Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memory talismans (talismen?)

It has been a busy week, work-wise, with little time for blogging. Still busy, probably right through the weekend. The joys of self-employment.

I have been re-reading Music for the Joy of It, Enhancing Creativity, Skills, and Musical Confidence by Stephanie Judy (who plays multiple instruments, including cello). This is a great book, full of information and advice on learning, practicing, and performing for amateur musicians. I bought it maybe 7 or 8 years ago and read it then, but am finding much of interest, lots that I forgot, or just seems more relevant now.

The following quote from the book is probably not the best example of useful information, but given my obsession with memorizing, it struck me as worth considering:

"If you are getting ready for a performance, it can help a surprising amount to practice your memory work in the place where you will perform. That's not always possible, of course, but as an alternative you can use a talisman--perhaps a special necklace, a scarf, or a belt that you put on when you practice and plan to wear when you perform. Suzanne McGrath learned this trick from her teenage daughter:
Kathryn always studies for exams wearing the same shoes that she's going to wear on exam day. I used to laugh at her for being superstitious, but she persuaded me to try it when I was getting ready for a recital. I kept my concert shoes next to my music stand and slipped them on when I worked on my recital number. (Kathryn absolutely insisted that I must never, never wear them for anything else or the spell wouldn't work.) And you know what? It worked! I had this very eerie feeling while I was playing that if I forgot anything, it would be down there in my shoe somewhere! At one point I even started to giggle because this idea struck me funny. But I'll definitely do it again."
There are lots of other more conventional and musically serious tips, and I am trying them all. My teacher has suggested, more to her younger students, practicing in a special scarf, not for memory, more just to make practicing a special time, so I am kind of up for this one.

So, I am playing four pieces for memory at my next recital. Should I have four talismans? Scarves are a little warm in the summertime. I'm not much of a shoe person and I don't wear shoes at home. I like the hat in the above illustration, but it might be a little too dramatic. Perhaps a sparkly ring, shining with the true vision of the music. Four sparkly rings. We'll see.


cellodonna said...

That's one of my favorite books! I recognized the illustration right away. When I was contemplating beginning the cello in the fall of 2001 I took that book out of the library. I liked it so much I tracked down a used copy to purchase.

Maricello said...

Yes, it is a great book, full of useful and interesting information. Better than Keeping the Beat: Healthy Aging through Amateur Chamber Music Playing, which I expected to be about how learning a musical instrument as an adult, particularly an older adult, would keep one young. Most of the people interviewed have played instruments all their lives and are somewhat negative about the chances of musical success for people starting an instrument as an adult. I've been meaning to write about that book!