Memorizing music is a tricky thing. Even when we think we know a piece well, our memory can suddenly slip. By bolstering our memory of a piece using several different methods, we can be much more confident and secure in our memorization of music.
Music Theory and Memory
Muscle Memory and the Problems it Can Cause
- Practice the piece at a different tempo using a metronome. If a piece is at a 120 tempo, try playing it at 60. You might be surprised at how difficult this is to do, if you have been relying too heavily on muscle memory.
- Play the entire piece with staccato notes. Altering the touch will force your brain to focus on each individual note.
- Use shadow practice, meaning that you move your fingers across the piano as usual without fully pressing down the keys.
- Practice the piece beginning at many different starting points. Younger players especially tend to want to start over from the beginning when they make a mistake. This is because they are relying mostly on muscle memory to get them through, with little understanding of the notes or the patterns found in the piece. Try beginning in awkward spots in the middle of phrases. It's more difficult to do, but it will increase your brain's engagement in the piece.