Music Memorization Tips

Many people memorize music simply by playing their piece so many times that they are able to play their piece without looking at the music.This technique for memorizing music is very risky. If you can’t picture all the notes that you are playing, you could have one finger slip during a performance and you might be stuck! That is definitely a nerve-wracking situation. Here are a few music memorization tips that will help memorize your music well and even help take away some of your nerves during a performance.

Music Memorization Tips

1) Picture notes & keys in your head without your instrument.

Study the notes of your piece without your instrument and try to imagine playing all the keys. I like to picture playing the keys verses picturing the notes on the page because during a performance you don’t need to translate the notes to the to keys in your head. Memorize your fingering in addition to the notes. Always use the same fingering so ‘finger memory’ can help you.

2) Learn music theory.

There are many skills and techniques that can help you remember the notes. Knowing chords can help you to think of notes in groupings, making the notes easier to remember. Know what chords you are playing, what key you are in and where the chords fall in the key. Write the chords above the music to help you see the relationship between the notes and the chord played and the relationship between the chords. The more music theory that you know, the easier it is to memorize your piece.

When you are thinking of melody, memorize chord tones and non-chord tones. Think of high points in your phrase and phrase length. Think of intervals between the pitches. For many people, rhythm is easy to remember because it is easy to simply sing the rhythm in your head then play it. Often in music, the beginning of a phrase or section of music will be the same as the next phrase, or section but the endings are different because they lead to a different place. Memorize the differences and the order of the differences.

Once you learn a phrase, there are only three options moving forward, 1) The phrase can be repeated. 2) The phrase can be repeated with variation. 3) There is a new phrase that contrasts the previous phrase. By becoming aware of how the music works that you are trying to memorize, you bring clarity to your understanding of the music making it easier to remember.

3) Study ear training.

Learn to hear intervals so you can recreate a melody if you have a starting pitch. This skill goes a long way towards memorizing any melody.

4) Practice starting points in your piece.

Pick many places in your piece where you can simply start from if you need to. If your memory fails always go to the next starting point, don’t go back and try to replay music correctly. Memorize the form of large sections and transitions to each section. Don’t take this step for granted. Ideally you should be able to start or stop your piece on any given note.

5) Practice your memory skills daily.

Some musicians don’t play a note until they have memorized the entire piece. Start learning to memorize with this technique right away as a beginning student when the pieces are easier and your memory skills will grow with you musical abilities. Learning to memorize music helps your brain to develop strong memory skills that apply to everything that requires a good memory in life. It even helps you to be a better student in other non-musical subjects.

If you would like personal assistance with any of the blog concepts like Music Memorization Tips, online and on-location lessons are available from Let’s Play Music and Make Art, LLC located in Derry and Londonderry, NH. www.letsplaymusic.com

Jay Latulippe

Jay Latulippe

Jay is the program director at Let’s Play Music and make Art, LLC. He holds a degree in Music performance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He has authored over a dozen books including the popular piano series, Let’s Play Jazz and More! published by Santorella Publications.

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