Memorization and the Play-Through

Getting to the spot in a new piece of music where I can play it through without stopping is always a thrill.  After yesterday’s lesson I am much closer on this newest piece – we worked through the remaining section of the Third Movement of Seitz’s Fifth Concerto, a flowing stretch of slurred sixteenth notes that is challenging but no worse than other things I’m playing from the earlier concerto movements.  I’m pretty sure this is the week I’ll be able to make the play-through happen.

The new section of sixteenths leads right into a double stop extravaganza that I’m still struggling mightily with.  Interestingly, I’ve almost got the double-stops section memorized, which is fine, I suppose.  But my need to memorize challenging passages to successfully play them through smoothly is something I’m beginning to wonder about.  I think the reason for the need is two-fold.  First, there’s my overall skill level, which will increase over time and is to be expected.  But the other reason is that I am not the best at sight-reading music.  That second bit will come as no surprise to fellow Suzuki players – the method prioritizes aural learning.

This memorization need is a trend for me. I am noticing that as I work up the more difficult sections of my pieces, I generally tend to memorize them somewhat quickly versus playing from the music.  Contrast those difficult sections with slower, “easier” passages, which I don’t memorize nearly so readily; I continue to sight-read them for much longer.  In many cases I haven’t memorized them at all.  A good example is my simple arrangement of “Danny Boy” – not in the Suzuki Repertoire, but it’s a piece I was fairly obsessed with for a while.  I worked with the music for a very long time.  I do have it memorized now, but it took me far, far longer to get that simple tune into my brain than these complicated Bach and Seitz bits.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Bardiac · · Reply

    I find that I memorize the harder parts “more quickly” because I do blocked practice with them a lot. So I may play a hard part 15 times in a practice session, and the part that’s way easier, 2 times (just to get to the hard part in a final attempt at a play through, perhaps). My teacher also gives me the hard part to work on before working on a piece (so I’ll be working on really getting the previous piece, and starting with three or four hard measures of a new piece), and that has a similar effect.

    It sounds like you’re really coming along with this piece! (I’m… not jealous, but happily hoping I’ll get there, too, someday, if that makes sense.) I’m working on pre-vibrato exercises… so difficult!

  2. I found I didn’t work on vibrato for a long time even though I probably should have been because I was frustrated with the slow rate of progress. Somehow I finally just started forcing myself….but my progress there is still so slow – we’ll get there!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: