Sometimes students can struggle when it comes to memorising a piece of music. I know it can be hard. The Bach Cello Suite 1 record that I released have over 6,500 notes that I memorised. So how did do it… and how do students typically try and do it (before learning the right way)?

 

How students do it

Play through everything, then try and play it by memory. Fail. Try again. Maybe get a little further. Try again, fail. Etc.

 

Another strategy I have seen is for students to memorise the page by reading it loads. This can be effective but is not the best way.

 

How I do it

First, I play through the whole piece in an out of time, slightly ropey way. This helps make sure that I understand the basic mechanics of moving my fingers around. The next step is to play the first 3-4 notes and memorise that. Then I memorise the next 3-4 notes. Then I memorise those two sections together. Then I memorise the next 3-4 notes. Then I memorise the “entry” to those notes (taking the last couple of notes from the previous section). Then I memorise from the start up to there. Then I repeat and repeat from there.

 

You can memorise an incredible amount of music this way.

 

There are other strategies we can also use, but I keep all the best stuff for my students :)