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  • Trouble remembering

  • Maureen Kelly

    Member
    20 June, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    I’m getting a bit discouraged lately. I’ve just finished learning “ Scarborough Fair”.

    I can play it reasonably well now but when I go to the piece I learned last month and others before that, I find I’ve completely forgotten it and have to start again.

    I recently had a brain scan for head pains I’ve been having and they found I had some brain shrinkage, which I gather is usual at my age(71). That could account for the memory problems I’ve been having.

    It’s so frustrating- will I only ever be able to play one piece at a time?

    Anyone any ideas of what I can do.

  • Monique Klabis

    Member
    21 June, 2021 at 2:27 am

    Hi, Maureen.

    Please don’t worry. That sounds quite normal. To keep pieces in our repertoire and fresh in our memories, it is quite normal for us to have to revisit the pieces on a regular basis so they stay with us. I find that even if I have forgotten a piece, the second time around is much easier and quicker.😊

    Improving my sight sight reading is a very important goal for myself. If I do forget a piece or if I am asked to play something, I would like to be able to sight read proficiently enough to play it well off the cuff and not have to depend on memory at all.

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      21 June, 2021 at 8:59 am

      Thank you so much Monique.

      I agree – even if It seems like I’ve completely forgotten a piece it is easier to relearn. Also I would like to improve my sight reading too. It is very slow at the moment but hopefully that will improve.

  • Victoria Johnson

    Member
    21 June, 2021 at 4:13 am

    I agree with what @monique.klabis said! I am (relatively) young but I really can only play a handful of pieces fluently at a time. Improving sight reading, like Monique said, would really help with relearning. I have a couple repertoire pieces that I would play through a few times a week in order to keep them fresh. These tends to be easier pieces (compare to the ones I am currently learning) so I don’t have to spend a ton of time on them weekly.

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      21 June, 2021 at 10:36 am

      Thank you Victoria. That is so encouraging. You are far more advanced than me. I’ve been learning on and off for years but don’t feel I’ve progressed as much as I could have.

      How much time do you spend on practicing?

      • Victoria Johnson

        Member
        21 June, 2021 at 11:22 pm

        I have a hour-long lesson each week, and I try to practice 30 to 60 minutes a day. I played piano for a number of years as a kid which gave me a foundation in music reading and rhythm. That means I could focus more time and effort on learning harp techniques. My husband with no music background is learning the harp on his own right now (with the occasional help from me hee hee). He really reminds me how much of a curve there is to learning something new! May I suggest making a recording after you learn each piece? 😊 I started doing that a while ago. It gives me a little something to look back to!

        • Maureen Kelly

          Member
          23 June, 2021 at 2:30 pm

          I usually practice for 30-60 mins a day too.

          I haven’t any musical background at all and am learning to read music but it’s very slow.

          I feel for your husband but I’m sure you are a great help to him.

          I will try and record my efforts after learning a piece, although it’s difficult to get a recording without mistakes.😜

          • Victoria Johnson

            Member
            26 June, 2021 at 7:13 am

            I found it difficult to get a recording without mistakes too! 😆 While it is nice to have a mistake-free recording, I don’t think there is anything wrong with having errors. I call them “artistic interpretations.” 😉 😆

            • Maureen Kelly

              Member
              28 June, 2021 at 9:01 pm

              Thank you Victoria. I feel better now🤣. I like that – “artistic interpretations”.

  • Nancy Clarneau

    Member
    21 June, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Hi friends. Like others are saying, forgetting our earlier pieces happens to people at every age. I recently saw this helpful video, for pianists, but good for all musicians: https://livingpianos.com/how-to-keep-your-review-pieces-on-performance-level/

  • Maureen Kelly

    Member
    21 June, 2021 at 10:32 am

    Thank you Nancy, that is really helpful.

  • Wil Weten

    Member
    21 June, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    Maybe this link: https://bulletproofmusician.com/regular-memorization-works-ok-but-heres-why-deliberate-memorization-is-way-better/ will help you a bit.

    Its author, Noa Kageyama, Ph.D., is a well-known and respected performance psychologist of the famous Juilliard School of Music.

  • Maureen Kelly

    Member
    26 June, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Thank you Wil, that is very interesting.

    At the moment I find the only way I can remember is to go over the join between sections and so when I get to the end of one section I would automatically move to the next. That’s the idea anyway- it doesn’t always work out. 😊

    Happy harping!

    • Wil Weten

      Member
      11 July, 2021 at 11:53 am

      @maureen.kelly In my eyes, this : https://bulletproofmusician.com/molly-gebrian-on-efficient-effective-and-reliable-memorization-strategies-for-musicians/ is the best interview I’ve ever read on the process of memorizing of music. It’s a podcast, but I like to read the transcript. It also gives some hopeful information on memorization for aging brains.

      • Maureen Kelly

        Member
        14 July, 2021 at 4:26 pm

        @wil.weten Thanks so much Wil, so good of you to take the trouble to find that and send it. I’m only part way through it at the moment but it looks really good.

        It mentions sleep as being very important to actually take in what you are learning. I’ll redouble my efforts to get a good night’s sleep, although sometimes I find I’m reluctant to go to bed when practicing on the harp.

  • Helga F.

    Member
    13 July, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Maureen,

    I agree to everything that has been already written to this subject. Just to make you feel better. It has nothing to do with aging. I had exactly the same problem when I was 17 and had electic organ lessons. I learned a new piece, could play it well continued with a new one and noticed after some time that I had forgotten the older ones. 😩 It upset me so much I gave up lessons.

    Nowadays I am more patient😉.

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      14 July, 2021 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks Helga, That is encouraging- although actually I’ve always had a bad memory ( I’m famed for it in the family). I find everyone else is now catching up on me. So I have a good excuse now I’m getting older😉.

      • Helga F.

        Member
        14 July, 2021 at 6:55 pm

        Ha,ha🤣. Yeah getting older has its good sides as well.

  • nightthunder Dupuis

    Member
    17 July, 2021 at 7:09 pm

    No matter the age I don’t think this is uncommon. I have read when you select your repertoire these pieces should be practiced a least once a week “to keep them fresh” in your mind. Much like @victoria.johnson has stated. When I work on a new piece I find that the first time thru a repertoire piece it can be rough but it comes back. I find that I put so much concentration into learning a new piece that I neglect others so I may go back to a very easy piece (not that I am advanced at all!) and work up to a more involved piece in the repertoire. Don’t be hard on yourself! There are challenges but rejoice in how far you have come along. Simple pleasures & all that.

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      17 July, 2021 at 8:56 pm

      @nightthunder Thank you for your comments. Yes I too find that I get so involved with learning a new piece that I neglect the others I have learned.

      It’s definitely a good idea to go over all the ones I know at least once a week. I’ll try and do that and hopefully be able to keep them fresh in my mind.

      If nothing else it’s exercising my brain.😊

  • Candace C.

    Member
    18 July, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    Wow there is some really good information in this thread! I’ll add something about memory and frequency of repetition. https://fs.blog/2018/12/spacing-effect/

    .

    If you scroll down to the 2 pictures of graphs in that article, you’ll see how quickly we forget. Spaced repetition is key to building long term memory. When you’ve learned a new piece, it’s important that you play it the next day or 2 after you’ve fully learned it. I would suggest playing it again a week later, followed by 2 weeks later, and then once a month from there on out.

    .

    I did this with a piece I learned 10 years ago where I played it once a month for a couple of years. I play it maybe once or twice a year now, but I could probably sit down today and play it all the way through after 5-10 minutes of prep work without sheet music.

    .

    With more complicated pieces, I utilize arrow-shaped post-its. I keep them pointed at notes/measures that I frequently mess up. Before trying to play the whole piece, I go through and play the problem measures 2-3 times. When I play the whole piece through it’s a lot smoother. Eventually I won’t need the post-its.

    .

    Hope this helps!

    • nightthunder Dupuis

      Member
      19 July, 2021 at 4:05 am

      @Candace C. Hi. I am going to start using your technique of marking problem areas in the sheet music for refreshing the brain on the repertoire pieces. I just did the “silk” test on a very intelligent person. I wouldn’t give the reason why they had to repeat 10 times. When the answer came out milk & I said semantic profiling there was a good chuckle. Thanks for that link.

    • nightthunder Dupuis

      Member
      19 July, 2021 at 4:13 am

      @Candace C. Whoops. I meant semantic priming. Looks like I need to repeat that or put on flash cards. 😄

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      19 July, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      @candace.magner What an interesting article. I will definitely be following that advice – on repeating the piece daily, weekly then monthly. I’m still very much a beginner but I’m sure the recommended regime will help me to keep the pieces I learn in my repertoire.

      Thanks so much for posting it.

      Maureen 😊

      • Candace C.

        Member
        19 July, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        I’m so glad this helped you! I struggle to remember when I’m due to practice a particular piece next, so I either write the due date on a sticky note on the music, or I set up a calendar alert in my phone. This keeps me consistent because when it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind.

        .

        We’re only beginners once! How fun that we get to experience this journey and share with each other 😊

    • Maureen Kelly

      Member
      19 July, 2021 at 5:00 pm

      @CandiceC

      What an

      interesting article. I will definitely be following that advice – on repeating the piece daily, weekly then monthly. I’m still very much a beginner but I’m sure the recommended regime will help me to keep the pieces I learn in my repertoire.

      I like the idea to put post-it notes on problem areas. Very often it’s only one or two measures that I find are likely to be forgotten.

      Thanks so much for posting it.

      Maureen😊

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