Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#400385 - 05/23/06 07:50 PM memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
I know most of you are probably beyond this stage of the game but probably have experienced this with a memorized piece at some point:

Has this ever happened to any of you? - Say you rely primarly or soley on "muscle memory" to remember a piece of music. You're used to where your hands are to go. You play the piece from memory all the time hardly ever if ever again looking at the score from that point on. But if for some reason ( say a teacher asks you or you need to refresh your memory on a portion) you try to play the piece by reading the score again, you can't!

Has anyone experienced having a piece of music memorized so well for so long and then try going back to read the piece from the score and for the life of you can't do it? Why do you think that is? Does anyone have any explanations or theories for why it's so hard to read the music from the score after having played it from memory so long?

This happened to one of my students this week, and we started talking about what causes a person to have such difficulty playing a memorized piece from the score and how to combat that.

Top
(ad) Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#400386 - 05/23/06 07:59 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5281
Loc: Philadelphia
My best guess is that it has to do with "language". When your body learns a piece, it learns relationships in movement, but when you look at a score, most people try to read "note names". Then, you have to translate note names into movements, and this takes longer. (I also think those who intuit relationships between notes as movement--and read a score that way, rather than by "note name"--make better sightreaders. ;\) )
_________________________
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.

Top
#400387 - 05/24/06 02:53 AM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
I used to get that problem a lot, because I would read the notes from the score only once or twice and work on it away from the score. However I now read through the score at least 5 times at a very slow tempo and absorb as much information as possible, and it is no longer a problem!

Top
#400388 - 05/24/06 05:46 AM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I make sure I do not get this problem, because I do not rely on muscle memory. I study the score very carefully and I make sure I understand it and can pick it up from any point. I keep a picture of the score in my head.

I started this quite a while ago when I realised that muscle memory is unreliable and gives you no back up if it fails.

Obviously I do have muscle memory, but it is backed up by score memory. I work at that.

Even with rep that I have memorised, I frequently go back to the score and run through it at half tempo.

This is my method.

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


Top
#400389 - 05/24/06 06:44 AM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Ronel Augustyn Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/14/05
Posts: 527
Loc: Bloemfontein,SA
My teacher discovered a new method in learning and memorizing a piece more quickly. He's teaching a blind boy piano, so he actually goes and analize the piece to teach it to the boy. For example he says you've got the second inversion of a D chord, for the whole bar, etc etc.

So what he says, is that when you "sight-read" the piece for the first time, take notice of key-changes, cause it's easier to then understand the accidentals in the next few bars. If you understand what I mean.

Sorry I went a bit off the topic, but I thought you should know this.

Hi from South Africa
_________________________
lallie

Top
#400390 - 05/24/06 10:17 AM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
So what are all the different ways of memorizing music everyone can come up with? Already mentioned is "muscle memory", memorizing the written score, memorizing key changes/chords/inversions, etc. What else?

I think what happens as AJB mentioned the importance of memorizing the score, it's easy to not make an effort to memorize the score. I wonder how many people do memorize the score really well? After a piece is memorized, should a person keep going back and playing off the score some of the time?

I recently read a post from a piano professor on the one other music forum I'm in that said at this one music school (I forgot which one he mentioned), for part of the exam, students were given a pencil and score paper in a room with no piano and asked to write out the score from memory of the pieces they would be playing - ! I thought that was pretty interesting. I wonder how many people could write out a score from memory.

Top
#400391 - 05/24/06 02:31 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Rick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/01/01
Posts: 559
Loc: Chicago
Well, I certainly have the muscle memory, as does everybody I suppose. But I can't memorize the score; I can never see the written notes in my mind. But what I can do to some extent is remember the pattern of notes on the keyboard. For the fast portions of the op. 27, no1 nocturne by Chopin, that's how I memorized it. And I did it without even trying! But I'm not sure it will work for an extended 4 or 5 page piece. Now I'm doing the same thing for parts of the Revolutionary Etude. One caveat I think: I believe my aural memory is playing a part in this as well. I think if I was just looking at a sketch of a keyboard, I could not give all the proper notes and sequences. There seems to be a necessary real-time aural feedback requirement to make it happen.

Rick

Top
#400392 - 05/24/06 02:35 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
LWpianistin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 500
Loc: VA/MD/England...long story...
i rely most heavily on muscle memory, but i always have a picture of the score in my head, so i don't loose my place completely.
_________________________
That's right...I have the same birthday as Mozart. If only it meant something and I could have one thousandth of his genius...in my dreams, i suppose.

Top
#400393 - 05/24/06 02:56 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
Sarabande,
A method of coping with this problem, for people who don't have the capacity or inclination to memorize the whole score of a piece, is to, instead, memorize certain key "starting points" in the score. In other words, depending on the length of the score, the student could choose a certain number of these points, progressively along the course of the piece. If they were to get stuck at some point along the way, they could then jump to the next "starting point" that they have memorized in the progression, then pick up from there with their muscle memory again. This allows them to maximize both types of "memory" with the least effort. Might be worth a try.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

Top
#400394 - 05/24/06 03:06 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Yes, the "anchor" points are a great idea. I was unfortunate to not have learned doing that 'till after about 4 or 5 years of lessons and flubbed many a beginner recital with memory lapses with no way to get back into the piece without attempting to start over which usually resulted in more failure. The anchor points are a life-saver!


Has anyone ever experienced having a piece memorized for a long time not having looked at the score since it was memorized and then trying to play it reading from the score again and you can't? Why do you think that is? Or has no one had that experience?

Top
#400395 - 05/24/06 03:37 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Fleeting Visions Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 1501
Loc: Champaign, IL
In my mind I know what physically I am supposed to play.
_________________________
Amateur Pianist, Scriabin Enthusiast, and Octave Demon

Top
#400396 - 05/24/06 04:10 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
CC2 and Chopin lover Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/06
Posts: 1981
Sarabande,
I think the answer to your last question is contained in your question. If you look back at a score that you have not looked at since you memorized it, then it is essentially the equivalent of looking at a new score. How many players here are good enough sightreaders to scan a complex classical score and play it proficiently the first time they see it. I know I'm certainly not.
_________________________
Piano Technician/Tuner

Top
#400397 - 05/24/06 04:15 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by CC2 and Chopin lover:
Sarabande,
I think the answer to your last question is contained in your question. If you look back at a score that you have not looked at since you memorized it, then it is essentially the equivalent of looking at a new score. How many players here are good enough sightreaders to scan a complex classical score and play it proficiently the first time they see it. I know I'm certainly not. [/b]
Good point! - the student who I was referring to hadn't played the piece at all for a couple months. That's probably the case.

Top
#400398 - 05/24/06 04:23 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
I think this is a very interesting topic. Few teachers actually explain how to memorize effectively in my experience.

I am lucky in that I have trained myself to picture chunks of a score in my memory. But I think anyone can do this with practice.

My guitar experience has also been very helpful, because this is very "shape" oriented. By this I mean the shape of a chord or scale on the fretboard.

I found it difficult to apply this to piano until my excellent Russian teacher showed me how to view entire phrases or bars, as a sequence of chord shapes (even if the music was not written as chords). Once I got this (recently), piano music was greatly simplified for me. I felt stupid for not having seen it for myslef actually.

I also have the "track" of the tune/piece or whatever you want to call it playing inside my head as I play the piece on the keyboard. I always know what is coming next and prepare myslef for this. It does not prevent me from making errors, but it does help me to recover from them rapidly as long as I have got my mental image sufficiently ingrained.

The concept of how to remember long and difficult advanced repertoire is rarely discussed. So this is a great thread. Muscle memory is certainly not the answer.

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


Top
#400399 - 05/24/06 07:11 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
I think this is a very interesting topic. Few teachers actually explain how to memorize effectively in my experience.

I am lucky in that I have trained myself to picture chunks of a score in my memory. But I think anyone can do this with practice.

The concept of how to remember long and difficult advanced repertoire is rarely discussed. So this is a great thread. Muscle memory is certainly not the answer.

Adrian [/b]
I was thinking the topic would spark more interest than it has so your post about how great of thread it really made my day! Maybe the topic should be re-worded with more clarity and re-posted sometime.

Although I can picture parts of a score in my mind usually, I never purposely set out to memorize a score or thought about it much until the piano professor I mentioned earlier told about students having to write out the entire score and talked about different ways of memorizing so one would have more than one type of memorizing to fall back on if another failed - kind of hit it from several angles approach.

I do try to teach my students to recognize chords, etc., in music even if it doesn't look like chords even if it's a C chord on a beginner piece - they will be figuring out each note when they've already learned a C chord. I say, "let me show you a trick, play all these notes together, do you recognize that as a chord?" or similar things. I'm not sure the younger students are real fascinated or impressed or interested though! \:D I never learned to recognize music myself that way for years either.

Top
#400400 - 05/24/06 07:31 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
AJB Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/05
Posts: 3655
Loc: Surrey, England
Sarabande- it is sometimes surprisingwhich threads take off and which don't. I think the heading is often very important to catch people's attention.

Controversy or humor seem to be the order of the day.

If you had called it Lang Lang's memory tricks you would have five pages of replies by now!

The heading need bear little relation to the content....

Adrian
_________________________
S&S Hamburg D, Yamaha CLP 280


Top
#400401 - 05/24/06 07:44 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by AJB:
Sarabande- it is sometimes surprisingwhich threads take off and which don't. I think the heading is often very important to catch people's attention.

Controversy or humor seem to be the order of the day.

If you had called it Lang Lang's memory tricks you would have five pages of replies by now!

The heading need bear little relation to the content....

Adrian [/b]
lol!

I know what you mean . . . I fall for those catchy titles out of just plain being curious what the person means by the choice of title of their thread. It was drilled into me time after time to be more specific in writing in school so then I sometimes get a little disgusted titles of threads aren't more specific - only I'm still not always specific either! Oh well, you win some you lose some. If you want to re-post the topic sometime - go for it!

Top
#400402 - 05/24/06 09:15 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
tomt6113 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/05
Posts: 85
Loc: new york
i think that muscle memory and score memory have to be utilized. for especially fast passages even if you have the score memorized you must rely on muscle memory in order to play it up to speed. however, if you rely solely on muscle memory your not playing the piano your typing (maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is that muscle memory by itself is mechanical, not musical).

also another way to memorize is through harmonic relationships. for instance if the harmony of measure 2 is the A and the harmony of measure 1 is D it helps you to memorize measure 2(the dominant of measure 1) in relativity to measure 1 as well as help you to better understand the piece which will ultimately improve your perfomance of it.
_________________________
im not really in a creative mood

Top
#400403 - 05/24/06 09:47 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Sonata Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 313
Loc: AK, NZ
Yes! Yes!!! I am the one have such problems!!!
When I learned a new piece, played 2-3 times, then I can automatically remembered it, since then, I'll never look it again, but if someone point out a few bars from the music, I would stuck there, don't know what it is. And if I stop to play for two or three weeks, I will forget mostly, but sometimes my fingers seem to have memory, they will lead me to the next key, although, they are not always accurate, but close to it, for example: if 356 is the correct one, the fingers may play as 365 or 357. What a clever fingers! \:D
Why forget how to play so quick?! Why never forget how to drive? :rolleyes:
_________________________
In my this life, I will enjoy playing the piano
In my next life, I will become a pianist

Top
#400404 - 05/25/06 02:50 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2913
Loc: idaho
I think many of us have had that problem. I have broken myself of the habit of relying on muscle memory. I used to do exactly what you described - read the music until I had muscle memory and then quit *reading*. Bad way to go. It hampered my growth in reading and it eventually fails you. Now I try to rely on a combination of physical, visual/keyboard topography and score memory if I am going to truly memorize the piece. My reading has improved vastly and so has my confidence.
_________________________
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

Top
#400405 - 05/25/06 04:11 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Alan(Lost) Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/04
Posts: 56
Loc: Dublin
I don't think I use a lot of "muscle memory". But when I play, and memorize, I always remember by......note memory, or chord memory, or intervals/voicings; just memory of different musical aspects.

But also by ear a lot. Maybe most people do maybe? I'm a terrible sight-reader. I always memorize (not a good thing to have such an imbalance!). So if it's a single-note right hand memory, I just make my hand follow the melody from my head. Or chords, from the sound of the voicing etc.

I do have perfect pitch (lucky, or unlucky some say!). I think it definately has a great affect of the memory-reliance for learning pieces. If I know the sound of the music, my hands fall a lot easier on the right notes. Not sure what type of memory you'd call it. And also I know, you don't wanna be replicating duplicate performances of recordings and stuff. But with some care, it's okay.

Top
#400406 - 05/25/06 04:54 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
Barbara C Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 90
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by sarabande:

Has anyone experienced having a piece of music memorized so well for so long and then try going back to read the piece from the score and for the life of you can't do it? Why do you think that is? Does anyone have any explanations or theories for why it's so hard to read the music from the score after having played it from memory so long?

This happened to one of my students this week, and we started talking about what causes a person to have such difficulty playing a memorized piece from the score and how to combat that. [/b]
Your student is probably relying on kinesthetic memory. Someone who is a kinesthetic learner sometimes is that way because it's the best method which works for them. Their memory of how a movement feels is more reliable than their memory of how notes look on paper. I'm that kind of person too. I think I could sight read better if I drilled at it. But kinesthetic learning works so well for me that I do that instead. That means I have to memorize everything I play. If I get interrupted, I can't look at a page and restart unless I can get my hands into the exact position needed to restart.

Here are articles on kinesthetic learners.
http://volcano.und.edu/vwdocs/msh/llc/is/tkl.html
http://www.learning-styles-online.com/style/physical-bodily-kinesthetic/
http://www.educ.uvic.ca/epls/faculty/rowles/301.htm

An article on advanced kinesthetic piano learning techniques is here:
http://www.thinkingapplied.com/kinesthesia_folder/kinesthesia.htm
_________________________
Piano: Kawai MP8; Interest: classical, self-taught. Occupation: electronics engineer 25 yrs.

Top
#400407 - 05/25/06 05:03 PM Re: memorized pieces - what are you relying on?
stojkovic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/11/06
Posts: 197
Loc: Toronto Canada
Some people have much faster capability to memorize where their fingers go and how to play it, and then they try to play it without the score and are successful, and then continue to play like that...My best suggestion is to keep the score and play from it always until you can play Perfectly with it, once it is removed your fingers will have their memory and your brain will know the harmony...thats a 100% ready piece for performance.
_________________________
For Beethoven it was Bach - For me, its Rach...the Idol

Top

Moderator:  Brendan, Kreisler 
What's Hot!!
75,000 Members and Growing!
-------------------
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
168 registered (88 Fingers Jeff, A Guy, accordeur, 46 invisible), 1847 Guests and 20 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
75506 Members
42 Forums
156139 Topics
2292859 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Action parts any different from 80s,90s, 2k Charles Walter?
by Gatsbee13
4 minutes 19 seconds ago
Question about finger reach!
by Plopsy
17 minutes 20 seconds ago
OK so a 700 pound grand piano walks into my house and...
by BrianDX
34 minutes 22 seconds ago
Digital Piano Sufficient for a Newbie?
by DancerJ
53 minutes 50 seconds ago
E.Tubin - "Ballade on a theme of Mart Saar"
by Svenno
Today at 03:38 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission