Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Learning Music Off By Heart

  1. #1
    Newbies
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    4
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Learning Music Off By Heart

    OK, so I'm not a beginner, I've been playing music for about 13 years. I am however a complete novice at learning music off by heart.
    I rely very heavily on sheet music and it seems that however much I practice it just doesn't sink into my memory.
    Does anyone have any tips for abandoning the music and improving my memory?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,247
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Here's a method.

    Take your score and divide it into equal parts (mark with points on the score). Make sure the parts are completely at random: avoid start and ending of phrases, make them fall right inbetween the music.

    Study from the last point to the end until you know it by heart. Study from one point further back to the last before the end till you know it by heart. Then study both of them till the end. Keep adding a part each time.


    Learning the score without playing could also be an aid.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Posts
    1,709
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzz2873 View Post
    OK, so I'm not a beginner, I've been playing music for about 13 years. I am however a complete novice at learning music off by heart.
    I rely very heavily on sheet music and it seems that however much I practice it just doesn't sink into my memory.
    Does anyone have any tips for abandoning the music and improving my memory?
    What are you playing?

    The technique to learn music off by heart, relies on a different part of your brain than the visual cortex which receives the information.

    Think of riding a bicycle: if you have to ask yourself where to start, and what to do next, it isn't second nature.

    In order to play by heart, you need to break down the score into phrases, or sentences. Then you learn each sentence, and piece them together as Rasa says. However you need to do the fingering (mechanics), like pedalling, or riding a bike. You can do this on the train; on a bus when you're travelling, and practice with an invisible instrument in your spare time. If you're new to it, then learn no more than 4 bars at one time, until you've mastered all 4 bars by repetition. Repeat it with an instrument; without an instrument; in your head, and try it out to make sure it comes out right. Try not to do too much, and look over what you've learnt, the next day, so that you build it up piecemeal, with no nasty surprise amnesic attacks.

    When you are able to encode mechanical procedures [the fingering] into procedural memory, that is, the part of your brain which automatically brushes teeth, without you having to ask where to start, or how to get the toothpaste onto the brush, it will be second nature.

    I've got to say this method works brilliantly for me. I've almost learnt the first three notes of 'Three Blind Mice' doing it this way

  4. #4
    Senior Member Xaltotun's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Helsinki, Finland
    Posts
    1,722
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    When I played the piano ages ago, reading notes was extremely difficult for me. I had to learn ALL the pieces by heart, to be able to play them at all. That was the easy part for me. Once I slowly figured out the notes and learned how the piece "sung", the job was done and I could play it by heart. So I guess that our brains are different!
    Wäre das Faktum wahr, – wäre der außerordentliche Fall wirklich eingetreten, daß die politische Gesetzgebung der Vernunft übertragen, der Mensch als Selbstzweck respektiert und behandelt, das Gesetz auf den Thron erhoben, und wahre Freiheit zur Grundlage des Staatsgebäudes gemacht worden, so wollte ich auf ewig von den Musen Abschied nehmen, und dem herrlichsten aller Kunstwerke, der Monarchie der Vernunft, alle meine Thätigkeit widmen.

  5. Likes HerlockSholmes liked this post
  6. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    111
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Mstislav Rostropovich used to be able to learn an entire concerto in about a week and play in concert, without any sheet music in front of him. This could be a trait that's innate in some human beings and missing in others (myself, for instance).

  7. #6
    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    1,247
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Head_case View Post

    In order to play by heart, you need to break down the score into phrases, or sentences. Then you learn each sentence, and piece them together as Rasa says.
    Actually I'm suggesting exactly the opposite when it comes to choosing the start and endpoints of memory bits. Starts and end of phrases are obvious and most likely you'll know them already. By selecting odd points, such as in the middle of a phrase, you actively create a new (artificial) reference point.

  8. #7
    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hialeah, FL
    Posts
    2,582
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Wow...well, if not being able to play without reading is your problem maybe you can try learning a piece completely by ear...that and compose some stuff but don't write anything down, only in your head...if you got nothing to read, maybe your mind will begin to take notes...definitely something you want to defeat!...g'luck

  9. #8
    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Vancouver, WA
    Posts
    1,041
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I found this (free) book a while ago. It's supposed to be all about memorizing piano pieces, but I can't tell you if it works or not, as I haven't read the whole thing yet. You might want to look at it, though. http://www.pianofundamentals.com/

  10. #9
    Junior Member Jobe's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Birmingham, Uk
    Posts
    39
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I'm going to attempt some of this advice, for I too am hopeless at memorizing music and it seems like such a lovely skill. I used to be able to do it, and have still retained a few of the pieces such as Fur Elise, Turkish Rondo, Minute Waltz before I started properly having lessons (It wasn't in any way beneficial, but I'd always try to play really difficult pieces despite not having completed a single grade). That said, you'd hopefully be a good site reader if you don't memorize everything. It's one of my stronger points in comparison I think.
    Mstislav Rostropovich used to be able to learn an entire concerto in about a week and play in concert, without any sheet music in front of him. This could be a trait that's innate in some human beings and missing in others (myself, for instance).
    But this has made me right jealous...

  11. #10
    Newbies
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    5
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    My teacher makes me play the piece off sheet music at first, and then asks me to play it by heart right away, training my memory. He says that, true, some people have a good music talent. But if someone doesn't, it's not bad, because this is kind of skill that can be acquired with practice. Play with sheet music, and then try to play by heart right off the bat and try hard not to peek into the sheet music, no matter how few notes you remembered, try to make yourself remember the music, then, play again and let yourself peek and, so on and so on. At least it works for me, more or less. But I play the same piece over and over until I can freely play it at a rather fast pace.

  12. #11
    Banned
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Thunder-ten-tronckh
    Posts
    173
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Xaltotun View Post
    When I played the piano ages ago, reading notes was extremely difficult for me. I had to learn ALL the pieces by heart, to be able to play them at all. That was the easy part for me. Once I slowly figured out the notes and learned how the piece "sung", the job was done and I could play it by heart. So I guess that our brains are different!
    It's the exact same with me right now.

  13. #12
    Newbies
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    1
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    It might be to do with age. I'm doing Trinity exams late in life and cannot learn anything off by heart but can play all the stuff I learned as a child, a choir leader and arranger of songs. It's something to do with long and short-term memory.

  14. #13
    Senior Member pianississimo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Bradford, UK
    Posts
    265
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I bought a book (Sight reading for Fun, P Lawson) which is a sight reading guide for grade 6 and above (It says grade 5 but it was published in 1992 and the ABRSM have reduced the requirements in sight reading up to grade 6 since then.)

    It advocates the practicing of playing chord progressions and of reading them from the page as you do it.
    This is to train your eye and your hands to fall into the common patterns of chords.
    An added benefit that I've found is that by reading chords as progressions helps to cement them into the memory better.
    Even very classical styles when the left hand chords are broken up can be identified and memorized in this way.

    You're a lot more advanced than me and probably already know all this but I know it is helping me!!

  15. Likes Taggart, Ingélou liked this post
  16. #14
    Senior Member JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    641
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default

    I see this is an old thread, but it is still a relevant issue for many, I would think.

    I think remembering a tune or a piece is something you let happen, not something you go about doing, like memorizing. So what I do to is quite simple. I just play a single piece really often. No, really really often. When I am learning a new tune from sheet music I just play the potatoes out of it. Then I look away and play it, allowing myself to peek to peek. Then I gradually reduce the amount of peeks.

    It gets easier with practice, but its never easy, and the mental process is such a mystery. I don't know how it happens, but I can't make it happen faster.
    How did I become a senior member? I only recently figured out where the restrooms are.

Similar Threads

  1. iPhone App for learning Music Rhythm Notation?
    By midiman in forum Beginners
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: Feb-07-2011, 11:26
  2. Which software fo learning music?
    By Foriero in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Jan-20-2011, 17:55
  3. Do you know any symphony by heart?
    By Whistlerguy in forum Orchestral Music
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: Nov-21-2010, 16:28
  4. Music is good for the heart!
    By Tapkaara in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: May-13-2009, 12:46
  5. Learning To Read Music
    By Pianoforte in forum Community Forum
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: Dec-21-2007, 17:36

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •