Tips for Memorizing a Passage

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Dave in Canada

Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Dave in Canada » Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:41 pm

Maybe it's my age (47) but I find it takes more effort for me to memorize a passage than it used to. For sure the easiest way I know if I really like a piece is to hear the recording of it over and over til its 'in my head' and then learn the written music to it. But sometimes you come across a piece that doesn't give you that option, and you have to do without music.

I'm not a professional musician, and I bet there are some brillaint tips/ideas to be had here in this forum for memorization that I and some others would love to hear, any volunteers? :merci:

barry haywood
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Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by barry haywood » Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:30 am

Hi Dave,
I use many techniques for memorising, including learning to sing the melody line - remembering the chord/harmonic sequence - playing the passage a million times etc. All of these give some success, but the one thing that never fails me (and sadly I never do this until all others have failed :( ) is to copy out the passage on manuscript paper, repeatedly, until I can write it from memory. Time consuming but, for me, almost infallible. When I can write without error, I can play without hesitation.
Another technique I use with my younger pupils is to coach them into visualising their hand movements on the strings - without moving the hands or holding the guitar - until they can "see" the correct sequence of movements and describe them to me accurately. Usually when they acheive this they can then play through the passage, slowly, with confidence. The passage needs to be short but we frequently manage 16 bars in one lesson. Strangely, I find few pupils over the age of about 12 who can "visualise" clearly enough to use this method.
I have often used the last few minutes before falling asleep at night to calmly think through a troublesome passage.
At times, having my hands on the guitar prevents me from processing clearly.

Sorry if this seems confusing. I am just typing as I am thinking it through.

If age is significant, I am 76. What I describe still works for me.

Best of luck
Barry
If you don't grow up, you'll never grow old.

RaphaelPazos

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by RaphaelPazos » Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:49 am

Thanks Barry, that's some very good advice!

Pragueguy

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Pragueguy » Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:35 pm

I don't have any real problem memorizing passages, nor entire pieces of a few pages.

I think it is because I have an excellent teacher and together we can spend anywhere from 6-12 mos. - sometimes even more - of 'elapsed' time on a piece (always working on some other pieces at the same time). It means that an enormous amount of discussion/etc. surrounding the piece of music and HOW TO INTERPRET IT is involved.

The result of that is that I have a very deep and clear idea of what the piece means and how I am trying to 'interpret' it. Therefore I really know the piece very well and have no problem memorizing it.

I'm not sure if most amateurs are so deeply involved in the pieces that they play. My guess is that they are not.

But I also doubt that I could do this completely 'on my own'.

Mike

Nick Cutroneo
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Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:28 pm

It might be worth looking at an article I wrote on my website a year or so ago about Memorization: http://www.nickcutroneo.com/what-is-rea ... memorizing
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Erik Zurcher » Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:37 pm

Dave, I can only endorse Nick Cutroneo's post above. I find his article about memorizing the best I have ever read. Thank you again, Nick!
Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

barry haywood
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Location: Nottinghamshire UK

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by barry haywood » Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:56 pm

I have traced the book which triggered my use of visualisation as an aid to memorising, it is "Not Pulling Strings" by Joseph Connor - you can find it here

http://www.howtopractice.com/content/No ... -Strings-1

Some interesting thoughts within.

Regards
Barry
If you don't grow up, you'll never grow old.

Nick Cutroneo
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Location: Manchester, CT

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Nick Cutroneo » Sun Feb 05, 2012 11:25 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:Dave, I can only endorse Nick Cutroneo's post above. I find his article about memorizing the best I have ever read. Thank you again, Nick!
Thanks! I'm glad you found it meaningful and useful. I hope that others do as well.
Nick Cutroneo - Classical Guitarist, performer/teacher/suzuki instructor

Dave in Canada

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by Dave in Canada » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:54 am

Ok I'm definitely going to try singing out the melody for starters, thank-you all for such great advice!

sgraham924
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Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by sgraham924 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:23 pm

Here's one that'll really get you working: Try playing the same passage a fret higher/lower keeping open strings open and see if your fingers remember it. I don't do this much, because it's very hard to do, but it ensures you know the pattern through muscle memory rather than relying on the pitches.

John D

Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by John D » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:15 pm

My memory isn't great but I can sight read really well and there is an argument that these 2 things are connected. One for later me thinks!
I found that by learning the piece in reverse really helped. Not actually backwards but start from the last bar or two and work your way back to the start. As a teacher I find many occasions where students play the first page well and gradualy decline to the end. This is due,partly, to the amount of time spent going over the beginning and not actaually getting to the end! If we start learning from the end when we play we are actually moving toward passages that we know better.
This does work and can lead to a much more confident performance that improves as it gets nearer to the end.

ashepps
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Re: Tips for Memorizing a Passage

Post by ashepps » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:09 pm

John D wrote:My memory isn't great but I can sight read really well and there is an argument that these 2 things are connected. One for later me thinks!
I found that by learning the piece in reverse really helped. Not actually backwards but start from the last bar or two and work your way back to the start. As a teacher I find many occasions where students play the first page well and gradually decline to the end. This is due,partly, to the amount of time spent going over the beginning and not actually getting to the end! If we start learning from the end when we play we are actually moving toward passages that we know better. This does work and can lead to a much more confident performance that improves as it gets nearer to the end.
================

John,

This is a very old post, but I believe you hit the "nail on the head"! While you may not see this post there must be many of us out there that do the same thing and definitely that's what I do. I get all too familiar with the 1st page and neglect the 2nd. Years later I have found that this was the biggest impediment of trying to play old material. That now includes newer pieces and have just been coming around to notice this myself.

Hopefully, this will help other members to at least try and practice the 2nd half or ending far more. But, starting with the last measure as you suggest, would not be realistic for me.

You have made a good point of what many guitarist do with a piece of music. The ending always seems to needs work!

Alan
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