40 votes

Forgetting the musical notes while performing in concert

For some reason, practice isn't always enough for prepare us for a performance. That's not unusual. Some things that have helped me and others I've talked to include: "Practice" performing in ...
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35 votes

Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

Orchestra musicians should always be playing off of the sheet music. The concert is probably 1.5-2 hours of music, and it needs to be played precisely. In addition, professional orchestras rehearse ...
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31 votes
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What exactly do pianists/musicians memorize?

The best musicians will memorize much more than that. As a piano player in undergraduate, my instructor had me memorize the music in several different ways: First, break the music up into ...
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28 votes
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Is it better practice to read straight from sheet music rather than memorize it?

Very simply, playing a song from memory is one very useful skill, whilst being able to sight read is another very useful skill. It sounds like you have a wise teacher who is giving you a balanced ...
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27 votes

How to unlearn incorrect muscle memory

You may be interested in checking out some of the pedagogy of Arnold Jacobs, the long-time tuba player of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I know this seems unrelated to your question, but he discussed ...
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26 votes
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Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

At least for me, but probably for many other musicians too, playing from memory works completely different compared to playing from sheets. What I memorize aren't individual, absolute notes. Rather, I ...
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21 votes

Are Piano Stickers for Keys good or bad?

I cannot find any research on the topic, only various anecdotes from different teachers. There are some common threads: A downside reported by some teachers is that the labels can become a crutch ...
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20 votes

Forgetting the musical notes while performing in concert

Dealing with pressure Get a sound recorder or use your phone and record your performances. The extra pressure of recording yourself will cause similar pressure to an actual performance. Also practise ...
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18 votes

How to memorize multiple pieces in only 20 days?

I’ve had to memorize several different pieces in short amounts of time before, and I’ve tried different things. Definitely do not wait to start on the second one until you finished the first one. If ...
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16 votes

Forgetting the musical notes while performing in concert

A good practice exercise I've found to help with this is to play along to a metronome and not play every other bar. For example, play bar 1, then sit in silence for bar 2 whilst imagining the sound in ...
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13 votes

I can't sight-read at intermediate level

As with anything, it will improve with practice. And, as with anything, you should tailor your practice to the problem you're having. Since your problem is looking down at the keys, devise a practice ...
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  • 78.7k
12 votes
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What is the most efficient way to memorize chord changes?

Repetition is a time-honored way to memorize anything, and its effectiveness is supported by both anecdote and cognitive search. Likewise with mnemonic devices. Finally, as you note with your "...
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12 votes

Should I remember the diatonic chord names of each scale?

If I understand your question, my answer is "No". As in, "don't go through the trouble to memorize chord names". That seems like a waste of time. I do recommend practicing in various keys and working ...
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12 votes

Is it better practice to read straight from sheet music rather than memorize it?

As topo says, both are excellent skills to have. There are times when being able to play something accurately (and musically) straight from the dots is what's needed. Some musos earn good money using ...
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  • 173k
12 votes
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Forgetting the musical notes while performing in concert

Mistakes are inevitable. Learning to play through mistakes is its own skill, one that has to be learned. The technique for learning to play through mistakes is different than the technique for ...
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11 votes
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How do you come in at the right moment in a memorized performance?

I both memorize the accompaniment and know my "cues" and count. Ideally one would have the whole piece in one's head and just know/feel when to come in, but with the typical amount of rehearsal time ...
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10 votes
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How to memorize a long, seemingly random, sequence of two notes at a time?

There is a distinct pattern going on in this (known as a sequence) which is actually easier to see in the sheet music for it. I'll include it so it can easily be referenced. Let's look at the bass ...
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10 votes

How do you avoid mindless practicing

I can suggest you a few things to help you practice more mindfully : You should try to practice everything in small segments. Find where you do mistakes and work on them until you can play these ...
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  • 362
10 votes
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What method for learning the guitar fretboard is most effective?

In a sentence, mix it up and steer away from where you're comfortable. Mix it up To start with find some methods and exercises to work with. Some examples: Always say (or sing if possible) the ...
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  • 4,083
10 votes
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How to memorize multiple pieces in only 20 days?

I'm also an almost newbie tenor sax player, an amateur choir singer, and a complete newcomer to this forum. I think a good way to memorize songs is (exporting and) playing them with a mobile app, then ...
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10 votes

How to unlearn incorrect muscle memory

There's a practice technique called "building a bridge". I bet you can play m7 on its own just fine. The challenge is to bridge over that measure: to get from m6 to m8 without falling in a ...
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8 votes

I can't sight-read at intermediate level

Sight read more! The best way to get better at doing something is to practice it. Force yourself to keep your eyes glued to the page. Play slow, deliberately, and correct your mistakes.
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8 votes

Are Piano Stickers for Keys good or bad?

Do not bother! there is a pattern to the keys - look at the two black keys, left white is C, right is E. Look at the three black keys, left white is F, right is B. There are four of the seven notes, ...
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  • 173k
8 votes
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Should I remember the diatonic chord names of each scale?

I think Todd's answer is right on: that memorizing these chords away from the music is only helpful to a point, and the real skill is your active creation of these chords on a musical instrument (in ...
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  • 78.7k
8 votes

How to unlearn incorrect muscle memory

Richard's answer is excellent; I just wanted to add a small note to expand on it. I encourage you to think about the physicality of the passage. To mistakenly jump to the Eb requires you move your ...
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  • 7,404
7 votes

Improving musical memory

It gets easier if you can do a lot of analysis and comparison on the fly. If this part sounds like that, or makes use of such and such pattern, etc., then these extra bits of knowledge about the ...
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6 votes

Should I learn to play from memory in an orchestra

Reading off the sheet is normal, but at rehearsals it's pretty much necessary. Watching the conductor is important, and is far easier when most if not all your attention doesn't need to be on the dots....
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  • 173k
6 votes

How do beginners or non-musicians recognize and remember music?

Neural networks are mechanisms that can be trained to be remarkably efficient pattern recognition and association-building machines. The human brain is (in part) an enormous neural network. So what ...
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6 votes
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How to unlearn incorrect muscle memory

Very down-to-earth and an answer from experience, play the piece really slowly and correctly. It might be really irritating and boring. But do it at least twenty times correctly. Then slowly increase ...
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  • 76
5 votes

What exactly do pianists/musicians memorize?

Think about an actor memorizing a movie script. You certainly don't memorize the letters. You could also memorize the words, but even that would lead to a pretty poor recital. You memorize it at a ...
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