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Classical Guitar Lessons: Memorization

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[MUSIC].
That's the first phrase from the Alamand
from BWV 996 that is a,
a lesson in the curriculum on the
performance and
the interpretation in there on, on that
movement.
But, this lesson is about having some
memorization back ups
there are many ways in which our, our
brain helps us to memorize pieces.
And usually we, in most cases we kind of
arrive at our memorization of a piece
through our ingrained, processes of
learning pieces.
Which is fine.
But, sometimes, these, this, this process
may not fully develop.
Three of the main ways in which we learn
any piece of music.
Aural, visual, and
kinesthetic, which is kind of the, you
know, kinesthetic you can think of when
someone says, I need to get it in my
fingers first.
Well, kinesthetic is the, is the,
is the type of memorizing where the, the
piece is in the fingers.
Most of us are strong in one, maybe two of
these areas,
while by comparison being weaker in
another of the areas.
So, I've worked with a lot with students
over the years on this and
just thought about it a lot over the
years, for myself,
because I'm, I know that I'm weak in, for
example, visualization,
the visual, whereas my aural and
kinesthetic is a little bit stronger.
So, it's, it's best and most advantageous
for memorizing pieces to have all
three of these areas as strong as you can
get them with a particular piece.
And you can strengthen all three of them
with some
pretty cool approaches that are pretty fun
to do too.
I'm using the 996 as the piece for this.
So let's first get into visualization
that's the first thing.
And visualization is a, is a method of, a
way of memorizing or
strengthening your, your visual by taking
away the kinesthetic feedback,
the fingers, that you would get from,
normally from practicing a piece or
having a run through on it with your
hands, so.
I find that isolating some of these areas
like visual
by doing something like this really helps.
So I'm going to just talk you through a, a
visualization exercise.
I, I recommend that you, you know, it's,
it's without the guitar this one.
This first step.
This first area visualization.
So, I recommend that you know, you have
you're, you're basically away from your
guitar so I'm gonna pretend that this
guitar is a tabletop and
it's best to have your hands flat on that
tabletop because it that way you're
not going to air guitar any of your of the
parts that you're trying to visualize.
And so
basically it goes very slowly at first if
you've never done any visualization.
It's really like, you know, trudging
through waste high snow.
So you basically try to take, let's say,
in the case of the Alleman that the first
measure, and I'm basically just
visualizing.
I'm playing a film in my head of me
playing it.
And it can strengthen your aural as well
because if you can
hear the notes that you're playing as
you're watching yourself play them,
that can strengthen your your aural
memorization of the piece as well.
But, you're taking away the kinesthetic
feedback that you would normally get.
So, if I visualize the first measure, I
see my third finger of the fourth fret of
the third string and then I play a mordent
and then open E string.
The open E six string.
Then, second finger on third fret of sixth
string for the G.
First finger coming into kind of a hinge
bar on the fifth string.
Second fret and fourth string second fret
playing the notes E,
sorry B on the fifth string and E on the
fourth string.
So what I'm really doing right now aloud
is I'm going
through the thought process that I'm
going.
I'm actually naming the notes, the
strings, the fret.
And I'm trying to see it in my mind as I
go in succession.
And if you, you go through that,
I'm not gonna go through of course the
whole phrase.
It'll take a long time to do it.
But when you practice visualization, you
get better at it.
It gets faster.
And it takes less time to, to get through
it.
So initially it may be just a couple of
beats or one measure, takes
some time to get through, but if, you'll
find that even in that same session,
in a five minute visualization session, if
you go back to the beginning,
eventually if you go back over that
measure,
you'll be able to actually see this, your
hand like a film in your mind.
Even, even at tempo within just a few
passes at it.
This is very strong for you visual for
this memory map if you will and you may
have heard of visualization with athletes
and basketball players visualizing
the arch of their, of their jump shot, or
at the free throw, free throw line.
So it's used often in sports, too.
The second area closing your eyes for, and
this is something to help strengthen your
fingers so the kinestectic.
And just like just kind of like, like the
feeling, the,
the way that if you walked into an
absolutely dark pitch black room and
you had a, a room in your house that you
were of course familiar with.
You would still have to kind of feel your
way in the dark, you know, for
the, for the table and then for the for
the arm of the couch.
And maybe the coffee table in front of the
couch and so on and so forth.
This is that kind of exercise for your
finger so
by taking away any visual feedback that
you would get normally by looking,
say looking at your left hand if that's
what you do to normally play.
By closing your eyes, wearing a blind
fold, or
even practicing your piece in a completely
darkened room.
You end up through this exercise,
strengthening your oral, and
your kinesthetic.
So I can just demonstrate that with the
first half
just a few phrases of the Alamond here, by
closing my eyes.
[MUSIC].
So you can, even just doing that right now
in front of you, it's interesting because
I'm now getting some more information
[MUSIC]
that I wouldn't normally get before
because when you're using your eyes, your
eyes are helping you navigate things.
So when you take them away momentarily it
really forces me,
I can see that even something like this,
[MUSIC]
this stretch between my third and
fourth finger as I go come down that
scale.
I'm just immediately more aware of it,
physically in my hand as far as that
distance that I have to move laterally.
Just, just that little piece right there I
noticed that that was something that was
very valuable.
Very, very valuable information.
[MUSIC]
Also, that shift to fourth position.
Second to fourth position, I'm forcing my
left hand, see, by not watching,
I'm forcing my left hand to gauge the
distance in that two, two fret shift.
So again, investing in this second step
just the way you would invest in a little
bit of visualization, very powerful.
Data very powerful for these different
memory maps that,
that you have when you when you are
attempting to memorize a piece.
If you should have trouble with it, these
things will help.
Third step.
Okay, this sounds crazy, but here's what
I'm gonna do, I'm gonna detune my guitar.
E's gonna become F.
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna leave B alone,
the second string.
Third string, I'm gonna go down a half
step to F sharp.
[MUSIC].
Leave D the open D as is the fifth string
A I'll go up to A-sharp.
[MUSIC]
And maybe I'll go maybe the sixth string
we'll go down to E-flat.
[MUSIC]
Beautiful.
So this is the third this is the third
exercise you could do.
De-tune your guitar.
Because now what you're doing is,
now you're taking away the aural feedback
that you would normally be getting
by practicing your piece every day the way
you normally would do it.
This will help strengthen your
kinesthetic.
The fingers, cuz now the fingers really
have to remember where they're going,
cuz they're not getting the aural feedback
that's telling them that, yes,
you are playing the correct notes.
So this'll strengthen your kinesthetic
memory,
and also strengthen your visual memory,
too.
Because then you'll want to rely,
your brain will automatically go to rely
on your visual memory to help you.
And if you can play any piece that you're
playing with the guitar detuned,
like, three or four strings, it's really
memorized.
I mean, there's no doubt about it, so
let's see how we do with the Aleman first
half here.
[MUSIC].
Lovely.
And then finally I didn't include this in
the introduction in the beginning of this
lesson, but finally,
score study, away from your guitar, to
refresh your intellect.
The score is your blueprint so, spend some
time,
even just five to ten minutes a day, to
spend some time with your scores.
You see pianists, classical pianists doing
this all the time, to strengthen your
intellect away from the guitar, having two
or three copies of a score.
I mean this really goes the extra mile
but, having two or
three copies of a score, one for your
fingering, so
the one that you practice off of or work
off of daily, is fine.
Maybe one with a harmonic analysis so that
can be your score study score.
Just what the tonalities of of the first
half of that Bach Allemande are.
And then one clean score with no
fingerings, no writing
on it just in case you wanna have
something to write other information on.
I mean now that's, it's really covering
all the bases, but I, I really believe
that score study is another kind of layer,
another memory layer that will really
help to strengthen your memorization
should you be having trouble with it.
[MUSIC]