On Memorizing Music,
By Ryan Thomson
My contribution to a discussion on memorization:
I memorize some music every week as a personal violin playing policy. I average somewhere
around 32 bars or so. Most of it consists of folk tunes or scales and arpeggios in various keys
(which I use as tools for improvisation).
Folk music and jazz is usually performed without written music, and so when I memorize I
am constantly enlarging my repertoire for performance. I rarely memorize classical music
though, because I can just sit at my music stand and read it along with everyone else. I
have memorized a few sections of some classical pieces that I found difficult to read at
high speed, which helped me keep up with more advanced players and readers.
I find that some days are good for memorization, and others bad, but I keep plugging away.
On bad days I don't force myself, but perhaps just learn a few bars of a difficult piece. On
good days I keep on going as long as it feels right. If I get a bit discouraged, I visualize some
famous or hot shot violinist playing the piece in question, and remind myself that the
journey to the end of the road starts with a few small steps, and I'm on my way!
This article written by Ryan J Thomson, 2000