Memorizing

Not sure if I am in the correct place but do you think memorizing takes longer the older one is? Asking for a friend. Ha!

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  • Absolutely.  When I was young, memorizing took no effort;  it just happened.  At 65, that鈥檚 no longer true.

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Shoshana Kalson And the really weird thing is that I STILL remember pieces I learned as a kid.

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    • Gail Starr Yup.  I think that certain pieces will always be in my fingers.  Anyway, since I鈥檓 not aiming to play in competitions, I鈥檓 not too concerned with memorizing.  Except that it鈥檚 still necessary to get the music into my finger鈥檚 (for sure a kind of memorizing) if I want to have any hope of playing at speed.  And that definitely takes longer these days. 馃檨

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Shoshana Kalson I agree!  I was also telling @Natalie Peh that I really don't practice all that much, and that could be the entire problem, LOL!

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    • Gail Starr I don鈥檛 know.  Somehow, it all seemed much easier back then.  Of course, looking back almost 50 years, I could be filtering out the harder stuff.

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  • It was interesting to hear a scientist discuss that by outsourcing our ability to find our way around, that is, by using GPS, we diminish our ability to memorize. Instead of paying attention to landmarks and being aware of where we are, where we鈥檝e come from, our brains become lazy. We tend to rely on technology for everything. The more we memorize, however, the easier it becomes. The more we read sheet music away from the piano, the easier memorization becomes. A knowledge of music theory helps too.

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 1 mth ago
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      Adena Franz That makes a lot of sense!

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  • Well, as I'm approaching 70, I can say with certainty that memorization is a skill that I'm rapidly losing , day by day.  It takes me nearly forever to memorize a new piece, let alone play the darn thing!  (LOL)

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  • I'm the opposite! I didn't use to memorise any of my pieces when I was learning piano as a student. Now that I am taking it up again, over 30 years later,  and so many pianists around me are memorising,  I am trying to memorise some of the shorter and simpler pieces too.

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 1 mth ago
      • Reported - view

      Natalie Peh I even just spoke to a piano friend who is a language teacher about tricks he uses to help his language students memorize.  I'm awful at it...or, maybe it's just that I don't spend enough time learning a piece to memorize it?

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    • Gail Starr I think it's just a matter of how much time one has to work on a piece. I don't tend to memorise my pieces, though I have tried and it is possible. It just takes quite a lot of effort and time for me to memorise a piece, and I think I actually sound worse when playing from memory than when playing with the score in front of me!

       

      I'd like to try and brush up on my memorising skills though, as it is really nice to be able to play without a score, and hopefully it keeps the mind active. Having said that, I don't think I am good enough to be able to memorise every single piece I play, maybe just the simpler ones, as a challenge every now and then. 

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      • Gail Starr
      • Recently retired MBA (international consumer products/luxury goods/classical music mgt.)
      • Gail_Starr
      • 4 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Natalie Peh I think you are right!  I really don't practice enough, like I did when I was a kid.  Also, back then I had deadlines for competitions and concerts.  Now, I just play for fun!

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    • Gail Starr wow... I didn't do competitions and concerts. What a thrill it must have been! I totally agree, it's wonderful playing for fun. I'm so happy to continue learning piano without the stress of exams.

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  • I will move this Thread into the "General Discussion" Forum, but great topic!

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  • I came across this blog post today about memorizing and thought of this discussion:

    https://melaniespanswick.com/2022/09/11/on-preparing-for-a-beethoven-marathon-part-3-julian-jacobson/?fbclid=IwAR3l2vv9qMs6zOuVhiuJDYOt5wawGGoB1yoHDvDWX2Jg-mIeV2JdkcPqK0Q

    I agree with his points about the benefits of playing from memory, though of course I'm not at his level or anything! I am able to memorize music, but actually performing in front of people from memory is another story. My self-consciousness kicks in, and I haven't done it enough, at least on the piano, to have a reliable strategy so I can just keep going no matter what - though I'm getting a tiny bit better at it.

    Sometimes I think it all boils down to having something to say with the music versus having the goal of simply playing what's on the page. The latter isn't enough to create a compelling performance or to focus one's mind.

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    • Denise
    • Educator
    • Denise
    • 4 days ago
    • Reported - view

    I am petrified of memorizing!!!!!! I was so good at it when I was young. I went to music school for a degree in my 30s and my first jury caused such an anxiety meltdown it has been near impossible to memorize with a level of mastery that I could do in my late teens!! 

    However, I have been studying with an amazing mentor, and he has been patient with my anxiety and craziness. I have managed to memorize more than I thought I could. 

    We actually started with Bartok's Mikrokosmos - and I would memorize one lesson a week... (sometimes it worked, sometimes not!)  But, we are progressing through the entire series, to retrain my perspective... and approach.

    Also, I have memorized a Haydn Sonata moment; a Beethoven Sonata movement; a Shostakovich Prelude; The theme to a Schubert impromptu (working on variations...)... It's a slow process, but...

    FOR ME:

    1. Set fingering

    2. LISTEN to the pieces by many performers MANY times

    3. Trust ear

    4. Learn dynamics

    5. MEMORIZE THE movement, much like a dance choreography /muscle memory

    6. Play with music/remove music phrase by phrase, then section by section, then page by page

    7. REPEAT

    8. DO IT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING while the brain is fresh.

     

    My confidence is building, but I still have anxiety. He has invited me to perform the Shostakovich Prelude in a live recital in November. I have not committed yet, but I want to.

    I can play it from memory, and 80% of the time with fewer than a train wreck... (1-3 mistakes).

    90% of the time I can recover from a note error.

     

    I fear if I get on stage in the recital hall, I will freeze, turn white, heart will race, and I will forget everything. 

    This (attached video) was recorded this morning at 6:30 am while doing memory work... a couple of mistakes and memory lapse/recoveries... but I am pushing. 

    I had it memorized in the spring for a June master class. But it got covid cancelled. Then again in August, but it again got cancelled... This is the third time bringing it back to memorization, but it's different this time. I actually feel as if it has become organic. If that makes sense...

    SO bizzarre how I can coach my students to memorize, but I freeze when it is me!!

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    • Denise Bravo Denise, on taking up the challenge of memorizing Shoshtakovich. You play beautifully. I memorize everything I learn to play, and while it takes me longer to "finish" a piece, I am rewarded by being able to pay much closer attention to its interpretation. Continue the good work Denise, and thanks for posting!

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      • Denise
      • Educator
      • Denise
      • 3 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Adena Franz thank you!

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    • Denise can you play each hand separately from memory?

      And first thing my teacher would ask me: Are you counting? (And can you count out loud while you鈥檙e playing?)

      Both of those help me. 
      I鈥檝e memorized actually quite a bit of piano music but having the confidence to play it in front of people is another thing altogether. Still working on that.

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    • rada neal
    • rada_neal
    • 4 days ago
    • Reported - view

    hmmm...my feeling is the best teachers are always learning...especially from their students....so I wouldn't worry about my weaknesses but rather concentrate on their potential. Seemed that I memorized fast when I was younger but now I realize how much I really didn't know. I'm always amused when a student is trying to learn to read notes , then you look at their eyes and they are not looking at the music. Learning is a process and more intriguing the more you learn.

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