Memorizing Techniques

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johntarr
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Memorizing Techniques

Post by johntarr » Fri Nov 23, 2018 10:54 pm

For most of my musical life, I’ve relied on reading but I would like to find a way to play more from memory. One thing that I’ve discovered is that if I learn a melody by ear, it stays “memorized” much longer than a melody I read first.

The obvious answer might be, “just learn by ear,” but I’m wondering how I can memorize a Telemann Fantasie, for example, more quickly than I can now.

Are there techniques or processes that can be used to improve memorizing?

Many thanks, John
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Burgerbob
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by Burgerbob » Fri Nov 23, 2018 11:44 pm

Break down the piece into phrases and chunks. It's no good to try and memorize an entire concerto... It's much easier to string together many shorter phrases that make sense as a whole.

Listen to it a lot. Play it a lot. Start to take away the music as a crutch.
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harrisonreed
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by harrisonreed » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:43 am

If there is an accompanying part, like piano, the way to do it is to put that part into sibelius or finale and have it spit out a midi. Then run the midi through a good sound library, maybe with a click track and make an mp3.

Now when you practice the piece you can make music and not just try to learn one portion of the piece by memory removed from the rest of the piece.

When composers deliver concertos to a soloist in the months before a premiere, it usually will come with a track like this for that very reason.
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TromboneFox
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by TromboneFox » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:34 pm

I agree with Burgerbob. What works for me is listening to it as much as possible. Get it stuck in your head. When you learn it with the music, learn little pieces of it, then, as you learn it with the music, try turning the stand around to see if you can make it for a whole phrase without looking at the music.
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by AndrewMeronek » Fri Dec 07, 2018 9:21 am

Not list listening. Crank the volume and play along with the recordings. Solid memory involves all of the senses and motor skills possible, not just aural reference.
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BurckhardtS
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by BurckhardtS » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:54 pm

This goes without saying, but when I memorize I most certainly don't think of note-note-note, I mostly just try to 'hear the sound' and try to let it be as much 'autopilot' as possible. When playing memorized, you want to just almost be 'letting the record play' in your mind. If I've prepared well, this is fairly easy.
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Wilktone
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by Wilktone » Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:18 am

I have two additional suggestions to the above.

First, begin to look at music not as individual notes and rhythms, but melodic and harmonic patterns. Different genres of music will have different patterns, but common practice harmonic language and scales are used in most that you'll play. When you can begin to view your part as a scale pattern or chord arpeggio to basic progressions you'll be memorizing music in bigger chunks.

Secondly, try testing your memory with short time intervals that get longer after each quiz. It seems to help force what you're memorizing from your short and medium term memory into long term memory faster. For example, practice memorizing the first 3 phrases. Stop and do something else for 60 seconds and then play it again, fixing any mistakes. Then wait 2 minutes before testing yourself again. Gradually expand the amount of time between testing yourself. Add the next phrase or three tomorrow, repeating the process.

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Redthunder
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by Redthunder » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:04 am

Wilktone wrote:
Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:18 am
I have two additional suggestions to the above.

First, begin to look at music not as individual notes and rhythms, but melodic and harmonic patterns. Different genres of music will have different patterns, but common practice harmonic language and scales are used in most that you'll play. When you can begin to view your part as a scale pattern or chord arpeggio to basic progressions you'll be memorizing music in bigger chunks.

This is a great approach, and is very similar to a style of teaching music to children that stems from Edwin Gordon's MLT called Whole-Part-Whole.

In this method, you sing or perform the whole melody for a student or group of students. Then you would teach individual chunks, sections, or concepts to the students, and after doing so, return to the whole, and the students come away with not just a thorough understanding of how the song sounds, but also the musical components that construct the song.

For example, if you took a simple song like "Jingle Bells", if you analyze the melody, you'd find melodic patterns of "Mi-Sol-Do", "Re-Sol-Mi", etc. If I wanted to take this song and teach it to a group of children to sing or play on their instruments, after introducing the song as a whole, I'd probably do something like have them echo variations of the combinations of those solfege syllables, have them come up with their own variations, and then insert the patterns directly from the song. After this, I'd return to the whole song, and not only will they have a better understanding of how this song is composed, but they will also have a much easier time identifying similar patterns in other songs in the future. And they retain the song so much better than just by constant repetition or just listening to the song alone.

Now, obviously, as adult instrumentalists, the music we learn is usually much longer and more complicated, however this approach can be scaled up to whatever you may be working on, and it is incredibly effective.
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Savio
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by Savio » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:46 am

Yesterday I played with a folkmusician, and he told he learned faster an safer without using sheet music. So he prefered to listen the music and then play and memorizing. Thats an idea I want to try out. Im hopless in memorizing things, maybe Im getting a little senile..... :amazed: :biggrin:
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Re: Memorizing Techniques

Post by Pre59 » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:31 am

There's an emotional element to it as well. If you're really interested in the melody, and feel moved by it, you have a far greater chance of retaining it. If not, it's just "stuff".

I have countless tunes in my head that I can pull out of the blue, and in a choice of keys. But only because I have a real regard and respect for their construction.

And that is a large part of how I've made a living over the last 50+ years...
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