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#419564 - 10/05/06 01:22 PM Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Well what can I say?

I was goated into memorizing some pieces by my old teacher. She made a remark about the Brahms Intermezzo I was trying to play from a book that kept falling off the piano. The music stand was so full of music that it couldn't stay open anyway, and I have trouble turning pages due to tremors.

Her remark was that if it was memorized, this wouldn't be an issue....yada yada, etc.

I told her that I really did not care whether something was memorized or not, and then she had me give it a try. Well it became a challenge for me to try.

Okay... I've started on my Mendelsshon's 3 Fanatasies or Characteristic Pieces. The first one is in A-minor. second in E-minor, and third in E-major.

For all intent and purposes, the first week's worth of work was going well. I made it slowly along the first line measure by measure, and I started on the second line. I'm not trying to achieve just finger memory, but visualizing the passages, the page, etc. Things were going great so I thought.

Safari so good as they say in Africa... Well not so good. As of now, I can not remember a measure from the first line nor even anything about it! The second line is complete mush, and I give up! All that work and wasted time for nothing. \:\( If I continue at this rate, I'll have the first page memorized maybe when I'm 90!

So I've come to the conclusion that it's not worth it for me to try at this point. I've figured that my short term memory is about 2 kilobytes in size, and my hard drive full. There's no retention of anything I did. In fact lately I keep forgetting certain words for simple things, which is also bugging me.

Therefore, I'll play the piano the way I like it. I'm not giving any recitals anytime soon, and I don't care to either. If there's a chance in the future that I find a decent teacher, perhaps she or he can help me with the process.

John
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#419565 - 10/05/06 01:39 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18221
Loc: Victoria, BC
John :

I'm sitting on the fence, currently, about the memorization process and whether I should be working to memorize certain pieces in my repertoire-to-be that are now beginning to come into shape.

Over the last few years, the focus of my learning has been an intense three-week summer school programme where, in order to get the most benefit from our instructors, we are encouraged not to spend our time memorizing but rather to concentrate on learning as much repertoire as possible to present to our various teachers in those three weeks. This has resulted in my "not bothering" to memorize recent works studied.

Some of the more recent works already have certain sections memorized, not from my trying to memorize them but simply by dint of working on them and, in some cases, by not wanting to have to concentrate on the score when I am confronted with problematic passages. This is encouraging me to think that I should now begin to put out the extra effort and learn these pieces completely and well; I would then at least have a number of "new" pieces at my disposal which I could play in the event I am somewhere near a piano without my music.

Now that I'm taking lessons again - my first lesson of the Fall has been postponed twice, but should take place this Saturday - I'll be interested to see if my teacher suggests I should start memorizing these new pieces. That seems to me to be the next logical step in the process. I don't know, however, how good my memory skills are at the moment; it would be interesting to see what happens if I make the effort to memorize - where the strengths might be and what weaknesses might hold me back.

Regards,
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#419566 - 10/05/06 04:40 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
Contrapunctus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/05
Posts: 808
Loc: Whittier, California
To learn how to memorize takes a while, and everyone memorizes differently. However, maybe, like myself, you have trouble visualizing music. Some poeple have no visual memory almost. That's ok, you have to use insight learning instead. So, you look at the shape of the notes, the harmonies, etc. You look for patterns. If the right hand goes like CBADCB then you break it up into CBA DCB, two three-note sequences that are one note apart from each other. Of course, you don't have to memorize the notes. All you need to know is that there are two three- note sequences and the first one starts on C. That would be easier to learn if the left hand had something like an arpeggio that had something to do with C(You know C,F,G,A all tend to go together). Of course, look or fingering patterns. For ex, on the CBA DCB passage, use the same or similar fingering for both groups, so you don't have to know the notes.

This type of thinking really helped me. But, memorizing still takes time. However, now I can memorize a Chopin etude in three weeks.
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#419567 - 10/05/06 07:48 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
Liscio Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/05
Posts: 53
John, I can totally relate to you when it comes to memory problems. A while back my computer slowed way down because the hard drive was almost full - - so I installed a nice new drive with lots of memory and it works just fine now. Oh, how I wish I could do the same thing with my brain!!

I've noticed that as I've gotten older I struggle a lot more with performance anxiety, too. I've come to realize that I get nervous because of fear of forgetting where I am in mid performance. The anxiety was affecting me so much that I found myself avoiding performing and I started feeling like I didn't want to play as much any more. Well, I finally decided to just use the score at my last performance . . . and things went SO much better! I was actually able to enjoy myself as I performed, and because I was feeling relaxed it made it possible for me to play even better because I could totally concentrate on every aspect of the music rather than trying to get through it fast before I forgot something.

I think its kind of strange that I can still remember pieces I had played during my teenage years, yet I can't remember a piece that I worked so hard to memorize just last year.

However, I prefer to look at this not as "the brain is getting old". I'd like to think that my memory is just getting full, so there's not as much room to store things long-term.

I'm not going to totally give up on memorizing, but I have learned to cut myself a little slack at times when it just won't seem to come.

Regards -

Liscio

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#419568 - 10/05/06 09:22 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i think if you practice a piece long enough, it will be memorized anyway even if you don't really try. you can call it short memory, but it's not that short and could last for a while until you stop playing it for 2 weeks or a month. that's what usually happen to me. i can memorize a piece while learning it for a few weeks, but once i pick up some new pieces to learn and the old ones, even those i just learned, would partially slip away.

the solution for me is usually either to relearn it or to sight read it through a few times to get a piece back. but the longer i put a piece aside, the harder or longer it would take to get it back.

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#419569 - 10/05/06 11:08 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
@Bruce - I have no problems reading the music, and I tend to learn pieces very quickly just like you have to for the summer music camp. This is very similar to the Chamber Music Weekends I used to attend a very long time ago.

The problem is whatever I've tried to memorzie never sticks - it's like my brain is made of teflon(tm).

@Contrapunctus - This is how I'm trying to memorize. I'm not just playing the piece over and over so the fingers remember where things are. I'm analyzing the measures and the phrases.

Liscio - Thank you for your input. I wouldn't doubt that it's 'old brains' that are doing this, or better yet old and tired brains. The more I'm thinking about this mess I've gotten myself into, the more I feel that it could also be that I have a lot of other things going on at the same time like work, school, and piano. The last thing I need to try is to memorize at this point. So like you, I pull the old score out when I want to play.

@Signa - I wish it was that easy. I can play things 100's of times, and I barely have any part of them memorized - maybe a page or two here and there, but noting complete.

I had a talk with my teacher today about this. She says for me to try something easier like the Solfeggietto by C.P.E. Bach. At this point in the game, I'm not sure I can even do that.

I've had some really awful piano playing and practicing sessions this past week, and I'm getting discouraged about this too. I can't even play a simple scale without yelling at myself. (I wouldn't want to be a student of me. I'm pretty harsh about stupid mistakes).

So thank you everyone for your support and ideas. I'll think more about what you've said and perhaps things will be in a different perspective on another day.

John
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#419570 - 10/06/06 10:55 AM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
joemoshi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/06
Posts: 225
Loc: Canada
The way I try to memorize is to sing the music in my mind in terms of the notes. For example Fur Elise would come to mind as ED ED E BDCA, OR MI RE MI RE MI SI RE DO LA. Somehow the left hand follows. In fact when I try to hum a piece of music I sing the notes in my mind. But in any case memorizing is difficult and even if you do memorize a piece and do not play it for few months, the memory fades.
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#419571 - 10/06/06 11:14 AM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
dubmunkey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/06
Posts: 36
i work purely by memeorizing, i'd love to learn how to read properly so it doesn't take me so long to work out pieces- im essentially a guitarist making the big leap to piano and have found i memorize stuff much better than i do read music... may just be the way you are- my mum for example is doing the same but find it a lot more difficult to memorize stuff... im not talking about rachmaninov here but kind of wish i'd larnt to read music at a young age as memorizing pieces is not making working out new pieces any easier...

that said ive never understood how pianists can play and trun over shet music pages at the same time...

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#419572 - 10/06/06 03:38 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
I've been making a big effort to memorize more music and personally I've found that it helps a lot. I've noticed with my son too - when he's memorized a piece he can play it much more fluently then when he's playing a piece he knows from the score. Most of us probably have memorized more of the music than we really think, but if you always have the score in front of you, it's too easy just to follow it.

The way I memorize is as others have mentioned - analyze, then spot the patterns. But I do it in bigger patterns than bars or phrases - I tend to look at 8 bars minimum. I'm learning the Chopin waltz in E flat no 1: I started off memorizing the first sectoin, which is 16 bars I think, then I tackled the rest of the first page. There's a lot of repetition in that piece, which helps, but you also have to get the sections in the right order!

On the other hand, I do a lot of accompanying, and I would never dream of accompanying from memory, although the singers and instrumentalists I accompany will usually perform without music.
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#419573 - 10/07/06 10:21 AM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by JohnEB:
I've been making a big effort to memorize more music and personally I've found that it helps a lot. I've noticed with my son too - when he's memorized a piece he can play it much more fluently then when he's playing a piece he knows from the score. Most of us probably have memorized more of the music than we really think, but if you always have the score in front of you, it's too easy just to follow it.

The way I memorize is as others have mentioned - analyze, then spot the patterns. But I do it in bigger patterns than bars or phrases - I tend to look at 8 bars minimum. I'm learning the Chopin waltz in E flat no 1: I started off memorizing the first sectoin, which is 16 bars I think, then I tackled the rest of the first page. There's a lot of repetition in that piece, which helps, but you also have to get the sections in the right order!

On the other hand, I do a lot of accompanying, and I would never dream of accompanying from memory, although the singers and instrumentalists I accompany will usually perform without music. [/b]
This is exacly what I was doing. My teacher says I just need to practice this more since I haven't done it it nearly (ahemmm...cough, cough)30 years! She says that once I get the hang of it, there should be any problems and things will get easier from there.

Let's hope she's right! ;\)

John
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#419574 - 10/07/06 12:29 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I know the feeling. I used to be a good memorizer whether it be music or for school. I used to pride myself in being such a good memorizer. I mainly memorized music or information for school by memorizing one little bit that I could manage, like a group of notes no bigger than a measure, do that over and over, then add another little bit and do that over and over, then add the two little bits together and play them over and over and so on. Every time I added a little, then I would go back and put it together several times with what I already knew. But the end of the piece wasn't always as solid because I hadn't done it as many times by the end. Only most of the time all the memorizing I ever did only went to my short-term memory and not my long-term memory as I would forget it right away as soon as I no longer needed to remember it.

Now, from the day my first child was born (7 years ago), I'm certain my memorizing skill went out the window on that very day. I think when my 2 children were born they took all my memorizing skill with them! Ever since, I find it extremely difficult, almost next to impossible. I haven't even tried to memorize anything for the last 7 years! If I were to try, I'm sure it would seem like a daunting task.

I think, though, even if one memorizes something and can't retain it, one should keep on trying because I don't believe all the work is for naught because I'm sure the PROCESS is still sharpening one's thinking skills or increasing one's brain capacity. Perhaps just try to memorize a little bit at a time over a longer period of time and not knock yourself out trying to memorize a lot in a short amount of time just to keep your thinking skills sharpened not necessarily to really memorize the entire piece. Maybe it would get gradually easier over time of doing a little bit regularly although not enough to find frustrating. Sort of an experiment in whether you can sharpen your memorizing ability over time.

I've been thinking of trying to memorize again in this way just to see if I could sharpen that skill and get it back and more for the purpose of keeping my brain sharpened rather than for the purpose of memorizing a piece.

I mentioned, I don't think I've ever been able to retain much information I've learned long-term. I've always memorized things good enough to get by and then forget it the next day. I read an article I've mentioned on the forums before by a prof. in Mo. named Brent Hugh who wrote some practice and memorization tips. He said, it takes 7 times of playing a little bit without looking to get it from one's short-term memory to one's long-term memory (I always had a 3 time rule for myself). He said, if after playing a little bite size part of the music 7 times, one still can't do it without goofing up, then one is trying to take too big of chunk at once and needs to narrow it into a smaller bit until one can do it 7 times without looking. I don't know if it works but worth a try!

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#419575 - 10/07/06 02:16 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
John and all,

Coincidentally I started the very same thing about a month ago. For the past ~30 years I've been an inveterate score-reader; during my student days I did memorise a few short pieces, (but purely by 'autopilot' muscle-memory), and I've generally thought that time spent memorising was time which was better spent discovering new repertoire, and/or practising technical aspects of pieces I was learning or was already familiar with.

However, to my surprise, it has been quite a liberating experience... so far I have managed Schumann's Novelette #1 (only 6 pages long, and lots of repetition, even if transposed on the various thematic appearances), Chopin's Mazurka Op50#3 (a bit more of a challenge from a memory point of view, lots of quite wild modulations towards the end), and Beethoven Op31#3 1st movement, which is fairly standard sonata-form fare, and so not too difficult to grasp when split into digestible sections and then start putting them together. I am currently working on the 2nd movt of the Beethoven, with a view to learning the whole thing by heart over the next month or so. I chose that work, because although not unfamiliar with it, Op31#3 is not a work I have played that often over the years. I also made a start a few days ago on WTC Book II E major P&F, the prelude of which is pretty much ingrained on the grey matter now.

I can now understand why certain people might be tempted to assert that playing from memory allows one to concentrate more bringing more of the details out in one's playing. I am attempting not to use pure muscular memory, but to analyse the themes, harmonies, part-writing, modulations and overall structure of each piece, (which I would do when reading from a score anyway), as well as visualising parts of the score; to test myself I often try to start in the middle of a piece, or perhaps jump to the end section, and then go back to the middle or beginning.

I will of course not stop playing other repertoire from the score, but if I intend entering for this DipABRSM thing sometime in the next 18 months or so, then (although not obligatory) playing from memory at that level is very much the convention. It would certainly save having to explain to the jury why I chose to have the score in front of me[1]. Like most endeavours that seem quite daunting at first, once broken down into feasible chunks the task doesn't seem so insurmountable.

My teacher has never forced (or even suggested) that I should memorise, although it was a passing comment of his about 6 weeks ago that made me undertake the experiment. His comments upon presenting him the memorised pieces in question have been very favourable, though he is at pains to point out that it is a matter of personal choice; he however personally believes that memorisation is preferable in order to be sufficiently initimately acquainted with a work to bring it to performance standard.

And as a final point, the piano does sound quite different with the music stand flat down \:\) .

Best regards,

-Michael B.
[1] Although there is no specific requirement to perform from memory, you are encouraged to do so if you consider it will enhance your Recital...Although you are not required to perform from memory, you should consider the standard convention for your instrument. For example, solo pianists normally perform recitals from memory (while it is unusual for a pianist playing within a chamber ensemble to do so without the music). - ABRSM Diploma Syllabus.
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#419576 - 10/07/06 02:49 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
gabytu Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 1522
Loc: Portland, Or.
I thought I would never be able to memorize my pieces until I got the Chang "Fundamentals of Piano Practice," and began to follow his suggestions. I am absolutly thrilled to find that I can memorize. He has a whole section on How to memorize and I have been following these suggetions. I am using association, breaking it down into small bits, writing the sections out, memorizing the hands separately etc., and using my brain.

As I have had theory and harmony, making an analysis is easy for me and is an essential part of memorizing.

I know that not all are in agreement with Chang's methods, but they really work for me.

Gaby Tu

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#419577 - 10/07/06 03:16 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
I never thought I could memorize piano music, but I'm finding it's just a skill like any other. One mistake I made when I was a beginning student (aside from having a bad teacher) was believing I had to perfect a piece before memorizing it. On the contrary, if you memorize as you are learning it, it works much better. Like gabytu, I find Chang's book a great help.

I have also found it extremely helpful to go back and forth between using music and playing from memory. This does a couple of things: it reinforces the memorization, it makes you aware of things you may have been playing incorrectly, and it gives you the ability to use the music to perform if necessary. If you try to play from a score after practicing without it, you could have problems.

With each piece, I go through several weeks or more of feeling "I can't possibly memorize this," but then things start to click. You just really have to take it in small chunks, memorize each hand separately, and most important, don't beat yourself up if you have difficulty. It's not a personal failing; it's just part of the learning process. If it was too easy, it would be boring, wouldn't it? The day job has enough of that in it. :rolleyes:
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#419578 - 10/07/06 03:28 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
John, are you memorizing Hands Separately? Are you Glenn-Gould-humming the melody HS? Do you wait with putting your Hands Together untill you have memorized HS 100 procent?

Further: Modern brain research have shown that it takes up to 6 hours (sic!) to get whatever saved on the brain's hard disc, and that things memorized before a good night's sleep is recalled in much greater detail 8-12 hours later than things memorized much earlier in the day and then tried to recall 8-12 hours later.

It also shows that the memory-trace goes on being very unstable for at least another 24-48 hours, that is you can easely 'destroy' a memory-trace in the brain say early next day if you try to recall and then do it wrongly.

The best strategy then seems to be to try to memorize a certain passage HS a first time in late afternoon, then repeat the proces with longer and longer intervals a few times - and a last time, and be sure to get it right now, just before sleep. The next morning, you don't try to recall it, but go to the notes and carefully play the passage (HS!) correctly a couple of times. Do the same in the evening and wait until next day before you try to recall it from memory (still HS!). (In between you can start this process with a new passage - the brain won't mix them up).

Then it should be there, almost unerasable. According to science and my experience with myself and my son and daughter.

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#419579 - 10/07/06 04:38 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
dpvjazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 287
Loc: phoenix az
John here is a whole bunch of interesting links concerning memory and if you have time I am sure there is something there for you to relate to. While it can be frustrating you can improve your memorization skills but you might have to work at it for a while and maybe away from the piano with other exercises to build those skills. Keep up the practice but maybe have some exercises that have nothing to do with music but other things like paint something from memory or read something then try and write back what you read and then compare to see how accurate you are. There are many ways to improve your skills but the best is never give up trying to improve yourself no matter how frustrating it can be. Hope this helps. DPVJAZZ

http://www.mtsu.edu/~studskl/mem.html
http://www.learnmem.org/
http://www.exploratorium.edu/memory/index.html
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/memory/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory
http://www.mindtools.com/memory.html
http://www.funbrain.com/match/index.html
http://skepdic.com/memory.html
http://www.zefrank.com/memory/

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#419580 - 10/07/06 06:28 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
As I play completely by ear then it's all down to memory isn't it?

You learn a tune by ear, as in listening to it, over and over. Or as I do often, play along to a piece. Then surely the subconscious brain retains it. It does so by ear transfer naturally.

I do not see how you can tell the brain to memorise something but mentally it will, because you have the need and it's a subconscious automatic brain response.

This is a factor of individual people I think and some have it, others less so its a gene thing and out of our control perhaps.

Alan

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#419581 - 10/07/06 06:45 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Thank you Buxtehude and DPJazz for the suggestions. I'll give these a try. My teacher and I were discussing this again today as I brought her and her lovely (yeah right) kitty to the vet. She even suggested trying HS to see if it works.

It IS very interesting, Buxtehude about how the brain works that way after a good night's sleep. It's as though the brain needs the time to write to backup tape. Unfortunately due to other reasons - physcial reasons actually, I barely get more than 3-1/2 to 4 hours sleep. This maybe part of my problem. Plus add to this a really full plate of activities. I not only work full time (boring!!!), I am also working on my Bachelor's of Science degree in Information Technology, and I recently got involved in a church choir. Add to that I'm practicing the piano, and trying to memorize.

I think right now if something is going to fail, that maybe it's the trying to memorize thing is it.

So you're all right. I shouldn't take this to heart, and do my best. I am playing the piano for me, and I am not giving a recital anytime soon. I do know that I am a perfectionist, which doesn't help the process either, and probably adds insult to injury.

John
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#419582 - 10/07/06 09:03 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Citron:
Well what can I say?

I was goated into memorizing some pieces by my old teacher. She made a remark about the Brahms Intermezzo I was trying to play from a book that kept falling off the piano. The music stand was so full of music that it couldn't stay open anyway, and I have trouble turning pages due to tremors.

Her remark was that if it was memorized, this wouldn't be an issue....yada yada, etc.

I told her that I really did not care whether something was memorized or not, and then she had me give it a try. Well it became a challenge for me to try.

John [/b]
Here's a solution: Go get a new copy of the
Brahms Intermezzo so you solve the problem of the book not falling apart or better yet make copies from your book and set the copies on the stand and clear the music stand of other books.

With all the other stuff in your current schedule, I wouldn't mess with worrying about memorizing. Tell your teacher you'll try it sometime after you finish school.

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#419583 - 10/07/06 10:17 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
buxtehude's theory is very interesting, and i need to try his strategy too!

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#419584 - 10/08/06 01:44 AM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
 Quote:
Originally posted by sarabande:
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Citron:
Well what can I say?

I was goated into memorizing some pieces by my old teacher. She made a remark about the Brahms Intermezzo I was trying to play from a book that kept falling off the piano. The music stand was so full of music that it couldn't stay open anyway, and I have trouble turning pages due to tremors.

Her remark was that if it was memorized, this wouldn't be an issue....yada yada, etc.

I told her that I really did not care whether something was memorized or not, and then she had me give it a try. Well it became a challenge for me to try.

John [/b]
Here's a solution: Go get a new copy of the
Brahms Intermezzo so you solve the problem of the book not falling apart or better yet make copies from your book and set the copies on the stand and clear the music stand of other books.

With all the other stuff in your current schedule, I wouldn't mess with worrying about memorizing. Tell your teacher you'll try it sometime after you finish school. [/b]
That was my plan. My networking class is now in the final throws and speedin up exponentially every day with projects and busy class work.

Thanks Sarabande! \:\)

John
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#419585 - 10/08/06 02:36 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
JohnEB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/20/06
Posts: 754
Loc: Belgium
Something else which helps me and which may be worth trying is to go over the music in your head as you go to sleep. I lie in bed, eyes closed, and just run through the entire piece in my mind, as far as I can. This only works with short pieces though. My mind-playing must be so boring that I usually fall asleep after a couple of pages.
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John

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#419586 - 10/08/06 03:13 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
I sometimes do the same as JohnEB, though I often don't make it past the first page ;\) . I have also continued to do what I used to do quite regularly when studying a piece, (but now with a view to memorising as well), which is to read the score away from the piano. Instead of turning on the TV news (which is only all bad news these days anyway :rolleyes: ), I often sit on the sofa with a cup of tea/coffee and read through a few pages of something I am working on. I can't prove it, but think it helps.

-Michael B.
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There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

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#419587 - 10/08/06 05:50 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
deezl18 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/06
Posts: 25
Loc: Winston-Salem, NC
I haven't looked through all the responses on this thread, and I'm a relative beginner compared to most on here, but here's my two cents. I don't know if anyone else here is like me, but I basically can't get a piece down perfect unless it IS memorized, whether I planned on memorizing it or not. I find that if I still need to read the music off the page, I'm probably not going to be playing it as well as I should. Sometimes I will have the book in front of me but I end up just playing from memory and often looking down at the keys more than the book.

I think for me, the amount of theory I've learned is far ahead of my technical level, so I find that I can play pieces well if I understand the harmonies and the structure of the piece. A lot of times this happens without me really going through and looking for these types of things, but I think for me to memorize a piece it would be nearly impossible if I did not understand the harmonies and what the composer is trying to do. Maybe what I'm getting at is that a good understanding of music theory would help memorization more than anything else.

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#419588 - 10/08/06 05:53 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I agree with Michael that score reading away from the piano helps quite a lot.

I am lucky in that scores just stick in my memory whether I want them to or not.

Oddly enough, this is much more true of difficult pieces or passages than easy ones. For example, a while ago I learned all three movements of the Moonlight Sonata. The third movement was at the time fairly tricky for an amateur like me. But it was very easy to memorise. I STILL cannot remember the very simple first movement that practically every pianist can play. I just find myself mentally dozing off for some reason.

Adrian
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#419589 - 10/09/06 01:05 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
John Citron Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 3925
Loc: Haverhill, Massachusetts
I did a little bit of the memorizing this weekend, but again I didn't get too far. For all intent and purposes, I basically have to start over again with the Mendelssohn, or forget about it at this point and come back to it later.

I think I have way too much on my plate to try what I want to do. There aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything as I've found out! Besides, getting less than 4-hours of sleep every night doesn't help much either. It's too bad we couldn't stop the clock and stretch the time for the things we like, and speed it up for things we don't like such as work to get them out of the way!

In about two weeks, my horrifically boring network and telecom class will be over so my schedule will settle down a bit and give me more time. Do you know how long we discussed the difference between a hub and a switch? Two full weeks. I don't care anymore!

I've done the mental reading and picturing too when falling asleep, but I doze off way too quickly. I usually don't get past the first few bars. My playing must be really boring then because I don't get much accomplished doing that!

Reading music away from the piano is very helpful, and my teacher had me do that in the past. I usually take it outside and sit on the porch so I am completely away from the piano and the rest of the house, which can be really distracting. It's funny how some people look at you as you read the music like they would a newspaper or novel. They think we're weird because they don't understand what we're doing.

Adrian - You've brought up an interesting point. I've noticed that too with the memorizing bit. It's the difficult passages that seem to get absorbed deeper. I think it's because we put more concentration into those parts so they get ingrained deeper into the memories. I aways say to myself when I've done that is too bad I couldn't get the rest of the music to come out that way.

John
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Nothing.

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#419590 - 10/09/06 02:50 PM Re: Short term and long term memory issues when memorizing
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
sleeping too few hours may cause your brain/mind not working as well, which could be part of reason you cannot memorize well. you really need full mental alert to memorize anything...

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