Friday, April 27, 2007


I've been practicing more lately, but remembering less. When I first started my adult-music adventure (with piano), I was baffled by the very concept of memorizing a piece, and picking out a melody by ear. My son had no problem at all. Our first tune on the piano was Frosty the Snowman (right hand only, on a small keyboard). He played it immediately, by memory, by ear, and I remember thinking, "How do you do that!"

When I started the cello, with a teacher who requires that all pieces be memorized and performed, I initially complained: "I want to play ensemble music, not perform publicly." But I had no choice. I actually started enjoying the memory work, and in fiddling, I am learning to play by ear. I do love being able to play both classical and fiddle music without sheet music.

But lately, I am having trouble memorizing, getting every bow right, etc., especially for the classical music. I don't think it is senility quite yet, but I am feeling that my brain has a limited capacity for holding pieces, whereas before I imagined that each new memorized piece would increase my capacity to learn more. Perhaps it is just that as the pieces get more complicated, you have to think about them a different way to memorize them. Not just Frosty the Snowman anymore.

Well, the fiddle tunes are easy enough at first glance and there are fewer bowing issues, but it gets more complicated playing them in a group, where people are usually playing at a faster pace than I am comfortable with, and everyone is playing a slightly different version of the tune.

That's my challenge for the moment, remembering how to memorize, and getting better at it. Playing the pieces better is closely connected to this, of course, but that is another issue, or group of issues!

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