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Loc: south florida
I'm sure you know I don't think memorizing is bad or must be avoided. Its just that what many newer players mean when they say "memorizing" is really just short term muscle memory (hence the auto-pilot description they often give). It isn't the kind of memorizing that you have described as part of your routine to put things into long term memory.
To become a strong reader you have to read....preferably every day. For beginners there's not much other than what they are currently working on that you will find them reading on a daily basis. That's the perspective I was coming from anyway. FWIW.
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I hadn't even realised it was you being quoted. I don't often visit this thread and was just scanning a few posts as I haven't been around for a few days. I saw this: "I felt like I had to become almost brain dead to not memorise it" and had just recently heard Josh use that same phrase, brain dead, on a recent video!
I've caught up with the thread going back to Scott's first post - not going back any further, thanks, with 248 pages! - so yes, I know what you mean about memorising. ____________________
So, now I'm more up to date with Scott I'll add some more thoughts regarding reading, moving on and scales, if I may.
When you're spending time on a few pieces there is a natural tendency to remember what you're doing without deliberately memorising it but if you continue to follow the score it won't help your reading. If you want to keep up or develop your reading skills you must read unfamiliar music every day. It doesn't have to be much and it can be below your skill level - indeed, it's better if it is because you can then read fluently and start developing look ahead.
While you're struggling to play, you've no motivation for looking further ahead so it doesn't help your reading much. Good sight-reading comes from looking ahead in the music, recognising the pattern of notes, assimilating them subconsciously in short term memory then playing them. We can't read two (or more) staves at once without assimilating one while we negotiate the other so we must look ahead and coordinate the two staves by the time we get to play them. ____________________
One of the dangers with staying on a piece for too long is that it becomes harder to finish it. I can explain why but this post is already getting a bit long. Any technical issue we're having with it becomes a difficulty. In a progressive book like Alfred's there's no harm moving on to the next piece after a few days and coming back to unfinished pieces as we progress.
It would actually be a good idea to spend the weekends reviewing all the pieces covered in the book so far and spend only Mon-Fri actively working on current pieces. This way you never actually move on until you finish the book and you can skip review material as soon as you're done with it.
Many people start getting stuck when they come to Blow the Man Down. I recorded this earlier in the thread a couple of years ago. Getting the coordination between the hands for this means growing that part of the brain that deals with it - the central sulcus. It doesn't happen overnight but it does happen if you keep coming back to the piece every few days. This is a very good reason for moving on and not getting stuck at it for days on end.
No piece in this book needs more than a few minutes each day so four to six current pieces is good while all pieces are being reviewed gently at the weekends. ____________________
Scales have a lot of purposes but playing them every day has a very restricted purpose and one not best suited to beginners without instruction or without playing experience. Scales without instruction can be more detrimental to technique than beneficial. Playing a wide range of pieces and developing a rounded technique is far better for the first two or three years.
Learn the theory and the notes of the scales by all means and learn more than one fingering system for each but there's no point playing them every day until the purpose for that is understood and the technique has been acquired.
Loc: Orig. land of Svear&Götar
Originally Posted By zrtf90
The relevant bit is at 6:42.
Exactly. I've never seen the sense of that argument either. If one can memorize a piece without trying, then it shouldn't be discouraged. Quite the opposite. I would encourage it. Why? Because having an active brain that can do that is an asset, not a liability. And one can never run out of a new sheet music to sight read.
If one would ever get to that stage of running out of sheet music to read (as it were for the first time), then it's time to do some own composition!
Working through Czerny's first baby beginning steps for classical piano. Hoping to graduate well within two years of study. Now at #69 of Opus 599 and behind schedule.
Loc: Orange County, California
Thanks for the video, that was good. I have a question. Let's look at Study in C Major op.261 no.81 - Carl Czerny. This is in my RCM 3 Etude's book. I think one could easily memorize the pattern in a couple of minutes. To play it well and at an appropriate tempo, e.g., like in the video below, will take my quite some time. When practicing it though, should one keep their eyes on the sheet music, or focus on their hands? Because I know the pattern in my head, I want to be looking at my hands when I practice it.
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
If you're practising, regardless of the piece, keep your eyes on the score while you're working on accuracy in short sections then looking at your hands while you work on tempo, then move on to the next section, including some overlap.
If you're playing the whole thing work at reading speed when following the score and at your own tempo when working from memory. If you keep your eyes on your hands that's how you'll remember it and if you follow the score (as opposed to reading it) you might struggle without it.
If you memorise from repeated playing you'll largely be using procedural memory (implicit, finger or muscle memory) and will likely be semi-dependent on the score, especially in performance or if you drop the piece for a week or so, if that's how you learnt it. If you memorise deliberately it will largely be cognisant memory (explicit or declarative memory) and you won't need the score at all though it helps to be able to follow it slowly for textual information beyond the notes. You'll also be able to remember the piece for longer intervals, develop a higher fluency with the techniques, bring it back quicker and be much more bulletproof in performance.
So, if you always follow the score you may become reliant on it and it would be well to practise small passages, at least, without the score. If you drop the score quickly from deliberate memorisation you may need to practise occasionally from the score - at reading speed - to prevent the memory becoming procedural.
Thanks to all who contribute to this thread. I finally got Blow the Man Down completed. Reading all these threads helped. I also started Faber's which is a lot of fun, and I think helps me move along with Alfred's.
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Thanks for the feedback, Scott.
Counting for every song isn't as important as using the skill on a daily basis. The important thing at first is to be able to count aloud with the correct accents. Common Time is Strong - Weak - Medium - Weak. Quavers between the beats are unaccented. Counting aloud, as opposed to only counting in your head, activates our built-in time keeping mechanism and lets us know where we are in the bar. This is important for maintaining the pulse.
As we learn to play while we count then counting becomes less necessary and just keeping time physically, by tapping the foot, clicking with the tongue or flexing a thigh muscle, for example, will do the same thing when we have the basic accents automatically in place. Phrases with the right scansion might help better than counting such as 'ice cream sundae' for common time, 'corner pocket' or 'kettle drumming' for quavers and 'huckleberry' for semiquavers.
Following a metronome does not really teach us the same thing. It helps us to follow a fixed beat - as opposed to a pulse - and to concentrate on our synchronisation, which are important skills, but it doesn't teach us to maintain the pulse when it's off. Many use the metronome to develop speed up but it's best used for keeping us slow when we're keen to speed up. The best way to get faster is to actually practise slowly until we can remove the training wheels and just go.
Speed doesn't need to be developed. It will happen automatically when the synapses are in place and the movements have been programmed in. You will get faster from familiarity but speed itself will just happen. I've been misunderstood about this concept in the past - probably because I didn't or cannot explain it very well - but if you find yourself being chased by a bull you will automatically run faster and for longer than you have ever trained for. Running a mile involves training to control the pace for the first three laps and sprint the last. You already have speed. Control takes training.
Using the lyrics to the pieces in Alfred's is completely unnecessary. One of the issues I have with Alfred's is that it uses square time for familiar tunes, like Jingle Bells and Beethoven's Ode to Joy, that are actually more familiar with dotted rhythms. This means we have to ignore the note values we read in order to retain the tune we know and this doesn't help our reading one iota. Adding lyrics makes this problem worse.
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
I found counting out aloud when I got stuck with a complicated rhythm helped. I have just been battling with getting The Entertainer under control and it wasn't until I started saying "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" (...very slooooowly...) that it started to come together. So it definitely helped me.
zrft90's comments make a lot of sense. I've also found myself tapping my foot more recently and something that seems to have come about naturally. When first started a year ago I definitely could not get my foot and fingers working together. The neurons must be rewiring