Memorizing Music is an integral part of Learning Music. You need to follow a consistent process for memorizing all your songs.
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Learning to Memorize Music
I am sure you must have seen a lot of performers who play without referring to the written music. Even the ones who have the written music in front of them actually know the music thoroughly and can play it without the written music.
So besides learning to play the piano, you will also have to develop a solid memorization process so that you can consistently learn new pieces and perform whenever needed.
Break it Down
The best method is to break the piece down into various sections.
Start with the most difficult section and learn it. Learn to say the notes aloud for each hand; learn to play each hand separately. Once comfortable, play both the hands together.
Go on to the next most difficult section and continue the process till the complete piece is covered.
Using this approach (breaking down into pieces/sections), you can learn complex/lengthy pieces as well (which look daunting initially). Now you can practice the entire song, play from the beginning. Once the piece is memorized, you can work on expressions. You can concentrate on the other factors of the piece like dynamics, articulations, and pedaling.
Look for Patterns
Try to look for patterns (musical phrases) in the music. Many a times, the piece of music may look very lengthy in the first place, but a closer look will reveal that several patterns are getting repeated throughout the piece.
If there are lots of repeating patterns, it work to your advantage, because once you memorize a phrase or section, you just have to recall it from memory the next time you encounter it.
Note: In some cases, the phrase or section may start on a different note/key (known as modulation), which is also comparatively easier to learn.
Test it Out
You may even test out your memory to check if you can recall the pieces whenever needed. Just number the various sections and ask your friend/teacher to call out those numbers; see if you can respond correctly to those numbers.
Other ways to ensure your have memorized the piece thoroughly.
- Vary the tempo; play it slower as well as faster
- Play one hand at a time
- Leave the piece in-between; have a glass of water and come back; see if you can continue
- Play on different pianos, at different locations
Its not just about knowing the notes of the song, you have to remember the key signature, time signature, dynamics, and all aspects of the song.
It means you will need to read the music thoroughly.
Once you know the entire piece, focus on the dynamics and get it right.
I hate to say this, but you cannot expect improvement if you are not going to practice. And the same goes for memorizing as well; the more you practice, the better your brain will remember. Make sure, you focus on the dynamics as well while practicing.
Final Thoughts on Memorizing Music
Music memorisation is a process and once you use it in a consistent manner, it becomes easier to learn difficult pieces as well. At the same time, small memory slips and mistakes do happen from time and time. With practice, you will learn to cover up those by improvising, and moving ahead with the piece.