Playing Music from Memory: Pt 1 of 3

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“Performing from memory indicates a deep understanding and internalization of the music,” says Michael Griffin in the first of his three-part series, Playing Music From Memory. Memorization, which leads to a more intimate connection with both music and audience, is a skill that can be learned.

Learning Strategies for Musical Success

For musicians, an ability to play from memory opens up the world of practising via the imagination, which grants freedom from notation. Performing from memory indicates a deep understanding and internalization of the music. Playing from memory involves performing a piece one has learned as a result of rehearsing with notation, to the point where notation is no longer required as a guide. Some musicians claim that memorization allows them to develop their expressive ideas more freely and to communicate those ideas more effectively. One study found that an audience with musical training rated memorised performances higher in terms of communicative ability. An audience feels a greater connection when notation and music stands are omitted, and when distractions such as page turning are not an issue.

Playing from memory is a skill that should be encouraged during lesson time. Young musicians can start by memorizing easy pieces they like, as…

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