Playing from memory

Playing from memory

Playing from memory    09:30 on Tuesday, November 24, 2009          

(27 points)
Posted by blewit

I hope the topic-title is well phrased. I'm studying the horn
for two years now and, according to my teacher, I'm "hanging"
to much on the sheet music and notes.
I have to learn to play more out of my head and keep the sheet-
music just as a quick guideline.
Now I'm curious if there is any trick or method to achieve that ?
Does anyone know a good approach for this ?

Re: Playing from memory    15:30 on Tuesday, November 24, 2009          

(200 points)
Posted by Fredrick

Usually you could just play the music over and over until you had it memorized, but to speed up the process, you could try playing without the music as much as possible. Even if you can't play it right the first time, your brain has to work harder to try to remember it, so when you look at it again, you remember it better. Just be sure that you aren't playing it wrong for a long period of time, otherwise you'll continue to play it that way.

I can't think of any good tricks or methods to make it easier. The human brain is a wonderful tool, so just try your hardest and you'll get it. You might try those brain exercising games they've got out now to stimulate your brain, or read a book on psychology or something like that.

Re: Playing from memory    16:22 on Tuesday, November 24, 2009          

(122 points)
Posted by EnigmusJ4

Memorisation is done best in chunking. Memorise the first line of music. Then the second line, then the third line. Don't advance to the next line until you can play all preceding lines by memory. Pay attention to slurs/articulation, and dynamics, not just notes. Analyse the musical work to aide in the memorisation process. Identify themes and where they are stated or manipulated. Observe any modulations. Any musician on any instrument will observe this memorisation process in a similar fashion.

Re: Playing from memory    16:24 on Tuesday, November 24, 2009          

(39 points)
Posted by flymagicmidget

In my experience there are two types of memory for learning music.

Finger memory which is how most people learn scales where the notes just come naturally to the fingers and you are not mentally thinking B, D, C etc. but more 2nd, 1st&2nd, Open etc.

Alternatively sometimes you can learn a piece's actual notes, like photographic memory, where you can see the score in your head.

In my opinion finger memory is far better, as it allows you to transport yourself away almost and just let the music flow. You can literally go through whole performances not aware of what you are doing, almost in a dream as the notes come naturally allowing tonnes of emotion to come flooding through.

In terms of learning music, i would advise you just listen to your piece as much as possible if possible, play it through loads and loads of times and then try and not think too much and over time, the combinations should just come!! For example i can play the entire mozart concertos from memory but i could probably not write out 5 bars without working out what note comes from my fingerings.

Its confusing but hopefully i have explained it!

Re: Playing from memory    16:25 on Tuesday, November 24, 2009          

(1279 points)
Posted by JOhnlovemusic

Your teacher might be referring to a common habit of reading each note one at a time. It is common for students to read each note individually instead of looking at the phrasing of the music. There are 3 basic types of reading; 1)you read each note 2)you look a head but wait at the end of the line 3)you concstantly read ahead to see what is coming. When reading each note the msuic will not sound very musical. When reading by line your eyes stay ahead of your playing until you come to the end of the line, then your brain waits until you get to the last note before moving to the next line of music. And the 3rd method is obviously our favorite.

Try doing lots of sight reading. Read the music slowly but keep a constant tempo and try not to wait at the end of the line. Look for patterns; instead of reading a run like D-E-F#-G-A-B. Look at it as a run of 6 notes starting on D in the ket of D major. Instead of G-A-B-C#-D; look at it also as a D major scale starting on G. D-B-C#-A-B-G-A-F# is a D major scale descending in 3rds. This will get you to back away from the sheet music a little bit and play more musical phrases.

Re: Playing from memory    10:40 on Wednesday, November 25, 2009          

(27 points)
Posted by blewit

Yes, that's what I'm do´ng : reading each note and not reading
ahead. And when I got a note wrong I'm tending to correct it
right away. That confuses me and my playing will stuck.
I guess I'm still a novice after two years of learning to read
music and learning to play the french horn and must give it
some time.
It certainly helps to read the advices given to me on this forum !

Re: Playing from memory    11:27 on Wednesday, November 25, 2009          

(39 points)
Posted by flymagicmidget

Ah yes, I remember the times of slow reading and self correction!!

It really is something which will come with time and experience. As you develop as a horn player and musician you will also become more familiar with the music you will be able to look more ahead into the music and not follow the note. There isnt much you can do until then really, other than to try and not correct yourself!!

Make a mental note of any mistakes you make and then instead of correcting them immediately wait until you have played the piece through and then go back and correct yourself!

Just have patience, it will come but to help you can always just get your hands on some sight-reading material, even old piano solo books in which you can just play the melody in. I have a huge book of simple disney songs for example and i do from time to time just play through the melodies of them. Although i know most of the tunes, its still sight reading and helps!

Re: Playing from memory    23:29 on Monday, December 21, 2009          

(222 points)
Posted by Val_Wells

I used to teach piano by the Suzuki method. My students and I memorized huge volumes of music by listening to recordings of the music to be memorized every day and learning it in "chunks" as advised above. I told my students that the listening does not have to be "active" to be effective. I told them just turn on the tape player softly in the background and go about their normal activities. I even allowed them to listen while they slept.

Thanks for asking this question. I'd all but forgotten this important lesson until you asked. Now I know why I'm having so much trouble memorizing my horn literature. I'm not taking advantage of opportunities to listen.

The Suzuki method makes it very easy and convenient to listen. There is a recording to accompany every book of study. It would be wonderful if someone would make a horn method similar to Suzuki methods for other instruments. That would be a big help for horn instructors and students.

Valerie Wells


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