MUSICAL MEMORY - online book

A System To Cultivate The Musical Memory For Musicians.

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90.   We shall now endeavour to show the application of some of the general principles which underlie any course of memory training to the special needs and studies of the piano student.
91.   State of Advancement Necessary.—Before the question of memory-playing is presented to the pupil, all the different departments of piano-playing—the training of the hand and fingers to move with facility and certainty, the ear to criticise both correctness of notes, rhythm, and gradation of tone, and the power of reading music with some degree of fluency—all should be in a moderate state of advancement, otherwise the attention may be withdrawn from vital matters which are insecure, and directed towards that which, at this stage of advancement, is not of the greatest moment, even if in some cases desirable. Playing from memory is an ultimate condition of performance and can never be advanced as an excuse for any remissness in the rendering of a piece. The teacher must decide for each individual pupil when it can be safely introduced, and every competent teacher will know that to some pupils whose practice is little, whose progress is less, and whose musical intelligence is nil, it should never be introduced at all.
92.  The Value of Early Training.—Psychologists tell us that the natural power of memory is greatest between the ages of 9 and 14, and after the latter age it gradually becomes less. The greater ease with which in after life we appear to make new acquisitions is ostensible, and not real, our extended knowledge prevents anything from being absolutely new to us, and few subjects which we attack have not many vital associations and connections with our present knowledge. This is not less true with regard to music. Many are able to employ and rely upon their memory for musical performance, in mature years, with a greater ease and security, and to a far larger extent than was possible for them to do when they were quite young. This is partly due to training and exercise, but also partly due to the employment of Intellectual memory in connection with music, and regarding and memorizing music in an aspect which appeals but in a small degree to those of an early age, even if it is presented to them. We must not, however, be understood to minimise the importance of teaching young pianists of sufficient advancement to play from memory, especially if such are looking forward to careers as public performers. The security which the habit of memory-playing formed in youth gives, and the power of continuous concentration thus acquired, can rarely be developed to an equal degree when such efforts are not attempted until mature years are reached.
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