MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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MUSICAL MEMORY.
45
93.   Principles which should guide us in the Selection of Pieces.—When the powers of execution and general musical knowledge and intelligence of the pupil are sufficiently advanced to warrant our bring­ing the question of memory-playing before him, our next consideration is what should influence us in selecting pieces for memorization. Such selection should naturally progress from short and simply constructed pieces, to long and difficult ones. It is we believe due to a disregard •of this, to us, most obvious condition of training, that the inability of many excellent pianists to play from memory is due. Playing without the book is frequently not attempted until a high degree of execution is reached, when pieces both lengthy and difficult are studied, and the student's first efforts are often directed to the attempt to memorize such pieces, viz., those of his daily practice. The result is often failure, and he instantly decides that he has no memory for musical performance. He forgets that his powers of execution and understanding have arrived at the stage of advancement sufficient to grapple with the difficulties of these pieces only after years of gradual progress, yet he expects his memory to make the step in one bound. When judiciously trained and regularly exercised, the memory may develop sufficiently to meet the constantly increasing demands made upon it by the increasing power of execution acquired, but such is not necessarily the case. There are many excellent pianists who have trained memories, and who habitually play to some extent from memory, but who do not trust themselves to play without a book pieces which they consider beyond their powers of memory.
94.  A progressive training, then, as is required for the development of all the other powers, is also a vital condition for developing the memory to its fullest extent. In eanv attempts the chief object should be to isolate the difficulty of memorizing, and to eliminate as far as possible all other difficulties, that is, to select pieces well within the executive and interpretative powers of the pupil. Something which has been learnt and put aside for a time is often useful to begin with, as in such pieces not only have the technical difficulties been conquered, but a good general idea of the piece is probably retained.
95.   Putting aside the question of the memorization of past pieces, our selection should be guided by the following conditions, the qualification of which, as to shortness and simplicity, being regarded as relative to the powers of the pupil. The pieces should be—First, Short in length; Second, Simple in form and construction; Third, Simple in detail; Fourth, Moderate in difficulty.
96.   (I.) The first, Short in length, hardly needs comment. It is an obvious condition of all early sustained effort, and how far it will limit such will depend on the natural strength of the memory, and upon the power possessed of continuous concentration for the purposes of reproduction. Successful public reciters and speakers, as well as public performers, must possess both of these powers in a high degree. The pianist may have to begin his memory playing with the shortest of Mendelssohn's "Lieder," but after regular exercise and continually increasing effort he may not stop until he has reached Beethoven's longest Concerto.
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