- Musical memory – what is it
- Short and long term memory
- Types of Music Memory
- The development of musical memory. 4 most effective ways
- 7 rules for memorizing musical material
Musical memory – what is it
musical memory is a term that refers to the ability of a musician to memorize and select melodies from memory. This is a very important skill that any guitarist, keyboardist and anyone involved with playing an instrument should have. This includes both muscle and melodic and interval memory. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at every aspect of this area, provide practical advice, and help you get the most out of your memory.
Short and long term memory
To begin with, let’s figure out what types of memory there are in general, and which one we need to use to develop and make progress.
short term memory – This is the type that can contain 5 to 9 aspects at the same time, and keeps them in the head for about 30 seconds. This type is suitable for sight players with no prior training, but for those who want to memorize melodies well, it is not exactly suitable.
long term memory is the key to how to develop musical memory. This is the same type that remembers events that occurred several years ago, and also allows you to remember material learned a very long time ago. It is this area that we will train in our case.
Read also – how to remember the notes on the fingerboard
Types of Music Memory
The most common type that most guitarists and musicians rely on. It fits perfectly in this aspect, like memorizing guitar chords. Its essence is to bring all positions to maximum automatism, when you do not have to think and analyze which finger to put where. The hand will do everything for you. Even if for some reason you cannot pick up the guitar for a long time, you will still be able to remember everything, even if it takes some effort. Muscle memory on an instrument is a lot like riding a bike – once you learn it, you’ll never forget how it’s done.
You can develop muscle memory by repeating and doing exercises on the instrument for a long time. Thus, you will force the muscles, and not the brain, to remember all the movements, and in the future it will consider it logical to build them that way. And because of the specifics of the arrangement of notes on the guitar, this will only play into our hands.
However, it is not worth rely on it completely. Types of musical memory are not limited to muscle memory alone. This is pure automation that will not allow you to understand how music is built, how it is composed and produced. Therefore, along with the muscles, you should also develop the brain.
Conceptual memory is built on how music works. What notes are combined with each other, what steps exist, how to build harmony, and so on. It develops in only one way – by learning musical theory and solfeggio.
This type is more relevant for those who are used to reading notes from a sheet. The development of musical memory of this type is impossible without knowing the notes – otherwise you simply run the risk of not understanding and not remembering anything. You will need to learn them and then learn to read from the sight. Visual memory works in such a way that you memorize each of the sheets as a picture, and then reproduce it from your head. In addition, thanks to the notes, you remember how the notes move – up or down, and based on the harmony, you can predict which note will be next.
You can take advantage of the reception. Look over the entire sheet of music three to five times, then visualize it with your eyes closed. Remember everything from the written notes to the texture and color of the paper. After that, repeat the same until you can do it as accurately as possible. This will require concentration, but will help develop visual memory.
Memory for keyboard players
There is another type of visual memory that is more helpful for keyboard players. It does not consist in memorizing the notes, but in memorizing the position of the hands on the instrument. It can be developed in the same way as visual memory from a sheet. It is worth saying that this memory can be developed for other instruments, however, it will be more difficult.
Photographic memory appears to be one of the best types of musical memory. In theory, yes. You look at the sheet once – and after that you play everything as if you have been learning all your life. Yep, that’s cool. The problem is that people with such talents simply do not exist. There is only one example – and even then it is not fully explained, so develop your visual memory and do not let the myths misinform you.
auditory musical memory
This type of memory relies on your ability to memorize and reproduce melodies. This is an extremely effective way of selecting any songs, as well as playing and explaining music. One of the easiest ways to develop it is to sing melodies. Sing them with some kind of sound, for example, “la”. Sing familiar songs and then try to reproduce them in this way. Or play it in your head, trying to completely repeat all the sections.
The result of this, ideally, should be your ability to dictate music. In other words, you will be able to write it based only on how the notes sound in theory – even without actually playing them. If you hear a note in your head but can’t find it on the instrument, that’s not very good.
This skill will greatly help in developing the memory of musical composition. You need to remember how two or more notes differ from each other in terms of intervals and pitch. Usually singing a melody helps to develop this skill. It’s more of a workout than a real memory, but it can definitely help.
See also: How to play chords
The development of musical memory. 4 most effective ways
The most obvious step in all musical memory development processes. Consciously rehearsing and learning, with an understanding of what you are doing, will give much more fruit than just repeating the same thing without any understanding. That is why we recommend that you carefully analyze every aspect of your exercises and songs – this will help develop the memory of a musical composition. Ideally, you should visualize in your head every step you take and let the music flow through you.
Organize the process
Structure everything you do. Each exercise, scale, pentatonic and so on – in order to better remember them. Ideally, they should all move from one to another and go continuously.
Also, when doing tasks, put aside everything else – put your phone on silent, log out of social networks, and leave everything that will distract you.
Adding detail to familiar exercises allows you to think through and understand the material more meaningfully. You will move away from the usual structure of repetitions and concentrate more on the exercises themselves. For example, you can try to add notes to the usual plucking pattern, and consciously approach this – understand the key and think everything through.
Build a memory castle
You can try a technique called “memory lock”. It is to build each exercise as a step in a journey that you have to take. For example, you can visualize your apartment and associate each exercise with the room in it, and then – individual details of the apartment with individual details of your memorization process. By associating exercises with familiar elements, you will be able to remember them faster.
7 rules for memorizing musical material
1. Arouse interest
The first thing to do is to arouse interest in the activity. This will help you not to be demotivated and not to abandon it in the first hours of classes. No matter how you hard to play the guitarif you have interest and motivation – you will not abandon it. This aspect is key in memory training and without it nothing will come of it.
2. Make a connection and association
Memorization is much easier if you associate fragments that are unknown to you with those that are already well remembered. Thus, you will build a kind of anchor that will pull out all the information. The better you remember the basic information, and the better you remember the unknown, the better.
3. Remember in parts and fragments
It is easier for the brain to remember small pieces of information strung on top of each other than huge layers. Therefore, try to break each exercise into smaller ones to simplify the whole memorization process.
4. Repeat what you remember
Of course, you need constant repetition of the material. These are not only regular exercises, but also playing the same tunes several times in a row. Feel free to pause between them and rest – the most important thing is to constantly return to them in the learning process.
5. Try to understand the structure and important details
Information is best remembered when you understand what it is about and what it wants to say. Having realized the structure and analyzed, having looked into the essence, you will understand much more easily what is at stake and, as a result, remember it much better.
6. Set a clear goal to “remember”
Of course, without a goal to remember, everything will go down the drain. Put it in front of you, and then get to work.
7. Regular practice
You need to practice regularly. Develop a schedule and devote a certain amount of time to this very practice. Make it a part of your day – and then the regularity will come by itself.