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Ryan & Brennish Thomson

Updated Feb 2, 2024

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

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