1. Learn the music properly first. Pay attention to all the elements including notes, rhythm, dynamics, fingerings, and phrasing and let the score be your guide to the interpretation of the piece.
|The Piano Student's Guide to Effective Practicing By Nancy O'neill Breth. Educational Piano Library. Book only. 6 pages. Published by Hal Leonard. (296450) |
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2. Run the piece from memory, mistakes and all, keeping track of all the slips. Then go back and play the music with the score, correcting the mistakes. Now play the piece through again and repeat the process.
3. Work on the momorization trouble spots. Forget running the piece for the time being, but work only on the passages that give you grief.
4. When playing from memory, try to remember the way the music looks on the page. This is the most common method of memorizing for many pianists and one that can get you into trouble when used to the exclusion of all else.
5. Be aware of when you need to look at your hands when playing the work. Is this a crutch to compensate for tension, incorrect learning, or unsure gauging of distances? When playing from memory, decide if you can get around the need to look at your hands or if it is something that is necessary.
6. Listen to every single sound you make. If you make a mistake, go over the passage again and listen for what you missed. This is perhaps the single most important advice about memorization.
(Aside: David Burge once mentioned to me in a lesson that if one were to really listen to every single last detail of the piece in great detail, one would never make a single mistake from memory! An ideal, but a noble one.)
7. Hear the work away from the instrument. Can you hear the work the way you want to play it?
8. Turn the lights out and play the piece in the dark. Can you get through? Consider Stars Wars Episode IV--the scene where Obi-Wan made Luke Skywalker track the probes in his lightsaber training with the helmet over his face not being able to see them. Why did Obi-Wan do this? To teach Luke to trust his instincts and his physicality rather than vision alone. Use the force. Trust your instincts.
9. Play from memory with only one hand. Then switch.
10. Analyze the piece. Take apart its harmonic, melodic, and formal structure and really get a sense of how the work is put together.
11. Memorize the dynamics. It's not just about playing the notes, but about the musical colors that go along with them. A good start in this direction is dynamic detail.
12. Memorize the articulations. Another good way to create coloristic delineation is knowing where staccato, legato, and everything in between are located in the score and how to create them. Again, pick up on visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues to think, hear, and feel the colors the articulations can create.
13. Memorize the work away from the piano. Who ever said you needed to actually play when doing your musical preparation? Unlock your creative ideas by considering the music unfettered by your need to play it all the time.
Ideas for Singers
In addition to memorizing music, singers also need to memorize a song or aria's text, often in a language other than English.
14. Memorize the text away from the music. For texts not in English, this includes knowing the text in the original language and its English translation.
15. On a blank piece of paper, write out the text including all repetitions of phrases and words. It's difficult, but if you can do this you'll really have a solid grasp of your material.
16. On staff paper, write out the vocal line from memory. Even trickier, but very useful.
17. Memorize the interludes in the piano or orchestra. In addition to memorizing the bars and beats between singing entries, put in thoughts that go in the rests so that they will be imbued with meaning and motivation, and give you further security in performance.
Some Helpful Links and Further Reading
18. Read Philip Johnston's article Why Memorize? on PracticeSpot.
19. Read Martha Beth Lewis' Memory Methods.
20. Read the Playing From Memory FAQ page.
21. The Young Composers Forum has a useful article on integrating memorization into the process of learning a piece.
22. For some ideas from the horn player's perspective, read some thoughts on memorization from Hornplayer.net.
23. Read Robert T. Kelley's Tips on How to Memorize Music.
24. Try out The Violin Site's Shadow Practicing Method.
25. Read Jamey Andreas' On Memorizing.
26. Read the Wikipedia article on Memory.
27. Read Virginia Houser's Memorization--An Integral Part of Musicianship at Every Level.
Putting it all Together
28. Perfect the beginning of the piece so that if you suffer from nerves, you can rely on rock-solid preparation for the opening.
29. Perfect the ending of the piece--it's what the audience will walk away with.
30. Do enough preparation so that you can trust your abilities and the work you have put into the piece, regardless of what anyone in the audience might think.
31. Make the piece your own. Play with the conviction that comes from a deep knowledge of the music and meticulous preparation. Only then will you be able to say that you are making music from a place of deep confidence and artistic integrity.
|Memorization in Piano Music By Stewart Gordon. For Piano. Textbook - Keyboard (DVD). 0. DVD. Published by Alfred Publishing. (22559) |
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