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Most efficient way of memorizing pieces (Read 1812 times)

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
« on: November 29, 2018, 12:28:49 PM »
How do you memorize piano pieces?

I memorize each finger seperately, for example, right now I'm learning Chopin's Etude, Op. 10, No. 11 "Arpeggios". I first mark all the notes that is to be played by the left hand 5th finger, and memorize them, then all the notes for the left hand thumb, then for the right hand thumb, the right hand 5th finger, and so on for the rest of the notes.

Finally I combine each finger, like combining multiple voices when studying a complex bach fugue.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #1 on: November 29, 2018, 04:07:36 PM »
repetition for me in a particular way.

I just read as little as possible from the score. It's probably a terrible method.

First time, I'll read it a handful of times from the score a couple bars or a phrase a time, hands together immediately. It will start very choppy and slow while i'm still reading the notes, then, depending on the difficulty, I will get it to the point i'm playing hands together at a slow speed, it doesn't matter what speed it is, as long as it's fluid and i'm not completely thinking about the notes anymore, that's when i've already "ground-hog" day memorised the notes

I.E I can play it there and then without looking at the score, but if I didn't repeat that over the next coming days, it'll fade pretty quick.

After that I just continue the process by reading the next bars / phrases, while still continuing repeating the previous bars/phrases i've already "memorized"

The big problem with this that I'm aware of is, what happens 6 months down the line is I can play the 1-2 pages of any piece I had previously learnt, but forget the end because I obviously haven't repeated that as many times.

I can memorize short term at least pretty quick, and so this helps if i'm learning new pieces on the fly that i'm not too bothered about retaining.

I also find, that depending on how much time i spent memorizing the piece originally determins how well I can re-learn the piece later on.

Sometimes, the muscle memory kicks in and i'm like.. oh yeah I remember this... others it's like it's a brand new piece.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #2 on: November 29, 2018, 09:58:11 PM »
I would not find memorizing the notes to be played by a given finger to be either efficient nor would help me secure the memorization.

First, I look at the overall structure:  are there any sections that repeat? If yes, are there differences?  If so, I highlight the differences and memorize the order.

If there are appegios, I learn them first as block chords, then break them out into the arpeggio. Learn the chord and the chord position

Memorizing involves all of the senses: can you sing it? How does it feel under the hands? Can you visualize the score? 

This is just a brief summary: there have been many good blogs and books written about effective memorization

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #3 on: November 29, 2018, 11:59:29 PM »

If there are appegios, I learn them first as block chords, then break them out into the arpeggio. Learn the chord and the chord position


How do you memorize block chords? I studied Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C-sharp minor, all the chords drove me crazy, took me 3 months before I came up with the idea of memorzing the fingers separately, learning only the notes for the index finger, for example, is as easy as playing and memorizing a pop song melody on the piano, it's like memorizing 8 easy pieces VS. 1 hard piece.

Then I combine all the fingers, like combining 2 hands, after one studied a piece hand seperated, or combing different voices in a fugue.

If I tried to learn arpeggios as block chords, I would memorize block chords the same way I memorize arpeggios, memorizing each individual fingers.

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #4 on: November 30, 2018, 12:00:25 AM »

This is just a brief summary: there have been many good blogs and books written about effective memorization


Can you suggest a few of these blogs and books?

 I've looked on the internet, the results are reptitive, Learn hands seperately, a few bars at a time, mental practice, recall the notes.

Maybe everybody finds a different method efficient, learning fingers separately, for me, is both time-saving, and easy on the brain, I would't need to focus to the point where I get ill after practice.

Offline dogperson

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #5 on: November 30, 2018, 12:44:26 AM »
Can you suggest a few of these blogs and books?

 I've looked on the internet, the results are reptitive, Learn hands seperately, a few bars at a time, mental practice, recall the notes.

Maybe everybody finds a different method efficient, learning fingers separately, for me, is both time-saving, and easy on the brain, I would't need to focus to the point where I get ill after practice.


Hope someone can explain it better than I can,

Not only do I mentally learn the chord, but also learn how it FEELS to move there from the previous note/chord and what the hand position LOOKS like on the keys.  Iím not so great in annotations of chords, so the prompt might be something as simple as mentally thinking Ďok, the next chord is C sharp minor starting on Eí. I donít try to be precise with the wording as long as it is easy to remember. My teacher even told me if it is a truly involved notation I can make up some silky name for the chord.... just an assiciation tool

 I associate the written chord to all my other senses: how it sounds, how it feels and how my hand looks. It also helps to picture the score.... which I am only fair at doing

Hope this helps





Offline dogperson

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #6 on: November 30, 2018, 01:01:36 AM »

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #7 on: November 30, 2018, 07:29:35 AM »
wonderful suggestions! Thank you so much for sharing!  ;D

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #8 on: November 30, 2018, 08:39:35 AM »
I memorise aurally, having perfect pitch. Once I memorise the sound of something, I then use that to play the notes.


Offline kalospiano

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #9 on: November 30, 2018, 08:26:16 PM »
I memorise aurally, having perfect pitch. Once I memorise the sound of something, I then use that to play the notes.

lucky bastard! Isn't that like, super duper easy for you to learn the music you like or even improvising anything you have in your mind, provided that you have the necessary technical level?

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #10 on: November 30, 2018, 10:57:53 PM »
Shucks....

Yeah.     ;D

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #11 on: November 30, 2018, 11:39:36 PM »
That is a very strange way of learning music.

My piano professor (Alexandre Dossin) likes to talk about putting things into our "Muscle Memory 2.0," as opposed to "Muscle Memory 0.5," which he says, is "like a party friend--with you one minute, and gone the next."

Just how do you put music into your muscle memory 2.0?

The best way to think of it is as a combination of muscle memory, aural memory, and emotional memory. Recently, I was playing the Beethoven Op. 10 No. 1 Sonata for him, and I had a memory slip in a particular section. After I was finished, he went straight that section and pointed out exactly why I had forgotten where I was going: I was just playing the notes, without truly understanding the chord progression.

You want to figure out just what you want to say with each phrase. A year ago, I had a discussion with the 2017 Van Cliburn winner on this, and he said something similar: Everything needs to be significant, both with small musical details, and in big sections. Whether you're working on a Bach Fugue, a Chopin Etude, or even something massive like the Rachmaninoff Sonata ... you want to think about exactly what you want to say when you play a phrase. That way, you memorize musical ideas, rather than note-by-note: I guarantee that doing it your way will result in a dry, boring performance without true musical understanding of the piece--and at the slightest slip or distraction, your performance will run right off the rails.

Instead, get down into the meat of the piece. For really complicated passages (for instance, cadenzas), you will of course will play it so many times that the muscle memory will be like second nature; but for most passages, especially slow, lyrical ones, combining the feeling with the muscle memory really improves your playing. Even better, you can memorize such that you can hear and shape the next phrase in your head a measure or two before you actually play it! That way, you're always thinking ahead. NOTE: You really don't need perfect pitch to do this. Sometimes, it can help to play and sing the melody (sometimes multiple times through, if we're dealing with a fugue), as the act of singing along helps ingraine the aural memory into your ear. Listening to your piece frequently helps too.

As my professor always says, it is better to mostly THINK during the practice, and FEEL during the performance, rather the other way around. Your method requires a lot of hard work, with marginal benefit. My professor is the Vice-President of the American Liszt Society and a regularly concertizing pianist; sorry for the bragging, but I think you should at least give this method a try.

Hope this helps!
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #12 on: December 01, 2018, 01:21:38 PM »
I love your post and agree with you 100 percent, but i think you misunderstood my post, I only mentioned how i would memorize a piece, but not how i work on a piece till a satisfying level.

After memorizing a composition, I would re-analyze its structures, work out personal fingerings, my hands are shaped oddly, long thick thumb, super short pinky, haha, then devise my own pedalings to help produce a soundscape as legato as possible, almost like a guzheng (chinese instrument.), etc...

the thing is, i'm a horrible sight reader, i can only practice a piece when i memorized all the notes, so i need to be able to memorize as fast as possible, my fingers separated method works great for me, the skin on my left hand is infected, as soon as the infection is gone, i'll be memorizing, not practicing or interpreting, all the notes in Chopin's Op. 25, no.12 Etude, i think it'll take me around 2 days, but of course, to get to audition level, or performance level, would take me a whole lot longer.

as for finding what i want to express through a piece, at each measure, each phrase? i don't know, i always play a piece differently each time, with a different emotion, always evolving, like impromptu or improvising, I don't know if it's wrong to play like this, haha.

your teacher 's awesome! i love alexandre dossin's recording of rachmaninoff 's preludes, especially op. 32,  no. 7 and no. 10!

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #13 on: December 01, 2018, 02:54:15 PM »
The most efficient way to memorize a piece is to sight read the piece muliple times until it is memorized. With strong reading skills you will be able to naturally memorize the majority of a piece through multiple reading study. Parts which are difficult to memorize will become more apparent and you can use memory queues to control these parts. You will find passages which you have much experience with in other pieces will be memorized quite easily and parts which you have little experience with may take longer.

Those with poor reading skills usually memorized phrase by phrase. Sure you can do this and see repetition throughout the score and memorize in chunks, but I find this is slower compared to when I merely sight read a piece multiple times and then go ahead and apply focused attention on parts which are difficult to memorize.
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Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #14 on: December 01, 2018, 07:30:44 PM »
LIIW - said clearly. sound approach.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #15 on: December 02, 2018, 03:08:50 AM »

The most efficient way to memorize a piece is to sight read the piece muliple times until it is memorized. With strong reading skills you will be able to naturally memorize the majority of a piece through multiple reading study.


When you do this do you learn staves seperately, or together?

Also, how would you sight-read if there're block chords? I find it simply impossible.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #16 on: December 02, 2018, 08:29:15 AM »
When you do this do you learn staves seperately, or together?

Also, how would you sight-read if there're block chords? I find it simply impossible.
Pretty much always hands together, if it is a passage which I have little experience with or is very tricky then of course you can deconstruct it, play seperate hands, even simplify the notes in a single hand and then build upon it.  If you cant do 2 hands as written you can always simplify one hand and play it similar to how you would when playing normally, then add to it gradually.

One big problem is that many people dont work on their sight reading so an imbalance between their reading skills and playing ability becomes more and more exaggerated. It is very important to try and bring these closer together, this often means going back and studying much easier works, humbling oneself to do such things is very hard but extremely rewarding in terms of efficiency of learning many years down the track.

I am not sure what the challenge in reading block chords is for you, certainly it is easier than reading broken chords or long strings of scale passages. Many struggle to read and sense the beat segmentation of each bar while they are playing, they need time to see these beat segments while they are reading which slows things down. Comparing the chord you played to its neighbors is very insightful, there is no need to treat each chord in isolation to one another, there is always some kind of pattern or relationship between the chords.

Playing with the correct fingering is very important when sight reading. Some people forget about this and think that fingering should be just so easy and apparent, yes it should be if you are playing things you are very accustomed with, but often as developing sight readers we have to solve these before we can sight read without these fingering obstructions, indeed it plays an important role in our first few sight reading attempts to solve the best fingering, understanding why it is used and to then actually achieve it with successful repetitions. If all the fingering is good then the reading and memory flows more naturally.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #17 on: December 04, 2018, 12:47:45 AM »
Would you suggest to sight-read at a piece's usual tempo, or a much slower tempo?

I once read somewhere that recommends slow playing when learning a new piece, so one can absorb all the notes and structures better, I hope this is true, because this would be a lot easier for me, I can sight-read plenty of pieces if done in half the tempo ;D

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #18 on: December 04, 2018, 02:23:06 AM »
Yes you can of course practice at slower tempo, you should always choose a tempo that allows you to feel complete control. In saying this however one has to be careful that if you are practicing a very fast passage slow that the movements you make relate to faster movements, you can get away with poor technique when playing slow and then find when increasing the tempo things becomes difficult. You can also play certain parts at tempo and have a controlled pause between passages or parts where you hesitate or are not completely sure of, when you make these pauses you should totally freeze your hands as if you pressed pause on a video and only move once you know what comes next.   
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #19 on: December 04, 2018, 07:16:04 AM »
Ever since I read about how Rachmaninoff practice very slowly (He was practicing Chopin's Etude on 6ths, if my memory serves me right.), I do it myself all the time with fast passages, and so far it's very rewarding.

My left hand's still not healed, so I practiced today, probably one of the most right-hand dominated piece ever, Chopin's Etude, Op. 10, No. 1, only the right hand section.

This is how I practiced, I played the first note, holding it, doesn't move my hand, mentally prepare for the next note, when I'm ready, I move my fingers as fast as possible, and hold that note too, then repeat this for the rest of the piece. I think this Etude mostly trains one to expand and contract the right hand/fingers, and turning the wrist, I do these very quickly, but hold each note for a few seconds.

Then I tried to play it as fast I can, and I was able to play it much clearly than before, at my top speed, before I would never perform this Etude to anyone without heavy pedaling, now, I would, haha, somehow, practcing slowly fast passages, without making errors, allows the hand to remember it's own shapes, patterns, and movements, when playing the piece, plus locations of the notes, I'm able to playing almost everything I memorized with my eyes closed, if I practiced with a slow tempo.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #20 on: December 04, 2018, 03:43:26 PM »
I once read somewhere that recommends slow playing when learning a new piece, so one can absorb all the notes and structures better, I hope this is true, because this would be a lot easier for me, I can sight-read plenty of pieces if done in half the tempo ;D

Ever since I read about how Rachmaninoff practice very slowly (He was practicing Chopin's Etude on 6ths, if my memory serves me right.), I do it myself all the time with fast passages, and so far it's very rewarding.

I'm a little confused, your previous post you seemed unsure that practicing at slower tempo would help. Then in this other post you are saying you have done it all the time and its very rewarding.


Chopin's Etude, Op. 10, No. 1, only the right hand section.

This is how I practiced, I played the first note, holding it, doesn't move my hand, mentally prepare for the next note, when I'm ready, I move my fingers as fast as possible, and hold that note too, then repeat this for the rest of the piece. I think this Etude mostly trains one to expand and contract the right hand/fingers, and turning the wrist, I do these very quickly, but hold each note for a few seconds.
It is much easier when discussing pieces to cut snippets of the sections you are discussing and draw on the score your groupings. From what I am reading you are pausing on every single note? That wouldn't be advisable your groupings need to be broader than single notes at at time.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #21 on: December 04, 2018, 11:58:11 PM »
I'm sorry if my posts caused any confusion, haha, english is my second language.

What I meant to say was, I practice with a slow tempo, on almost all the pieces that I memorized, but I had never sight-read anything with a slow tempo, I rarely sight-read because I'm simply horrible at it, and I was aking you if you sight-read at a slower tempo, and is it a good idea to do so.

I hold each note and the shape of the hand, then quickly shift my hand and play the next note, almost like playing the piece at full speed, except the pausing at each note.

As for inserting snippets, or posting pictures, I don't have a computer, I browse this website either with my phone or my iPad, I'm not sure if Pianostreet needs an update or not, but I just can't seem to post anything other than quotes and words... But I'll try again, maybe I missed something.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #22 on: December 05, 2018, 02:21:49 AM »
I'm sorry if my posts caused any confusion, haha, english is my second language.
ok :)

What I meant to say was, I practice with a slow tempo, on almost all the pieces that I memorized, but I had never sight-read anything with a slow tempo.....
So you practice slowly what you have memorized but when it comes to sight reading you try to read at tempo. That seems crazy, you put higher standards on something you are not so good at forcing yourself to sight read at tempo and then wonder why it is hard :)! To me this seems like a very basic logic situation and nothing to do with music really.


I hold each note and the shape of the hand, then quickly shift my hand and play the next note, almost like playing the piece at full speed, except the pausing at each note.
I suggested previously that pausing on every single note is generally a terrible idea, in context of the etude you have mentioned there is no doubt that it is.

As for inserting snippets, or posting pictures, I don't have a computer, I browse this website either with my phone or my iPad...
Try the edit photo function or one of the many free apps for photo editing and also if you press the off button and the menu button at the same time it will take screen shots on ipads, so you can cut up sheet music and use it in your discussions.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #23 on: December 05, 2018, 09:52:34 PM »
You're right, I'm not being logical, haha. I will definitely try your suggestions.  ;D

Right now I'll just need my hands to heal, all the fingers on my right hand starts to have peeling skins, perhaps it's because I practiced too much or something, I tried vaseline hand lotions and herbacin hand creams, useless, guess I have to wait after all, I feel quite guilty not practicing, haha.

Offline thirtytwo2020

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #24 on: December 06, 2018, 10:45:37 AM »
I find this discussion extremely fascinating! To me it seems to prove that there is not one most efficient way of practicing the piano or memorizing music that suits everyone.

To begin with, I also found the method of memorizing one finger at a time quite bizarre, but the more I think about it - why not? At least for certain pieces (like the arpeggio etude). It may even represent a stroke of genius for people who like william find chords difficult to read.

Like LOIW, I find the logic situation here a bit confusing. For one thing, I am not sure that we all mean the same by the term 'sight reading' - or actually, I am sure that we don't. I would never have been able to come up with the sentence "The most efficient way to memorize a piece is to sight-read the piece multiple times until it is memorized." For me this would not be 'sight-reading' at all, except for the first or possibly the first few times. It would be simply ' reading'.

William writes that he is a horrible sihgt-reader, but I am not so sure. He also writes that he can sight-read plenty of pieces if he is allowed to take them at half tempo. To me, this sounds like a quite normal situation, provided that the pieces are at his technical level or just slightly lower. On the other hand, he seems to have a real problem with chords, which he thinks are all but impossible to read if he doesn't use the one-finger-at-a-time-technique.

William, could it be that understanding chords and chord progressions is the underlying problem here , not 'memorizing' - which you seem to define as 'learning the notes of a piece in order to be able to practice it' - or 'sight-reading', which you seem to interpret as 'playing a piece in tempo absolutely perfectly from the score, without preparation and without understanding its content'?   

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #25 on: December 06, 2018, 02:33:59 PM »
Yes the actual definition of sight reading is:
 
"the act or skill of performing unfamiliar written music, or of translating something written in a foreign language, readily on sight, without previous study."

In this discussion I define "unfamiliar" and "without previous study" with a connection to a muscular memorization of the piece.

We could just say reading music, but for me reading music is just holding the score infront of me and looking with my eyes, no action in the hands. Sight reading thus becomes the action of reading with the eyes and playing with the hands. That is my technical definition of it anyway when I describe things :P


One finger at a time is just terrible, all notes are connected to a group or a shape, playing them in isolation seems unnecessary. Even in terms of technical study, if you pause at every single note you are segmenting the technique in so many small peices trying to put it together is just laborous.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #26 on: December 06, 2018, 04:25:23 PM »
If Iím understanding the OPís posts: he memorizes individual notes by finger and THEN changes the fingering to fit his individual hand.  This doesnít make sense as it adds an extra step:  why arenít the fingerings for the individual hand worked out initially? 

I totally agree that learning by fingers only misses the big picture

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #27 on: December 06, 2018, 11:28:36 PM »
I think everyone here misunderstood my method, haha, if you guys are interested, I'll find a computer and send pictures of marked scores to show exactly how I memorize, how's that? ;D

And if you guys have time and wish to discuss more, I would like to know, more in detail, how everyone here memorize, how fast did you memorize what piece (We can just stick with Chopin Etudes as examples, I belive this forum is very familiar with the 24 etudes.)

This is basically becoming a discussion of everybody's own way of playing piano! Haha, I'm pretty sure there's more than one good way, I had a teacher before, who graduated from Xinhai Music Conservatory, one of top music conservatories in China, and what he taught me made me gave up piano, the methods are so inefficient I thought the problem was me, that i'm not musically gifted at all, until 5 years later, I decided to tackle the piano on my own, and I progressed much faster than before.

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #28 on: December 06, 2018, 11:34:15 PM »
if you guys are actually memorizing pieces by sight-reading through it multiple times, I can only imagine that, either you're a genius, or you're a true hardworker who's willing to go through the same piece again and again.

For me, I think the bulk of time one spent on a piece, should be analyzing, intepretating, or performing, not memorizing, I'm afraid of listening to the same melody over and over again, for me it ruins the musical magic, the essence, so I always tried to memorize as fast as possible.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #29 on: December 08, 2018, 05:39:49 AM »
I think everyone here misunderstood my method,
Well then why didnít you correct my interpretation of what you do? I donít see how I read what you wrote wrongly and second language or not how you describe that you pause on every single notes doesnt leave any ambiguity really.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #30 on: December 08, 2018, 09:58:48 AM »



This is how I memorized Chopin's Chromatique Etude, First all the notes marked blue, then all the notes marked green, I combine these 2 group of notes to play the double note jumps using the 1st and 2nd finger, then memorize all notes marked red, and combine with the double note jumps. Then I do the same for the left hand.



I imagine these 3 different colored lines of notes, as 3 different staves, like in a symphony score, memorize them separately, then combine them, memorizing notes from one of the marked lines is very easy, it's like CDAB DADC... etc, I can learn a lot of notes this way.



But memorizing this way ^ just seems so difficult to me, feels impossible.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #31 on: December 08, 2018, 10:29:23 AM »
Can you guys see the images above? I uploaded them to wikimedia first, and linked them here. you may need to open the images in new tabs to see full definition.

Offline beethovenfan01

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #32 on: December 08, 2018, 11:47:09 PM »
Actually I think that is an interesting way to look at things. I am not sure I would use it for every piece, but for Bach fugues (and, in this case, the Chopin etude) it makes sense, at least for aural memorization. As a method for establishing "finger" and "emotional memory," it seems rather lacking, but when it comes to establishing layers I think this is a good technique. However, I still would recommend you use this as a technique, but not the only one. I think it may be easier to view the piece as a whole first, then, as you establish a stronger memory, learn to hear and interpret the individual lines, like you are doing.
Practicing:
Bach Chromatic Fantasie and Fugue
Beethoven Sonata Op. 10 No. 1
Shostakovich Preludes Op. 34
Scriabin Etude Op. 2 No. 1
Liszt Fantasie and Fugue on BACH

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #33 on: December 09, 2018, 12:25:17 AM »
Of course, I only use this method to memorize as fast as possible, then I practice and interpret pieces in a variety of ways.  :)

I never said I only do this and nothing else, It's not like one should only use a single method in playing piano, is it?  ;D

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #34 on: December 09, 2018, 12:32:25 AM »
Have you guys memorized any Chopin Etude? or pieces of similar length and difficulty? How fast did you memorized the pieces? How many hours did it took?

If your method is faster than mine, I'll abandon mine and study yours immediately  ;D (Not true, my hands are still healing, and I feel guilty not practicing,  :'()

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #35 on: December 09, 2018, 01:29:56 PM »
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Basing your memorization on segmenting the score like this is a very blunt way to memorize. I mean it's not very sophisticated, it is just playing the voices seperately, it realy doesn't require much thought or musical thinking behind it, it does not even define shape and pattern in the hand when you play all of the voices together.  You need to think about the groupings of your notes, the patterns they produce as a whole, you need to see where these repeat or transform throughout the piece. You need to make observation of the fingering, the technical logic. Breaking up your playing like this for everything is inefficient, yes do it for parts but to just hamfistedly do it for everything seems very unnecessary and indeed perhaps a security blanket you can overcome.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #36 on: December 09, 2018, 11:24:33 PM »
I wouldn't want my memorizing method to be sophisticated, it's better to be straightforward, my goal is to memorize as fast as possible without getting brain fog.

I spent at least 3 months preparing multiple pieces, either for exams or auditions, during these 3 months, only about a week or two's time, is used for memorizing, all the rest is practcing and exploring the music itself.

I could be wrong but I think we have very different approach to learning new pieces, I practice after I memorize, You sight-read/memorize/practice/interpretate simultaneously.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #37 on: December 10, 2018, 12:42:47 AM »
I wouldn't want my memorizing method to be sophisticated, it's better to be straightforward, my goal is to memorize as fast as possible without getting brain fog.
Unfortunately this is not the right way to think about it all. What you have done is very basic and actually not really that helpful, there are much better ways to visualize and deconstruct the piece. It seems unusual that now you are very confident in your approach when in posts before you were very uncertain and wondering what others would suggest.

I spent at least 3 months preparing multiple pieces, either for exams or auditions, during these 3 months, only about a week or two's time, is used for memorizing, all the rest is practcing and exploring the music itself.
These numbers are arbitrary really.

I could be wrong but I think we have very different approach to learning new pieces, I practice after I memorize, You sight-read/memorize/practice/interpretate simultaneously.
Your approach is not very different at all, it is just very simplistic and could do with more musical thought. Just seperating the voices and practicing them seperately then bringing them together, this really isn't something that requires much thought process at all, thus doesn't really impact on memorisation a huge deal.
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Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #38 on: December 10, 2018, 05:16:37 AM »
I'm confident in my own method, but uncertain about sight-reading, if that's what you were asking about.

And yes, when you put it like this I have to agree with you, my way of separating the voices and memorizing is simplistic, guess I'll have to study more about music theory  ;D But my method do help me memorize faster, I memorized this Etude in 2 day (I practice 6 hours a day though), to me, it's a satisfying speed for memorizing.



Have you played this etude before? How would you deconstruct it? If you have time can you give me an example of how you would do it? How much time did you take, or need to memorize this piece? a day? a few hours? even less?

I read somewhere that said Richter or Arrau, memorized a whole mozart piano concerto mentally on a plane flight from new york to london, something like that, I can't exactly remember, but that is absolutely insane! how in the world can a human achieve that!

Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #39 on: December 10, 2018, 12:44:01 PM »
I think for most people it is a combination of aural, physical and keyboard memorisation...
I'm not sure how may people visually memorise the notes on the page, but I suspect it isn't really used. 

Parts are remembered aurally when they can hear notes in their head, some have a physical feel of the keys and how their fingers move, while others might think of the actual notes and keys involved, but not necessarily the fingers involved.

Because each person is different, they probably have different percentages of each. I would probably find my brain is maybe 95% aural, and the other 5% is physical. I can hear the individual notes in my head and because of that - I'm using THIS reference to place my fingers... not necessarily the sheet music or the muscle memory in my fingers.

For those without perfect pitch - they would most likely not be using their aural memory at all.

Offline outin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #40 on: December 10, 2018, 04:29:10 PM »

For those without perfect pitch - they would most likely not be using their aural memory at all.

Not sure what you mean by that? I don't have perfect pitch but I rely heavily on my aural memory. I hear the notes in my head first and then have to use memorized visual and physical clues to find the way to get that sound. If I stop hearing the notes I will soon have a memory disaster...the other types of memory are too weak to work alone. The downside is that a wrong (or even out of tune) note can completely throw me off...

Offline william_ni_guang_xin

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #41 on: December 10, 2018, 11:50:49 PM »

I would probably find my brain is maybe 95% aural, and the other 5% is physical. I can hear the individual notes in my head and because of that - I'm using THIS reference to place my fingers... not necessarily the sheet music or the muscle memory in my fingers.


I wish I have perfect pitch too! How fast can you memorize a piece? I bet very fast,  ;D

 When I listen to a chromatic scale or a dozen of arpeggios, it becomes all muddled up to my ear, I can't distinguish them.

For me, after I memorized the notes from the score, what I have in my mind are not notations when I play the piece, but piano keys, when I'm away from the piano, I can mentally see which keys I need to press to play the piece, kind of like editing in Garage Band or using a MIDI player like Synthesia.

I memorize rhythms aurally, and sometimes it can be a real pain, for some reason, I just can't memorize the Aria from Goldberg's Variations, the right hand section is too complex and varying in rhythms.  :'(


Offline perfect_pitch

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #42 on: December 11, 2018, 12:32:43 AM »
Not sure what you mean by that? I don't have perfect pitch but I rely heavily on my aural memory. I hear the notes in my head first and then have to use memorized visual and physical clues to find the way to get that sound. If I stop hearing the notes I will soon have a memory disaster...the other types of memory are too weak to work alone. The downside is that a wrong (or even out of tune) note can completely throw me off...

Okay - I should have been clearer. I rely on my aural memory, but I use that to work out the note without the need for relying on the visual and physical clues - I eliminate the middle man. I use solely the aural to create that sound.

If I don't have them memorised fully yet, then I will rely on the visual sheet music.

Offline soultrap

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #43 on: December 13, 2018, 02:47:39 AM »
How do you memorize piano pieces?

I memorize each finger seperately, for example, right now I'm learning Chopin's Etude, Op. 10, No. 11 "Arpeggios". I first mark all the notes that is to be played by the left hand 5th finger, and memorize them, then all the notes for the left hand thumb, then for the right hand thumb, the right hand 5th finger, and so on for the rest of the notes.

Finally I combine each finger, like combining multiple voices when studying a complex bach fugue.

I use my ears a lot when I'm memorizing.

Sometimes, I don't really study the structure and harmonic figures of the music. I probably should, but often times it's my ear that tells me what note to play next. I never try to memorize for the sake of memorizing. For me, memorizing comes naturally, and at the same time when I'm learning and interpreting the piece. Lots of repetitions help, too. Under the stress of performing, sometimes I get "blanks" in my ear. Then, muscle memory takes over (usually for a split second) until I hear again.
Pieces I'm working on:
Beethoven op. 109
Chopin Etudes op.10
Tchaikovsky Seasons June & October
Tchaikovsky Russian scherzo op. 1 no. 1
Tchaikovsky concerto 1
Mozart K 488
Rachmaninoff sonata 2

Offline anaimadureira

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #44 on: February 11, 2019, 10:57:54 PM »
Hello everyone!

I usually follow these 3 steps to memorize anything:

1 - Knowing very well (by heart) and very independently the left hand.
2 - Practicing EXTREMELY slowly, like note by note, also by heart; when you fail, stop to realize why you failed, and go again to the beggining of the piece. Do it again and again, until you are able to play the entire piece this way with no mistakes. This will strengh a lot your concentration and, of course, your memory.
3 - Creating reference points: being able to start playing in many different places in the piece, in a fast tempo.

Offline louispodesta

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #45 on: February 13, 2019, 12:06:41 AM »
Hello everyone!

I usually follow these 3 steps to memorize anything:

1 - Knowing very well (by heart) and very independently the left hand.
2 - Practicing EXTREMELY slowly, like note by note, also by heart; when you fail, stop to realize why you failed, and go again to the beggining of the piece. Do it again and again, until you are able to play the entire piece this way with no mistakes. This will strengh a lot your concentration and, of course, your memory.
3 - Creating reference points: being able to start playing in many different places in the piece, in a fast tempo.
1)  Perfect, or in the Spanish Language, "Perfectamente."
2)  For all you other "Dumbells," this is as best as it gets.  Perfect means just that!

Offline keypeg

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #46 on: February 13, 2019, 11:00:07 AM »
1)  Perfect, or in the Spanish Language, "Perfectamente."
2)  For all you other "Dumbells," this is as best as it gets.  Perfect means just that!
There is no reason to insult people with no provocation.

It is also not "perfect".  Go back to the beginning is not a good approach (part of what you called "perfect".
Perfect does not "mean" perfectamento, and the list does not give a meaning of "perfect" either.  There are some good ideas there, but there are also others.

Offline themeandvariation

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Re: Most efficient way of memorizing pieces
«Reply #47 on: February 13, 2019, 06:26:27 PM »


  Go back to the beginning is not a good approach (part of what you called "perfect".


No question about it.  The fact that Mr. Podesta either endorses this (going back to the beginning as a 'perfect' strategy), or has overlooked it, does not speak well of his comprehension.  And his scorn - (a recurring theme) - serves as a delicious accent, undermining his assertion..
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