MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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MUSICAL MEMORY.                                               41
CHAPTER IX. GENERAL CONDITIONS FAVOURABLE TO MEMORIZING.
79.   In the present chapter we shall consider quite briefly the conditions which are favourable to acquisition or memorizing in any form, and show some of the special applications of these to the particular subject before us, the memorization of piano music.
80.   In general education the memorizing of new materials is the operation requiring the greatest expenditure of mental vigour. In applying this statement to the memorizing of piano music, we may have to modify it somewhat in the letter, although not in the spirit. The memorizing of new pieces by the piano student, can hardly be said to exactly correspond with the learning of a number of unknown wrords by the student of Latin or Greek. To the fairly advanced and intelligent pianist who knows something of Harmony, a new piece is often but a presentation of old materials in a fresh aspect, or in a new construction, rather than the introduction of absolutely new matter, at least to any very great extent. Considering the immense amount of really fine and original music which exists, the very limited amount of material from which it is evolved is one of the most remarkable facts connected with the Art. Again, in studying a piano piece, our first efforts are generally directed towards acquiring the power to play it; and if its technical difficulties are sufficient to require us to repeat some passages many times over, we shall probably memorize these by muscular memory whilst we are learning to play them, if not also by other forms as well; the two operations of improving the powers of execution, and of memorizing, frequently proceeding simultaneously. The task, there­fore, which may be said to make the greatest demand upon the mental power of the piano-student will be the studying of a new piece (with the object of ultimately performing it from memory), which not only presents technical difficulties to him, but which presents an aspect of musical materials with which he is unfamiliar, and a mode of construction upon a higher intellectual basis than that of his previous studies. To turn our attention to a mature work by Beethoven or Schumann, after studying works say by Mendelssohn, would illustrate this transition to a higher plane of thought and conception; and such a task should be under­taken when mind and body are quite fresh. Mental operations, in which the intellect is interpreting a new style and the memory is receiving new impressions, cannot be successfully undertaken when the nervous powers are at a low ebb.
81.   For recalling and reproducing the storages of previous occasions a similar mental and physical condition is not so vital, and it is not unusual to see in schemes for practice-time, suggested in pianoforte
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