Today’s question is an interesting one: is it possible to learn a piece of music so well that you will never forget it?
I’ve been playing piano for many decades and have learned and played hundreds of pieces throughout my career. Sometimes when I sit down at the piano and start playing people wonder how I can retain all that information and if I have some kind of super memory. Not at all. I have my father to thank for showing me how to memorize at my first piano lesson.
There are a few pieces that I have played for so long that I can play them at any time and in any state of mind without issue; it’s almost as if these pieces are burned into my permanent memory. On the other hand, I can learn a piece very well, perform it, and then if I don’t play it again for a few months or years I probably would not be able to get through it from memory. If I were to restudy it one day it would definitely be much quicker and easier to get it securely memorized again than it was the first time around.
So how do you learn a piece you simply can’t forget?
I find that the pieces that stick with you are the ones that you have performed on many different occasions over a long period of time. When you have to learn and then relearn pieces a number of times they eventually get burned into your permanent memory. The music simply becomes a part of you.
Imagine forgetting the song “Happy Birthday”. If you’ve sung this song many times over the years, forgetting the melody is inconceivable. As a child you hear this song over and over again to the point where eventually you can’t possibly forget it; it becomes part of your permanent memory. This is true for any piece on any instrument. If you keep playing the same piece and have to relearn it again and again, eventually you will never forget it.
Even though you might remember a piece very well you must go back and check the score periodically. No matter how many times you play a piece or relearn it you should always go back and confirm that what you’re playing is correct. Your memory can trick you sometimes and bad habits can develop in your recollection of the music; always double check your score and make sure you perform the piece as written; not just from your memory.
A great method for learning and retaining your music is to perform it for family and friends whenever you get the opportunity. When you perform you put yourself in a heightened state of awareness that is far above what you can achieve in a practice setting. Your concentration will be much higher and playing your music in this state of mind will help you retain it.
Thanks again for joining us and if you have any questions about this topic or any topic at all please contact us directly: Info@LivingPianos.com (949) 244-3729.