Written by The Weekend Vote
Published: August 29, 2014 at 5:09 PM [UTC]
Performing a with the music and performing by memory involve different levels of preparation and different kinds of concentration.
"If you don't know it by memory, you don't really know it. It has to become part of you," said Curtis Professor of Violin Aaron Rosand in a recent interview with Violinist.com. The English language has a nice idiom for playing by memory: "playing by heart." Anyone who has put in the effort to memorize something knows that this saying contains much truth.
Students routinely memorize pieces for their teachers and often are required to perform them in recital. In the early stages, some students prefer playing by memory to reading music. But what happens when we move on from being students? Once we get adept at reading, though, we can also grow reliant on it. The wonderful thing about reading music is that it allows us to play new music on sight and prepare a performance without as much rehearsal as memorization would take. Orchestra playing often involves just a few rehearsals -- with music, of course!
And once you move past having a teacher, do you memorize music on your own?
When was the last time you memorized music, and performed it? Please vote, and share your thoughts about this topic in the comments section below.
This may be a duplicate post. Didn't notice I wasn't logged in earlier; so previous attempt a few minutes ago was unnamed. You may throw it out.
I learned the practical importance of memorization the hard way when at church a couple of years ago. While playing Franck's «Panis Angelicus» for a communion anthem, a photographer set a camera flash off right in front of my face, washing out my vision and for an anxious moment rendered the page useless. I had no choice but to continue to play from memory.
Yes, I still put my sheet music on a stand, but if a draft blows it away, or someone accidentally knocks it over, I play on. To be able to do so, even when I may not need to, I'm now convinced is necessary for musicianship.
Rosand is right, you cant internalize, visceralize a piece until it's soundly memorized. If one does not have a lot of experience performing or gets very nrevous, though, or if one was never taught to memorize when young, as in my case, then it's hard. Funny thing is that I memorize my daughter's pieces just fine, maybe because I dont feel the pressure that comes with thinking about performing them.
Did I say pressure? I meant weight...
On the other hand, afternoon sessions, a few hours earlier, are definitely practice -- with sheet music at hand.
That is interesting. I am sure I do not remember the visual image of my sheet music, the melody just plays in my head, and, given that I have had enough repetitions, my fingers try to find that melody. I used to sing a lot before. My vocal teacher told me to sit down with a new song and a cup of tea, and just sing it inside my head a couple times, then put it away. The next morning after waking up the song would play in my head like a radio. Usually I would never look at the sheet music again.
Even though I am a beginner (of nearly 3 years now) with the violin it seems to work in a similar manner. Of course there is the added complexity of where on the fingerboard one is playing a melody. It has happened more then once that, while practicing from memory, I played the right notes but in the 'wrong' position, i.e. a position that I had never played it in before. Very interesting how the mind works!
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