Memorizing is one of the best ways to achieve mastery and control over a piece of music - but it certainly comes easier to some than others.
As with many aspects of learning a musical instrument, it gets better with practice.
One strategy is to play something a lot of times, until magically it is memorized. As you might be able to guess, this does not work 100 percent of the time, especially when things get complex!
Since everyone's brain is different, certain strategies work more effectively for some people than others. For example, a visual learner (perhaps with a photographic memory) may be able to picture the sheet music in his or her head. A more tactile or physical learner might rely on muscle memory: which fingers fire when and how that feels. An aural learner might depend more on the sound of the music, referring to a version in their mind that they can hear. I'd say the most-overlooked trick for memorizing is simply listening!
Whatever your dominant way of memorizing, it's always a good policy to back it up with all of the strategies, so that even if you can see the music in your head, you've also thought about muscle memory and listening.
There are those who simply do not memorize their music, but I would encourage at least the occasional memorizing of music. Having been a violin teacher for more than 20 years, I can say that I have never had a student so far who could not memorize music at an appropriate level. The very act of memorizing will give you a certain mastery over a piece, something that greatly helps with performance.
What is your dominant strategy for memorizing music? And please share any helpful suggestions below!
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