Playing from memory rather than sight

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Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 01 Jun 2014, 20:11

I resumed piano lessons after several unsuccessful attempts in early March and since then, I have built up a repertoire of nineteen tunes, the majority of which are taken from 'Classics to Moderns 1' by Denes Agay. However, as my repertoire grows, I am finding that pieces which I painstakingly learned inbetween lessons and that I played almost perfectly to my teacher, say five weeks ago I now cannot play...so I practice them again and again and I'm still not perfect. If I were to practice them each and every day, like the piece I currently have for homework then maybe within a week I'd be able to play them again. But this stems from just committing these pieces to my memory, and naturally forgetting them! I'm not Superman and therefore cannot remember any more than nineteen or so pieces, which is stopping my repertoire from growing naturally.

For example I've just been trying German Dance (CTM 1 p13). I've forgotten lots of different things it took me so long to learn about this piece, what it 'feels' like, how to stretch my hand, the intervals...and so I make mistakes. I would spend a few days trying to re-learn it, and succeed, however there would be another piece I couldn't play. If I didn't play all of these nineteen pieces EVERY DAY then within a few days, I would have forgotten nearly all of them. One week's holiday to Southport in June 2012 wiped out a great deal of my repertoire and almost all of the Grade 3 scales and arpeggios I'd struggled to cram in during the weeks and months beforehand.

So, why is this happening to me? It surely cannot be a side effect of the meds I've been on for 16 years, can it? (my GP seems to think it isn't but the notes that come in my packs of meds, and also NHS Direct seems to contradict her).

I wonder if any other piano learners have experienced this??
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 02 Jun 2014, 17:07

I can't play from memory. A lot of it stems from having played from memory as a child; if it wasn't required, it wasn't learned. As for trying to retain everything you're learning as an adult, I think that's a fairly tall order. Think of your memory as a filing cabinet. New stuff goes at the front, old stuff at the back and as more room is required for new stuff, the old stuff gets thrown out. Don't worry about learning from memory; it's nice to do but not a requirement, so don't make life more difficult than it needs to be.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 03 Jun 2014, 12:18

I have to play from memory to a great extent because I'm such a spazz when it comes to sight reading (as you know), however...

The good news is that I've asked my teacher and she has said just do the one piece of homework and not to worry about the second. So I've decided to go all out and attempt to learn that piece, with a little 'I think therefore I am' attitude. But I've gone back to square one with it, take the music, look at the first phrase in the right hand and left hand, study those dots and hand positions and play. Then if I feel I'm ready to move on tomorrow, then I shall do so. If I cannot play the piece by the time of my next lesson (next Tuesday) then so be it. Both my teacher and I know that I've actually had a go at it (she does have young kids who leave all their practice until an hour or so before their lesson - and it shows!)

She's also said stop doing the current SR thing that I'm doing, and I must say it's like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders! I was okay with the red book (Improve Your Sight Reading Pre Grade 1) but I start the Grade 1 book and it all goes belly-up again. I swear these books were published in the celestial realm below.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 03 Jun 2014, 15:32

If you practise a piece a lot, it tends to enter the memory anyway - some of the pieces I can play from memory are bits of old exam pieces which I had to play millions of times (and I neverevereverevereverever exaggerate)but wasn't consciously trying to memorise. You'll probably find the same happens to you; don't force it, and it may happen on its own!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 03 Jun 2014, 17:19

It's just that time is running out. I never rush anyway to learn a piece, however there must have been one particular tiny aspect of one phrase I failed to grasp as I moved on to the next...and it derailed the whole piece. Maybe 3 weeks isn't long enough to learn this particular one (sixteen bars or so) but my lesson is fast approaching and I needed to be able to play this virtually with my eyes closed (those dots aren't going to make any sense to me) as it really is a lovely piece, and the 'stride' effect shows pianistic skill. So 'Mainwaring's syndrome' sets in.

But as I say, there really is no big issue. I will play this piece even if it takes me a year to learn it!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Feg » 03 Jun 2014, 17:53

I'm with Gill on this one. Sans the dots, I have only fragments of pieces stuck in the brain. And they are an eclectic selection at best. Even violin pieces are fragmented. I can half remember the melody but not necessarily in the correct key. I need music in front of me as a reference even if I don't alway look up at it.

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 03 Jun 2014, 18:08

It's just that niggling issue again and it needs to be dealt with NOW. If I just ignore it then it'll impede me from learning new pieces. If I try to do something about it, such as do these silly SR things then I just get frustrated and the enjoyment goes. Which is NOT what I want. You'd think, as I'm not doing any more exams it wouldn't be a problem but I guess it'll always take me weeks to learn new pieces, even in ten years time. My wife is dyslexic, so maybe I have music reading dyslexia if it exists with the Roman and other alphabets then it must do with printed music! Not read anything about it though.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 04 Jun 2014, 17:19

dave brum wrote:It's just that time is running out....it'll impede me from learning new pieces... I just get frustrated and the enjoyment goes.. ..it'll always take me weeks to learn new pieces, even in ten years time...maybe I have music reading dyslexia ...those dots aren't going to make any sense to me
Can I refer you to your avatar?

As far as I know, dyslexia isn't contagious - otherwise 30 years with a dyslexic would have put a stop to my 5 novels a week habit! :lol:
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Feg » 04 Jun 2014, 19:38

Gill the Piano wrote:
dave brum wrote:It's just that time is running out....it'll impede me from learning new pieces... I just get frustrated and the enjoyment goes.. ..it'll always take me weeks to learn new pieces, even in ten years time...maybe I have music reading dyslexia ...those dots aren't going to make any sense to me
Can I refer you to your avatar?

As far as I know, dyslexia isn't contagious - otherwise 30 years with a dyslexic would have put a stop to my 5 novels a week habit! :lol:
A reader after my own heart - on a good day, when I can actually get peace and quiet to read, I can get through a couple of crime thrillers before tea :D

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 04 Jun 2014, 21:22

Okay, so I've tried something new this evening. I've got the main light on in my music room. the music light and also my lightbox, so it is incredibly dazzlingly bright in my music room. I've found I can actually concentrate better on the dots and my playing is almost perfect. Plus I can read ahead a lot better. Now, what does that say about my music room?? Two small windows facing west which let in little sunlight, walls in dirty pink, dark orange curtains and carpet in dirty green.

When I go to my lessons, Mabs has her piano in the bay window, so even when the June weather is more like that horrible twelfth month that I would abolish if I was King in terms of daylight, her room is still light, airy and reasonably bright...like my conservatory.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Feg » 05 Jun 2014, 14:49

dave brum wrote:Okay, so I've tried something new this evening. I've got the main light on in my music room. the music light and also my lightbox, so it is incredibly dazzlingly bright in my music room. I've found I can actually concentrate better on the dots and my playing is almost perfect. Plus I can read ahead a lot better. Now, what does that say about my music room?? Two small windows facing west which let in little sunlight, walls in dirty pink, dark orange curtains and carpet in dirty green.

When I go to my lessons, Mabs has her piano in the bay window, so even when the June weather is more like that horrible twelfth month that I would abolish if I was King in terms of daylight, her room is still light, airy and reasonably bright...like my conservatory.
I see a trip to the DIY store in your future :D Ditch the curtains in favour of blinds, white paint on the walls and the carpet won't seem so dark.

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 05 Jun 2014, 15:12

Yep, a nice big pot of mongolia paint and some muslin curtains. And a smoking jacket and a sweetie cigarette in a long holder. And a big potted fern in the corner. Atmosphere, dahling! It's amazing how something as simple as light can have such a good effect. Whatever works for you, go for it!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 05 Jun 2014, 18:01

No curtains, just blinds. The smoking ban applies in this house and is actively enforced. And a plain light brown carpet that won't absorb too much sunlight, as it's such a precious resource. We had new widows installed a couple of years ago and the sealant they used around them was not mould resistant, so some of Wickes finest will have to go on. Plus plastering a ceiling. Not worth thinking about. How do you do it, dear Eric, dear Eric???
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 06 Jun 2014, 17:28

That's why I said a SWEETIE cigarette...bit disturbed about putting sealant around widows - have they not had enough tragedy in their lives already? Just paint the ceiling - much easier! Eric was a brickie, hates plastering!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 06 Jun 2014, 20:25

Sealant is a need around the frames because of the cold winds. It's just the gang of Darrens who installed the windows thought they'd obviously cut a corner and use non-mould resistant mastic.

The radiator needs replacing too, it doesn't give off much heat at all even for a smallish box room. And the ceiling is papered apart from a small section (interestingly enough directly above 'Fiona') which leaked in the winter and is covered in mould in parts, gloss paint and cheap mastic in others. It calls for radical thought and action..
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 06 Jun 2014, 20:31

Gill the Piano wrote:That's why I said a SWEETIE cigarette..
I didn't think they still made those? Round here kids have discovered the real thing is better, especially when they see their parents setting them such a good, positive example and doing the vile poisonous things themselves.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 07 Jun 2014, 15:20

Wiping down with neat Jeyes' fluid eliminates mould. Builder's tip - try it!
Surprisingly in this day & age you CAN still get sweetie cigs - but you have to search for 'em!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 07 Jun 2014, 19:37

Thanks, I'll try that. We got some Pollyfilla mould remover from Morrisons which did the job with our usual winter fungal growth behind the front door but we have to keep applying it, which we're loth to want to do frequently as there are catts running free in the house. But cats aren't allowed in my piano room.

Quite what that has to do with the topic....better shut up before Markymark's on the next flight from Ireland with a cat o'nine tails in his hand to apply enthusiastically to my behind for going off topic!

Should be a TOP TIPS thread in the Lounge, I ponder....
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 08 Jun 2014, 14:37

Drinking Jeye's fluid might help you to play from memory. Then again it might not. There we are, back on track...
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 10 Jun 2014, 13:38

I also may be failing to read ahead when I'm sight reading, which makes it difficult. I'll chat about that with my teacher later, she's going to try me on some new SR stuff.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by gizzy » 12 Jun 2014, 09:40

Hi Dave, you know, there's this missing link between playing from memory which even quite experienced players don't get. I find that Some of my folks, including adults, can play through a phrase a couple of times, get it right, but then keep getting it wrong, and it's because they're sight-reading it fresh every time.

I think the secret is to be able to teach yourself to use the notation to remind you, not to inform you - how you do this, would be up to the individual, but I had this idea that when you first look at it, it's like a load of ingredients and a recipe, and once you've done it a few times, it's like you've cooked it. But if you haven't managed to get this knack of playing the cooked version when you look at it, you go back to the raw ingredients again and try to work it out, instead of letting it remind you. I know this is the case with some people I teach, because they blunder through this thing we've been doing for three weeks, still making mistakes - often different every time, as making the same mistake is a different matter - and when I take the book away, they play it a lot better!

I can't play entirely from memory either, I tend to play by ear, so I get the tune and the harmony right, but can't always remember whether I've got repeated chords or Alberti bass or arpeggios at any one point. But put the music in front of me and I will know = but I won't be reading it, I will more likely be following it while I play.

I can't promise this will work for you, but you could start by trying to work out, when you play something from the page which you have already been learning, even a couple of phrases, are you still sight-reading it (using the uncooked version) or now playing the cooked version and following it just to check and remind yourself.

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 12 Jun 2014, 11:45

Actually Gizchops, and rather oddly enough I even have to use the notation to remind me on pieces I learned with Mabs weeks ago. I cannot play them entirely from memory so you COULD say I am partially sight reading them. But I tend to SR better in rhythm rather than pitch anyway. My specific problem is the gaps in between the notes, and remembering what key I'm in. Those SR exercises are anathema to me because they have to be played once and I always get them wrong, however if, like a piece I could learn them at my own pace then yes I would be able to play them. But that defeats the whole object, doesn't it?

Whenever I get a new piece with Mabs and she asks me to have a go at it (usually from CTM 1) or I find a hymn tune, I play the first phrase or two with the RH first (like I'm playing a G1 sight read specimen exercise) and the chances are I'll get the piece wrong first time. But if I study the page in careful detail, either at the piano, or on the sofa with a cup of tea and doing the finger movements on my lap, then I will gradually learn the phrase and what fingers to use, then I'll move on - and with practice the piece becomes fluent.

I just cannot do it correctly first time, which is why it takes me so long to learn new pieces.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 12 Jun 2014, 17:49

SR the gaps between the notes rather than the actual notes; gauge the distance and you'll learn what a 4th/5th etc looks like on the stave.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 12 Jun 2014, 20:05

Gill the Piano wrote:SR the gaps between the notes rather than the actual notes; gauge the distance and you'll learn what a 4th/5th etc looks like on the stave.
I wish it was that easy Gill. I really do. On a stave if I see an interval, either harmonic or melodic of a C and A, or an F and D, I instantly recognise it as a sixth. But PLAYING it in a short space of time....could be that my reactions are impaired because of all the meds I have to take, which affect my ability to sight read (I'm coming off my antidepressants, should be off them by the end of 2014, but will still be on my anti epilepsy stuff).

But I shall not crib. I shall sip my tea with British decorum, keep my upper lip like a board and try each method Mabs gives me, and when it fails, I'll just try the next one and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, like the tortoise racing the hare, whilst this is going on I will learn more tunes and possibly even the odd hymn or two. Not that I'm willing it to fail, I just am in eager anticipation of my :idea: moment with SRing.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 13 Jun 2014, 18:10

No, your eye will soon judge an interval if you try to register it consciously, and you will find your hand learns what an interval 'feels' like too.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 13 Jun 2014, 18:18

Gill the Piano wrote:No, your eye will soon judge an interval if you try to register it consciously, and you will find your hand learns what an interval 'feels' like too.
It's just everything is taking so long to register, that's all and I don't know why, and so the negative thoughts creep back. I need that kick up the 'arris that Mabel is too nice to administer. Care to put your steel toecapped Doctor Martens on and do the honours, Gill??
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 13 Jun 2014, 19:34

So it's like (excuse the chav parlance) instead of, for example, seeing a chord and thinking:okay, so that's the D below middle C, that's an A and that's middle C, look down and make sure right fingers are on right keys and hope a) I play the right notes and b) my looking down won't throw me off kilter which is what I usually do, like looking at the bottom note and working out the interval between that and the top note - and becoming familiar with not only hand shapes but common chords/melodics in the various keys?
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 14 Jun 2014, 17:03

When you tie your shoelaces, do you think 'That bit goes over there then that goes through there...etc'? No, because your brain has made a shortcut to your fingers which do it automatically. I reckon that if your eye sees a 5th, your fingers will get to know what a 5th feels like and automatically stretch a fifth's worth. And so on for the other intervals. But being an adult, that process is far longer than for a kid with an empty brain who is learning new stuff all day every day - I'm having the same problems knowing where the notes are higher up on the guitar fingerboard.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 14 Jun 2014, 17:23

Exactly. I can do a 5th but 6ths 7ths and (some of the time) octaves are difficult. Sometimes I think learning the piano is extremely solitary and lonesome.....

It's like every time Mabel says to me 'let's have a look at your sight reading' (which she does every lesson), I instantly become a scared, nervous, apprehensive nine inch high weakling. Does it HAVE to be like this even if I play all my scales perfectly and learn my tunes note perfect??

This is what the ABRSM has to say:

http://gb.abrsm.org/en/our-exams/what-i ... t-reading/
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by gizzy » 15 Jun 2014, 00:03

dave brum wrote:
This is what the ABRSM has to say:

http://gb.abrsm.org/en/our-exams/what-i ... t-reading/
In 30 seconds. Ri-ight.If it's any consolation, I think I have more pupils who can't do it (at whatever level their current exam is) than can.

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 15 Jun 2014, 08:54

So it's a case of the expectations then. I came across a book of specimen g1 SR tests from the early 00s last night which I purchased in my bookshop and the difficulty level is slightly higher than the equivqlents today for g1. The AB have made minor changes each time the syllabus is changed and those changes are usually in the favour of the candidate. Supposedly to make the idea of music exams more appealing to the hoi polloi but whether it's making the SR exercises less difficult here, or the omission of a contrary motion melodic minor scale there - compared with the sort of things from the dim and distant past, they're a piece of cake. I tried two of the exercises and I screwed them up big style, despite preparing for them as I've been told to.

30 seconds, yes Giz, been there, done it twice. But with my slow reactions it would take me a good ten minutes to properly study each exercise at Grade 1 level...and then, there would be a high probability I'd make mistakes and schoolboy ballsups (sorry Ed). And that would also apply to the mid stages of Paul Harris IYSR grade 1 book.

When I was a child, I used to be afraid of dogs, which didn't help the fact there was a massive Alsatian two doors down from the house in Smerik where I grew up. Every time I saw it, I was filled with dread and fear, in anticipation of the worst, that it would bite me. Now I really love Alsatians, Rottweilers (draw the line at chav dogs) but the same feeling I used to have as a child whenever I saw a big dog, I have nowadays whenever I see a piece of sight reading, or Mabel says to me 'have a go at this one, David'. It can be cured - the question is how?
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 15 Jun 2014, 20:07

By stopping worrying. It is what it is - a small part of a bigger exam - and all you have to do is your best. Take it easy on yourself. If any books come in at the shop that you like the look of then buy 'em and play 'em as best as you can at whatever speed you fancy without putting stress on yourself. Stop beating yourself up.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 15 Jun 2014, 20:20

I see I'm going to have to take the coward's way out of this one. By telling Mabel I don't want to do any more sightreading (not afraid of that, but I am afraid of telling my trouble and strife - who knows zilch about music - that I've been defeated, with her wanting me to do grade 1 as well).

I don't think even Mabel understands how difficult SRing is for me despite telling her what seems like hundreds of times. That Laura Shur book she's given me is worse than the Paul Harris ones (I'm up to exercise 10 now and nine of those I've failed to play correctly once). I think as long as I live I'll struggle with this aspect and it'll impede my learning process greatly (like a child with learning difficulties) but I guess I'm just going to have to learn to live with taking sometimes weeks and weeks to learn simple pieces, barring a humungous miracle. :?

Why doesn't something GOOD ever happen in this particular field?? As it stands, I'd love to be able to talk positive about sight reading as I can about other aspects of the AB exam, and playing pieces from CTM 1/hymn tunes but I don't see anything positive to say about it and that's such a great shame. Why is this?

I'm also toying with the idea of writing to the ABRSM (under a pseudonym and alias email address of course as I am a pariah in their eyes having been banned from their forum four times) and asking them if there are any of their publications tailored to sight reading spastics such as myself. There must surely be something on the market that will be of benefit.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by gizzy » 15 Jun 2014, 23:20

They'll tell you that Joining The Dots is very popular and it works, but actually in my experience it's just more of the same.

How are you for "sight-reading" these days if left to your own devices to learn a simple piece from notation in your own good time, with nobody breathing down your neck (unless you like that sort of thing), no compulsion to keep going, not repeat notes or correct wrong notes, do hands separately etc? That was really how I learnt to sight-read because I never did any piano exams, let long piano s/r until I was on grade 6, though I knew it existed because I'd done sight-reading in cello exams.

If you take Trinity grades, you don't cut out learning to sight-read, you just cut out being assessed at it, and if you're not going to be assessed at it, you don't need to be assessed at it in lessons either. What's it for?

If you were a violinist, you'd need to do "continuous" sight-reading from a relatively early stage because you'd need to try to read your part in an orchestra. Bt single lines are a bit easier anyway, and in an orchestra you can just leave bits out. Experienced pianists, organists and other musicians will tell you how important it is to THEIR musical life to be able to do it on the spot, but THEY ARE NOT YOU. You, David Birmingham, do NOT need to read fluently at this stage. If you manage every other aspect of the syllabus a lot better because the burden of being tested at sight-reading has been lifted from you, you may eventually reach grade 5 without having to do it, then wham at grade 6 it hits you, you have to do it.

By that time, you know, your understanding of the notation will have speeded up, I can't see how it wouldn't, and you can probably take it in your stride.

And if you don't, did you know that London College of Music has what they call Leisure Play exams where you only play the pieces?

I've never been involved in them, I'm still enough of an old-fashioned "purist" to instinctively feel they aren't "real" grades, but does that matter, when you just want something to be a yardstick?

http://www.uwl.ac.uk/sites/default/file ... grades.pdf

and turn to page 24

Of course it does depend on whether or not Mabel is also an old-fashioned purist. But you can always ask to study pieces from those lists and can probably enter yourself

Good luck
xGizzy

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 16 Jun 2014, 06:54

I'm working my way through Classics To Moderns 1. The pieces in the middle of the book, I can learn in anything from 7 to 10 days, and I practice twice daily, in the morning and evening. But Landler (my homework piece) I've been struggling with since 20th May and I can only just play the piece on my own piano. Don't ask me to play it fluently on Mabel's one. The hymn tunes, and these are easy arrangements are taking me anything between three and six weeks to learn, as are other 'easy play' arrangements from other titles. I'm only happy with CTM 1 at present. As for the current ABRSM grade 1 syllabus, looking at them I'd say it would take me 2-3 weeks to learn a piece, two if I'm extremely fortunate. The process involves lots of trial and error, memorsing, getting what positions feel like, and of course forgetting what key you're playing in.

I've seen the video of JTD on the ABRSM Youtube channel and yes it does look like more of the same ol' same ol' despite Alan Bullard's plausible sales pitch. However I cannot pass judgement upon it until I actually try it. Mabs must surely have heard of it.

You're right Giz about not having to be fluent in sight reading right now. But for me, confidence not fluency matters. Like that dog as a child I was talking about up the thread. If I can learn to be a man and not a mouse at the piano, scared of what might go wrong then fluency will follow in due course. Confidence is the watchword, again I've told Mabs this. It is also in my nature to be extremely cautious and anti-risktaking and in some respects it's good but in others it is a major hindrance. Such as learning new skills. I was not as cautious as I am now when I learned a second language and that's probably because I made the major step of moving to a Welsh-speaking area, finding work and lodgings as well as reading books and listening to audio stuff. I took risks and it paid off. Yet I can still hold a conversation in Welsh and listen to Welsh bands on Youtube, Radio Cymru etc.

So the more frustrated I become, the more I worry and a spiral develops. If only I could feel I was actually GETTING SOMEWHERE with it, then it would give me the impetus to go out there, conquer my fears and do Grade 1 (also known as playing on a strange piano to a stranger in a strange place and paying £35 for it....and when you're on benefits £35 is a small fortune, so you at least want it to be £35 well spent)
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 16 Jun 2014, 16:09

What about asking Mabel to write out SR for you; one bar. That's it, just one bar. If it doesn't freak you out, then try two. You DON'T HAVE to take exams.You DON'T HAVE to get any marks in SR to pass an exam if you DO take one. You have no time constraints, and nobody is pushing you - except yourself. Stoppit. Relax. Do the bits you're good at (and 2-3 weeks to learn a piece is by no means excessive especially for an adult) and stop fretting about the SR. Or do as Gizzy says and do an exam where SR isn't required; that would give you your benchmark without the anxiety.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 16 Jun 2014, 18:42

I don't know if she'll do that. I will have to ask her. There is a part of me that wants to have a go at Grade 1, if only to conquer my fears and make me a more confident player. I don't see her until the 24th now. But i could always email her and ask her, she can only say no. After all, it hasn't frightened you, Gillcakes...and that to the power of all eight grades.

The 'glorious Third' when the 15-16 piano syllabi is not that long away now, two weeks and two days in fact and we'll have to see what wondrous delights are contained therein. Presto Classical in Leamington is staying open till late that evening and I wouldn't mind going down there to take a butchers at them. Only one big obstacle, no this is NOTHING to do with sight reading, it's 'she who must be obeyed' that may throw spanners into the works here :?
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 17 Jun 2014, 08:59

One day a year won't hurt to skip off; T can always go with you to see what all the fuss is about, if there's no footy on.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 17 Jun 2014, 14:42

She would think I've got some sort of feathered avian biped in Leamington if I went alone, such is how she thinks. I guess any changes to the syllabus away from the pieces will be also on the ABRSM website on the glorious Third also (such as making the sigh tread part optional, the neurotic old codger eagerly and with fingers crossed anticipated.....)
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 19 Jun 2014, 10:16

I bought the AB specimen SR tests at Grade 1 yesterday from Forsyths. On their shop piano, I did two of them but cocked them both up. Yet I did two at home and they were fine. I recognise an issue here.

I also had a butchers at Joining The Dots also. Okay, but meant to be worked through with a teacher as there are duets in there. So will have to see what else Mabs has in her filing cabinet in five days time. But will take the book I bought yesterday.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 21 Jun 2014, 10:37

(from the 'What Is A Graded Music Exam' section of the ABRSM website):

Sight-reading ability is an invaluable asset, making music so much more accessible and helping the learning process to be much faster.

The precise reason why I want to learn to do it!

http://gb.abrsm.org/en/our-exams/what-i ... t-reading/

I also saw this in Forsyths the other day (though I shall link using the Musicroom website); Sight Reading Success in the respective grades. This for g1:

http://www.musicroom.com/se/id_no/01027836/details.html
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 21 Jun 2014, 18:06

Looks interesting; can you talk Mabel into buying it so you can have a look?
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 21 Jun 2014, 18:14

I'd not heard of it before Wednesday last. Mabel says she has loads of sight reading stuff in her filing cabinet so we'll have to see what she comes up with next week. Ladbrokes are offering even money on Joan Last, but little does she know I tried that in 2012.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 21 Jun 2014, 21:53

More interesting snippets from the ABRSM website, this time from 'These Music Exams';

Teachers often arrange for their pupils to play to each other before
exams come around, giving valuable performance experience.


Well I never! Does this REALLY happen?? Of course it would help immensely but I've never been offered this experience when I did gg 2 and 3 back in the days when I was nearer the maternity unit than the council mortuary.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by Gill the Piano » 22 Jun 2014, 16:34

Yes, some teachers have student concerts. Most of the students hate 'em...:)
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 22 Jun 2014, 22:05

Probably why Mabs doesn't have them but I know other teachers say on their websites they do have them, and even publish pictures on social media of them. I know Fanny Fosdyke doesn't have them (saw her car parked outside the church I used to go to on the way to the M5 this fine Sunday morning. I shall not tell what my lady wife said, it wasn't at all ladylike!) despite saying to me last October that the whole of the primary school population of the south city wants to learn the piano with her. Personally, I find it helps but maybe I'm the exception to the rule (says bohemian old me).

Now it's exam season Mrs.Fosdyke will be rushed off her feet accompanying for exams - as will Mabel.
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by gizzy » 22 Jun 2014, 22:19

dave brum wrote:More interesting snippets from the ABRSM website, this time from 'These Music Exams';

Teachers often arrange for their pupils to play to each other before
exams come around, giving valuable performance experience.


Well I never! Does this REALLY happen?? Of course it would help immensely but I've never been offered this experience when I did gg 2 and 3 back in the days when I was nearer the maternity unit than the council mortuary.
I had two concerts last year which went quite well, though most of mine are very elementary - and we had a collection both times to pay for the hall and the excess went to Doctors Without Borders - both times we sent them about £100! Haven't had one this year cos of doing Noye's Fludde in November and dragging my feet since then.

But - playing to each other, do they mean the exam pieces? That would demoralise some of mine! They're often only just ready by the week before the exam, but I have one Japanese boy (called Taiga!) doing grade 3 who I have actually ordered to play something else for a couple of weeks because his pieces are so ready and sounding lovely that I was afraid they'd get stale. The other two girls m(one from Pakistan and one from India) are still rather struggling; I really don't think it would help them to hear him play, though when it comes to my Trinity grade 2 I have two who might have a competition to see which of them is worse... (plus I have a grade 1 ABRSM who is a bit on the edge, a Trinity initial Grade, a little Indian poppet, who will do brilliantly, and London College Step One who will pass but just doesn't sound terribly musical)

I think Trinity's new books are due out in September as well. Gonna be an expensive month for piano teachers!

Gizzy, not quite at the nail-biting stage yet

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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 28 Jun 2014, 11:23

A form of primal scream therapy for unconfident pianists, One digital piano set to church organ mode and the volume turned up to the max, two open windows looking out onto the street, and some easy play hymns. Actually works!!
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 03 Jul 2014, 10:38

From the ABRSM website 'About Our Exams':

A holistic approach
This holistic approach helps students to understand, perform and enjoy music. It provides strong foundations for musical growth and a set of skills which students can use for the rest of their lives.


If their definition of 'holistic' is sitting in the exam room shaking and sweating, as if there's an electric chair and not a piano in the next room, or laying awake at night for days beforehand worrying about it, or even (as I did) suffering a nervous breakdown in the exam room, then I'll say Amen to that....
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Re: Playing from memory rather than sight

Post by dave brum » 03 Jul 2014, 15:32

...but alas, no toddling down to Presto tonight to take a butchers at the new syllabi, and whatever else might have been published today. A massive pile of bedlinen and an ironing board awaits me.
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