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The Piano Player, Issue #33 -- To Memorize Music- Or Not?
September 01, 2016

To Memorize Music- Or Not?

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September 1, 2016. Issue #33

In this issue:

What's New and Updated?

Piano Books for Adult Beginners

Reviews and recommendations of the best piano books for adult beginners, especially what piano methods that are the best for adult learners.

Read More >>>

Free Public Domain Sheet Music

Free public domain sheet music: Finding free online piano sheet music can be time consuming and frustrating. Music released in the public domain is free and legal to use. Here are the best sites.

Read More >>>

Czerny op 599

Dear Maria, Hi, thanks for this useful website. I have finished Beyer and now I am practicing Czerny opus 599.

Also, I have learnt several pieces which I cannot play them properly now! (this is another problem that I am trying to solve it by your good tips for practicing!)

Here, I want to ask you for the best way for practicing Czerny. I found it very hard to learn, very hard to memorize (to teach my fingers, as you said!)

Read More >>>

Harmonic Minor Scales Piano Chart

Here are all the 12 minor harmonic scales with fingering, easy to see and play as picture scales.

The picture charts show all the 12 harmonic scales in minor, easy to understand and play with the correct fingering. If you play the same pattern again and again, you can play as many octaves as you like, up and down.

Read More >>>

Piano Practice and Technique Tips & Tricks

To Memorize- Or Not?

To memorize or not, that is the question…

As pianists, memorizing sheet music comes with the territory. As a pianist you are simply expected to perform by ear or by heart, depending on the style of music you are playing.

For "classical"pianists this can become an extra "burden" when performing, adding additional stress and anxiety to a performance, since when playing by heart, there are so many things that can go wrong.

Some have the fortune to memorize piano pieces easily. Happy times! By learning a piece bit by bit and studying all the parts that make up the whole, they will "automatically" memorize the piece. If this is you, consider yourself lucky!

Then there is a whole spectrum of pianists that will struggle with memorisation to a lesser or higher degree. Unfortunately it doesn't get better as we age.

Then again, there are plenty of musicians of other instuments that have no qualms performing with sheet music in front of them, so why do pianists, who also have at least two staves and many more notes(!) to learn, "have" to memorize the music?

Well, one practical reason is that you wont have to turn any pages. A piano score with its grand staff layout takes up much more space than a single staff that most other instruments use, so turning the pages can become quite a nuisance.

It's often thought that you play better and with more feeling by heart than with notes, but I question that. That would be saying that every orchestra member, or chamber music musician, is playing with less feeling and expression.

To play by heart became popular during the Romantic era (1820-1900). Franz Liszt was a good example of a piano virtuoso who played all music by heart, a great magician of impressive music performance! However in earlier times, playing with the sheet music was customary, and playing without it was even considered bad taste!

Practicing memorization is actually a great brain-gym. By learning memorization techniques, and adding some memorization to your daily practice you will boost your brain and keep "cob-webs" at bay. Make sure to start with small and simple pieces. The more you memorize, and keep on doing it, the easier it gets.

As for performing, I wouldn't let it memorization stop you. If you have securely memorized a piece, by all means perform it by heart, especially if you are comfortable doing so. But if you have a hard time memorizing, perform with the sheet music. There are famous pianists who perform with sheet music, if not all the time then at least some of the time.

You can read about memorization techniques here: How to Memorize Sheet Music

What do you think? Share your thoughts! See the comments below.

Happy practicing!

Your Online Piano Coach,

Comments? Ideas? Feedback?

I'd love to hear from you. Just reply to this e-zine and tell me what you think!

See you next time!


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