think about it.

One of the big problems that piano students face in memorization is that they only memorize by muscle memory. They play a piece over and over and over, hoping that their fingers will catch on and do the memorizing for them. Often this gets alright results, that is until the student is in a stressful situation (such as a recital!) and their nerves get the better of them. Their fingers get a little mixed up, and suddenly they are completely lost! Muscle memory is definitely useful in memorizing a piece, but we should not rely solely on it. As was written in my college pedagogy notes, “Don’t take chances!! Don’t just say, ‘good luck, fingers!! I hope you make it.‘” As teachers, we need to teach our students to actively learn and memorize pieces with their mind, not just their fingers….we need to teach them to

THINK.

In the book How to Teach Piano Successfully, Bastien says, “The student should think while practicing, not just play by rote.” (Bastien, p. 246)

Now that is some great (albeit somewhat obvious) advice – think while you practice! If your students learn their pieces thoughtfully and thoroughly, they should have no problem when it gets to the memorizing stage. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…hehe…

Ways you can encourage thinking while practicing:
Saying letter names out loud
Counting rhythms out loud
Forcing your brain to learn the notes, not just your fingers
Not letting your mind wander while practicing…
Writing out the chords
Looking for patterns in the chords or in the melody
Knowing the form of the piece

What do you have to add to the list?

Jennifer Boster

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