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#2256924 - 04/04/14 08:33 PM 12-year "beginner" plays from memory
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1131
Loc: Southern California
At the Nancy Williams blog (link), there is a story of a person that never memorized a piece until 12 years into his/her piano journey.

A few excerpts:
>> Robin writes:
This past summer, armed with 12 years of weekly lessons and two years of music theory, I achieved a goal I never thought possible—memorizing a piece of music. ...

I started by analyzing the chords in each measure, taking note of the progressions. ...

>>


Read the story and some more of the process at the blog. As always, I have no commercial ties with the blog. Some folks memorize easily, others have to really work at it. Most are in the middle range.

Let me add, that this is an extreme case. Someone who thought it impossible for him/her. The journey took 12 years of lessons with a teacher, then an entire summer to memorize a short piece “From Foreign Lands and People” by Robert Schumann.
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#2256961 - 04/04/14 10:53 PM Re: 12-year "beginner" plays from memory [Re: Sand Tiger]
Dave B Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/11
Posts: 2116
Loc: Philadelphia area
Everyone has different strengths. Some people don't memorize because they can sight read so well. Others memorize so quickly they never develop sight reading skills.
Then there are the lucky few who can do both.

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#2257033 - 04/05/14 04:27 AM Re: 12-year "beginner" plays from memory [Re: Sand Tiger]
briansaddleback Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/27/14
Posts: 220
Loc: Irvine CA
It may not really be difficult for her to memorize. She wants to do it the educated way by understanding the music. It really isn't hard to memorize a finger /muscle pattern by just mindlessly drilling it into the hand; it becomes so fragile though. You play smoothly until someone walks into the room or the phone rings etc. you lose your place in the music and can't seem to know how to continue so you just start over again.
That's how I do it.

I would have to try her method of studying which is the proper way I'm sure. Understand the theory behind the music and you can play the pie e forwards backwards and upside down so to speak. It isn't just muscle memory which really isn't practicing piano I'm sure.
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#2257109 - 04/05/14 10:26 AM Re: 12-year "beginner" plays from memory [Re: briansaddleback]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1131
Loc: Southern California
Brian and Dave, thanks for the replies. I am more in Dave's camp, that everyone is different. Brian, your attitude is common, believing that most people are like yourself and I don't think they are.

While there are some commonalities, each person is unique, with their own strengths and weaknesses. While most fall into the average range in terms of aptitudes. There are those with natural gifts, and those that are below average and struggle. The story is about a person that struggles.

As for myself, memorization I am okay with, average if you will. Ear training I am okay with. Sight reading? Bottom 10%, it is a huge struggle.

Those with huge natural talents often write on the forum, along the lines of just do so and so, it will only be a few minutes a day, and soon you will be doing xyz easily. The phrase easy as pie comes to mind. The talented don't seem to understand that the average person might be looking at two years of dedication to reach the same level that came easily to them in a few weeks or months. That the below average person may be looking at five years or more of dedicated work to reach their "easy" level.

If a person has had 12 years of lessons, I might imagine that if he/she was in the average range, memorization would have happened in year one, or year two, just as a by product of being a dedicated student. More likely, it is a huge task for that person. To discount that struggle and the subsequent achievement, is not fair to that person, and a reason I posted the story. So that others that struggle with a certain task or skill can see that there are others that struggle and overcome.

That and the tips to analyze the piece, study it section by section, play with the eyes closed, and keep trying to perform it without the sheets, until the beast is tamed.
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