memory/errors

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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tejjy
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Location: Geelong

memory/errors

Post by tejjy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:41 am

I don't have much trouble memorising a piece, but I make a LOT more mistakes playing from memory than playing from a score - mainly, I think, because on the score it's easy to look ahead and prepare. Is that going to change only with experience & practice, or are there some mental techniques I could learn (and practise) to accelerate the process?

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Julian Ward
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Location: UK

Re: memory/errors

Post by Julian Ward » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:16 am

From what you describe you have only superficially memorised and have just linked up a series of muscle memories that can get you through the piece. Proper memorisation takes a long time and is entirely different. You will be able to visualise what is coming next, and in your brain you will prepare perfectly for what is coming. If you can play the piece through in your mind, exactly, then you have it.

There is no requirement to memorise so carry on reading the score and learning new material...etc etc... :)
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Frank Nordberg
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Location: Bodø, Norway

Re: memory/errors

Post by Frank Nordberg » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:04 pm

Some musicians I know say that to really learn a piece of music, you have to first learn by heart, then forget it, learn it by heart again, forget it again and then the third time, it's finally there. ;)

Memorisation is hardly a musicians-only problem and there are lots of good techniques and tips to be found on the internet and elsewhere. What they all have in common, is that they are based on association because that how our memory works. Our brains don't handle free standing pieces of info very well, it wants connections. Every new thing we remember is based on and connected to some memory already stored there. The brain is also very good at handling patterns so the better you can systemitize the info, the easier it is to remember.

I could write a book about this - or at least a long article - but a few tips will have to do for now:
  • Find the chord shapes. It's amazing how much guitar music, even the most polyphonic and/or atonal is based on the standard chord shapes. They may be modified and well hidden but they are still there and can be good "hooks" to hang your music on.
  • Remember the scales. What is easiest, to remember the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-c or to remember it's a C major scale over one octave?
  • Find patterns. Like this: C-E-D-F-E-G-F-A-G-B-A-d-c. hard to remember? Just think "two up, one down".
  • Focus on the end result more than the method. How does the music sound? If you have a clear idea of that, your fingers will find it much easier to remember how to play it.
  • Visualize. There's a really good trick I learned from John Mills. He said he always had a picture in his mind when he played, some imaginary or remembered scene that fit the mood of the music. This is mainly to help interpretation but it's also very useful for memorisation - one more strong hook to help your brain fix the memory in place.

PeteJ
Posts: 1369
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: memory/errors

Post by PeteJ » Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:40 am

Frank Nordberg wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:04 pm
Some musicians I know say that to really learn a piece of music, you have to first learn by heart, then forget it, learn it by heart again, forget it again and then the third time, it's finally there. ;)

Memorisation is hardly a musicians-only problem and there are lots of good techniques and tips to be found on the internet and elsewhere. What they all have in common, is that they are based on association because that how our memory works. Our brains don't handle free standing pieces of info very well, it wants connections. Every new thing we remember is based on and connected to some memory already stored there. The brain is also very good at handling patterns so the better you can systemitize the info, the easier it is to remember.

I could write a book about this - or at least a long article - but a few tips will have to do for now:
  • Find the chord shapes. It's amazing how much guitar music, even the most polyphonic and/or atonal is based on the standard chord shapes. They may be modified and well hidden but they are still there and can be good "hooks" to hang your music on.
  • Remember the scales. What is easiest, to remember the notes C-D-E-F-G-A-B-c or to remember it's a C major scale over one octave?
  • Find patterns. Like this: C-E-D-F-E-G-F-A-G-B-A-d-c. hard to remember? Just think "two up, one down".
  • Focus on the end result more than the method. How does the music sound? If you have a clear idea of that, your fingers will find it much easier to remember how to play it.
  • Visualize. There's a really good trick I learned from John Mills. He said he always had a picture in his mind when he played, some imaginary or remembered scene that fit the mood of the music. This is mainly to help interpretation but it's also very useful for memorisation - one more strong hook to help your brain fix the memory in place.
This seems to be very good advice. Perhaps there is even a book in it. I'd second the point about chord shapes. It surprises me how many Cgers don't learn the standard shapes given how useful they are to memorisation. I've met one nearly pro standard player who couldn't find a G9 chord and this baffles me. When I started I had sporadic lessons, but good ones, for a a year or so and was never shown a basic chord shape. It's a odd approach. I like the the visualisation idea and must start using it.

tejjy
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:10 pm
Location: Geelong

Re: memory/errors

Post by tejjy » Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:52 am

There's some great ideas here, thanks all, and it helps to think about the problem as well. I feel that part of the issue is that when I make a mistake playing from memory, it's hard to get back to the right place. I think Julian captured it when he talks about remembering a muscle sequence - OK when it works, but once the sequence is broken, there's no recovery. I will also try the visualisation & the learn/forget/relearn reminds me of learning a new language - so that is something I'm familiar with as well.

Rognvald
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Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: memory/errors

Post by Rognvald » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:22 pm

And what is the problem with playing from the score if you're stumbling? It is still done by master musicians in symphonies around the world. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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