Memorization Tips

Some festivals or competitions require memorization. Naturally, there are pros and cons to being required to perform from memory. While some people memorize naturally after playing a piece enough times, others have to actively memorize. Here are some tips to improve your music memorization skills.

MAP out a plan. When do you have to have it memorized by? Then aim for 2-3 weeks prior to that date. Divide your music into sections and assign how ever many measures or lines by weeks you have. Then you have those 2-3 weeks to build your confidence by playing from memory.

SET daily memorization goals. Take your weekly goal and divide that into daily goals. It can be overwhelming to memorize a long piece, but if you take it in small steps, it will be much easier. Most of the time you only need to memorize a small portion each day. I’m a strong believer in setting goals.

KNOW your scales, thirds, and arpeggios. (Go watch the 1970 Disney movie called The Aristocats. There is a cute scene where the cats are practicing their scales and arpeggios.) One reason I emphasize a strong technique is because it makes everything easier, especially memorizing. If you know your fundamentals, you can find those in your music. Once you have discovered them, you don’t have to “read” every single note, you can see it as one idea, so to speak. Compare it to reading. At first you sound out each letter as in C-A-T. Then you see it as one word instead of 3 letters.

IDENTIFY patterns or notes that are almost patterns. I like to label scales or technical passages that are not readily recognizable It’s been handy when I pull my music out years later and I have those already marked in my music. Look for sequences or identify the musical form.

Labeling Scales
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