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The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

The Value of Music Memory in Piano Playing

Musical memory is essential for musicians. Although some may see memorizing as not entirely ideal for other fields such as law, sales, teaching, or literary analysis (as it requires adaptability rather than rote memory) but music, however, requires both memory and adaptability to internalize a piece of music and to translate it to the audience. An effective musical memory is a secret formula for creating freedom of expression and the most direct connection to your audience. Printed notes are very important and sometimes essential, but not being memorized can immensely impact your focus and your credibility as a musician which then affects the attention of your audience as well.

Good musical memory can be seen as a natural gift. But those who were not fortunate enough to be given the gift just means they have to find the will-power to develop it. This begins in the early stages of learning how to play the piano. Each piano player follows a different path for developing their musical memory. These hints can help you as you learn.

Muscle Memory

Repetition during the learning process builds what some call muscle memory. This means that there emerges a situation where the movements of the fingers are associated with specific piano keys when playing a particular piece of music. The player does it by habit or muscle memory, and not by thinking about each finger and each key. Some call it being in the “flow” or “groove”. The mind just takes over.  

Aural Memory

It is also known as having a “good ear”. This is the ability to recognize different sounds and express them easily at the keyboard. Those musicians who self-taught usually have this gift. If you can become a trained musician as well as having a “good ear” you can become a phenomenal musician. Even if you are naturally gifted, hard work is still needed to be successful.  

Photographic Memory

This is the fastest way of memorizing, where the position of the hands and fingers are on the keyboard though simply memorizing the music. Some just need to see it once or twice!

Some are just cognitive benefits some people have, but there are things one can do to help memorization overall.

  • Concentration
  • Understanding of the musical piece
  • Frequent Repetition of playing the piano
  • A genuine interest in the composition and how it was created

Even professional pianists make mistakes. We need to learn the art of practicing and just trust to share the beauty of the music for its own sake. In fact, mistakes while still learning are part of the learning process. No one is perfect but practice makes you better!  Start that journey with Cadenza today!