Some students naturally memorize music from playing it over and over again. This is often referred to as “muscle memory”. This form of memorization is convenient but not always reliable, especially when nerves come into play. These techniques will help you securely memorize a piece.

  1. Analyze the form of the music, breaking it into sections (AB, Rondo Form, Sonata Form, etc.).
  2. Memorize one section at a time starting with the end of the song (all is well that ends well!).
  3. Practice jumping to different sections.
  4. Try ghosting the song on top of the keys while audiating the music in your head.
  5. Practice the song on a dead keyboard (with no volume) and hear the music in your head.
  6. Mentally practice the song, away from the instrument. Imagine yourself sitting at the piano, playing and hearing your music.
  7. To test your memory, have someone try to distract you while you play and see if you can maintain focus.
  8. Practice carefully, always using the same fingering. If you regularly change your fingering it will take far longer for you to memorize the song and you may never truly have it memorize. Be consistent!
  9. Practice performing in front of people outside of your family to see if you can play from memory even when feeling a little nervous.

– Jennifer Stadler, NCTM Piano Teacher Oklahoma City, Oklahoma