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We listen, we hum, we read notes, we watch our hands, we practice and we repeat.
We've discussed how we learn and how we memorize in other threads here, but how do we take this to the next level?
I think many of us are proud we have memorized a sizable amount of music, maybe also in different keys, maybe also in different tunings.
What happens when you think you're starting to play a specific tune, but actually play a different tune that just happens to start the same way?
Or, you start playing that well-known-to-you tune (you just happen to be hearing in your head at the moment) when you suddenly realize you have no idea what the name is... but you know this tune well!
What happens when the titles of many tunes you've learned are in a foreign language - easier or harder to remember?
I shouldn't be laughing!
These are starting to happen to me!
...and I am only in my 18th month of playing!
Recently been talking to a few other members about these problems, when I realized memorizing pieces of music by title and how it begins just isn't enough to hold up in the long term memory.
I was hoping to try some of the other tunings, but think I'll wait a bit, now - until I figure a better way to organize music in my head.
Too many tunes even start with the same 1st couple notes, not a very helpful association. (sigh)
Not so sure pairing or grouping tunes really helps me remember the titles - maybe encourages me to restrict the keys I play in - only play in 1 or 2 keys for everything!
What really concerns me is I'll pick up "Mortimer" start playing/not really focusing, then realize I have no clue what tune it is - even if it is in a different key (because I play just about everything in multiple keys).
Was thinking I need to find a way to really cement the title/rhythm/sound together for each tune - do we take associations too lightly?
Maybe with more visuals or memories, etc...?
How should we discribe/associate the feelings we get from or about a piece of music we play?
Is it just a matter of making ourselves aware of everything we might associate with a specific tune - the reason we like to play it?
I'm hoping I don't have to resort to archiving sheet music, or video.
How would you keep from mixing up 200 or more tunes you've memorized?
probably when the group starts playing it helps bring it back...if you have already learned it. If by yourself..or for that matter even in a group..a cheat sheet of the first couple measures would help I think. Speaking for myself, I dont see getting to the 200 mark..but 5 seemed like a high number once so maybe. If I ever get to a place of going back to jams/sessions taking music isnt frowned upon. Learning it helps with speed though. I think the intervals of the notes in tunes are starting to get easier to hear so it seems with time Im more able to pick sections of tunes out and piece together. Think it just takes alot of time. alot of the greats and old hands have been at it for years so nit being to critical about our own progress at this stage in the game is helpful. but to keep things straight..maybe a measure or two of the notes organized by keys and/or tune type. jig/reel/waltz...
EDIT... I think I repeated what you do already so nebermindeded...😏😋
I guess I'm going to have to ask Kevin Burke how he does it, but I havent really done an in-depth search, yet.
I suppose the folk-fiddlers of times past might have just played everything so much in the taverns, with enough musicians and festivities to make all it work.
@BillyG ... I watched that series when it 1st came out!
Think I missed that one of Jason's, maybe because it was right when his cat died or else I just thought I actually had a handle on the subject.🤭
One thing he says about if you forget, don't beat yourself up over it & go look it up - well, that's hard to swallow if you are in the middle of a set or live streaming!
He's got some great points, though! Reading the song titles (and other pertinent info) out loud is MUCH better for memory - I have not been doing that. Where I'm really going to have trouble is with all the titles in different languages I can't pronounce - especially Gaelic!
I did catch some Gaelic lessons for the lyrics of one tune in Gaelic.
...just can't remember which one, now!!!
One thing he says about if you forget, don't beat yourself up over it & go look it up - well, that's hard to swallow if you are in the middle of a set or live streaming!...
Wouldnt you want to practice a much smaller list of tunes for playing a live event?
Here lately Ive seen some youtube live streams where the artist would call out a tune and start playing something else. The big thing was they just finished and corrected themselves afterward.
Without wishing to seem pessimistic, people with good memories will never understand bad memory (so they will never be good teachers), and people with bad memories will never be able to understand good memory.
Someone with a bad memory who had trained their memory might be able to teach, but I suspect most of them will have downplayed their innate abilities in the first place.
It's like colour-blindness, or blindness, or deafness. The other's perceptions can be impossible to fathom.
Or tone-deafness. I have only ever known one truly tone-deaf person in my life. But go on Youtube, and anyone who is not a great singer thinks they are tone-deaf.
Partly, though, it's about immersion. Psychologists have shown that white people can't distinguish black (or Asian) faces, and vice versa, until they have become very familiar with a lot of them. And I suspect much of the perceived similarity (i.e. failed perception of differences) in fiddle tunes is due to lack of familiarity. Become familiar with MORE and your ability to memorise will probably improve, if only by a percentage, because you'll know better when something is different from what it should be, i.e. wrong.
I sincerely hope we can still learn more ways to help us all memorize our music better.
A system of memory-building, like some we've discussed - tools we can use right from the very moment we begin to learn a tune, are important.
I don't think having a "good" or a "bad" memory has much to do with it - but maybe if we can learn some of what a "good" memory person unawarely takes for granted, those tools could be beneficial to everyone.
I think we have, so far:
- Say the title out loud
- Read the sheet music if available
- Recite what key it's in and the first few notes
- Hum the tune
- Hear the tune in your head
- Practice the tune, along with all the above
- Maybe play in a set of similar tunes
- Repeat (out loud) the tune names at the end of a tune, set or performance
Any more suggestions?
I suppose that could make my life easier if everything I played was called Fahey's... or Baleydesmond's...
Still, think I'd probably lose my mind by the time I made it to Baleydesmond's no.36 or Paddy Fahey's Jig no.27 and Fahey's Reel no.32!
Besides getting the numbers mixed up, I have a hard enough time even telling the difference between a Jig and a Reel - let alone remember which is what!
I'm thinking I need to add either some visual imagery to the list of tools, like what kind of dancing do I feel(?) - or make a memory seem hyper-important, like maybe who I learned the tune from or what was in a video, etc...
Simple, unique information helps me to remember well, but my learn-to-play list is growing out of control!
I may just have to concede the need to keep a cheat sheet nearby - to reinforce my memory. (sigh)