard action (no piano, just weighted keys) to practice on. So apparently there is a relatively long history for some pianists practicing without any audible feedback.



Edited by Sand Tiger (04/21/13 04:41 PM)
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#2068266 - 04/21/13 09:45 PM Re: Musical Memories [Re: JosephAC]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2424
Loc: Virginia, USA
Another good related practice is whether you can "hear" the piece without playing it. (I wasn't sure if that's the same as your item #4, or if that related more to being able to visualize or reproduce the notes.)

I was surprised the other night that I can't 100% recollect the Chopin Eb Nocturne in my mind - it's probably the most accurately memorized piece I have learnt to date. The strange thing is that the part I can't remember is one I never had problems playing. Perhaps because I haven't had to fix it so much, it's not so deep within me.
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  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

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#2068320 - 04/21/13 11:19 PM Re: Musical Memories [Re: JosephAC]
MaryBee Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 1246
Loc: Cleveland, OH
I can see that this might be another tool to use if you're trying to memorize notes. But as Sand Tiger points out, it wouldn't help with things like dynamics and voicing. And I wonder if there are drawbacks to separating the process of making the music with experiencing the end result.

Of course, if your teacher wants you to try this, and has good reasons for it, why not go with it for a while, and see if it helps?

But I'm also curious. If you can't hear it, how do you know if you're playing a wrong note? Do you record it and play it back to check whether it sounds right?
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Current mantra: Play outside the box.
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