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  #16  
Old 11-23-2022, 09:58 AM
tbirdman tbirdman is offline
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I read a really cool little book called the Laws of Brainjo a while back. The guy's a neuroscientist who plays banjo and has a teaching website. He has lots of theories based on his neuroscientist background about how we learn, and he has lots to say on your question. I found it quite interesting that he claims that playing memorized music and reading tab involve different parts of the brain. Therefore, according to him, you cannot memorize something just by reading the tab over and over, and in fact reading the tab over and over just burns the song deeper into the wrong part of the brain. You have to transfer the knowledge to a different part of the brain. This seems to be true for me. He has some tips for doing that transfer, so you might check out the book (cheap e-book), or maybe he has this info online somewhere as well.

For me what has worked is to memorize a measure or 2 at a time. Read it if you have to, but then play those measures immediately without looking, and then try to not look anymore. You need to be able to play those measures like 10 times perfectly without looking at the tab. Then go on. With the Brainjo guy's thoughts in mind, I've also found that I can know when the tune has "transfered" by practicing mentally away from the guitar, and observing how I'm thinking about/seeing the music. If when I mentally play thru the tune, I'm picturing sheet music, I have't transformed it. If I'm picturing my fingers as they play, then I've moved it over to the "non-tab" part of my brain. Could all be nonsense, but it seems to work for me, and who am I to argue with a neuroscientist?
I second the Laws of Banjo. I've been playing the guitar for 2.5 years. Playing both classical, harp and steel acoustic and been playing the piano for 6 months. I will memorize some songs for each instruments. I also read music for the classical guitar and piano. I hate some of the tabs in a lot of books as you can't easily read them as the print is so bad/small.

Interestingly I just picked up Arkansas Traveler and Devils Dream. I hadn't played them for a year, but I had memorized them back then. Took me a few practice sessions but they came back. I was thinking what I was doing when I was playing those tunes. It was apparent to me, I was not thinking about the tabs or the correct what string/fret/note. For the most part I was playing using muscle memory once I "relearned" them.
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  #17  
Old 11-23-2022, 12:27 PM
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I read a really cool little book called the Laws of Brainjo a while back. The guy's a neuroscientist who plays banjo and has a teaching website. He has lots of theories based on his neuroscientist background about how we learn, and he has lots to say on your question. I found it quite interesting that he claims that playing memorized music and reading tab involve different parts of the brain. Therefore, according to him, you cannot memorize something just by reading the tab over and over, and in fact reading the tab over and over just burns the song deeper into the wrong part of the brain. You have to transfer the knowledge to a different part of the brain. This seems to be true for me. He has some tips for doing that transfer, so you might check out the book (cheap e-book)...
Hi, Doug. Thanks for the recommendation. I bought the e-book yesterday from Amazon for $US4.49. The bit I read last night leads me to believe that he has already figured out things that I've been discovering on my own. I'm eager to read further!
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  #18  
Old 11-23-2022, 03:58 PM
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I'm going to check it out too. Playing from memory is so much better and easier when recording.
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  #19  
Old 11-23-2022, 04:42 PM
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Hi T-Picker, Doug Y etc…
I started music lessons at age 8, and took lessons to nearly age 22 (classical approach in all cases).

From the beginning I memorized everything - not deliberately, it just stuck in my brains.

So I have no advice as to how to approach it, because for me, it's just a matter of repetition focused on the instrumental aspects, and the vocals follow along as well.

When I play on our church Worship Team we get the list Tues or Wed for Thur rehearsal. I put them on my iPad the day they show up.

If it's songs I've never heard or played, I listen to them repeatedly for a day, then sit down with my guitar & rough through them (especially if there are instrumental lead parts involved).

Our current Worship Leader is famous for changing keys mid-rehearsal, so I enumerate all my lead parts in alpha numerics on the chart (rather than note names/keys).

I continue to run through the guitar stuff once or twice a day for Fri/Sat, and by Sunday when I show up, I'm not really even looking at the charts (other than for the order).

I don't know how to coach people into memorizing. I didn't realize till I'd been teaching for about 20 years that people were having trouble memorizing…yet they managed to memorize.

Most popular music is so uniformly and simply written and arranged that I just started remembering forms like:
  • Intro
  • Verse
  • Chorus
  • Verse 2
  • Chorus Chorus
  • Bridge-solo
  • Chorus
  • Ending

I think "Pre-chorus" is a modern (and needless) designation. So I just add those (in my brain) to the verse…






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  #20  
Old 11-23-2022, 06:13 PM
Andyrondack Andyrondack is offline
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There are a very few musicians who can achieve extraordinary feats of memory. I learned about an American pianist who could memorize and in his head simultaneously play multiple pieces of classical music, his limit was either 4 or 5 pieces, I can't even remember which it was!
They tested him in a brain lab , getting him to memorize all these different pieces and play them in his mind while they had multiple recordings playing in a sound proof cubicle ,they checked up on him at regular intervals to get him to play what came next in their recordings of these different pieces and he was always 100% correct. Extraordinary feat of memory, but he made his living writing ragtime piano pieces in his head as he drove round America doing recitals.
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  #21  
Old 11-23-2022, 06:56 PM
JackC1 JackC1 is offline
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Anyway ,my problem is the dependence on the TABS.
I don' t remember as I'd like the music that just a minute before I've played with the tabs in front of my eyes
Memorizing music is an active process for me where I need to dedicate extra time for it; kind of like one more step in learning the music.

I find that breaking the song up into phrases is essential for memorization. I memorize a phrase at a time. I don't go sequentially. I start with the most difficult phrases (or parts with the most difficult measures) because I've already kind of got them memorized anyway. Then I pick phrases that I like best and memorize them. Once I've got the phrases memorized, I link them up to form the song.

It's painfully slow for me because part of me always keep thinking that this is very fruitless since I'll forget the music in a few months anyway. So, I probably subconsciously sabotage my own efforts. Anyway, I only memorize when I need to perform in front of people.
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  #22  
Old 11-24-2022, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
I read a really cool little book called the Laws of Brainjo a while back. The guy's a neuroscientist who plays banjo and has a teaching website. He has lots of theories based on his neuroscientist background about how we learn, and he has lots to say on your question. I found it quite interesting that he claims that playing memorized music and reading tab involve different parts of the brain. Therefore, according to him, you cannot memorize something just by reading the tab over and over, and in fact reading the tab over and over just burns the song deeper into the wrong part of the brain. You have to transfer the knowledge to a different part of the brain. This seems to be true for me. He has some tips for doing that transfer, so you might check out the book (cheap e-book), or maybe he has this info online somewhere as well.

Could all be nonsense, but it seems to work for me, and who am I to argue with a neuroscientist?
I'm sure not going to argue with a neuroscientist, but I'm 72 years old and I take a lesson every other week. Each lesson my instructor gives me a song to work on for the next two weeks. It is in the form of your basic lyrics and chords on a piece of paper. I make notes on it during the lesson. After two weeks of working on the song, I can pretty much play it and know the words without looking at the cheat sheet. So it appears that the two parts of my brain at least are working together. Maybe I need to be studied by a neuroscientist. Or maybe I'm just doing something different.

One thing, if I don't use it, I lose it. I don't retain songs that I've learned and memorized if I'm not playing them regularly.
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  #23  
Old 11-24-2022, 11:25 AM
Joe Beamish Joe Beamish is online now
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One thing, if I don't use it, I lose it. I don't retain songs that I've learned and memorized if I'm not playing them regularly.
Same here. My whole life. At any age, I’ve always had to work to memorize anything, and I’ve always had to review it or I’d lose it.

So while I hear so many people here report losing their memorization ability as they get older, I guess in a way I’m lucky. Memorization was never automatic or easy for me.
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  #24  
Old 11-24-2022, 11:38 AM
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A lot of material to think over .
At first , I'm really intrigued by the book that Doug Young suggests .
Now , anyway , I'm forced myself to divide songs in smaller parts and repeating as before I never did , hiding transcriptions .
I'm confident some results will come, since I must imagine the progression and even use other triads (revolts ?) of the chords .
I guess it's useful , even if the original is a little distorted.
I hope to free myself from the slavery ...

A big and huge thank to everyone for your answers !
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  #25  
Old 11-24-2022, 11:54 AM
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I'm auditing a piano class designed for music majors among singing and guitar classes/lessons. The instructor gives us a piece, and we have a week to learn it and play it for a grade. Of course my grade is virtual as I'm auditing the class.

I ended up accidently memorizing it as it was easier to play without looking at the sheet music. I'm going to play for our open mic tomorrow again without sheet music.

It showed me how easier it is to play something when you have learned it and have it memorized.

Now I need to learn and memorize The St Ann's Reel for my flatpicking class.
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  #26  
Old 11-24-2022, 12:10 PM
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I memorize every instrumental I am interested in and decide to work on. Don't have the habit of working on things to a half baked level.
However my memory lapses on most of that down the road as I move on to other pieces. Since I started to record music that does not
bother me much.
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  #27  
Old 11-24-2022, 12:32 PM
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It.
One thing, if I don't use it, I lose it. I don't retain songs that I've learned and memorized if I'm not playing them regularly.
For sure. There's 2 phases, I think. Memorizing it in the first place, then keeping it. For me, it helps to perform a piece. Once I've played it for others - and probably barely get thru it, it seems more "burned in". But you can still forget over time. One of the ideas out there is "spaced repetition". I forget if the Brainjo book talks about this or not, but it's all over the place. The basic idea is that you need to repeat something often at first, and then as it gets more ingrained in long term memory, it just needs less frequent refreshing. Kind of intuitive, but there are spaced repetition apps that can manage the process and that claim to have some sort of optimal schedule.

I have a friend who has done this in a low tech way for ages, I'm not even sure if he knows of the label "spaced repetition". He just writes all of his songs on a deck of blank cards, shuffles them, and then every day, he plays thru the ones on top, however many he feels up to. If he remembers it well, the card goes to the back of the deck. If not, it stays on top to be in the queue again for tomorrow. The apps and web sites that manage this for you just do it with a bit more sophistication, like prompting you to do something every day for a while, then every 3 days, then every 7, and so on. If you mess up, it goes back into faster repetition mode. The claim is that they bring it back into short term memory at precisely the moment you're about to forget it, if I recall correctly.

Another angle that I think some people alluded to is I'd think that memorizing depends a lot on how unfamiliar something is. If you know the blues chord progression, then learning a new blues tune is probably pretty simple - you're only needing to recall any quirk to the specific song (or the words, if you're singing). You don't have to memorize the chords, or the chord progression, just the key, and maybe some unique riff.
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  #28  
Old 11-24-2022, 01:06 PM
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This is a very important topic for me personally, I have two responses and I will do each one in a separate message.

First, I can read music and tab almost fluently but I have struggles memorizing anything I can read. I have started to think it's like using Google Maps. If I use Google maps to find a location that's a little bit complicated I don't remember how to repeat it.

However, if I can't get tabs for something and I have to do a Youtube lesson with someone showing me how to play it, I then memorize it and I hold it forever.
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  #29  
Old 11-24-2022, 01:09 PM
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Second point I wanted to make.

Someone on AGF once pointed out that if you work on a piece one or two measures at a time and then look at your left hand while you're doing it, you'll do better at memorizing the piece.

It works.
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  #30  
Old 11-24-2022, 01:55 PM
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This is a very important topic for me personally, I have two responses and I will do each one in a separate message.

First, I can read music and tab almost fluently but I have struggles memorizing anything I can read. I have started to think it's like using Google Maps. If I use Google maps to find a location that's a little bit complicated I don't remember how to repeat it.

However, if I can't get tabs for something and I have to do a Youtube lesson with someone showing me how to play it, I then memorize it and I hold it forever.
If I figure out a tune by ear, it's pretty much locked into my brain's hard drive.
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