How to Practice the Piano Part 1 – Memorizing Music

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How To Practice the Piano

3 Part Series

There are 3 separate skills in learning to play the piano:

• Memorizing

• Sight Reading

• Improvising

You can become quite proficient in one or two of these skills and be completely deficient in others. It is necessary to take a unique approach to develop each of these skills. The biggest mistake you can make is to not be clear as to which skill you are working on!

5 Steps To Memorizing Music

Sight-read through the piece once or twice. (First Day Only)


A. Right Hand Alone Figure out:

1. Notes

2. Rhythm-Count out loud

3. Fingering

4. Phrasing

5. Expression

Play many times until memorized.

B. Left Hand Alone Figure out:

1. Notes

2. Rhythm-Count out loud

3. Fingering

4. Phrasing

5. Expression

Play many times until memorized.

C. Hands Together Slowly at First:

Play many times until memorized.

D. Go on to the next small section and learn it the same way.

E. As each section is mastered, connect from the beginning

13 thoughts on “How to Practice the Piano Part 1 – Memorizing Music”


  1. Robert,

    Thank you for your nice telecast video. It is so easy for students to get distracted in their practice. These steps are helpful, and maybe I can be better at teaching these steps. What do you recommend for students that memorize easily, but easily forget as well? (Which means they are not practicing enough, or enough practice on what you want them to practice.) Once a piece is memorized? How do professional pianists maintain their memorized pieces? Especially, with limited time.

  2. Loved this. Watched your video on my iPhone from the airport. Travelling for business and this is helping me work on technique even on the road. Please keep me on your email list!!!

  3. Thank you for your video on memorization. Now I am retired from teaching music in the public schools I can spend some time reviewing my techniques. Even though my instrument is the violin these days, your tips are compatible. Keep them coming! Cheers!

  4. Solid, sensible, and practical advice; especially the part about reinforcing correct behaviors. Having taught piano myself, I have witnessed in myself and others how unfocused practice can actually reinforce mistakes or sloppy technique, which then have to be unlearned.

  5. Hey Robert, Nicely done. I think your method will be very helpful for piano hopefuls who have been stymied by the complexity of all the elements that are involved in playing piana. Memorization is an incredibly important skill to learn, and your video is Spot On.

  6. Thank you for keeping this blog! In the past, I struggled with memorizing, relying heavily on sight-reading. Just recently, I’ve focused my practice time in a system similar to yours and it’s exciting to realize that I CAN memorize complex music!! Your video will help me even more! I especially like your suggestion that if it takes you much more than a minute to memorize the notes, you are working with too large of a section. I’m excited to try out your method. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. My name is Miriam of “Miriam for Music” and I have a thriving piano lesson studio here in Marin County, California. Robert is a cut up, a true nonstop entertainer, the next Educational Liberace! I applaud his positive, upbeat instructional approach. He makes learning the piano fun and exciting. I have received many a student who came from bad teachers and they are now happily progressing at the piano under my guidance. Thank you for the helpful piano advice.

    Keep up the fun!

    Best, Miriam K. Kato

  8. of a true, this tips are comprehensive enough for at least an average person of my kind because in following this simple procedure i know and believe that i can perform better. thanks for this……..

  9. Robert, I remember you teaching me this in person, and this is the same way I now teach all my own students. Even though I hated memorizing music, the lesson stuck with me. Thanks!

  10. You are absolutely brilliant, this makes so much sense, extremely good advice on memorizing and practicing the piece correctly the first time! My wife plays, I’m just starting to learn the piano as a 65 year-old psychologist. We purchased a mint condition 1934 M&H B, wonderful sound.
    Love your videos!

  11. Brilliant!!!! I seriously had the “struck gold!” feeling over this method. Thank you so much. I found it via your short video in Virtual Sheet Music. This will make a HUGE difference in my adult learning of the violin as well as my three daughters piano practice! So thankful that you shared this. Thank you!

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