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I practice every day. I have a notebook, and I list all the new stuff for the week, and then two playlists that I alternate (thanks Bluekeys), and then some finger exercises. I do these EVERY DAY.

Yesterday, I started playing the songs on that day's play list and I couldn't play a single one. I didn't even know most of the notes. It was like I had never seen them in my life. After a while I just gave up because it was too frustrating. Today I tried the same list, and at first it was just as bad, but I played some easier stuff for a few minutes and then tried again, skipping the one I was having the most trouble with, and after a while I was doing fine. Whew!!!! What happened? Did my brain go on vacatioin? Does this happen to anyone else?


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Yes it does happen to me and I do much the same as you did, walk away from it, then come back later whether it be an hour or a day. I try not to work through it when I am starting to get frustrated.

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Did my brain go on vacation? Does this happen to anyone else?
Oh yes! I just wish it didn't happen so often in front of my teacher. I think she should let me play each piece twice. The first run being the blank-dumb-stare at a section I know, the second being the I-really-can-play-it version.

Love the way you write. I can't imagine that we all don't do this. Have those out-to-lunch experiences. I will stop cold if this is happening to me while I practice - even if it's just a short break to re-group.

Debbie


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I get small memory hiccups all the time. But the only times I've gotten them as badly as you describe are when I'm playing a strange piano or playing in front of people without a chance to warm up.

Oddly, I think I've benefited from those situations in the long run (especially if caused by a strange piano and not by people watching). What I do is slow way down, pull out the sheets if they're available, do HS if necessary, and play each note carefully and deliberately until I get rolling again. That seems to reinforce my memory of the offending section, and I seem to have less trouble with it later.

Of course, maybe you're just having a bad day, and need a real vacation out on the Jersey shore! smile

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Oh yes I have had THOSE days! laugh

There are days I go to the piano and its like I forgot how to read the notes! Also my hands won't go where they are supposed to! It's like entering the "Twilight Zone" ! Usually, I just close up the piano and hope for a better day the next day .

And the next day comes and I play the piano just fine and the brain fog from the previous day seems to have been an event of the distant past.

Mom3..........perhaps those bad days happen when you don't get enough sleep? Taking care of kids can really take a toll on your memory. I have teenagers and sometimes it seems like my mind is going elsewhere! Or maybe you're not eating well? Try eating more bananas and take a vitamin B complex.And above all , don't sweat it, I think it happens to the best of us. There's always tomorrow. wink

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Oh yes! I have those moments too. I chalk it up to senorality. At least thats my excuse and Iam sticking to it.


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I'm so relieved to know that this happens to other people too. I seem to be back to normal today - that is, I still make mistakes, but when I do I can correct them and not stare at the notes as if I've never seen written music before.

Babs, my kids are all adults, and two of them are out of the house. I haven't seen any of my 10 grandkids for weeks. I do eat bananas, and take a B vitamin complex, but I probably don't get enough sleep.

Bluekeys, I don't know if a vacation at the Jersey Shore will help my piano playing, but I would love it.


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I think we all have those days. The only solution I have found is to stay away from the piano for a day or two, then just play around with some fun pieces. Believe me, these spells do pass, and you will be back to playing well again. Gaby Tu

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Yeah, it happens to me too. I can't remember anything, even simple pieces I knew very well. Next day it all comes back. Sometimes later.

I am most angry when it comes day before my lesson laugh


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It happens to me too. I call these days when garbage comes out of my hands. It's usually because I'm preoccupied with something else or just plain tired.


...and then there are days where every note is like a pearl.

We all have good and bad days. No worries.


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Yes, I was probably both tired and preoccupied. And I guess I could blame some of it on a rather prolonged "senior moment" too.


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I played something I hadn't played for weeks on a recently acquired piano. I could only remember half. I then played it on a piano I've played it on before and it came back. Memory is a mysterious thing. It certainly doesn't take orders.

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At the moment I'm working on pieces and training my eyes to read and fingers play. Should I also try playing these same pieces from memory or is this a bad idea at the early stages?

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I'm finding that one of the most fascinating things about learning the piano is discovering how memory works.

To KBK's point, memory seems to be very situational. On the surface it would seem knowing a song would mean simply knowing the right notes in the right order. But it's much more complex. It involves an aural response to the notes, the feel of the keys, hand memory of the correct motions, visual response to the notes on the page and/or visual image of the keys, and much much more.

I do believe memorization is one of my strengths. There probably aren't a lot of 2-year students who can play over an hour of material from memory.

But -- and this goes to RC's question -- I think it's important, especially in the early stages, to make the notes on the page part of your situational memory.

When you regularly read off the page you give yourself a common denominator, regardless of whether you're playing on a different piano, in front of teacher, with distractions, etc.

I've found it's much easier to remove dependence on the score for pieces I've learned by reading, than it is to add ability to read off the page for pieces I first learned by memorizing.

It may seem redundant, but I think the pieces I know best are those that I have memorized but play off the page anyway.

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An interesting point, yesterday I played the first few bars of a song - I then discovered I had my music open on the WRONG page!

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Originally posted by Ragtime Clown:
At the moment I'm working on pieces and training my eyes to read and fingers play. Should I also try playing these same pieces from memory or is this a bad idea at the early stages?
With an understanding of harmony memorizing can sometimes be quite effortless. Kinesthetic memory can be useful but is unreliable.

Bluekeys, good point. I've often thought there must be some link between situational memory and autism (you there Monica?) and that we all suffer from it in varying degrees. Reading does short circuit it.

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It happened to me (on a smaller scale) on two occasions, the second one just yesterday.

What happens, I think, is that one plays some parts of a piece in a very automatic way, because they are not "difficult" anymore.

We do not try to remember them and as a result, we remember them..... like driving...

But the day when we ask ourselves "what must I do now?" then the information might not be readily available, because it has been "buried" pretty deep in your subconscious mind, so that you can play it naturally only when only your subconscious is in charge and you are not "trying" at all to consciously play it.

In my case, the (painful) "recovery" of two or three "finger positions" helped to get everything back; but mind, not immediately! It was like having to "dig it out" from the recesses of my subconscious mind!

It happened both times with parts of pieces played hundreds of times without the slightest difficulties and obviously (but one realises that only after the fact) without paying much attention at all to how your fingers move on the keyboard....

Pretty scary on the moment, I must say.....
then one tries to find a reason and what I have just exposed is my idea of how it could happen...


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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"It involves an aural response to the notes, the feel of the keys, hand memory of the correct motions, visual response to the notes on the page and/or visual image of the keys, and much much more."

You are so right.

I seem to memorise certain movements of the wrist, or the way my eyes are looking at the left key to remember what the right must play! If I at the right moment then look at the right hand instead of the left, I am more likely not to remember what the "hand I am looking to" was supposed to play than the other! No idea why!!

I also seem, in certain cases, to think always at the same people or at the same place at the same point and to associate those people and places with a certain position of the hands in that particular measure, without any effort on my part to do so; but this is something I am not able to control (yet).....


"The man that hath no music in himself / Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds / Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." (W.Shakespeare)

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Originally posted by Innominato:
I also seem, in certain cases, to think always at the same people or at the same place at the same point and to associate those people and places with a certain position of the hands in that particular measure, without any effort on my part to do so; but this is something I am not able to control (yet).....
And what's more it's totally random.

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Innominato, funny that you should bring that up. Last night I read something that blew my mind: the Greek system of Theater of the Memory. The ancient Greeks had to memorize tons of stuff: speeches, poetry, music, and they also had a moral or values system attached to things.

Picture this: A building. Maybe it's a building you know, or you make it up. Maybe you always perform in this building. You get to know this building thoroughly. This building will be your memory theatre from now on. The upper reaches are heavenly things on a high plane. The ground is earthly, etc.

So now you start memorizing something. You "place" the bits that you are memorizing in that imaginary building. You walk into the hallway and you place the opening piece of your music there as you practice it. You walk further and place something on the window ledge. The next thing you practice will be over on the table, and the next, a lofty idea, hangs from the chandelier. That's how you practice.

The time to perform begins. You are not remembering a thousand things. What you need to remember are hanging from a few places in a familiar room, the theatre: doorway, window ledge, table, chandelier. It's a familiar walk. Mentally you start "walking". You walk up to the doorway, pick up the memory-bit you place there, play it, while you make your way to the window and pick up the memory you have placed there etc.

Whenever you memorize something it is in the same "theatre". I can remember doodling as a teacher talked, and if I look at the doodle, I'd remember what the teacher said while I was drawing his nose.

Apparently the Shakesperean Globe Theatre was one huge memnonic device. The ceiling had the stars accurately depicted, the pit was symbolic. Juliet calls to Romeo while she is on the balcony, because she is between heaven and earth in the moment of making decisions - it cannot be any place other than a balcony.

KS

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