How to Memorize Any Piece of Music: 5 Easy-to-Follow Steps

Do you want to learn how to memorize music? Check out the five simple tips below from our friends at Soundfly. Note: This article was originally published on Soundfly…

Memorizing music is invaluable in the eternal quest of learning and growth. From strengthening your ears to widening your understanding of compositional structure and recognizing patterns, there is no quicker way to develop into a well-rounded musician than to leave your charts at home and memorize the music you play, practice, and perform.

Why write about how to memorize music? For one thing, I am of the belief that you can’t truly know a song until you no longer need to read it off of a piece of a paper. As rhythm players, once you can get off the page, you’ll be able to anticipate changes and sit comfortably in the groove, instead of reconciling your trouble spots and letting them dominate you.

And as lead players, a song won’t really come alive until you’re able to weave your way through the changes without constantly having to look at a piece of paper for a roadmap — it’s in your ears. So here are my five steps on how to memorize any piece of music.

1. Understand the whole piece

Never try and jump into learning a composition piecemeal if you aren’t familiar with it yet. The learning process will be smoother if you know how things come together in the long run. Do this by listening to recordings of the piece first — no instrument required.

2. Identify a song’s basic form and changes first

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the moments when the song changes, or where you hear repeated/thematic material. Here’s where you get to put your ears to work, for those who aren’t familiar with reading music (if you are interested in starting to read music, here’s a free online course).

But if you do have a chart, read along to see what you can use from the written material. More complicated music, such as jazz standards, will often have charts with the melody and the chords written, and to truly understand the song, there’s no substitute for knowing both.

Is the song in verse-chorus form, or an AABA, or a blues of some sort? The more you can recognize these types of structures for yourself, the easier it will be to keep learning new music.

3. Don’t always start memorizing music from the beginning

In fact, you can start wherever you want! By now you understand the form, and you can work within the roadmap of the material, if there’s a hook that’s already in your head, or just a few bars of the chord changes that you happen to recognize, you can start there.

You’ll be chopping up the music anyhow, so don’t worry about that yet — you’ll know it all like the back of your hand (does anyone actually know the back of their own hand?) once you’re done learning all the pieces.

 

To discover the remaining two tips, head on over to Soundfly.

 

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