Friday Freebie: Memorizing Music

Photo Credit: tcatcarson

Do you have an easy time playing the piano without looking at the notes? Some find it a bit challenging to play a song with no notes in front of them.

Here's a cool article I found online:

 Tips on how to memorise your piece

"Playing from memory could be essential while performing in concert, festival or competition or even in exam. Knowing your piece by heart demonstrates that the composition has been studied in depth.

There are few ways to memorize music:

How to begin? Listen recorded version of your piece first, so that you’ll have music in your ‘ear ‘already. Most of the people, not necessary musicians are able to remember songs and melodies quite easily by just listening it a couple of times. The same with pianists, they can memorize piece quite quickly by playing it through a few times. It is called aural memory, when musician knows how the music sounds in his head and when he is able to sing the piece through internally including dynamics and phrasing.The easiest way to memorize piece is repeat the same phrase over and over again, until its stays in your ear, then shift it to the succeeding phrase.Aural memory is one of the strongest and most reliable memory motivators.

The other step is to understand piece you are about to memorize intellectually. First pianist should know the main key and all upcoming modulating keys in the composition. Pupil should analyze the overall structure and know the cadential parts. Recognize repeating phrases and compare them with new material introduced in the piece. The whole process requires conscious control. This type of method is called intellectual or analytic memory.

The whole memorizing process requires lots of repetition, it involves constant finger action. Eventually fingers memorising patterns, this process is called kinaesthetic memory. Without aural and intellectual memory support finger memory wouldn’t be very reliable on its own.

The last method to memorise the music is visualy by remembering how the music looks on the page. 
All the four: aural, analytic, kinaesthetic and visual methods should be maintained and combined simultaneously for effective memorizing process."

Here's an article I wrote awhile back on the subject of memorizing. 

Ten Tips for Memorizing Music

Do you memorize sheet music by playing it over and over, hoping it will somehow stick in your brain after playing a song many times through? Sometimes this will work, especially if you are playing a short piece.

If you have ever experienced forgetting where you are at a lesson or recital, you might want to try these ten ideas to make memorizing easier for you.

1. Learn the song first before you begin to memorize it.

2. Use the proper fingering.

3. Practice slowly and steadily at first.

4. Watch your hands as you play.

5. Memorize your hands separately.

6. Memorize small sections, maybe one or two measures of music. Don't try to memorize the whole song in a day.

7. Divide the piece into sections and plan to learn some each day. Then review all the sections. Start anywhere and play through the A and B section of a song. Focus on the ending to the song, so with the knowing the last measure, you can end strong.

8. Analyze the music. Notice notes and sections that repeat. Pay attention to where the music changes. Memorize the dynamics and other markings in the song.

9. Practice mentally away from the piano, tapping your fingers on the table or visualizing the music in front of you.

10. Repetition.

Many teachers consider memorization one of the most important aspects of piano playing. Most books, which discuss the how-to of memorization, stress the importance of understanding the details of musical form. So, start an opening phrase of music and learn it without the music.

Then consider the physical demands the piece of music is making. Look for tricky fingering that comes up at a certain point. Play it many times over and over, remember the feeling. Are your hands playing together or separately? Are they moving in opposite directions? On which notes does the thumb go?

Each time you hit a blind spot, you need to refer to the printed music. Remember that when you hit your first blank moment, open your music book and find the place in the music you couldn't remember. Play through it a few times. Now you've begun to deepen your understanding of the song.

Most importantly, every now and then play the song you memorized because some memorization is only short-term. The advantages to following these points are many. By memorizing, the music is unfolding in a new way.

Article Source:

More Resources:

From Robert T. Kelley, Tips On How To Memorize Music

From Kathy Ferneau, Memorization Techniques

From Ziegler and Ostromencki,  Piano Education Page

Looking for piano exercises to increase your speed? Visit, Hanon 1 - Finger Exercises

Have a wonderful weekend!


"The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you." B.B.King

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