What is the best way to memorize music

Learning piano pieces by heart made easy

Have you ever experienced the following situation? Would you like to play something on the piano, maybe for friends, your grandparents or at a party, but you don't feel safe without the sheet music, are you afraid to gamble and just don't dare? Mastering piano pieces safely by heart gives you the self-confidence you need to shine in such situations. And there are many good reasons for learning piano pieces by heart:

  • Difficult pieces can be mastered better if there is no need to read off the notes, as this demands additional processing power from the brain.
  • Pieces that you already knew by heart can be relearned much faster than pieces that you just read off the sheet.
  • Memorization is good for brain development at a young age and keeps you mentally fit as you get older!
  • However, many aspiring pianists find it difficult to memorize pieces and then play them safely. So that you can do this in the future, we have put together a few tips for you in this article!

    It's not your brain!

    The human brain is capable of incredible feats. Memory masters, for example, can memorize sequences of numbers with over one hundred digits in less than five minutes! Most of the time, however, they were not born with this ability. The difference to people with a rather average number memory is that the grandmasters have developed and perfected systems that help them memorize and recall.

    As is so often the case, it is above all a question of the right technique. So even if you find it difficult to memorize piano pieces, we can reassure you: your brain is definitely capable of doing this. In principle, the capacity in long-term memory is unlimited and information that has been stored remains there forever. The only difficult thing is to find it again. We recommend the following methods so that your favorite song is always available.

    Practice pieces by heart early

    The first and arguably most important aspect of memorization is repetition. This is certainly not a surprise. Learning a piece by heart only after notes and then through constant repetition can quickly become monotonous. This practice is also not particularly motivating. Instead, it's much better to start memorizing the piece the first time you practice.

    In our article 4 Tips to Master Each Song, you will find out the best way to practice pieces: in small sections, each hand at first and slowly. For example, if you are learning a new measure in your right hand, memorize this measure immediately. You really don't have to be a memory master for that. After all, everyone can also remember the four-digit PIN on their debit card.

    When you repeat the new measure, try not to look at the notes as early as possible. Numerous repetitions are necessary to master a difficult passage with motor skills, often more than 50 or 100. If you play the new passage by heart early on, it is automatically consolidated in your memory.

    Use different learning methods

    Things are particularly well memorized if they are linked to existing knowledge in different ways and different forms of memory are addressed at the same time. So far we have mainly focused on motor memory. But there are many more options! Memory masters make use of, among other things, logical, visual and emotional connections.

    This approach can easily be transferred to music: Anyone who is familiar with music theory can analyze the piece and will thus know at every point how it will continue. There are common sequences of harmonies that can be found in almost all pieces, for example the change from the dominant to the tonic. The probability that you will get a blackout in the middle of this chord progression is very low if you already have a theoretical understanding of the so-called functional harmonics. Pitch rules can also help you better understand and anticipate advances in music. And if you can't do anything with all these terms, don't worry! If you deal with it a little, it is learned quickly.

    Everyone has their own access to music and some pianists cannot read sheet music at all! But if you can do this and at the same time have a good visual memory, you can try to memorize the score and imagine it while playing. Above all, distinctive melodies and dynamic signs, i.e. the volume or special accents, can be easily remembered. In addition, this learning method can help to keep track of the molded parts of the entire piece.

    It is also a good idea to simply listen to the piece often and internalize it aurally. This trains the hearing and helps to establish a better connection between the sometimes mechanical playing process and the music itself. You can also sing through individual passages to make them easier to remember. Another and somewhat advanced method that can be very effective, but requires some imagination, is mental practice. You imagine the process of playing on the piano as detailed as possible - without even sitting at the instrument. In this way, you can discover and eliminate common sources of error. The advantage is obvious: you can practice mentally anywhere and anytime, even without an instrument. All you need is a quiet environment, the necessary amount of relaxation, and a little practice.

    Try it out once! The more of these methods you use, the easier and more confidently you will master your favorite piece.

    Maintain your repertoire

    No matter how well you have learned a piece, mistakes or passages become insecure again quickly if you don't play it regularly. It is therefore very important to allow time to repeat pieces that you already know by heart. For example, you can repeat a piece from your repertoire at the end of each practice session. This is a good routine to keep track of your favorite songs.

    Nevertheless, it will happen to you that after a few weeks a piece no longer works so well and you lose yourself or have forgotten parts. It is completely normal. The learning process is significantly shorter the second time; you only have to “refresh” the piece once more, because the piece is still in the memory; only the retrieval no longer works so well. The connections in the brain are like a path that, if not followed regularly, slowly overcomes. So just take a quick look at the notes if you are unsure, or find the right notes by ear again. Practice the problem areas separately or play the whole piece very slowly. Then it should work again!

    Your way to the memorized game

    With the tips above, you should soon be able to build up a small repertoire of pieces that you can play at any time. This is of course great when you get embarrassed to play for your grandparents or when there is a piano at a party. flowkey helps you to find your own way to memorize the game, because you can use all of the above-mentioned learning methods with the help of the app. So no more excuses and hit the keys!