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#2169062 - 10/20/13 06:33 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
cefinow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/10
Posts: 381
Loc: Western NC (US)
What do you mean, "how"? As in, how does your brain function to allow memorization (visual, kinetic, aural), or what deliberate steps do you take to cause memorization to take place? Never mind; I confuse my own self sometimes and this question really did confuse me.

At any rate, I have realized, about part 1: it's not visual; either from the page or from visual patterns on the keyboard. It's mostly aural. It doesn't even seem like motor memory plays a great part. Once, motor memory did save me, though, as my mind went totally blank while playing Chopin 10/12 at a student recital, and I watched as if a spectator while my hands (after a split second pause) launched themselves into the next section. It so startled me that it took my brain a few measures to catch up. But that was my first recital since a teenager, and I had worn the keys of the piano down to nubs with incredible mind-boggling repetition. I know I can't take that approach with every piece, though.

Mostly it's a physical awareness of shapes and patterns formed by my hands; I have a mental image of lines and angles and geometric shapes formed by intervals and chords and runs. And they all seem so interesting and quirky and individualistic, it's easy to remember.

About part 2, I have recently realized I need some sort of plan. The music goes into memory fairly quickly, which can be good (can practice without the score and internalize the music) and bad (no more need to read, can get details wrong). But this is a sort of incidental and not deliberate memorization; it *just happens somehow.* And experience in lessons has shown me that this kind of memorization-through-familiarity is not reliable. Often my pieces have a dreadful awkward stage where I neither read the music, nor have the piece solidly memorized; so between memory lapses, and looking up at the music again in flustered silence, trying to locate the measure where I've broken down, it's not pretty.

So, last night I sat down to deliberately start memorizing my next recital piece. It's familiar enough that it's mostly memorized, but not solidly and deliberately. My procedure was: Read through a section; play it from memory a few times; read through the section again "with a fine-toothed comb" to make sure I have every note and rest exactly so and check against my memory; play from memory a few more times; read through again. Then go back one section and start that one, and do the same things, but join with the following section. Make sure I understand what I am playing, i.e. what chord. Make sure I know where the phrase ends up. If worst comes to worst at the recital, I can fill in a few forgotten measures with fluff as long as I end up on in the right place.

I got through two pages, starting from the back. I'm actually quite concerned about it as the recital is in less than 2 months and I still have technical work galore to do on it... Mendelssohn rondo cap. which my autocratic teacher handed to me with the announcement "You'll be playing this in the December recital." And I liked it and was game, but now... ugh... Anyway yes, memorization is definitely something I am thinking about these days.

Maybe a bigger concern is "retrieval of memorized content in a stressful situation." Whatever happens at the beginning or in the middle of the piece, I am definitely planning to have fun with those octaves at the end!

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#2169293 - 10/21/13 07:57 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
The Hound Offline
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Registered: 10/17/11
Posts: 124
I don't systematically memorise that much, but I have effectively done so simply through substantial reptetition. In these cases I try and consolidate the memory by visualising the score as I play. I managed to play two pieces in my recent Trinity Grade 8 exam from memory (which is not common, according to my teacher), though I was worried I'd draw a blank so I took the music along just in case (and so the examiner could reference it if they wanted). It went well and there were no problems on that front.

I may try and develop a more involved methodology now as I add more pieces to my repertoire. It's great to have a few on tap should you come across a piano and get exhorted to play by someone.

Visualising the score is a good start, I think, but I like some of the other suggestions in here about concentrating particularly on harmonic changes and other milestones.

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#2169340 - 10/21/13 09:09 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: The Hound]
bennevis Online   content
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: The Hound
In these cases I try and consolidate the memory by visualising the score as I play.

Visualising the score is a good start, I think, but I like some of the other suggestions in here about concentrating particularly on harmonic changes and other milestones.

Do you actually picture the score in your mind and 'read' from it?

I've often wondered what people mean when they talk about photographic memory. I can never picture a score in my 'mind's eye', but I can 'visualize' my hands & fingers making the movements and 'hear' the results, just as I can visualize a chessboard in my mind and play 'blindfold chess' with someone else, without sight of the board. (Though I can only play one such game at a time - maybe two, if I really concentrate and write down the moves, unlike the Argentine GM Miguel Najdorf, who broke the world record playing 45 blindfold games simultaneously....).

Memorization seems to be getting more and more common among musicians - even those that audiences expect to play with the score in front of them, like chamber musicians and conductors - in fact, many of the world's greatest conductors now conduct without the score. That would have been considered a remarkable feat two decades ago.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2169472 - 10/21/13 12:24 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
neuralfirings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/29/13
Posts: 206
It's interesting reading about all the different techniques people use. There's usually two stages for me, the concentrated memory stage where I have to think hard about what notes to play, and then the awesome muscle memory stage where it just flows from the fingers.

I've heard that knowing theory, chord progressions, etc. can help with memorization. I'm not very good at theory and for me, thinking about chords is more trouble than it's worth. However, I played enough piano as a kid to be able to recognize chords, even if I don't know them by name. I think I know them by fingering and the "feel." For example, a 6/4 inversion has a stretchier-feel.

The other thing that I found useful is memorizing the base progression. For example, I was memorizing this section (http://www.notablescores.com/clips/65) in the Ballade and I found it useful to just focus on the base notes (G, F#, G, F, C, C, D, D).
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Working on Chopin E Minor Concerto (2nd Mvt), Bach C Minor Fugue (WTC I), and others.

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#2169489 - 10/21/13 12:46 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
The Hound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/11
Posts: 124
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: The Hound
In these cases I try and consolidate the memory by visualising the score as I play.

Visualising the score is a good start, I think, but I like some of the other suggestions in here about concentrating particularly on harmonic changes and other milestones.

Do you actually picture the score in your mind and 'read' from it?

I've often wondered what people mean when they talk about photographic memory. I can never picture a score in my 'mind's eye', but I can 'visualize' my hands & fingers making the movements and 'hear' the results, just as I can visualize a chessboard in my mind and play 'blindfold chess' with someone else, without sight of the board. (Though I can only play one such game - maybe two, if I really concentrate and write down the moves - at a time, unlike the Argentine GM Miguel Najdorf, who broke the world record playing 45 blindfold games simultaneously....).

Memorization seems to be getting more and more common among musicians - even those that audiences expect to play with the score in front of them, like chamber musicians and conductors - in fact, many of the world's greatest conductors now conduct without the score. That would have been considered a remarkable feat two decades ago.


It's hard to describe exactly - kind of, but not quite. I see the stave in my mind's eye, but not constantly as I'm playing. It's like my brain is very faintly focused on it, and every so often (perhaps when it things it needs to) it sharpens the focus briefly. I think I'm relying mostly on muscle memory, with the score visual just to supplement it in case I lose it.

I'd say I've got a decent long term memory, and a good one for remembering lists, long quotes and music, but a not brilliant short term memory. I always thought a photographic memory means you can look at something one time and then retain every single detail about it - I don't have that. I don't think I could do blindfolded chess; I have never actually tried so I might be wrong, but because of the spatial complexity in the game I like to be able to scrutinise the board and I don't know how much it would affect me to lose that ability. 45 games simultaneously is insane.

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#2169545 - 10/21/13 02:33 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: The Hound]
DazedAndConfused Offline
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Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: The Hound
I don't systematically memorise that much, but I have effectively done so simply through substantial reptetition. In these cases I try and consolidate the memory by visualising the score as I play. I managed to play two pieces in my recent Trinity Grade 8 exam from memory (which is not common, according to my teacher), though I was worried I'd draw a blank so I took the music along just in case (and so the examiner could reference it if they wanted). It went well and there were no problems on that front.


I did the same for both my recent Grade 3 and Grade 5 exams and will definitely do the same for Grade 8 which I plan to take next year. I really have no choice.

My memory is very good because I cannot sightread to save my life or maybe I cannot sightread to save my life because my memory is very good.

I guess blind pianists have to rely entirely on memory in performance? It would be interesting to hear from a visually impaired pianist about the techniques that he/she uses to learn and memorise music. Even more so, from someone who learned to play before his/her vision deteriorated and has had to adjust.
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Currently working on:
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Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169641 - 10/21/13 05:09 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
I really have no choice.

My memory is very good because I cannot sightread to save my life or maybe I cannot sightread to save my life because my memory is very good.

I guess blind pianists have to rely entirely on memory in performance? It would be interesting to hear from a visually impaired pianist about the techniques that he/she uses to learn and memorise music. Even more so, from someone who learned to play before his/her vision deteriorated and has had to adjust.

There is a sight-reading test involved in the Grade exams, isn't there?

A good mark in it could mean the difference between Merit and Distinction .... wink
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2169662 - 10/21/13 05:34 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
The Hound Offline
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Registered: 10/17/11
Posts: 124
I'm wondering if by sightreading DazedAndConfused means simply reading from the score, given that he/she writes about it as though it were the alternative to playing a piece from memory?

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#2169668 - 10/21/13 05:43 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: The Hound]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: The Hound
I'm wondering if by sightreading DazedAndConfused means simply reading from the score, given that he/she writes about it as though it were the alternative to playing a piece from memory?



That's what I took it to mean, that he finds it easier to memorize the music than playing from the score the set pieces he's learnt. But the Grade exams also include a test in sight-reading, where the examiner plonks a piece of music on the music rest that you've never seen before, which you have to sight-read there and then. (As well as aural tests, scales & arpeggios etc).
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2169674 - 10/21/13 05:48 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
My memory is very good because I cannot sightread to save my life or maybe I cannot sightread to save my life because my memory is very good.

_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2169678 - 10/21/13 05:53 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
The Hound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/17/11
Posts: 124
Originally Posted By: bennevis

That's what I took it to mean, that he finds it easier to memorize the music than playing from the score the set pieces he's learnt. But the Grade exams also include a test in sight-reading, where the examiner plonks a piece of music on the music rest that you've never seen before, which you have to sight-read there and then. (As well as aural tests, scales & arpeggios etc).


Indeed they do - seemingly many people's most hated bit! Personally I was least looking forward to the aural, as the one in Trinity can be tricky, though in the end I got full marks in that section.

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#2169699 - 10/21/13 06:39 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: bennevis

There is a sight-reading test involved in the Grade exams, isn't there?

A good mark in it could mean the difference between Merit and Distinction .... wink


Tell ne about it ....

I scored 128 at Grade 5, Distinctions in all pieces, 18/18 for the Aural tests (a good memory for music helps), a decent score for scales and arpeggios ....

... but a shameful NINE for the sight reading ... out of 21 ..... the pass mark is 14 .... the lowest possible mark for making an attempt is SEVEN. blush

"You kept going and the rhythms were mostly in place but notes were inaccurate and the left hand was misplaced for much of it, alas" - Mr Examiner

To be honest that was a very flattering assessment .... blush

At my age I have given up all hope of ever being able to scan a piece for thirty seconds, make any sense of it and then produce something even remotely musical, especially under pressure.


Edited by DazedAndConfused (10/21/13 06:49 PM)
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169701 - 10/21/13 06:40 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: Polyphonist]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
My memory is very good because I cannot sightread to save my life or maybe I cannot sightread to save my life because my memory is very good.



Hey Smartypants, did you miss the word 'maybe'?
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169702 - 10/21/13 06:45 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: The Hound]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: The Hound
I'm wondering if by sightreading DazedAndConfused means simply reading from the score, given that he/she writes about it as though it were the alternative to playing a piece from memory?


I can read music and I can play music but I self-evidently cannot do both at the same time!
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169707 - 10/21/13 06:51 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused

"You kept going and the rhythms were mostly in place but notes were inaccurate and the left hand was misplaced for much of it, alas"

To be honest that was a very flattering assessment .... blush

At my age I have given up all hope of ever being able to scan a piece for thirty seconds, make any sense of it and then produce something even remotely musical.

Take a leaf out of people who sight-read for a living (accompanists/collaborators for singers etc) and leave out non-essential notes.

The top melodic line and the lowest bass notes that are on the beat are essential; the others are often optional wink . Better to leave out inner notes and thin out the texture than to play glaring wrong notes.

If all else fails, remember the great Sir Thomas Beecham's dictum:
"There are two golden rules: start together and finish together. The examiner doesn't give a damn what goes on in between." grin
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2169709 - 10/21/13 06:54 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7777
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
My memory is very good because I cannot sightread to save my life or maybe I cannot sightread to save my life because my memory is very good.



Hey Smartypants, did you miss the word 'maybe'?

The context of your use of "maybe" implied that it was one or the other.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2169711 - 10/21/13 06:58 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused

"You kept going and the rhythms were mostly in place but notes were inaccurate and the left hand was misplaced for much of it, alas"

To be honest that was a very flattering assessment .... blush

At my age I have given up all hope of ever being able to scan a piece for thirty seconds, make any sense of it and then produce something even remotely musical.

Take a leaf out of people who sight-read for a living (accompanists/collaborators for singers etc) and leave out non-essential notes.

The top melodic line and the lowest bass notes that are on the beat are essential; the others are often optional wink . Better to leave out inner notes and thin out the texture than to play glaring wrong notes.

If all else fails, remember the great Sir Thomas Beecham's dictum:
"There are two golden rules: start together and finish together. The examiner doesn't give a damn what goes on in between." grin


Thanks for that. I am thinking about Grade 8 for Winter 2014 and have already written off any chance of being able to sightread a piece at that level ... unless I get lucky and they give me 4' 33" .. grin

Failing that, I will definitely take your advice.
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169712 - 10/21/13 06:59 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: Polyphonist]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
The context of your use of "maybe" implied that it was one or the other.


.. or maybe not ...
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2169803 - 10/21/13 11:02 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
At my age I have given up all hope of ever being able to scan a piece for thirty seconds, make any sense of it and then produce something even remotely musical, especially under pressure.
How much time do you spend just reading through music at the piano? I wouldn't "give up all hope" until you've spent some time doing this every day, starting at a level which you find easy.
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Du holde Kunst...

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#2170021 - 10/22/13 12:03 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: currawong]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
At my age I have given up all hope of ever being able to scan a piece for thirty seconds, make any sense of it and then produce something even remotely musical, especially under pressure.
How much time do you spend just reading through music at the piano? I wouldn't "give up all hope" until you've spent some time doing this every day, starting at a level which you find easy.


Time is the problem. Between a demanding job and a demanding (in a nice way) family, my spare time is limited. When I get the chance to practise, I would much rather play familiar pieces or make progress with new pieces than put myself through the torture of sightreading. It really isn't that important to me in the grand scheme of things.

Having said that, I have found an App for the iPad that has given me some hope.

http://sightread4.com/piano/

It does make practice marginally less painful. I recommend it to others who may be struggling.
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2170163 - 10/22/13 04:34 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
currawong Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 5976
Loc: Down Under
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
When I get the chance to practise, I would much rather play familiar pieces or make progress with new pieces than put myself through the torture of sightreading. It really isn't that important to me in the grand scheme of things.
Don't forget that if the music you choose to explore is easy enough it won't be torture. If it's torture it's too hard. Step back a notch or two.
But if it's "not that important" to you, then there's not much more to say. I just thought I'd chip in because I have invariably found that when people improve their reading skills they find it very rewarding and well worth the time. (It also helps you learn new pieces more quickly)
_________________________
Du holde Kunst...

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#2170580 - 10/23/13 11:29 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
Brad Hoehne Offline
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Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 375
Loc: Ohio
I made a leap in my confidence in memorizing when I began working from the end of pieces forward. That way, as I play a work, I reach sections that I feel more and more confident about. Starting at the end, I break the work into chunks. I finger and practice a few measures at a time- enough to "get the notes". I then immediately proceed to memorize by repeatedly "testing myself" against the sheet music in those small sections. I do a little harmonic analysis to give me a crutch to lean on in tricky sections, but I don't completely break down the piece in this manner. This simple method has been very effective for me.

I make it a point to visit a piano in my workplace and try out the sections that I've been working on away from the sheet music during my lunch hour.
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
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Currently working on:
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#2170596 - 10/23/13 12:11 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: Brad Hoehne]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne

I make it a point to visit a piano in my workplace and try out the sections that I've been working on away from the sheet music during my lunch hour.


I find that if I have the music up and ready when I'm trying to play from memory, I'll make a Freudian memory lapse in order to look at the score grin.

So instead, once I feel that I've got the whole piece memorized, I put the score away somewhere not easily accessible, and play it all the way through. If I get stuck, I try to find my way back without the score - the same way I would if I was performing.

This way, I get to know not just where the problem spots are (and therefore need reinforcement with other means), but also how successfully I can dig myself out of a hole.....
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2170775 - 10/23/13 06:02 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: currawong]
DazedAndConfused Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/10
Posts: 203
Loc: Greenwich, London, United King...
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
When I get the chance to practise, I would much rather play familiar pieces or make progress with new pieces than put myself through the torture of sightreading. It really isn't that important to me in the grand scheme of things.
Don't forget that if the music you choose to explore is easy enough it won't be torture. If it's torture it's too hard. Step back a notch or two.
But if it's "not that important" to you, then there's not much more to say. I just thought I'd chip in because I have invariably found that when people improve their reading skills they find it very rewarding and well worth the time. (It also helps you learn new pieces more quickly)


Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate your advice and I completely agree about the importance of improving ones ability to sightread music and all the benefits that naturally ensue but I have no illusions about the amount of time and effort that would be required to become even vaguely competent. At present, I would rather spend that time working on pieces that I actually enjoy.

One of the most annoying things (for me) about sightreading practice books is that the practice material is often really weird, as if the writers have deliberately written ugly music to force you to read rather than anticipate. Pedagogically this makes complete sense but it does make practicing sightreading a tortuouous chore.

I would rather spend my precious hours learning a few bars of genius that are worth playing than minutes practicing something truly hideous!
_________________________
Currently working on:
Poulenc, Mouvements Perpetuels
Shostakovich, Prelude & Fugue no. 5
Beethoven, Sonata in F Op. 10 No. 2

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#2170783 - 10/23/13 06:15 PM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: DazedAndConfused]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
Originally Posted By: currawong
Originally Posted By: DazedAndConfused
When I get the chance to practise, I would much rather play familiar pieces or make progress with new pieces than put myself through the torture of sightreading. It really isn't that important to me in the grand scheme of things.
Don't forget that if the music you choose to explore is easy enough it won't be torture. If it's torture it's too hard. Step back a notch or two.
But if it's "not that important" to you, then there's not much more to say. I just thought I'd chip in because I have invariably found that when people improve their reading skills they find it very rewarding and well worth the time. (It also helps you learn new pieces more quickly)


Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate your advice and I completely agree about the importance of improving ones ability to sightread music and all the benefits that naturally ensue but I have no illusions about the amount of time and effort that would be required to become even vaguely competent. At present, I would rather spend that time working on pieces that I actually enjoy.

One of the most annoying things (for me) about sightreading practice books is that the practice material is often really weird, as if the writers have deliberately written ugly music to force you to read rather than anticipate. Pedagogically this makes complete sense but it does make practicing sightreading a tortuouous chore.

I would rather spend my precious hours learning a few bars of genius that are worth playing than minutes practicing something truly hideous!


I'm pretty good at sight reading now even though I've never took the practise of it all that seriously. I simply sight read lots of old songs like "little things mean a lot", "moon river" and other oldies like Cole Porter and Nat King Cole arrangements. They're pretty simple stuff, and fun to play, especially as they leave lots of room for embellishments and what not! laugh
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#2171597 - 10/25/13 01:23 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: bennevis]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2393
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Take a leaf out of people who sight-read for a living (accompanists/collaborators for singers etc) and leave out non-essential notes.

The top melodic line and the lowest bass notes that are on the beat are essential; the others are often optional wink . Better to leave out inner notes and thin out the texture than to play glaring wrong notes.

If all else fails, remember the great Sir Thomas Beecham's dictum:
"There are two golden rules: start together and finish together. The examiner doesn't give a damn what goes on in between." grin


I accompany choirs and soloists, both vocal and instrumental. Barring some exceptions where the composer was a good pianist and wrote the accompaniment himself, I've come to assume that the music in front of me was written by someone with no idea how to write for piano. If it's too easy, I will fill it out. If it's excessively taxing on the hands due to poor writing, I simplify it to avoid getting hurt. But when I sight-read it, I try to just play what's on the page, warts and all.

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#2171602 - 10/25/13 01:39 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: jeffreyjones]
AZNpiano Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/07
Posts: 5596
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I accompany choirs and soloists, both vocal and instrumental. Barring some exceptions where the composer was a good pianist and wrote the accompaniment himself, I've come to assume that the music in front of me was written by someone with no idea how to write for piano.

I also accompanied choirs, and very few "real" composers ever get to write the piano part. Once I was asked to play stuff by a "composer" who never actually took music lessons of any kind.

Rustic.
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#2171672 - 10/25/13 06:41 AM Re: How do you memorize? [Re: jeffreyjones]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5556
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
I accompany choirs and soloists, both vocal and instrumental. Barring some exceptions where the composer was a good pianist and wrote the accompaniment himself, I've come to assume that the music in front of me was written by someone with no idea how to write for piano. If it's too easy, I will fill it out. If it's excessively taxing on the hands due to poor writing, I simplify it to avoid getting hurt. But when I sight-read it, I try to just play what's on the page, warts and all.

I occasionally accompanied my school choir as a kid, when our choirmaster was late and the choir was itching to get going, or at least rehearse the previous week's piece.

But of course, I was only doing it 'for fun' then, and everyone was aware I was sight-reading, so they didn't mind if I messed up totally, as long as the rhythm stayed intact and the harmony was approximately correct grin. If the texture was really dense, I'd leave out most of the inner notes, unless the chording was straightforward - in fact it usually was. And yes, it was rarely at all pianistic. The main exception was Britten's 'Friday Afternoons', which was a pleasure to play - which I try to play all the notes.
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