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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
When you already have a piece memorized, playing without the score allows you to have undivided focus on the sound you are producing and you don't have to worry about page turns.
Possibly true, but if one has the slightest concern about a memory slip(and this is a very common concern), that distraction could be a far bigger distraction then looking at the score. I think pianists who have learned a piece well and still use the score have it there mostly as a security blanket and are not distracted by it when they play. Page turns are really a non issue if one uses one of the modern devices that allow one to turn the page on a tablet with just a touch of the finger or foot. Finally, the inordinate amount of time most pianists need to memorize a score could be IMO far better used in learning more repertoire.

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Let me offer an alternative take. The point of practicing with the score is to burn the image of the piece in you mind's eye as you play. After your brain records it, it can superimpose the image to that blank music rest you are staring at. That way, you can look at your hands, glance at the invisible score, turn pages mentally, and play confidently...


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... Finally, the inordinate amount of time most pianists need to memorize a score could be IMO far better used in learning more repertoire.

But this would negate the importance of any sort of memorization and aural development in favour of reading.

It is only an inordinate amount of time memorizing if you have not developed this skill. Those that do it all the time, don't have this issue and insignificant amount of time is required to memorize.

You either see it as important or you don't. To me, it is a sound instrument and thus aural development is among top priority.

Sound is not an image and the essence of music cannot be illustrated by a picture on a page.

Reading is important for your overall musicianship, but never at the expense of dropping something even more important.

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Originally Posted by Greener
It is only an inordinate amount of time memorizing if you have not developed this skill. Those that do it all the time, don't have this issue and insignificant amount of time is required to memorize.

Unless you are an older adult beginner and your memory is not what it once was.


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Alot of things don't work as well or come as easily.

They can still be improved unless we just don't even bother.

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Originally Posted by Greener
Alot of things don't work as well or come as easily.

They can still be improved unless we just don't even bother.

Yes, if you think it is a good use of your time. Or if you think that the time spent on memorising - knowing that you'll need very much time for memorising - is better spent on other things, such as focusing on playing a piece as well as you can.


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Originally Posted by Greener
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... Finally, the inordinate amount of time most pianists need to memorize a score could be IMO far better used in learning more repertoire.

But this would negate the importance of any sort of memorization and aural development in favour of reading.

It is only an inordinate amount of time memorizing if you have not developed this skill. Those that do it all the time, don't have this issue and insignificant amount of time is required to memorize.

You either see it as important or you don't. To me, it is a sound instrument and thus aural development is among top priority.

Sound is not an image and the essence of music cannot be illustrated by a picture on a page.

Reading is important for your overall musicianship, but never at the expense of dropping something even more important.
1. I don't think playing from the score in any way precludes aural development. It does preclude memorization. Were all the great pianists who played from the score before memorization became common lacking in aural development?
2. All instruments are "sound instruments" but I think only a small percentage of pianists memorize most of their music.
3. Even those in favor of memorization, in the numerous previous threads pro about this on PW, have never previously said that using the score precludes developing aural skills. Their most common thinking is that memorizing music allows greater freedom in performance.
4. I think most pianists,including professionals, have to spend considerable time memorizing music to feel secure enough for performance. Fear of memory slips is common among amateurs and professionals. When discussing memorization, I am not referring to amateurs who play a single, often short, piece at their teacher's student recital although even that is anxiety provoking for many.

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1. It isnt generally the focus, unless a concerted effort is applied to teach it another way.

2. All musical instruments are sound instruments. Medical instruments or spoons for eating soup are not.

3. ... same as item 1.

4. We are not all destined for a worldly stage. A high percentage of this forum audience are not. We don't all need to pursue the journey in the same way as if we all were.

Nuff said. There is no absolute right or wrong in either approach.

Last edited by Greener; 10/11/21 01:09 PM.
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Originally Posted by Greener
1. It isnt generally the focus, unless a concerted effort is applied to teach it another way.

2. All musical instruments are sound instruments. Medical instruments or spoons for eating soup are not.

3. ... same as item 1.

4. We are not all destined for a worldly stage. A high percentage of this forum audience are not. We don't all need to pursue the journey in the same way as if we all were.

Nuff said. There is no absolute right or wrong in either approach.
1. If you are talking about aural skills, then this comment has nothing to do with what I said about playing from the score not precluding development of aural skills.
2. Why would you think this discussion was about anything other than musical instruments?
4. My comments about using the score are almost exclusively meant for those who are not pursuing professional careers. They are not meant for those who want to be professional as you seem to assume since those people are almost always required to play from memory whether they like to or not.

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When it comes to reading skills, you start off with easy pieces. You need to be reading many, many pieces each day to be reading proficiently. Having music around gives some people a sense of security not memorizing pieces.


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Originally Posted by George S
I have been following one Youtube authority who says that learning a new piece should always involve taking a short phrase, first with HS, then together, then adding in dynamics until that phrase is memorized. Then proceed to the next phrase. Definitely not sight reading it over and over, hoping to eventually perfect it (this is what I tend to do). Yet another authority says you should always practice with the sheet music.

No.
Play the whole piece HS. Then HT. Then add dynamics etc.

Originally Posted by George S
If I have memorized pieces of the music, is there any reason to use the sheet music every time I play it? I can see going back to the sheet music to check it periodically, but should I always look at the sheet music?

Because you're asking this question. Yes.
If you for some reason you want to play it from memory, then do so. Otherwise use sheet music.
Otherwise you wouldn't have had to ask this question.

Originally Posted by George S
but look at my hands

Because you're asking this question. Do not look at your hands.
As long as you're thinking about whether you should or shouldn't be looking at your hands... no you should not look at your hands.

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Originally Posted by JohnnyIssieBangie
No.
Play the whole piece HS. Then HT. Then add dynamics etc.
Are you stating what you do personally or giving advice to the OP? I think as advice most experienced pianists will tell you the opposite. You should put in some expression into your playing as soon as possible - even at the first reading if you can manage. As for learning HS, it's different for different people. I find it useful to break down phrases into HS but I don't think playing a whole piece HS is very useful except maybe for the "long chain of notes" ones like, say Chopin op. 25 no. 2.

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Originally Posted by George S
I have been following one Youtube authority
The people on YouTube aren't athorities, LOL. They are "influencers", and a LOT of times they influence people because they are good at sounding like athorities even though they aren't. So beware of ANYTHING you hear or see or read on YouTube, or any social media.

A solid, proven, recommended, in-person teacher is the best way to go in pretty much all instances, especially regarding anything you are serious about learning.


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I think the analogy of a speaker giving a speech (or actor reading a script) fits pretty well and is probably less controversial in this forum. Being able to read the speech/script in real time and do a passable job of applying the right emphasis and so on is pretty much an essential skill. It would be a tremendous handicap if a professional speaker/actor couldn't deliver a speech whatsoever without memorizing it first. Beyond that, depending on various factors (style of speaker, type of speech, length and number of different speeches one has to deliver, amount of preparation time) someone might either become very good at reading speeches in real time without memorizing them, or they might become good at memorizing speeches and delivering them exactly as written. They might also become good at delivering the content of a speech while improvising or embellishing many of the lines.

You could also compare different types of music to baking versus cooking. I learned to bake when I was a kid and I grew up always making things by following recipes exactly. I had to have the recipe handy because the only one I had completely memorized was Nestle Toll House cookies smile. Much later on I had a girlfriend who cooked and she could make delicious things like soups without having a recipe at all. Somehow she could make the same soup using a completely different set of ingredients every time depending on what was lying around smile. That was an interesting thing I learned when I was studying guitar a few years back. If you really understand how a song is put together then you can essentially play the same song in many different ways without having to memorize all the notes.

Finally I think reading vs. memorizing isn't a binary thing. The ability to read a brand new piece and play it in real time is very different from the ability to play a piece almost entirely from memory but needing the sheet music to remind you where you are within a piece and jog your memory if necessary. I've mostly memorized the lyrics to thousands of songs for example but I probably couldn't sing most of them perfectly from beginning to end because I'd forget which verse comes first/second/third or whatever. But if I had the lyrics in front of me I could glance ahead at the first couple words of the upcoming verse and it would jog my memory.

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