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#598556 - 12/12/05 04:57 PM Fastest way to memorize a piece?
SinspawnAmmes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/16/04
Posts: 147
Loc: Houston, TX
There's a few differing opinions on this. I read Chang's book, and I've been using his technique for a while: repetition of one bar over a thousand times, all repeated like a giant tremolo. However, one of my classmates who also plays suggests playing through certain sections very slowly, learning both hands separately, then putting the two together.

I was wondering, which of these is the best method for memorizing pieces very quickly? I'm sure everyone has their own pace, but I always have a nagging feeling that I am moving too slowly when i memorize most pieces.
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#598557 - 12/12/05 05:17 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
If you feel like you're moving too slowly, then you're probably going at the right speed! As nothing beats a bit of good slow & concise learning.

If I have to speed learn something, then I tend to play the whole piece hands together at a snails pace, until I learn the notes, then speed it up.

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#598558 - 12/12/05 05:59 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Contrapunctus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/05
Posts: 808
Loc: Whittier, California
I like to memorize hands separately in sections. For example, I'll memorize the harmonies in the left hand- what they are factually; then I'll memorize the right hand melody. If it's Bach then it's another story.
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#598559 - 12/12/05 06:57 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
bach enthusiast Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 847
Loc: Tucson Arizona
I do as your friend says and learn things hands seperately. read through the piece the best you can and mark where fingering is most important. then take 5 bars or so and read through em with one hand about ten or so times(I do the left hand first). Then do it with the right ten times and then hands together ten times. This usually does it for me all technical problems aside. Memorizing is different for everybody, even outside of music. The best thing to do is try lots of methods and then once you find a good one stick with it and you'll get better at it still.
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#598560 - 12/12/05 07:06 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
I think it's important to know something about the theory of memory and how the mind memorizes ... you can consult the psychology books. AND to analyze your own style of learning.

One specific suggestion that I use: spend time reading and analyzing the score away from the piano. This different type of activity from playing might help you learn and memorize quicker and better, than if you limit yourself to activity at the keyboard.
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#598561 - 12/12/05 07:19 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
kcoul058 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/04
Posts: 977
If it's tonal music, your best bet is to know your theory, harmony, counterpoint, and analysis inside out. If not, I guess you just have to do the best you can. I'm taking Shenkerian Analysis next term to see if I can find yet another way to memorize besides tradional theoretical/analytical memory and the good ol finger memory.

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#598562 - 12/12/05 08:59 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I keep sightreading through the piece over and over almost all the way through and little by little sections here and there start popping up into my memory and sooner or later I can more or less play most of it. It seems to work for me, I don't know any other methods. But that 1000 times tremolo repetition sounds horrible to me... lol
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#598563 - 12/12/05 11:52 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5387
Loc: Philadelphia
It depends on if you're talking about the notes or the movements. Those are two different kinds of memorization. ;\)
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#598564 - 12/12/05 11:53 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5387
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
It depends on if you're talking about the notes or the movements (inbetween the notes). Those are two different kinds of memorization. ;\) [/b]
Sorry, meant to hit edit, not quote. ;\)
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#598565 - 12/13/05 12:56 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
sorry deru no idea what you just said, please explain lol
_________________________
"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."

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#598566 - 12/13/05 09:20 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Sviatoslav Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/19/05
Posts: 98
Loc: Italy, Torino
Memory is helped a lot by the understanding of what is to be memorized. If you try to memorize a text it is almost impossible if you don't get the meaning of what your are trying to memorize. For Romantic music is not that difficult while for Baroque is a bit more complex. But phrase by phrase we should strive to find such a meaning or to "invent" it for the purpose. Once that's done extracting from memory a chunk or a phrase is not that complex and, then, applying the tricks for remembering the melodic line, the voices, or the harmony is easy. What it doesn't work at all (at least for me) is to memorize note by note; too exhausting and memory of notes slips away in a matter of days.
Polyphonic music is not different; we need to separate the voices, to analyze them separately, and finally find a way to assemble them together again.
But what's really important is to find a musical sense on what we are trying to do; memorizing a whole (and often horribly long) sequence of notes is painful and lasts for such a short time.

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#598567 - 12/13/05 01:33 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5387
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by Requiem Aeternam:
sorry deru no idea what you just said, please explain lol [/b]
There is something more important in the music than the notes that drives so many sight-readers absolutely nuts. You see, when most pianists pick up a score, they can read it fairly well...far better than they can sight-read it on the piano. So, what is causing this trouble? The first part of learning a piece (not the second) is to blame. There are two parts to learning any work...one is the notes, everybody knows this, but the second is how to get there. Figuring out how to get there is movement. There is no way to get between notes without moving, and proper movements make your life a whole hell of a lot easier at the piano.

So, my question was, did the poster want to know how to memorize the notes of the piece, or the movements of how to get to them...because while the former is what the large majority of people do, it is in the latter that a pianist becomes truly extraordinary. Memorizing notes is what most people are accustomed to doing... "I have to play a C and then I have to play a G# above that." Memorizing movements is what few people actually transfer into doing... "How do I get from the C to the G#? Is this the best movement between the notes? Will another combination of movement (up/down, left/right, in/out, 'rotational'...these are your axes to determine movement from) make it easier to transition to the new note? What came before? What comes after? Am I entering these two notes properly for the movement between them? Am I leaving my hand in a proper place to move to what comes after?"

The latter is more difficult for those who haven't actively done it. I find the academizing of the axes a truly troubling field. Most people can do up/down, left/right fairly easily. When you start throwing in/out into the equation, people begin to slip. And the 'rotational' axis combined with these is just too much for some. Plus, there's still the notes... ;\)
_________________________
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#598568 - 12/13/05 03:13 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Jan-Erik Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/05
Posts: 1302
Loc: Finland
I think learning styles varies with personality. But one thing I have noticed is that you sometimes might memorize difficult pieces faster than easy ones.

That is probably because you have to practice them more intensively from slow to the correct tempo and simply learn some bars by heart before you even can execute them.

After thinking out the fingering and practising the difficult passages, they remain in you fingers' memory, whereas your brain just take the overall control of the performance.

I do not believe chord analyses and logical thinking will help much in romatic and modern piano music. But hearing the chords and figures inside yourself certainly supports your fingers' memory.

There has been made at least one dissertation on this topic in the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, but I am not familiar with it.

Chopin: "Le tout c'est de savoir bien doigter"

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#598569 - 12/13/05 05:33 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hi,

I have found that the sooner I get my eyes away from the music and onto my hands, the sooner I will memorize. This, of course, is after I've worked out some fingering and dealt with some of the technical issues, including "movement," as Derulux spoke of a few posts earlier. I agree with him that how we move from one note or chord to the next is important for memorization.

Anhow, getting back to getting my eyes away from the music. I become too easily dependant on seeing the printed page, and sometimes, if I just take a chance, if I dare, to get away from the printed page, I find I can do much better than I would have thought. I find that I've actually memorized a lot more than I've allowed myself to realize. There is a moment of anxiety, of panic, that can screw me up, and if I can just get beyond that, I do better.

Another thing about being glued to the music: there is a lot of wasted energy in reorienting our vision as we go back and forth between watching our hands and then again determining where we are in the music.

Best
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#598570 - 12/14/05 01:17 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
virtuoso_735 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/08/03
Posts: 996
Loc: California
_________________________
"If music be the food of love, play on." -William Shakespeare

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#598571 - 12/14/05 05:34 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Contrapunctus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/08/05
Posts: 808
Loc: Whittier, California
I agree with Jan Erik. Most of the time, the harder the piece is to learn technically- wise, the easier it is to memorize. That is because to execute a technically difficult piece, one needs to be aware of where their fingers are going at least at first. Being aware of what notes your fingers are on makes you memorize that passage.
Another thing that helps in memorization is to continue to play with the music in front of you at least once a day. I can't explain why that works, but it does.
_________________________
I don't know what the meaning of life is- I'm too busy to figure it out.

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#598572 - 12/14/05 06:41 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
DCshoesGIRL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/05
Posts: 102
Well....I dont know about memorizing quickly.....but I know that the best way of memorizing is not just by goin through it quickly over and over again....because your hands just get use to where to go.....but later when you have to perform it and ur nervous....U really think about the notes and pay attention more than when u were just at home memoizing.....and just thinking of things drawing your attention away......when I memorize..which is the best way that has worked for me is...put the piece of music on the side of your chair...or somewhere not in sight when playing.....then as U play...wherever U get stuck and forget....look down at the peice...study the section u forgot....and start again.....what also helps is...dont always start from the beginning.....start in the middle....start close to the end.....get yourself use to starting in different areas of the peice.....this way, not just your hands, but your mind will remember the peice.....its also good to name sections of the piece with the alphabet.....for example...at the beginning of the song...the first couple of measures is section A......then a couple measures later....wherever U think is a good place to start a new section...call it B....and so on.....then have yourself play from different sections....if U have this down...U really know your piece inside and out.......I hope this helps
_________________________
My music reflects me......and my mood.....[Monica]

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#598573 - 12/14/05 06:42 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
DCshoesGIRL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/05
Posts: 102
Well....I dont know about memorizing quickly.....but I know that the best way of memorizing is not just by goin through it quickly over and over again....because your hands just get use to where to go.....but later when you have to perform it and ur nervous....U really think about the notes and pay attention more than when u were just at home memoizing.....and just thinking of things drawing your attention away......when I memorize..which is the best way that has worked for me is...put the piece of music on the side of your chair...or somewhere not in sight when playing.....then as U play...wherever U get stuck and forget....look down at the peice...study the section u forgot....and start again.....what also helps is...dont always start from the beginning.....start in the middle....start close to the end.....get yourself use to starting in different areas of the peice.....this way, not just your hands, but your mind will remember the peice.....its also good to name sections of the piece with the alphabet.....for example...at the beginning of the song...the first couple of measures is section A......then a couple measures later....wherever U think is a good place to start a new section...call it B....and so on.....then have yourself play from different sections....if U have this down...U really know your piece inside and out.......I hope this helps you.
_________________________
My music reflects me......and my mood.....[Monica]

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#598574 - 12/14/05 10:30 PM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I like to equate memorizing music with memorizing a speech or written words. Whatever method you use to memorize information for a test, memorize for a speech, memorize math equations, etc. try to translate over to memorizing music. I've always memorized well by memorizing a little bit like a measure, motive, phrase and play it over and over and toward the last times of repeating not looking at the music, then take the next little amount play it over and over, then put those 2 parts together and play over and over, etc., etc. I agree with someone above who mentioned memorizing from the middle or ending sections, or from the end to the beginning. Basically, memorize forward and back, up and down, ha!

I did just this year run across an article written by a piano professor but I lost the link and can't find it back. In the article, it was suggested that it takes 7 times of repeating something to get it from your short-term memory to your long-term memory. So it said you have to start in bite-size chunks, repeat a small amount 7 times, then try to play it without the music. If you can't play it, then you took off too big of chunk at once. Break it down into a smaller amount and try again. I have always followed this method in memorizing but had a 3 time rule for myself (3 times a charm!). No wonder I would always memorize stuff long enough and when no longer needed the info. just forget it the next day.

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#598575 - 12/15/05 12:24 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5387
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
I did just this year run across an article written by a piano professor but I lost the link and can't find it back. In the article, it was suggested that it takes 7 times of repeating something to get it from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
I think you have that wrong. The average person can convert (from short-term to long-term memory) 7 bits of information at one time, plus-or-minus 2 bits. This means a seven numbers (like a phone number). For every 2 bits you move, you go one standard deviation over on the "average intelligence" curve. So, if someone can convert 11 bits, they're 2 standard deviations over from the mean, or about 1% of the population. ;\)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#598576 - 12/15/05 01:39 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sarabande: I did just this year run across an article written by a piano professor but I lost the link and can't find it back. In the article, it was suggested that it takes 7 times of repeating something to get it from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
I think you have that wrong. ;\) [/b]
I spent valuable time writing a reply on this topic to offer a helpful suggestion. From a personal standpoint, it makes no difference to me how everyone else goes about memorizing. I was merely posting a tip I found interesting. One can take it or leave it. Out of respect to me at least for taking my time and trying to be helpful, and out of respect as a fellow musician, the least you could do is try to be more tactful in disagreeing than just flat out saying, "I think you have that wrong." Perhaps you could have said, "I've heard differently." Or "I wonder if you may have misinterpreted what you read".

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#598577 - 12/15/05 01:49 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5387
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Originally posted by sarabande:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
 Quote:
I did just this year run across an article written by a piano professor but I lost the link and can't find it back. In the article, it was suggested that it takes 7 times of repeating something to get it from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
I think you have that wrong. ;\) [/b]
I spent valuable time writing a reply on this topic to offer a helpful suggestion. From a personal standpoint, it makes no difference to me how everyone else goes about memorizing. I was merely posting a tip I found interesting. One can take it or leave it. Out of respect to me at least for taking my time and trying to be helpful, and out of respect as a fellow musician, the least you could do is try to be more tactful in disagreeing than just flat out saying, "I think you have that wrong." Perhaps you could have said, "I've heard differently." Or "I wonder if you may have misinterpreted what you read". [/b]
In my extremely humble opinion, which I hope doesn't conflict with what I interpret as a severely weak consitution, you offend far too easily and need to learn to relax. Not everything is a knock-out punch aimed at you. :rolleyes:
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Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#598578 - 12/15/05 08:45 AM Re: Fastest way to memorize a piece?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Derulex,
I guess I overreacted. I know you meant nothing by it. I was primarly referring to choice of wording rather than taking offense although I came across more so as the latter. Sorry guys for side-tracking the thread.
Sarabande

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