How do blind students memorize?

Posted by: deb8851

How do blind students memorize? - 01/02/13 09:58 PM

Hi! This is my first post. I registered just so I could ask this questions: how do blind people memorize sheet music? I'm a fairly advanced self-taught piano student--I've memorized Schubert's Impromptu op. 142 no. 4, play a lot of Chopin, and I've composed several pieces. But memorizing is really difficult for me, and I think part of the reason may be that I have a neurological problem--I don't remember anything I see (faces, streets, you name it--I don't recognize my own children). So I'm looking for tips that might help my particular situation. Thanks!
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/03/13 09:24 AM

By ear. Listening a lot to recordings and then imitating that sound on the piano. You may want to try memorizing as you are learning in your situation. Play a phrase in the music and then play it over and over again to memorize it, getting your eyes off the page as soon as possible. This may be the best route for you to take, and since you can read, that will help. Blind students usually have to have a great ear to imitate, and/or have the assistance of someone who can play each hand and each phrase for them out of context so they can learn it, then put it all together.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/03/13 01:09 PM

Just to add - bit by bit.

I find it difficult to memorize and I can recognize my children. smile

You can read English, right? Can you read music?
Posted by: deb8851

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/03/13 02:59 PM

Yes, I can read music (and English). smile Is memorizing pieces this difficult for everybody? Morodiene--I will try your suggestions--thanks! It seems like perhaps my memorizing is lagging behind the rest of my learning. When I had beginning lessons (many years ago), a fairly advanced teacher was surprised I wasn't able to memorize more easily. Even when I do memorize a piece these days, I find myself losing my place from time to time. I don't really have a solid idea of what's normal, though. I'm hoping that at some point I'll be able to do this.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 03:25 AM

After reading your post and thinking about it, here's what I'm wondering: Does music/piano memorization have much to do with vision? I tend to think it doesn't, even though some people do like to look at their hands to aid in their memory. It's not required.

I taught a student who was legally blind for a little while. I didn't notice her memory aspect being different because of her vision.
Posted by: musicpassion

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 03:31 AM

Originally Posted By: Morodiene
By ear. Listening a lot to recordings and then imitating that sound on the piano. You may want to try memorizing as you are learning in your situation. Play a phrase in the music and then play it over and over again to memorize it, getting your eyes off the page as soon as possible. This may be the best route for you to take, and since you can read, that will help. Blind students usually have to have a great ear to imitate, and/or have the assistance of someone who can play each hand and each phrase for them out of context so they can learn it, then put it all together.


I agree it may be best for you to memorize as you learn.

I use this technique in my own studies to exercise/maintain my memory skills.

A few additional techniques that may be usefull (they have been for me):
-memorize a small segment with the left hand alone first. This might only be a few measures, depending on the complexity of the music.
-Them memorize the same segment right hand alone.
-Here's the key that really works the mind: put them together without the music. It can be difficult, but I've found that when it works it's pretty solid in memory.
Posted by: deb8851

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 08:34 AM

Thanks all! I'm going to take all these suggestions and see if I can do better. smile
Posted by: PianoStudent88

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 08:58 AM

Some blind pianists learn music using Braille scores.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 01:22 PM

They memorize like anyone else. They hear and read the music. I think I read somewhere that they play with their fingers really close to the black keys so they know where they are physically on the keyboard.

My friend's dad is blind (was born fully sighted, became blind in his 70's) Without his great memory, living on his own would be much harder.
Posted by: keystring

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 01:41 PM

A wonderful musician and teacher who is blind posted in PianoWorld a few months back. She described reading music via Braille. As I recall, she read the LH music with her RH while playing it with the left, and then reversed it. Memory was called on more, since you need both hands. The Braille symbols described such things as chords and registers as well as note values, so a different (greater?) understanding of music may be needed than with standard notation for sighted people where you could probably peck out one note at a time.
Posted by: MaggieGirl

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 02:01 PM

That is quite amazing!
Posted by: keystring

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 02:21 PM

Another consideration is simply the availability of music in Braille. That makes this interesting:
article - video - on "Prima Vista" Braille score production
At 2:50 a piano student describes the actual reading process.
Posted by: DanS

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/04/13 03:31 PM

Originally Posted By: deb8851
So I'm looking for tips that might help my particular situation. Thanks!


Just a thought...how well do you know your theory? Understanding all the chords you're playing and knowing what scale degrees the melody notes are, etc is extremely important for memorizing. For example, imagine trying to memorize a speech by only memorizing the letters, without understanding the words or the concepts they carry. How much more difficult would that be than memorizing a speech in a language you fully understand?

HTH
Posted by: deb8851

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/05/13 07:41 AM

I love theory. smile I've been fascinated since I went back to John Thompson's kindergarten book and couldn't figure out why the Volga Boatman song was in a minor key when it didn't use any accidentals. lol I'm going to go put all these suggestions to practice--as soon as I get over this flu! Darn it--bad timing interfering with my piano practice.

Anyway, I use my memory to compensate, too--for not remembering anything visually. I memorize things like peoples' appearances at parties, or the way into a building, backwards, so I can find my way out again. Now I just need to figure out how to put that memory to work for piano.

Thanks everybody!
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/06/13 04:44 PM

Hi deb8851,

You are such an inspiration for us piano players. As a fairly advanced self-taught piano student, who you say may have some neurologial problems, and who you say don't see faces, streets - you don't recognize your own children, you are able find a c on the piano, because there are 7 of them on the piano and they all look exactly the same and you were able to find one of the c's on the piano and began to play Shubert's Impromptu op. 142 no 4, and also, you say, you play a lot of Chopin, and composed several pieces. I am just a beginner and I have had a stroke and brain damage and am dyslexic, but I can't do any of those things you have accomplished. Like yourself, blind people don't give up when they realize they want to play the piano. They, like yourself, do whathever it takes to learn to play the piano in the same way that you have struggled with possible nuerological problems to do the awesome things you have accomplished - they struggle with blindness. Thank you for posting your inspirational story.
Posted by: malkin

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/06/13 06:10 PM

deb8851, thanks for posting!!!

I would be interested in hearing more about strategies you use to compensate, to help you recognize people and things.
Posted by: deb8851

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/06/13 07:23 PM

I'll try to make sense tonight--I have seriously got the flu--been to the ER and everything. Everybody in the house has it. No flu shots for me--I reacted so badly to my last pneumonia vaccine that one doc has said no more vaccines for me, and I believe him.

Michael99--you've really touched me with what you've said. Some days I think I should get recognition for finding my way to the grocery store with four children, not losing any of them, finding most of the stuff on my list, and making it home with the loot. smile

Malkin--I have two blogs if you're interested (warning--I whine a lot when I'm sick, and sometimes when I'm not wink ). They're at www.debsisland.blogspot.com and www.erikasisland.blogspot.com.

I could go on all day long about compensating, but the blogs will save everybody else from that. I will say that I always dressed the kids alike when they were younger (fortunately I never picked up a strange kid wearing the same clothes as mine). If there is a God, he has a sense of humor--I have twins, and I'm the only one who can tell them apart. smile
Posted by: malkin

Re: How do blind students memorize? - 01/07/13 08:42 AM

Thanks, I'll check out your blogs.
(Too funny about your twins!)