Saturday, May 25, 2013

Not an easy path

My very first couple of back-to-memory experiences weren't really good ones. I had memory lapses. In fact, my first two experiences, in which I played the same binary-form Bach movement, had lapses so severe that I had to noodle my way through the B section to a final cadence. I don't even think that my ending key was the same as the starting key.

I should have known better! Indeed, my return-to-memory work had consisted mainly of repetition. Then again, this was more or less how I had been practicing when I worked with music.

And I continued to have lapses, and I continue to have lapses...but the nature of today's lapses is much different and, most importantly, the recovery is very different. While it's possible that there are a few individuals capable of playing note-perfect, memorized programs, I'm convinced that the majority of memorized recitals have a fair share of near-misses and faking. I'm not at all suggesting that we should strive towards imperfection, but we need to work as inhabitants of an imperfect world.

In my previous post, I discussed my unique perspective as one who skipped nearly twenty years of playing from memory. With that perspective comes the realization that I now have a lot of confidence as a player. Perhaps this confidence has kept me from the fear that most people would have with on-stage memory lapses, but I'm not so sure. I would like to suggest that in order to conquer memory-related fear, we must:
  • accept that perfection is, while desired, nearly impossible;
  • always have an exit strategy.
Before closing this post, I want to get back to the reason for this blog. I truly don't think that I have any special gift for memorization. This has been hard work and it continues to be hard work. I have created this blog because I think that the difficulties I've had are probably some of the same difficulties that others have had. With this empathetic understanding, we can all become better at learning music by heart and, in turn, become better musicians.