What is "Musicianship Monthly?" Each month, I share links to free resources you can use to focus on a specific musicianship skill with your students all month long! Want to see past skills we have covered? Click HERE!
This month's activity is a timely one--if you have students preparing for recital and festival season, these resources will definitely come in handy!
Keep reading for resources to help your students play from memory!
Tip #1: Memorize often.
Memorizing is a skill that takes practice. Encourage your students to memorize short sections of their music, or even complete pieces, on a regular basis--not just at recital or festival time.
Here are a few ways you might encourage students to memorize regularly, this month and beyond:
- Ask students to start a "memory list" of their all-time favorite pieces, then choose a piece from the list to review from memory at each lesson. Check out the free repertoire lists on my "Free Stuff" page HERE (scroll down to "Handouts and Games").
- Challenge students to analyze the chords and memorize the left hand in one section of a piece they are learning.
- Have students memorize the trickiest few measures of a piece they are learning.
- Ask students to memorize just the ending of a piece they are learning.
Tip #2: Make sure students are using all four types of memory when learning a piece.
There are several different types of memory we use when learning music. I find that the best way to help students memorize a piece securely is to make sure that they are using all four types of memory instead of relying on just one or two.
The four types of memory are:
- Muscle (kinesthetic) memory: this is the type of memory students usually acquire by playing a piece over and over.
- How to develop it: Since muscle memory takes time and practice to develop, make sure your students start learning their music well in advance of a memorized performance. Paying close attention to fingering and using the correct finger numbers consistently at every practice session can also be helpful with developing muscle memory.
- Aural memory: this type of memory helps students to imagine the sound they would like to create before they play and to play a piece accurately.
- How to develop it: encourage your students to sing, clap, and tap their music and to "play" through their pieces silently, imagining the sound of each note. Listening to recordings of their pieces can also help students develop aural memory.
- Visual memory: this type of memory helps students learn to picture details from the score as they play from memory.
- How to develop it: encourage students to think through their pieces, picturing details in the score such as starting notes, dynamics, articulations, etc. It can also be helpful to have students identify patterns on the piano keyboard, such as chord shapes or the shape of the melody line, as they are memorizing.
- Analytical memory: this type of memory helps students to understand the structure of their music.
- How to develop it: help students analyze their pieces on a regular basis. Encourage them to label sections, phrases, chord progressions, or repeated rhythmic and melodic patterns in the music and to use these as guideposts when learning a piece from memory.
Tip #3: Look for ways to help your students test their memory.
In the weeks leading up to a performance, I like to help my students test their memory to make sure their music is securely learned.
Here is a fun worksheet that you can use with your students to put their memorization skills to the test!
Download your free PDF HERE.