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’ve 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.
I came across this blog post today about memorizing and thought of this discussion:
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.
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...
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
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!!
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.