Piano Forum



International Piano Day 2024
Piano Day is an annual worldwide event that takes place on the 88th day of the year, which in 2024 is March 28. Established in 2015, it is now well known across the globe. Every year it provokes special concerts, onstage and online, as well as radio shows, podcasts, and playlists. Read more >>

Topic: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement  (Read 1325 times)

Offline mediocrepianist123

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 7
Iím having a surprisingly difficult time memorizing the Waldstein especially compared to pieces of similar technical difficulty I have played before. I usually never have any problems memorizing. I have been working on the piece for a little over 2 weeks. Iím actually a little alarmed as to my mental state.  Did you have similar difficulties with memorization? How long did it take you to be able to play the first movement at full tempo by memory? I can play from begging to end with the music at allegro moderato fairly smoothly.
Sign up for a Piano Street membership to download this piano score.
Sign up for FREE! >>

Offline visitor

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5294
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #1 on: November 26, 2021, 08:14:04 PM
It will vary from piece to piece , you don't state what kind of memory there are several
Ie muscle memory (least reliable )
Theoretical ie to know musically where in the form you are while playing. You also away from. Keyboard can state the key and harmony of the measures you are playing , you can state the notes or melodic line
Visual , you can see the score in your mind or can close your eyes and see it in your head away from the paino, you know what page and measure number you are on when you play or Your instructoe or a master class  teacher might ask to to jump to a particular measure and You can

Usually a working knowledge of a combo of the above will give the most reliable working memory Ina performance or a variety of stressor environments

So just takes time and work , I have some 20th century pieces I work on and a year later it's not fully memorized but I get a bit more and more if it under me each practice session and score study some prices I'll memorize fairly quickly maybe a few weeks etc

Offline perfect_pitch

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8539
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #2 on: November 26, 2021, 11:20:42 PM
It will vary from piece to piece , you don't state what kind of memory there are several
Ie muscle memory (least reliable )
Theoretical ie to know musically where in the form you are while playing. You also away from. Keyboard can state the key and harmony of the measures you are playing , you can state the notes or melodic line
Visual , you can see the score in your mind or can close your eyes and see it in your head away from the paino

You also forgot aural... some people are so good with their pitch that they memorise the sound of the piece and in a memory blank, work out the notes from the sound in their head.

Offline sharpie

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 6
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #3 on: November 27, 2021, 02:40:10 AM
I cannot memorize things to save my life. That said, when I did have to do it for recitals, it was a lot harder with pieces I didnít like very much. Maybe the piece doesnít speak to you.

Offline lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 7505
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #4 on: November 27, 2021, 03:44:53 AM
Come back after a month or so. It seems you are quite hard on yourself. Keep playing with the music, start writing out any observations you see which help you remember what comes next. Start covering parts of the score with post it notes or something. Colour in the parts of the music and have it all in front of you at once so you can see the entire landscape of the piece. When I help my students memorise pieces often we highlight parts which are easily memorisable, parts which are easily sight readable at tempo, parts which offer medium challenge to memorise and then the troublesome parts. We often learn the piece in terms of pattern rather than going from bar 1 to end, so we learn all the groups which have something in common, then we go back and piece it all consecutively together.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.pianovision.com

Offline arda152

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 21
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #5 on: November 27, 2021, 11:44:03 AM
How big were your practice sections? Almost every time when this happens to me, it is a clear sign that I overestimated my superpowers of photographic memory (or underestimated the complexity of the piece).

I am talking about creating overlapping sections and working on the memorisation of each of them as if they were completely independent compositions, then putting it all together.

Part A measures 1-20
Part B m. 15-35
Part C m. 30-50 etc.

It's your job to find musically acceptable parts, of course :) (and to be honest about learning them perfectly before joining the parts, that is much more difficult than it sounds)

Does that help? I am looking forward to hearing your feedback on that!

Offline visitor

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 5294
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #6 on: November 29, 2021, 01:59:47 AM
You also forgot aural... some people are so good with their pitch that they memorise the sound of the piece and in a memory blank, work out the notes from the sound in their head.
definitely yes totally forgot
It works well for example play one hand separate and hear the other hand in your head , turn and flip play left hand hear the right hand etc

Offline jimf12

  • PS Silver Member
  • Jr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 84
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #7 on: November 29, 2021, 07:58:31 PM
I am not good memorizing, I think laziness is the main culprit.   I'm trying to remedy that, my teacher suggested spending some time with the score away from the piano, and also covering the score when I am at the piano.    Another tactic that I wonder about - when I was in college I was big on rewriting my notes.   I would rewrite the notes meticulously,  and it just seemed to help with recall.   That seems like a reasonable way to help with music, right?   I'm thinking about just transcribing the pieces onto blank score sheets. 

Offline lelle

  • PS Gold Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2229
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #8 on: November 29, 2021, 09:08:31 PM
In addition to the things visitor mentioned (visual memory - I'd argue remembering both how the score looks and how your hands look on the keyboard ie which locations - , aural memory, knowing the structure, key and harmony - I'd argue understanding the harmonic function and what progressions the composer is using is included in that - and muscle memory) I tend to memorize in large scale musical gestures. This ties into knowing the key, harmony, melody and so on. But for example, you can memorize entire bars instantly by just knowing that "this is a c major scale that starts on g3 and ends on g5, and in the left hand there is a G7 chord (the dominant) in root position". Or "this is an E major scale in triplets, except he has added THIS and THIS chromatic tone HERE and HERE". Beethoven in particular constructs a lot of his music from basic scale and triad building blocks, which makes it easy to memorize in this way.

Offline ranjit

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1415
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #9 on: November 29, 2021, 09:37:15 PM
But for example, you can memorize entire bars instantly by just knowing that "this is a c major scale that starts on g3 and ends on g5, and in the left hand there is a G7 chord (the dominant) in root position". Or "this is an E major scale in triplets, except he has added THIS and THIS chromatic tone HERE and HERE". Beethoven in particular constructs a lot of his music from basic scale and triad building blocks, which makes it easy to memorize in this way.
This, exactly. I never memorize note by note, the memory turns out to be too shaky and unreliable. Large scale musical gestures like these can help you memorize much quicker. If you truly master this you can memorize straight from the page. Another good thing about it is that it can help you recover and approximate bars much quicker. When I play for friends, I often play pieces I haven't touched in a while (say a few weeks). But with a combination of understanding the sections, theoretical understanding, muscle memory, and auditory memory, I can play them convincingly. Even if I take the wrong inversion of a chord someplace because I forgot it, it doesn't matter as long as it doesn't interrupt the flow of the piece.

Offline rmchenry

  • PS Gold Member
  • Newbie
  • *****
  • Posts: 22
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #10 on: December 02, 2021, 10:52:19 AM
Sharpie in a previous post brought up the idea that the piece didn't speak to you.
I think sharpie has made a really good point.
What I suggest is that you stop practising it for a few days and spend time listening to recorded versions of the Waldstein - try Arrau and Barenboim for starters.
If listening to great versions of this sonata don't stoke a passion to play it - give up on it and start another one -Appassionata??

Offline danpiano37

  • PS Silver Member
  • Newbie
  • ***
  • Posts: 12
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #11 on: December 23, 2021, 02:52:30 AM
Yep totally agree, you should only play pieces you love, life's too short to just play pieces you like.
There's some great suggestions in previous replies to this question. For what it's worth here's my method for memorising a piece:

1. Have it clear in my head before I start that I'm going to memorise, this means I (both consciously and unconsciously) start looking for patterns, scales, arpeggios, and key centres right from the start.

2. Just play the piece with the music for a while (can be a couple of months, especially with a beast like the Waldstein)

3. Divide the piece up into its natural parts (like mentioned earlier) With the Waldstein it's first mvt sonata form so you need to know what's happening at the start of the exposition, development and, recapitulation. Even in the exposition, you should be able to picture the first chord (tonic of C major) of the 1st subject, then the first chord (E major) of the 2nd subject. It might be worth having a photocopied version of the score you can write harmonies and sections on, then once you've written the main sections and harmonies on this, close your eyes and go through them away from the piano.

4. Divide the piece up further so you can start from each page. Go through the starting points in your mind away from the piano

5. Divide the piece up again so you can start from each line by memory. Again, go through these points away from the piano.

(this last one seems extreme, and it kind of is, but it's SO useful to have a piece this well memorised for performance. I usually play the piece once a day backwards at this point - not literally backwards, but starting from the last line and playing till the end, then the second last line and playing to the start of the last line etc. Some of the start points will feel unmusical, but that's ok, you're preparing your mind for the performance)

6. Play it without the music, but super slow. So slow that a person who knows the piece and is wandering past might not even recognise it. This is hard, and takes concentration of steel, but is gold.

One last thing, and this kind of goes back to point 3, but how I would attack a piece like the Waldstein to memorise is with the harmony and patterns would be something like this:
Starts with tonic C major chord, moves via 3rd inv D7 chord to 1st inv G chord. Then same pattern starting from Bb major (wow, awesome harmony change btw) moving via 3rd inv C7 to 1st inv F major, then 1st inv f minor etc etc. On the 2nd page you have the left hand doing the B major arpeggios while the right does that cool run (worth memorising separately) culminating in the B major to E minor arpeggios. Then the transition section moving into E major for the 2nd subject

that's a very rough version but you get the idea.

Hope that's a help, man I love this piece, all 3 movements are awesome. And if you stick at it it will be worth it as you can get so much out of it

good luck!
Dan

Offline anacrusis

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 813
Re: Scarily difficult time memorizing Waldstein first movement
Reply #12 on: December 23, 2021, 10:49:51 PM
Lots of solid advice from Dan above, I fully agree.
For more information about this topic, click search below!
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert