How to learn music quickly
How do you learn a piece of music quickly so that you're working on spending your time on phrasing and dynamics rather than just learning the notes? I'm working on the Bach Dm Partita (currently on the Giga) and it's taking me way too long to memorize it and get to performance level. Maybe it's my age, although I still have 40 years to live I'm told. Thank you.
I did see a very interesting article here: https://yourmusiclessons.com/blog/how-to-memorize-music-5-times-faster/
I didn't really agree with several points in the article:
I just read the music and play it. Always have, always will. Probably lets me play 99% more stuff.
Listen to it over and over and over and over...
I am with Andrew.
In my opinion, listening is actually a bigger part of memorization than playing. That, and being able to play from beginning to end (without stopping in the middle) multiple times in a row. If you're having to stop in the middle of a piece because of technical challenges, then you aren't ready to memorize it yet.
Listen to it a hundred times, and make sure it is on while you are falling asleep. Seriously, your brain learns it really well when you are halfway asleep. This will get you to the memorization point of being able to sing/hum the piece all the way through. After that, it is typically easy to fill in the technical stuff, using muscle memory.
Listen, listen, listen.
I am also with Andy Victor.
Lydia, I agree, and I'm definitely trying not to divorce the learning of the piece from the phrasing and dynamics. However, it's a matter of degree--I want to learn the piece quickly so that I can work on the expression. That's my stumbling block at the moment. It takes me too long to get to the point where I no longer need to look at the music and can concentrate on my intonation, bow arm, etc.
Fellow SLOW music reader. So, so slow. I blame the early ear training and my subsequent reliance on it. Trying to get better now but in the meantime, I listen---a LOT. I guess still doing as I was initially trained: always be listening to the piece you're currently working on as well as the one you'll be doing next. Be able to sing the notes! If you can sing the notes, you can work out playing them.
Repetitive listening will help the passive memory of the piece, but not the active memory that you need to play the piece. There are 4 stages to learning a piece 1) sight-reading, to find out if you want to play it and whether it is within your technical limits. 2) choreography - working out your personal fingerings and bowings. 3) repetition and polishing to turn those motions into habits. 4) memorization. To reduce the time you can move directly from stage 2 to 4, active memorization. Learn very short phrases, NOT looking at the paper while playing. On successive days connect the short phrases to longer sections. It takes many days in succession - not skipping days. Some of the learning happens when asleep. It is hard work. To be simplistic: memorization forces you to learn how to play the piece. Memorization of the standard works is best done while the brain is still young and uncluttered. I can testify that it gets 3 times harder after age ____.
For me, a properly memorized piece can be played in my head without the music. That is, I can hear the work in my head and internally feel myself playing the work, in detail. Anything that feels "blurry" in that process is not securely memorized.
This is rather an interesting thread. One thing that surprised me was this idea that one memorizes a piece in order to afterwards being "free" to work on phrasing, dynamic, expression.
---One thing I discovered for memorization is that the clever fingerings and bowings I invent frequently don't work when playing up to tempo from memory, then it gets revised again to something more primitive or traditional.
I don't memorize a story just to realize how happy or sad it is, afterwards.
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