With or Without Your Music

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Around ten years ago, a detailed study was made by neurosurgeons and seasoned performers to determine the chief cause or causes of stage fright. Opinions were conclusive: it was ascertained that eighty percent of performance anxiety is caused by a fear of memory slips. If this is so, then the question remains: how best to secure our memor...
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Decatastrophizing the Memory Lapse

spring20
The practice of memorizing music is relatively new. In the 1988 film by John Schlesinger, Madame Sousatzka,1 there is a haunting scene that still fills many a pianist with an uncomfortable sense of apprehension. The young madame is performing Beethoven's Appassionata to a packed concert hall, when suddenly the unthinkable happens. A small hesitatio...
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To use, or not to use?

Peter Serkin uses it. So do Emmanuel Ax and Richard Goode. Sviatoslav Richter started using it. As a faculty member in 1980, Gilbert Kalish promoted a policy about it at Stony Brook University; it was ok to use it during degree recitals. Many top competitions prohibit its use. Its use has been discussed and debated at great length in recent ye...
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2014 Clavier Companion Collegiate Writing Contest

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In the Spring of 2014, Clavier Companion sponsored its seventh annual Collegiate Writing Contest, inviting college students from around the world to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. The esteemed panel of judges was comprised of Linda Christensen, Andrea McAlister, and Lesley Sisterhen McAllister. We extend our congra...
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Preparing the mind and body for performance: Conquering stage fright through effective practice

The brain is a complex organ. It controls our systemic functions and sparks our moods, thoughts, and actions. Physiologically, the brain registers fear differently, depending upon the threat. People suffering from panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a "flight or fight" response, but those grappling with performance anxi...
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Music by heart: Tips on memorizing more efficiently

More than one hundred years ago, at a Paris book stall by the river Seine, a young German scientist had a flash of inspiration—an idea that changed our knowledge of human memory's mechanisms. Hermann Ebbinghaus wondered if memory and the process of forgetting could be measured scientifically, and, on his return to Germany, devised experiments ...
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Memorization in adulthood

It really gets my dander up when I hear people say that adult amateur pianists aren't "serious" about their piano study. Why underestimate the thousands of adults who are passionate about performing at the piano? You will find amateur pianists seeking out performance opportunities through music clubs and associations. They find any excuse to perfor...
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Thoroughly learned: Playing by memory and/or using the score

​Try that passage again with your eyes closed." I heard myself today repeating to a student the advice I heard from my own teachers during my student days. This simple practice technique can focus the mind, fine tune the capacity to listen, and expand the imagination. Practicing with eyes closed is one of many benefi ts we reap from memorizing...
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One pianist's choice not to memorize

The traditional requirements of memorizing piano music for public performance have made nervous wrecks of many pianists. Fear of a memory slip can become an enormous specter overhanging each concert, reducing practice to campaigns solely focused on committing the scores safely and perfectly to memory. To reduce the likelihood of disaster, memorizat...
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A choice to be made

The tradition of memorizing music has been traced to the mid-nineteenth century, a time in history when the concept of the performer as a virtuoso was paramount. At that time, suspicion emerged that memorization was undertaken as a means to impress audiences, rather than to enhance musical communication. Performers who are reported to have initiate...
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How do you teach memorization to elementary and intermediate-level students?

Last year I attended an excellent lecture that John Ford did on the teaching of memorization. I enjoyed his extensive summary of mainstream ideas on the subject, as well as several novel ones. I asked him to share his thoughts with the readers of this publication. I suspect you, too, will fi nd his essay useful and thought-provoking. Forget-me knot...
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Senza piano

In the Spring of 2012, Clavier Companion sponsored its fifth annual Collegiate Writing Contest. College students at any level from any country in the world were invited to submit 1,500 word essays on a pedagogical topic of their choice. The grand prize was publication of the winning essay in Clavier Companion. The esteemed panel of j...
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Questions & Answers

Questions How do you begin teaching memory, and approximately when in a student's study do you begin?  Answer I like to begin memorizing within the first few weeks of study and continue it as a regular part of piano lessons from then on. Like every other discovery, memory should first be a secure and pleasant experience before it is given a na...
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How do you teach students to practice memorization?

from the series: The Other Teacher: Home Practice Pete Jutras, Editor Recital performances often present a study in contrasts. How many times have we seen the youngest students march up to the piano and fearlessly play through their piece, while older students seem to exude anxiety and nervousness as they approach the piano with a terrified, h...
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The Other Teacher: Home Practice

Elvina Truman Pearce is nationally recognized as a pianist, teacher, lecturer, author, and composer. She studied piano with Isabelle Vengerova and pedagogy with Frances Clark. She is currently an instructor in piano pedagogy and director of the Preparatory Division at Northwestern University, Evanston Illinois. by Elvina Pearce In th...
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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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