Why memorize piano music?

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Why should piano students memorize their music?  In the pianists’ world, playing from memory is a traditional expectation. Some students find memorization to come naturally to them while others may find it to be more of a challenge. But will students really benefit from taking the time to memorize their pieces?  I think so!  Here are some things that I find beneficial from memorizing pieces.

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You must learn the ins and outs of your piece.

Playing by memory is a great theory exercise! I have found that I have to really dig into the chord structure, form and other compositional elements in order to memorize a piece.  As a result, an in-depth knowledge of harmonies, melodic phrasing, intervallic relationships and patterns takes root.  This is such a wonderful way to grow as a musician!  So, break out a pencil and start analyzing!  You won’t just exercise your analytical brain muscles; memorization might just come a little easier!

You must ACTUALLY listen to what you are playing.

I firmly believe that true listening is a huge part of playing an instrument well.  It’s one thing to hear what you are playing, but it’s even more important to truly listen to how you are playing.  Is your mental image of the sound you are creating truly matching what is coming through your finger tips?  Record yourself, and listen closely!  If you are really working through the expressive elements of your piece, you will probably find that your deeper listening is helping solidify your piece under your fingertips as well.

You have more freedom to truly express yourself.

Let’s face it, playing from music on a page is limiting.  You have to track your place in them music, turn pages and hope that you don’t accidentally lose your place!  Sometimes it seems like it can become a crutch and inhibit full expression.  I’ve found that my best playing comes when I’m playing from memory.  I’m able to listen to my playing without the visual stimulation of the score, and I’m able to really visualize the structure and detail I’ve learned in a piece.  It’s freeing!

So, there really can be some wonderful benefits to students who are working on playing from memory.  It’s such a growing opportunity!  What benefits do you think come from playing music from memory?  I want to know!

Need some tips in memorization?  These 3 tips will help.

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