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#355313 - 11/08/07 09:05 PM Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
hi folks.

Last time i posted here I was a trucker. Now I am bearing down on my first jury performance.

I have learned (except for some niggling 32nd notes) Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2.

Could I get some advice on good ways to memorize? Start from the end? phrase by phrase? I am especially having trouble remembering which octave the bass notes play in; and sometimes which inversion of the chord I play on the 2-3 beat of each 1/4.

I have three weeks to get it done and practice 2 hours per day -- sometimes more sometimes less.

My other jury piece is memorized and ready to roll but I started it at the beginning of the semester and it's not nearly as complex.
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#355314 - 11/08/07 09:23 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Brooklyn Pianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 84
Loc: Brooklyn
Memorization to me is really about ownership of the music; it is not a mechanical process. I recommend really trying to internalize and understand every aspect of the music. When you're practicing, pay attention to what comes after each phrase and what comes before each phrase.

On a more practical level, with this nocturne, I found that practicing the hands separately was helpful in memorizing it. Also, try singing (no one has to hear you if you're bad) through it. The sections where you can't do so, demand your attention.

Hope that helps a little.
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#355315 - 11/08/07 09:43 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18131
Loc: Victoria, BC
1) Start looking for patterns and variants on the patterns :

I suggest that you do this as I am doing it now: away from the piano, just analyzing the score.

With Chopin, there are always patterns or themes that recur. Look for those patterns, the repetitions of those patterns and see what differences there are in the repetitions.

How many sections can this Nocturne be divided into? Do they all start the same way, or does each start similarly to others but with differences?

Example 1 : Measure 1, LH and Measure 5, LH. What are the similarities and what are the differences? (Answer : The only difference is that in measure one, the first bass note and the bass notes on beats 7 and 10 are an octave lower than in measure 5; otherwise the LH is the same in both measures.)

Example 2 : Measure 2, LH and Measure 6, LH. What are the similarities, what are the differences? (Answer : the only difference is the first note C; it's one octave lower in measure two than in measure 6.)

Example 3 : Compare the RH in measures 14 and 22 - by the way, the LH is the same in both measures. Differences in the RH: the G grace-note before beat 7.

In this way, isolate all the instances that are similar and distinguish the differences. What is so frustrating about learning Chopin - and this Nocturne is no exception - is that sometimes a difference between two passages is only one note, and that note can be crucial.

Another thing you can do by sections in this Nocturne is to take the bass note on each of beats 1, 4, 7, and 10 and see if the line it creates is a subordinate melody; does it progress in steps in any way. Measure 1, LH: Low EB, up one octave to Eb, down one octave to Eb, then D, then C, then up one octave then down to F, twice. etc., etc.

Measures 9-15 are identical to measures 17-23, except that in the beginning of measure 18 you have four notes in the RH against the three in the bass, but only three against three in measure 9.

Note that in measures 25-27 the bass note on beats 1, 4, 7 and 10 is always Eb except for the last one where it's an Anatural.

Note that the cadenza begins with a group of four notes repeated 12 times before it changes.

You can also look at the structure of certain sections of this Nocturne by analyzing it harmonically - even if in a somewhat rudimentary manner. Measure 1 : Eb major except for the chords on beats 5 and 6 (V7b9?); measure two goes to C7 resolving to F, etc. This may be easy for you or difficult depending on your recognition of chord structure.

Anyway, these are the sort of "tricks" that I would use to help me memorize this Nocturne. I gave several examples just to give ideas of the various ways of approaching the text.

I hope that this helps, and if it doesn't help in specifics that it might give you insight into ways that you might approach the text, ways that may help your particular memorization skills and, hence, your memorization of the score.

What it comes down to - in my long-winded peroration - is that I think one needs an analytical or a structural knowledge of the piece - or of just sections of the piece - to help memorize the notes.
Regards,
_________________________
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#355316 - 11/08/07 11:56 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
thanks all.

Bruce:

 Quote:
Note that the cadenza begins with a group of four notes repeated 12 times before it changes.
Them notes are BESTIAL in their speed!!!

I have sung the piece throughout the learning process to be more expressive with the phrasing. I went back to school and practiced more after posting this thread (it's only 3 blocks) and played two phrases about 10 times and then closed the book and voila! I did it.

I think I will get it in time.

But oh that cadence is a beeatch!
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Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
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Roland Atelier AT90R
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#355317 - 11/09/07 06:32 AM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Dan101 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 45
Loc: Canada
The golden rule for memorizing success is to simply avoid mistakes in practice. I would suggest dividing your piece into three or four sections. Repeat one section a lot each day, but combine all sections just before the end of each practice session.

Play with the music in front of you. Only take it away when you are "testing yourself" for memory. Good luck!
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Daniel E. Friedman, co-owner of www.pianolessons101.com
You CAN learn to play the piano in a fun and positive way.

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#355318 - 11/10/07 07:21 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Loki Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/05
Posts: 1035
Loc: Texas
Here's some good ones:

memorize the hands separately and be able to play them from memory. this will really strengthen your memory of the notes. another one is "playing" the piece on the surface of the keys without actually pushing the keys down. this one takes some security away from the fingers so you have to really on your mental memory rather than your muscle memory. also, be able to just look at the keyboard and play the piece on it in your mind.

hope that helps
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Houston, Texas

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#355319 - 11/10/07 07:34 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 12044
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
This is one way that one of my previous teachers told me. It's rather straight forward, but it seems to work well:
1) Play the piece slowly with the sheet music, paying attention to every detail
2) PLay the piece at tempo with the sheet music, paying attention to every detail
3) Play the piece slowly, WITHOUT the sheet music, paying attention to every detail
4) PLay the piece at tempo, WITHOUT the sheet music, paying attention to every detail

You may need to do this for a few days, and you might need to focus on certain measures that give you a hard time, but it works well.
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#355320 - 11/10/07 07:53 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
The best advice that I have seen is to memorize the piece as you learn it. This is described in great detail in the Chang free online book:

http://pianofundamentals.com/book/en/1.II.4

Good luck and happy memorizing!

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#355321 - 11/10/07 08:24 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Loki Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/05
Posts: 1035
Loc: Texas
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:

3) Play the piece slowly, WITHOUT the sheet music, paying attention to every detail
[/b]
That's a good one.
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Houston, Texas

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#355322 - 11/10/07 10:21 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18131
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Loki:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Morodiene:

3) Play the piece slowly, WITHOUT the sheet music, paying attention to every detail
[/b]
That's a good one. [/b]
Actually, that's one technique that I use to test how well I have - or have not - memorized a piece.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#355323 - 11/10/07 10:35 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Aviator1010110 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 134
Loc: United States
Playing slowly (or another odd tempo) is an excellent way to see just how well the piece is memorized because it forces you to THINK about what you are playing instead of just mechanically doing it with your brain somewhere else. This piece has a TON of repetition, which will expedite the process. The repeated notes really aren't that fast. If you're having trouble playing them evenly try slowing down and accenting a different note of each four note grouping. I have found that speed is more of a mental problem then a physical one. Doing the exercise will get the brain really thinking about the pattern.
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Technical skills should never come before artistry. I think of technical ability as a necessary tool for extracting a truly moving performance from a sensitive interpretation. -Aviator1010110

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#355324 - 11/10/07 11:46 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
One thing that has become crystal clear in school is to drastically shorten the learning curve is to play the piece as slowly as necessary (note by note) to avoid ever making an error on anything from the beginning.

I started at a snail's pace separate hands and only combined the hands once I was very confident -- and did this also extremely slowly with expression and fingering absolutely correct from the git go.

I did this with the Nocturne and continue to do so although 9/10 of the piece is not to tempo.

I had it hands together at an acceptable tempo in a week.

So this week I am just taking phrases at a time sliding a piece of paper in front of the music. The hardest part is remembering which octave the low notes in the left hand are in. They don't alternate in any order but make perfect sense when played.
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
************

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#355325 - 11/11/07 12:36 AM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
USA you have just described the heart of the method that served me well for decades.

Chang is a slight variant of that approach. He advocates starting at first with hands seperate very small segments at speed, and only later sprinkling in some slower-speed playings. He claims this gets you up to speed much more efficiently when you start joining the segments.

IMHO either method is pretty good. The Chang approach seems to me a bit more efficient, but I am still experimenting with it.

Good luck with the jury!

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#355326 - 11/11/07 03:38 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
My classical piano teacher taught me this. Memorize away from the piano the way you would a poem. Cheers, Sandy B. Another woman in music.
_________________________
Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#355327 - 11/12/07 01:24 PM Re: Best way to memorize classical music for jury?
Lee_Gato Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/06
Posts: 60
 Quote:
Originally posted by USAPianoTrucker:

The hardest part is remembering which octave the low notes in the left hand are in. They don't alternate in any order but make perfect sense when played. [/b]
This has worked for me in the past:

I would write out the low bass notes only in quarter notes. Then sight sing it until it was memorized. Then sing the low bass notes while playing only the accompanying chords.

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