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#930689 - 05/27/06 07:27 AM Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
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.
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#930690 - 05/27/06 10:21 AM Re: Memorization
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
Well the better you get, as my teacher says, the more pieces you should no by memory (ex. Bach inventions, Chopin preludes, ect.) Its like an ability. My teacher was amazed at how well i could memorize music. On the other hand the kid that came after my lesson had the worst time memorizing and he was older than me too

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#930691 - 05/27/06 01:41 PM Re: Memorization
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I personally feel that a piano student should
not be required to memorize anything. The
reason is that when you're required to memorize,
it comes at the expense of everything else,
and what you end up with is a student who
can play from memory and little else; for
example, it is not uncommon for students
to enter a conservatory with little or
no knowledge of theory, and no skill at
sight-reading, improvisation, transposition,
or arranging.

Instead, if a student starts lessons at, say,
the age of 6 or 7, he should simply be trained
at the piano in the old-fashioned and
proper way, that is, without looking at the
hands and with the sht. music, and in the
style of the coin-on-the-back-of-the-hands,
that is, playing from the fingers and hands
primarily, rather than in the showboat style
using arm and body weight to facilitate
playing. If this is done, then fingering,
technique, ear training, reading, and
musicianship will come to him almost
without effort, and moreover, the ability
to memorize will also come to him naturally,
and by the time he's in high school he'll
be able to play from memory with the best
of them.

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#930692 - 05/27/06 04:56 PM Re: Memorization
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Gyro

I must admire you for your consistency with your arguments.

Though I personally agree with hardly any of them. Incuding these. :-)

Adrian
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#930693 - 05/27/06 11:12 PM Re: Memorization
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Adrian,

I couldn't have said it better myself! \:D

Almost everything Gyro says goes against everything that makes sense to me ....but what the heck, there are many paths to success.

Memorization is a natural skill that most of us possess. My son memorizes almost instantly. That's a great advantage in the long run, but it creates problems in the short run. He memorizes so quickly that he tends to discard the music before he has fully learned the structure of the piece. This means two things. First, he has finger memorized more than anything else. Second, he has to be reminded to go back to the music to learn all the subtleties (AKA dynamics) that make it music.

I keep him with the music long after he's memorized the piece so that he can learn the piece's real structure ....its chord structure, for instance, and key shifts. Ultimately, this helps turn finger memorization into genuine memorization.

For better or for worse, we live in a world of competitions. Memorization is a necessary component of contemporary musical education and if you want to play the game you have to acknowledge its rules.
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#930694 - 05/28/06 01:01 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I teach by ear at the beginning. So yes, my students memorize their pieces, obviously because they do not read music, yet.
When they start to read musical notation they become skilled at this by playing what they see. Reading and playing by ear are two different, yet very important skills. My students develop both.
When you become an accomplished musician and are able to read music well, then memorization is not work, it just happens, by reading and practicing correctly. If you practice correctly by repeating sections over and over again, as well as analyzing the phrase and/or section of the piece you are working on, by having a good handle on music theory, memorizing will naturally happen.

So what you need to be good at memorizing in a secure way is:
1) A good ear
2) Being able to read music well
3) The understanding of music theory
4) Practicing the work correctly

I believe that memorizing your pieces that you perform are essential to really knowing what you play and allowing yourself the freedom to express yourself through the music without the distraction of reading the music.
It is also a distraction for the audience, seeing the performer reading the notes.
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#930695 - 05/28/06 07:48 AM Re: Memorization
CindyB - Musicmaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 132
Loc: south central IL
Everything kind of depends on what the goal is, doesn't it? If my goal is for my child to perform at Carnegie Hall - he'd better be good at memorization, technique, and performance. If my goal is for my child to have music as his companion for the rest of his life, I might have different priorities, right?
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#930696 - 05/28/06 08:04 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
Pianobuff,

Could you please elaborate on point 4 (practicing the work correctly)? I do find that I automatically memorize some of the music via muscle memory.

Do you memorize consciously as you would for a history test (e.g. "I play a cm chord followed by a major 5th; the war lasted from 1812-1840"), or do you look at the keyboard and visualize where your hands/fingers should be? It is so much easier to have the music sheet in front, at least as a reference point.
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#930697 - 05/29/06 01:45 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
rugrag,
When I practice, if a section of a piece is technically difficult, I repeat it slowly over and over... many, many times, everyday. Over time, the tempo gradually increases and before I know it, it is memorized. I then can really work on bringing it up to performance tempo.
With the easier parts of the piece, it is more concious work of memorizing because it is just easier to read.
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#930698 - 05/30/06 04:07 AM Re: Memorization
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Everybody memorises to a certain extent even if they are not aware of it. When performing a piece with the score you are not reading every note, it is simply there to provide you with points of reference that some people feel they need more than others. The interesting thing I have found is that most pianists who say they can't play from memory have never really tried. Give it a go and you might be surprised. Don't be put of by the fact that you can't do it straight away. Whilst in the process of learning a piece I will often try bits of it from memory. Sometimes I will start and see how far I can get without the score. If I can't remember it I will sit and try to work it out. Eventually I need to check the score, oh well, I will get further next time.

Is it important to play from memory? I think it depends on your situation. If you play for your own enjoyment then no. If you intend to perform in public at an advanced level then yes. I onced performed Bach Partita no. 2 in a competition and used the score because I lacked confidence in my memory. I was slated for it by the adjudicator. I peformed it again a month later from memory and it was much better. You feel more in touch and able to play more musically without it (IMO).

Don't give up on memorising. It might take you a while but you can do it. A couple of useful techniques I have learned. Try to memorise each hand separately, especially the left as it usually has more of the harmony which your ear needs to latch on to. Sit with the score away from the piano and think your way through the music. Then try to think through it again without the score. Look for chords, cadences, phrases that can act as a guide throughout the piece. Try to memorise small sections at a time. Close the book and start playing, if you get stuck try to think it through before refering back to the score.
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#930699 - 05/30/06 06:51 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by Chris H.:
The interesting thing I have found is that most pianists who say they can't play from memory have never really tried.

Yes, that's me!

Give it a go and you might be surprised.

I will indeed! I will try to memorize something short and simple.

Is it important to play from memory? I think it depends on your situation. If you play for your own enjoyment then no.

I play for my enjoyment, but it would be nice to have a few pieces memorized to perfection so that I could play in front of someone, even if I don't have the sheet music with me. (Performance anxiety is another problem....)[/b]
Thanks for the advice, Chris. My teacher also said that in order to "own" the piece I should have it memorized.[/b]
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#930700 - 05/31/06 01:16 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Great advice Chris!

Don't give up. Try a phrase at a time, perhaps, and add on to it.

Have fun memorizing rugrag!
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#930701 - 05/31/06 12:21 PM Re: Memorization
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i do think memorizing a piece is important. naturally, if one plays a section of a piece over and over again (up to 100 times perhaps), one would memorize that section very well for sure. so, starting from any small section, with enough repetitions, you will remember that section, and by doing all section of such in a piece, you will memorize the entire piece, which is how most of us (even beginners) memorize anyway and largely contributed by hand/muscle memory. but to make memory of a piece secure, you'd need more than that, some harmonic analysis, fingerings and keyboard geography, and even visualization of score, and etc.

when i first started learning to play, i totally rely on muscle memory, but i'd have memory slip and stop at a spot and cannot start from there again. after i got a teacher, he always insists me looking at the music whenever i lost track from memory. now, i could memorize and follow the notes on sheet at the same time, and if i got lost, i'd pick it up again from the spot just but checking on music notes.

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#930702 - 06/01/06 06:51 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by signa:

after i got a teacher, he always insists me looking at the music whenever i lost track from memory. now, i could memorize and follow the notes on sheet at the same time, and if i got lost, i'd pick it up again from the spot just but checking on music notes. [/b]
Yes, good advice. The score can be used as a weaning process. I am finding it helpful to play as much as possible without looking, yet having the music sheet available to glance at. I'm also trying to learn more about theory/harmony, which I think must facilitate remembering the piece. I'm seeing that when I play in a certain key, there are certain notes/chords/scales that are recurrent of that and the relative keys. My knowledge of theory/harmony is quite under-developed, though.
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#930703 - 06/01/06 12:46 PM Re: Memorization
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
As many are eager to continue the discussion and as I am much confused by some of the arguments - what has arm and body weight to do with memorizing?

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#930704 - 06/01/06 02:01 PM Re: Memorization
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Previous to Liszt, pianists played with
sheet music. When you play with sht.
music, you don't look at your hands, since
that aids reading--that is why the black
keys stick up above the white ones on
the piano, so you can play the instrument
without looking at your hands, using
the black keys as tactile references
to find any key by touch. Also, when
you play with the score, unnecessary
body movements are detrimental, since
that disturbs the eyes' focus on the score,
and thus, pianists were taught to play
with a coin on the back of the hands,
since this prevents unnecessary movements.
This in fact was the way Liszt himself
was taught to play. But Liszt was
a freak, with phenomenal physical ability
and a photographic memory, which enabled
him to play easily from memory.

However, once Liszt started playing concerts
from memory, that gradually became the
standard. But note the problem here: everybody
is now required to play like this freak, but
without his freakish physical ability
and memory--could there be a better formula
for demolishing pianists than that? How
does one play like Liszt when he
doesn't have his unique gifts?
If you don't have a photographic memory,
then you'll have to scramble for every
possible aid to memorization, and one
of these is looking at your hands when
playing. Another is to lean into the
keys with your arm and body weight, since
this makes playing easier, because
you're using up so much mental energy
playing from memory that you're quickly
exhausting yourself and you now need all
the help you can get to just press the
keys--but note the problem here: by
bringing in additional body movements
besides the fingers, pressing a key
is no longer just a finger movement,
but also an arm, shoulder, back, etc.
movement, so you've actually made things
more difficult for yourself, because in
addition to the finger movement you now
have to memorize the arm, shoulder, back,
etc. movement that goes along with that
finger movement. All in all this
process dooms all but a handful
of players to eventual burnout as they
try to reach the highest levels of playing.
By looking at their hands they destroy
the sight-reading skills, and thus have
to put in more effort to work things up.
By using their arm and body weight to
play they are shooting themselves
in the foot because they are making
memorizing more difficult.

But if you play properly, the way Liszt
himself was taught: from the fingers
and hands mainly, and without looking
at the hands, then you'll actually make
memorizing easier in the long run, and you
can continue to improve long after those
who play improperly have burned out.

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#930705 - 06/01/06 05:17 PM Re: Memorization
Frank III Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 310
Loc: Spring Lake, MI
 Quote:
you're using up so much mental energy
playing from memory that you're quickly
exhausting yourself and you now need all
the help you can get to just press the
keys
Is this what happens to you? If so, do you think it applies to everybody? What evidence do you have that mental exhaustion leads to a lack of ability to press keys down without additional aid?

Personally, playing from memory is less exhausting for me because I'm free from having to look at notes and turn pages, and can rather concentrate on the musicality of the music.
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#930706 - 06/02/06 04:09 AM Re: Memorization
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I'm talking about mainly long pieces like
100 pages or more, where endurance becomes
a factor. Playing something like that
from memory without a photographic memory
would burn up tremendous amounts of
mental energy and the player would then
instinctively grasp for anything that
would make playing easier, like using
arm and body weight, but this is shooting
yourself in the foot, because it actually
makes memorizing more difficult because
there are more body movements to memorize.
This is why so few players make it to the
top, with the rest burning out as they
exhaust themselves trying to play in the
manner of Liszt without having Liszt's unique
talent for playing from memory.

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#930707 - 06/03/06 02:01 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Personally I feel pianists that have their pieces memorized when performing play so much more muscially than when playing from the music.

Music is an aural art. By having a piece memorized you can then truly pay attention to all the nuances of the piece, focusing on listening to ones self, instead of having some (or more) of your attention on reading the score.

It takes away from musical interpretation.

I also find that I conserve energy when a piece is memorized. Rather than expell my energy reading the music.

Becoming an accomplished reader of music is important. But also being able to memorize a piece is also important. It shows that you have a good ear, know theory/form/structure of the piece as well as your ability to be able to memorize and interpret the piece of music without any distraction. Consequently, increasing your ability to communicate to your audience through the pure performance of the work.

I do agree once a piece is memorized know how to read it too!
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#930708 - 06/03/06 02:25 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Rugrag,
I wouldn't worry too much about theory/harmony right now.
I used to memorize like crazy because of my ear, because of my ear I was not the best sightreader. Memorizing a piece was easier for me than reading. This was when I was young. I also used patterns on the keyboard to help with my memorization. I had no clue of theory at all. Memorizing like this was not the most secure, but I didn't know that, and I managed to pull it off.
When I got older I wanted to major in piano performance and study music seriously. I had a good teacher and learned theory and practiced reading everyday.
Now I know what it is like to memorize and really know a piece, and be able to read music well. I am now a whole musician.
So what I am getting at is that you can memorize a piece without knowing any theory. Try listening often to a recording of the piece you are working on. Then start with the first phrase or even the first measure and read it and then try it without the music. After you learn how to memorize like this, you will start to see patterns on the keyboard, by looking at your hands!! Looking at your hands I think is good!!! It will help you to learn music theory. You will see the patterns and you will eventually be able to label what you're playing. That is if you find a good teacher that can help you with theory. But first develop your ear and just try memorizing.
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#930709 - 06/03/06 07:28 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianobuff:
Rugrag,
After you learn how to memorize like this, you will start to see patterns on the keyboard, by looking at your hands!! Looking at your hands I think is good!!![/b]
Oi! You should take a peek at the "Looking at Hands" topic!
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#930710 - 06/06/06 08:14 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
The opposite poles of sight-reading and memorisation are given.

At one end is Gyro, representing the vast majority's dependence on the chore of sight-reading against pianobuff's memorisation skills. Clearly rugrag has been impressed by the swift keyboard progress of those with meorisation skills ... and wants to close the gap.

It would be well to point out that, with a fresh piece of music, everybody is put to the initial chore of identifying the notes and working out the most appropriate fingering ... but here the two paths diverge.

Gyro relies on dedicated practice and attendant muscle memory to slowly advance sight-reding to the note pattern recognition stage rather than slugging it out with individual notes. Before rugrag presumes to follow the pianobuff aural memory "shortcut" ... there are setbacks to mention ... another case of "easy come ... easy go". Aural memory is NOT permanent ... and tends to fade fast ... thus requiring those with snappy memories to practice assiduously lest public performances be wracked by the nightmare of a memory block.

My own finding is that the vast majority of fun-loving people with bad memories often prove to be most artistic ... it's as though an aversion to the orderly mental pigeon-holing of information has been jettisoned in favour of random untidiness ... by comparison those with orderly photographic memory skills become lawyers, quantity surveyors, accountants and concert pianists.

Rugrag shouldn't be thrown by inflated stories of memorisation skills ... sight-reading remains the fountainhead. However, pianists are advised to take a video of themselves at the keyboard with eyes glued to the score ... the camera unfortunately registers the intensity of the sight-reading as ploddingly amateur ... there's a need to loosen up ... it's total rot to suggest that more energy is used in converting to a grand "theatrical" performance.

If Liszt ... "The greatest piano showman ever" modestly played with a "coin on the backs of his hands" ... I'll eat Gyro's hat!!!

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#930711 - 06/06/06 06:33 PM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
Clearly rugrag has been impressed by the swift keyboard progress of those with meorisation skills ... and wants to close the gap.
[/b]
Yes, I recently saw The Art of the Piano for the first time. I was blown away by how well, and FAST, the artists were playing!
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#930712 - 06/06/06 11:43 PM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
Just to say, when I recommended rugrag to listen, using his ears, to employ this sense on his memorization of the piece he is working on, I meant it as a first step. I did not say he should rely on this soley for public performance.
After being able to rely on his ears and visual memory of what patterns he is playing on the keyboard, then he can start to learn what he is actually playing on the keyboard. This is where music theory comes to play.
If he wants to memorize a piece this is how I recommend he starts:
Ears first, patterns on the keyboard/music a close second, theory third.
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Private Piano Teacher,
member MTNA and Piano Basics Foundation

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#930713 - 06/07/06 12:48 AM Re: Memorization
LudwigLives072 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/30/06
Posts: 19
Loc: Minnesota
I don't know about everyone else, but when I'm practicing a long song, like Beethoven's Pathetique for example (1st movement) since I'm working on that now, I practice parts so much that it just turns into memorization for me. Granted that I listen to that song on CD quite a bit which might help a little, but I'm usually pretty good at just memorizing things on "accident".

Just to give a little background on myself, I'm 26 now, used to take piano lessons from when I was 5 until 11 or 12. I didn't play for 13 years and then I started playing a little bit again last summer....like Coldplay and Keane songs and now since Christmas, I've been going into Beethoven's Sonatas. I can play Moonlight movement 1 with the music but for some reason I have a heck of a time memorizing that song. I've been working on Pathetique movement 1 for about a month now and the first four pages I have memorized, then it gets sctetchy with the right hand crossover trills, but then I have other parts memorized.

I guess I don't think the best way to master a piece is to memorize it, but usually when you play a song so much, don't you ultimately memorize the song anyway?
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#930714 - 06/07/06 04:43 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Pianobuff little realizes that he is in a highly select group with rare aural skills ... like Piano*Dad's son, he memorizes music fast and thereby duck the drag of sight-reading.

But 99.9% of us like rugrag, are not blessed with instant aural recall ... only by sight-reading and patient practice do we come close to a good performance. There's no magic formula to upgrade memory ... either you've got a good aural memory or you haven't. But memory is limited ... as with Ludwig who has managed over the past month to memorize the opening 4 pages of the Pathetique ...
however, in getting to the trickier cross-hands bit, has philosophically concluded "I guess I don't think the best way to master a piece is to memorize it". Some can cut Ludwig's month over 4 pages ... to 2 hours.

However, those rare few like Pianobuff and Piano*Dad's son are in a different ball game ... and with careful supervision and dedicated practice can expand their memories to concert pianist standards.

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.

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#930715 - 06/07/06 10:53 PM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
I have to disagree.
I think if rugrag listened to (for example, since this is what I teach), Suzuki Bk 1 CD everyday (Kataoka edition), found a good Suzuki teacher, and the teacher taught rugrag how to play these pieces by demonstrating on a second piano, Rugrag would learn these pieces, by ear and memory. No reading of music should be involved at all, not even at the lesson or at home!!
This, if he truly wants to learn how to memorize is a great way to do it.
I believe the ear can be developed at any age, if you really want it and have a good teacher to help.
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#930716 - 06/08/06 01:56 AM Re: Memorization
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
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.

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#930717 - 06/08/06 02:32 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 1580
Loc: Pacific Northwest
btb,
Tell me, what have I been doing for the past 10 years??
Please, you need to learn more about the Suzuki philosophy. It works very well for piano as well as any other instrument.
I have to say that I don't necessarily go through all the books (like the stringed instruments.) Most often I go through Book 1 and 2 of the Suzuki repertoire, reviewing all pieces and knowing them by memory. By Book 3, my students then start a more varied "traditional" approach to learning one piece from each period in piano, always reviewing at least 4 pieces from each period while learning new pieces by sight.
Reading of music starts in Book 2. Book One is played completely by ear/memory.
It is an excellent method. My student's become very fine pianists with a developed ear and memory as well as being very good at reading music.
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#930718 - 06/08/06 08:03 AM Re: Memorization
Chris H. Offline
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Registered: 10/14/05
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 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:
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. [/b]
There is no doubt that this does happen. It is quite a good description of my own playing when I was young and I have one or two similar students now. However I don't believe it is the result of a natural gift for memorisation. Some learners are impatient. Instead of reading things carefully they will often try to guess what comes next. They memorise mistakes not because they can't read the music but because they don't go through it with enough care in the first place. I remember doing this a lot. Most of the time when I practiced I just couldn't be bothered to get the book out. I would sit and play and if I couldn't remember I would make it up, as long as it sounded ok. The memory skills developed as a result of this way of practicing. If you practice from memory then you will get better at it. As BTB said it is not always a good thing. You have to take the time to read accurately in the first place.

Pianobuff, I am interested in how the Suzuki method works. I have very limited knowledge of it. I can appreciate how playing without notation can give you a chance to develop your ear and really listen to what you play. How long is it before you introduce notation? Those kids who play without notation to begin with, how do they practice at home as I can't see how they can work things out for themselves? Do you feel that notation is too complicated for younger children to understand? I am not knocking it as I have seen many wonderful Suzuki trained students play in recitals. I am just curious.
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#930719 - 06/09/06 01:43 AM Re: Memorization
pianobuff Offline
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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
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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
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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
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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
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 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
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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
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 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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 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
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 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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 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
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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
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Registered: 06/02/06
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 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
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Registered: 11/18/05
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 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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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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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#930749 - 09/13/06 02:47 AM Re: Memorization
buxtehude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Copenhagen, Denmark
I couldn't agree more.

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#930750 - 09/15/06 11:39 PM Re: Memorization
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
Without good sightreading skills isn't it hard to maintain a large repertoire in memory? I find that I memorize quickly but then as I'm not "reading" the music, if I don't play the piece regularly, it slips away and it's quite frustrating to spend months on a piece only to discover later on the you practically have to relearn the whole thing...... I'm trying to read along even after I've memorized a piece ..but it's difficult. I practice 2 or 3 hours most days but it's still not enough time to practice all the technical things, polish pieces, learn new pieces, practice sightreading, just play for fun, and keep everything I've learned somewhat fresh. How do people do it?? BTW I'm an adult beginner at a mid-late-intermediate level.
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#930751 - 09/16/06 12:32 PM Re: Memorization
Sipry Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/17/05
Posts: 91
Loc: Arizona
I find that I have the same issues that Sandy has talked about. I too am an adult beginner, and I do memorize a piece after spending months on it. If I then just keep playing from memory, I have a terrible time reading it when my teacher has wanted me to. She has told me that for an adult, I do seem to memorize rather quickly and she has no problem with that. But, she has talked to me about then having to relearn reading it.

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#930752 - 09/17/06 07:40 AM Re: Memorization
LeahG Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 168
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sandy Moore:
I practice 2 or 3 hours most days but it's still not enough time to practice all the technical things, polish pieces, learn new pieces, practice sightreading, just play for fun, and keep everything I've learned somewhat fresh. How do people do it??[/b]
Yes, it is hard to do all of that. Many people do not have 2-3 hours a day to practice. Once you have several pieces in your repetoire, well, you'd probably have to spend most of your practice time keeping them fresh! I have come to the conclusion (for me) that I will only spend time memorizing a select few pieces.
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#930753 - 09/17/06 06:33 PM Re: Memorization
SAnnM AB-2001 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/20/04
Posts: 2022
Loc: Canada
I'm going with improving my sightreading skills. I've spent far too much time on some pieces (Moonlight Sonata for example!!! 6 months!!) to have to relearn them. I really would prefer to be able to go back and sightread. There are simply too many beautiful pieces that I wish to be able to play to memorize them all and keep fresh. ....off I go...to practice sightreading...
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It's the journey not the destination..

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