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#930719 - 06/09/06 01:43 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Chris,
The Suzuki method is based on the philosophy that the most natural way a child learns music is by listening and living in an environment (home) that is filled with music. In the same way a child learns his native tongue.
We do not learn to read words first, we first learn how to speak, then we learn how to read.

The whole idea is that the parents create an environment that is nurturing and musical. It is the parents' responsibility to create this environment. The parents are responsible for playing the recording of Book 1 everyday as backgrond music as well as listening to other classical pieces. The pieces in Book 1 are beautiful, yet easy enough to learn by ear.

When a child comes to their lesson we start with Twinkle Variations. There are 4 of these based on theme of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. These variations are phenomenal for developing finger independence and the basis for overall technique.

One of the great benefits of not reading the music is that the focus of lessons in Book 1 is technique, tone quality, balance between hands, and of course listening skills and playing by memory. By the end of Book 1 my students can play all 18 pieces, at perfomance level and memorized.

I teach melody first through half of Book 1, we then go back and learn the L.H. accompaniment. After the L.H. is learned well, we put H.T.
The latter half of Book 1 we play H.S. then H.T. on each piece, students move along quite quickly at this point. There is constant review. A piece is not learned and then dropped. The pieces are used for technique and listening purposes, developing the ability to play the piano very well. By demonstrating ( I have two grand pianos, one for the student and one for me) with correct technique and tone, seeing that I have good posture, seeing how my fingers move and position of hand, this is how they learn. One skill is built upon another, it is quite fascinating.

I do not teach reading until the beginning of Book 2, with a separate reading book. The reading book I use correlates very well with how they learned Book 1. Oh -- I also teach solfege in book 1 instead of letter names. I do introduce letter names though in the middle of Book 1 when my students take a break from Twinkles and start pentachord patterns, learning them in all keys. When they start to read. I teach them how the notes step up, etc... and they then play the first excercise and then I have them sing the notes they just played in solfege. They are then on their way to reading music.

As far as how they practice at home: It is a requirement that the parents attend the lessons. The parents do have the music and they use it as reference if needed. I write solfege syllables over the notes that they are learning and I encourage the parents to sing the pieces in solfege. Along with listening to the recording daily, Children pick up on this and learn pieces quite easily with a little help from Mom or Dad as needed. Parents also help with fingering as needed.


I have parent ed classes before starting their child on lessons. This really helps parents understand the philosophy and what is required of them, especially while in Books 1 and 2.
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#930720 - 06/09/06 04:39 AM Re: Memorization
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Thanks for that pianobuff. I did look into training to deliver Suzuki a while ago but the nearest course is 70 miles away. Sounds good though. I do things the other way round at the moment. Very small children come to musicianship classes along with their parents to begin with. Here they learn to read and understand notation through vocal and rhythm work/games. The idea is that when they start piano lessons we can concentrate on the technical aspects as they can already read the music. I only started the classes 6 months ago and have 3 kids aged 4-5 who should be ready to start piano in september. We'll see how it goes.
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#930721 - 06/10/06 11:48 AM Re: Memorization
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I would love to see a video of Gyro (or anyone else for that matter) playing a 100 page piece - with a coin on the back of his hands... sounds like a recipe for tendonitis... my arms and shoulders are aching at the mere thought of it...
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#930722 - 06/10/06 12:55 PM Re: Memorization
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Surely the coin would fall off when turning the pages???!!!
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#930723 - 06/10/06 01:26 PM Re: Memorization
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10363
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
 Quote:
But it's not all beer and skittles for Piano*Dad's son ... the very speed of easy absorption often results in the careless inclusion of "bad notes" ... trying to correct these errors is almost impossible ... the mind is strangely reluctant to permit information to be "rubbed out". Always a good idea to make sure that the initial image is absolutely accurate in terms of pitch and note duration, pattern structures, tempo and dynamics.
Indeed! The careless inclusion of wrong notes does happen. This is clearly the "dark side of the force" for people with good aural and physical memory skills. It probably afflicts kids the most, since they are less patient at working carefully, measure by measure, through a score.

We had a great example of that at a master class last February when he was playing Gershwin's second prelude. The pianist who conducted the class, and who knew the piece inside and out, noticed that he was leaving out one note in a series of descending chords. They were hard to reach and he had unconsciously dropped them. Only a dozen people on the planet might have noticed. She was one of them!

On the other hand, once it was pointed out to him he relearned that passage and played the piece properly at a competition a few weeks later. It does take some work to rewire the brain once it has memorized something, but it can be done.

An equally large problem with quick memorization is that what is memorized is usually the notes, not the music. I have to keep at him to play with the music in front of him until the interpretation (or range of possible interpretations) is just as memorized as the notes.

I think he's like me (and a lot of others, I'm sure). I can have the music open without really paying a lot of attention to it. Sometimes I have to force myself actually to LOOK at the music or I just use it as a guidepost to where I am.
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#930724 - 06/10/06 04:15 PM Re: Memorization
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Some very good posts here.

I am cursed with what is often described as a photographic memory. (it is a curse becuase one's mind is full of rubbish that one woudl rather forget, as well as the good stuff. I can still recite whole essays that I wrote at age 8 - ridiculous). I can recollect scores fairly easily and so do not have to rely on finger memory very much at all.

But Pinao-Dad's points still apply - and indeed they were very well made: however good ones memory is there is still the aspect of focus on the whole picture. My teacher quickly realised (in about 5 minutes after we met) that I could memorize notes easily. However, I was astounded when she pointed out that I had overlooked (as in failed to see) the crucial dynamics - and that I was still reinforcing shoprtcuts (otherwise known as mistakes...). Memory can be dangerous - it sometimes makes us hear what we want to hear rather than what we are really doing.

There is far more to a musical performance than remembering the notes. Far, far more. And it is this that sets the professionals apart from the rest of us.

Kind regards

Adrian
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#930725 - 06/10/06 05:14 PM Re: Memorization
geek in the pink Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 340
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
The Susuki method only works for strings ... reading one note at a time.

It doesn't work for the piano ... too many fingers.
There is no substitute for sight-reading. [/b]
Wow... you could not be more wrong. The Suzuki method is part of a larger IDEA than can be applied to many things, not just music (READ: language). You're logic here is terribly erroneous and quite frankly I'm curious to know where you came to that conclusion.

[img]http://home.comcast.net/~rl82/suzuki.bmp[/img]

Taken from:

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

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#930726 - 06/11/06 01:07 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Thank you Geek in Pink!

Chris H,
When I have more time (my studio recital is tommorrow!) I will look to see if there are any Suzuki Piano Basics Teachers around your area. If there is one close by, I will pm you his/her name and number, if you are interested. By the way, I've enjoyed reading your posts, you sound like a very good teacher.

AJB and others,
I think I, and maybe others are starting to blend a couple different threads into this one.
In regards to playing without any mistakes and which is better, playing with or without music,
How I feel, is if you make a mistake without the music it is far more forgiving than if you make a mistake with the music. I always feel so badly for students when they are struggling through a piece when the music is right in front of them, that is when I see them in recital doing this. I always think to myself, memorize the piece, you would then know it so much better, and not have so many mistakes.
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#930727 - 06/11/06 05:53 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Pianobuff's good memory allows him to duck the drag of sight-reading ... thus a willing disciple of the Suzuki method. But outside of the memorisation approach in teaching "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to the small fry ... there is no convincing evidence of lasting progress ... the brave bravado wears a bit thin.

My accumulated research over the years leads to the conclusion that there is no subsititute for sight-reading ... sorry Geek. Strings, woodwind and brass work within a 2-octave pitch-range reading ONE NOTE AT A TIME off a SINGLE STAVE ... and have happily coped for a thousand years.

Keyboard instruments however came in for a bumpy sight-reading ride ... today's piano is not only faced with the vast range of 88 notes ... located on two oddly different 5-line staves ... but expected to identify multi-note combinations in two hands (with accidentals to boot) ... in a split second!! Not humanly possible without adequate preparation.

Suzuki is to be praised for the memorisation approach for strings ... but it is conning the public to suggest that anyone (other than the legendary Liszt) can play a Chopin Nocturne by
identifying the musical structure through listening to a recording without the score.

Pianobuff's impatience with the tardy sight-readers is sadly apparent ... the "slow-coaches" hit bad notes in trying to match the tempo ... the suggestion that it is better to settle for making mistakes "without the music" doesn't fly in my camp... but always good to know that others think differently.

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#930728 - 06/11/06 07:51 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
From what the group is saying, memorization comes from a combination of the following:

1. finger/muscle memory
2. aural/"suzuki" approach (play by ear)
3. visualization (either of the keyboard and/or the score)
4. cognitive (understanding of theory/harmony)

#1 seems to come naturally by dint of repetition.
#2 is used to an extent, but I agree it is almost impossible to play chords by ear.
#3 seems quite difficult to achieve for most of us without photographic memories.
#4 It's essential to study theory/harmony and analyze the piece. It is easier to remember to play an A minor chord than to remember the individual notes, as a simple example. I have almost no training in this area but would like to learn more.
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#930729 - 06/11/06 11:29 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks for the memorisation thread rugrag.
Good to know you were still in the game.

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#930730 - 06/11/06 12:49 PM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Thanks for the memorisation thread rugrag.
Good to know you were still in the game. [/b]
That I am!
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#930731 - 06/11/06 11:57 PM Re: Memorization
geek in the pink Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 340
Loc: New Jersey
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
My accumulated research over the years leads to the conclusion that there is no subsititute for sight-reading ... sorry Geek. Strings, woodwind and brass work within a 2-octave pitch-range reading ONE NOTE AT A TIME off a SINGLE STAVE ... and have happily coped for a thousand years.

Keyboard instruments however came in for a bumpy sight-reading ride ... today's piano is not only faced with the vast range of 88 notes ... located on two oddly different 5-line staves ... but expected to identify multi-note combinations in two hands (with accidentals to boot) ... in a split second!! Not humanly possible without adequate preparation.

Suzuki is to be praised for the memorisation approach for strings ... but it is conning the public to suggest that anyone (other than the legendary Liszt) can play a Chopin Nocturne by
identifying the musical structure through listening to a recording without the score.

Pianobuff's impatience with the tardy sight-readers is sadly apparent ... the "slow-coaches" hit bad notes in trying to match the tempo ... the suggestion that it is better to settle for making mistakes "without the music" doesn't fly in my camp... but always good to know that others think differently. [/b]
Firsty, I'm curious to understand why you keep stating that there is no subsitute for sheet music? Who is proposing otherwise? I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I did NOT state that (I haven't read all of the other posts so I apologize if someone else made that assertion). You seem pretty intelligent so I really don't know why you fail understand a simple concept--and I think it would be beneficial to not even consider my interpretation as the Suzuki method because people have been training this way NOT EVEN BEING AWARE OF THE Suzuki method. It's an idea, a philosophy, Suzuki just established this IDEA in the mainstream--and I would also like to explain my interpretation that follows does not include playing complex classical pieces by ear. But, it has already been proven, and it makes complete sense that if one becomes aurally proficient on a sensibly basic level with an instrument first (ANY instrument), THEN learning to read sheet music will become an exponentially easier task (I.E., if one reads a D-major chord for the first time on a staff after knowing how to play a D-major chord in every inversion, then they'll already have an understanding of why it's written in those specific intervals on the staff). I must add that there is a difference between learning by ear ONLY; and learning by ear FIRST, then learning to read music LATER. I think you're confusing the two. I can play by ear and read from music and I can certainly see the advantages of being able to play by ear even when studying a classical piece. For example, when I was learning 'The Solfeggietto,' after listening to it a couple of times first, I already had dissected the chord progression without even looking at the score. That made the sight-reading much easier knowing WHERE the notes where going. I don't know what else to tell you.

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#930732 - 06/12/06 01:13 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
btb,
I can't help but be in awe of how limited you are in your way of thinking.
How do you think Mozart and other great pianists learned to play? I know they learned by ear first, from their musical environment.
By the time my students are playing advanced pieces such as Chopin's Nocturnes, they are reading the music.
Stop being so predjudice when it comes to playing by ear or memorizing a piece after you read it! If you are more comfortable with the music in front of you when you play, I'm okay with that. Really, what makes you (personally)most satisfied with your playing, is what's most important.
Is it Dave Brubeck that never learned to read music, and he's pretty good, wouldn't you say?
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#930733 - 06/12/06 04:02 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks for the explanation Geek.
If you hadn't read through the earlier post ... the gist is that rugrag wants to speed up his progress and introduced the subject of memorisation ... hoping for a magical shortcut to his sight-reading chores ... along the way the Suzuki method looked momentarily like manna from heaven ... but was questioned for the misleading suggestion that it was possible to play keyboard music simply by listening ... thus the stand on sight-reading. There's no slur on memorisation ... quite the contrary ... if you have a special aural skill, exploit it to the full.

Chord identity helps avoid the sight-reading single note drag ... but should not be confused with the cul-de-sac of theoretical triads and their inversions ... no composer of merit has ever used such a pedantic triad sequence of dry sticks. Chopin uses potent 2-note chords ... his 3-note chords are rather like the mid-addition of the choicest of adjectives qualifying poetic nouns ... it's a good rule to go sparingly on the muddying effect of too many "adjectives".

Pianobuff
Love Dave Brubeck ... but then he is heir to the rhythmic heritage of past great jazzmen. For what it's worth I learned to play by ear at the age of 15 ... some say to impress the girls ... but obviously later had to upgrade the puerile thumping by learning to read the Moonlight.

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#930734 - 06/13/06 10:04 PM Re: Memorization
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2555
Loc: Maine
Near the end of his life didn't Richter decry memorization and only play with sheet music? I think he felt that memorizing and playing without the music was not being true to what the composer wanted...(He also did not want the light on him and claimed too much emphasis was placed on the pianist and not enough on just listening to the music)
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#930735 - 06/14/06 02:52 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I guess you need to have memorized in order to decry it!
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#930736 - 06/14/06 11:34 AM Re: Memorization
Arabesque Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 550
Loc: Japan
A follow what a lot of posters say about developing cognitive memorising as a skill but not about some people have it some don't.

As you know most music scores are broken down into constituent parts. When we memorise we automatically assign those details to the overall structure. That's how actors memorise pages of Shakespearian verse, or public speakers remember their speeches. The only function of repetition is to familiarise the brain with these patterns and their relationships. Most music can be reduced to nmemonics that enable the performer to call up the various passages in predetermined order. Music lends itself to memorisation by virtue of having inherent harmonic and melodic structure. Some music is more memorable than others for the fact that it follows a clear development. This is true of most early classical sonatas. So if a pianist has to memorise he should study such classical forms in addition to being aware of cadences and developments and of course the diversions taken by practically every composer since Mozart. Having a tangible framework to work with is essential to putting in the detail down to the finer details such as phrasing and fingering patterns. It's easier than it sounds to memorise and not a mystic gift. Most people here could memorise Mozart's Rondo al Turco in a short time as it is basically four or five repeating passages with a development. This memory skill can be extended to longer peices if you employ a similar logical breakdown of the score.

So I would think that pianists who wish to memorise spend a lot of time studying their scores and noting with pencil the main parts and how they relate. And that playing from memory and trying to guess the next statement is very effective. When you look at the score to check and play repeatedly you then reinforce your memory. But just playing from scores all the time from habit will make you a score slave.

But this is just my own guess at what is a serious and compelling subject inviting further research.
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#930737 - 06/14/06 03:46 PM Re: Memorization
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Peyton:
Near the end of his life didn't Richter decry memorization and only play with sheet music? I think he felt that memorizing and playing without the music was not being true to what the composer wanted...(He also did not want the light on him and claimed too much emphasis was placed on the pianist and not enough on just listening to the music) [/b]
I don't agree with that last statement. The pianist and his/her interpretation is very much a part of any performance. If this was not the case then we might as well just listen to a CD. When I go to a recital I am just as interested in the pianist as I am in the music they play. Perhaps I am just conditioned to feel this way but watching a concert pianist play from the score just wouldn't seem right. As a pianist I prefer to perform from memory and feel more able to play musically this way. As an accompanist I nearly always use the score. Partly because I am often less familliar with the music but also because the spotlight is on the soloist rather than myself.

I don't have a photographic memory. I am hopeless at remembering names, numbers, dates etc. The only thing I seem to remember easily is music. I don't know why this is.
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#930738 - 06/14/06 05:52 PM Re: Memorization
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i think, from what i know about my teacher, reading music at a performance is not necessarily pure sight reading, because the pianist has already studied the score and worked on details so that the music on the piano is just pretty much a guide for the pianist to follow it without getting lost (since he/she didn't actually memorize it). at least it's what i heard from my teacher and from his recital as a collaborating pianist, of which my teacher said no memorization is needed especially. but he does memorize for his solo performance.

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#930739 - 06/14/06 08:15 PM Re: Memorization
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2555
Loc: Maine
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Peyton:
Near the end of his life didn't Richter decry memorization and only play with sheet music? I think he felt that memorizing and playing without the music was not being true to what the composer wanted...(He also did not want the light on him and claimed too much emphasis was placed on the pianist and not enough on just listening to the music) [/b]
I don't agree with that last statement. The pianist and his/her interpretation is very much a part of any performance. If this was not the case then we might as well just listen to a CD. When I go to a recital I am just as interested in the pianist as I am in the music they play. Perhaps I am just conditioned to feel this way but watching a concert pianist play from the score just wouldn't seem right. [/b]
Actually I agree with you about wanting to see the pianist. I just remember watching a special on Richter and that stuck in my mind. I threw it out here just for the sake of interest. I kind of felt bad for those at Richter's last performances. Here they went to watch this epic performer and only saw the glow from his music light :rolleyes:

As far as if it's from memory or the score... If it's a great performance it doesn't matter to me. In the end it's what comes from the fingers and the piano...no? \:\)
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#930740 - 06/15/06 02:13 AM Re: Memorization
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Peyton:
Near the end of his life didn't Richter decry memorization and only play with sheet music? I think he felt that memorizing and playing without the music was not being true to what the composer wanted...(He also did not want the light on him and claimed too much emphasis was placed on the pianist and not enough on just listening to the music) [/b]
Another thought: Maybe if Richter was getting old, his memory was not as sharp as it once was so needed to rely on the music more. Also maybe he didn't like his appearance as well getting older and didn't want to be stared at on stage. Famous actors make fewer appearances when they reach old age. Perhaps Richter was saying that about being true to composer's intent and too much emphasis on the pianist as excuses for failing memory and being concerned about appearance as he aged.
____________________
A few on the thread have also mentioned whether one need memorize when accompanying. I recently learned from a piano professor that it's beneficial to have the music in front of you when accompanying or playing chamber music as you can follow along in relation to the other performers parts.

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#930741 - 07/02/06 06:29 AM Re: Memorization
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
I rarely visit this forum as I thought it out of my range but would like to give my own view on memory facts and abstracts.

There is a somewhat rare ability to play by ear and master the piano to a high degree, devoid of teaching at all. By master I mean to know what keys and chords to play for a certain sound. This is an ability that some folk have and it uses the subconscious brain that has stored up all the sounds available from one octave. Endless years of practice can get you to a reasonable standard playing jazz and blues. It starts on easily remembered tunes which as a child for example can be picked out. It does not lend itself to classical compositions due to requirement of precise representation.

This means of playing requires a sub-conscious brain storage facility that can be on recall to know without pre-thinking just what notes (keys) you play to suit the sound progression of a piece of music.

I ask you; when you play a single note of the piano and you wish to follow on to another to build up a simple phrase of a tune you have never seen on a music score, do you know what the succession is?

People that play as I do know by subconscious recall what sound comes from what key on the keyboard. Without needing to know the name of it or recall from memorising a score. You presumably have a memory of the written score and your brain stores up the music between the notes written and fingers to keyboard. I store up the keyboard sounds so know which notes to play as a progression for a certain tune or anything.

Or you can compose your own music such as the 'Blues' style. That I find is based on the set pattern of repeating the blues theme. Not easy to explain but it sounds right when played.

That last paragraph exposes the biggest problem I, or any other untaught pianist has; lack of technical communication!

Erroll Garner was probably the finest ever at this strange way of playing. I fully understand the absurdity of not reading but there is a great deal of happiness from the realisation that one has this ability and freedom of expression it allows. The more one practices the greater the scope for improvisation.

I never knew so many people had had to be taught the piano then, I though a lot would play by ear. These bar pianists today, do not usually have any music and they play lots of requests. Have they then memorised it all? And if so do I understand that they have memorised it from a score they have learned?

One final thought when I play jazz it is played in the style of the 1930/40s often where precise timing is required and that then seems to be a mathematical ability, in order to time the length of a arpeggio to keep within the rhythm and beat of the music.

Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum were especially adept at that timing ability and how I admire them.

Being an old jazz fan, I find the music so soul satisfying and the beat so exhilarating. Today's piano jazz mostly seems to go into abstract technicalities that is beyond my appreciation. Perhaps that is due to evolution and progress. We all have our eras I suppose and what pleases some is not good for others. I have a letter from an eminent scholar that explained this matter of the subconscious in music theory.

Alan

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#930742 - 07/06/06 12:18 PM Re: Memorization
lalakeys Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 286
Loc: Chicago 'burbs
I just joined the Forum, and this topic caught my eye--so I'm putting in my 2ยข worth.

Memorization is a very valuable tool, and I've found that there are certain pieces that are so technically demanding that I am only able to perform them from memory (Revolutionary Etude, anyone?)

However, I do not require my students to perform from memory. I do encourage them to memorize and use the score as a reference as they perform (I find that most of them feel much more confident when they don't have to fear the "blanking out" and embarrassment that might occur without the score). The bottom line for me is that a performance be successful--that the student's concentration be directed at interpreting the composer's intentions and playing with emotional involvement.

On occasion I have a student who memorizes easily and prefers to perform without the score. That's great--but I have him or her play the piece several times for me to be absolutely sure that it is flawlessly memorized. I hardly ever see a student break down and forget in my recitals; it is very important to me that performances be positive experiences.

I should mention, however, that I also teach voice--and I absolutely require my voice students to perform from memory! Because a vocal performance depends so much upon a singer's communication with the audience, facial expression, and gestures, looking at the music is counterproductive to a good performance. And most singers find memorizing vocal music (even in a foreign language!) to be much easier than memorizing a piano piece, in my experience!
_________________________
Private piano & voice teacher for over 20 years; currently also working as a pipe organist for 3 area churches; sing in a Chicago-area acappella chamber choir

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#930743 - 07/07/06 09:47 AM Re: Memorization
Frank_W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 1047
Loc: United States
I'm working on a Joplin original (not "dumbed down") of "Peacherine Rag." With Ragtime's synchopated timing, bouncing chord changes in the left hand and all of the jazz happening in the right, I find that the piece, and whatever section I'm working on, doesn't begin to really smooth out and flow until I've memorized it.
_________________________
Compassion, Love, Strength, Peace, Dignity, Balance, Order

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#930744 - 07/10/06 02:49 AM Re: Memorization
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Frank W
Thanks for this little bit of information. I would like to hear it. Any idea where it can be heard please?

I love Joplins compositions.

Alan

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#930745 - 07/10/06 03:01 AM Re: Memorization
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
pianobuff,

If 'pianobuff' sees this he has my compliments for using the Suzuki method as it must be good for those that find that style of teaching best.

As I see it,like this:- 'sound/memory in ear-connects to sound of a note on piano/octave. Once you have stored all the notes-sounds in your brain. The system then follows naturally as ear to piano keyboard. You do not connect a written object on a piece of paper at all. It is direct from ear to that black or white note in that pattern/octave from C to C they are all there to give that ear-sound out. With some of us there is never a need to read music at all. And it is said that some composers never studied music. Open to debate on that I guess. Erroll Garner a prime example.

Just my simple brain at work again. And how I play jazz.

Classics must be possible the way Pianobuff and Suzuki method describe with reading later. But not for all students I would imagine. I never thought about the photographic brain factor.

Alan

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#930746 - 07/17/06 05:05 AM Re: Memorization
AnotherSchmoe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Arkansas
 Quote:
Originally posted by rugrag:
How important is it to memorize a piece? I have never memorized anything and am amazed to see a pianist perform without sheet music.

I can see how the best way to ultimately master a piece would be to have it memorized, but I find memorizing impossibly slow and tedious. [/b]
Constant repetition.
If you play a piece over and over many times a day for a couple of weeks it usually gets ingrained in your memory and can be played without even putting much thought to it, your fingers will just know where to go.
_________________________

http://www.youtube.com/user/AnotherSchmoe

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#930747 - 09/08/06 07:25 AM Re: Memorization
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
Surely we need hard facts, statistics, evidence here. Does anybody know of a scientific study comparing the two groups of pianists (sightreaders and memorizers) to see which of the groups are doing best in the long run? It must be scientificaly scrutinizable.

But: Saying that you can't play musically when sightreading seems to me a little like saying you can't tell a story properly, reading it from paper, and offcourse you can do that, if you have practiced it thoroughly. Now, the thing here is, it seems: if you know the music you're playing, have really studied it, it doesn't matter if you play it from memory or not. I mean, how often have you seen members of an orchestra or a string quartet play from memory??

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#930748 - 09/08/06 06:22 PM Re: Memorization
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
On the other hand when did you last see a jazz pianist play from the written score. It's perfectly posssible to master the piano keyboard and play by ear. Though few have done it. I grant you jazz is not comparable to classical which is played as composed, whereas jazz is improvisation.

You can play chords from memory and harmonic variations of same.

It's just having a connection between memeory of a piece of music and the sounds that the keyboard hold within, wether by mastering the instrument or being taught to read.

Alan

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