Read or by memory!

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Bloomin Untidy Musician, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. Bloomin Untidy Musician

    Bloomin Untidy Musician Piano User

    Jan 14, 2008
    When you are playing a test piece in a contest(or a pressured situation) that involves lots of tricky, fast finger work, should you practice it until you know it without dots, or should you always try to read it? I realise that this might sound rather odd but i find that i sometimes have a psychological clash between the two. As soon as i start to learn a piece of music i begin to memorise it, and subsequently when i am trying to stay focused on reading i end up going into automatic pilot.

    Any ideas?

    Cheers B.U.M.
  2. Bob Grier

    Bob Grier Forte User

    May 4, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Both are good. If you play something enough, you'll internalize it which is better and last longer than just commiting it to memory. I used the music as a reference and you do go on auto pilot. This frees the mind up to make those musical decisions that make music musical.

    Bob G
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    our brain works by storing patterns. If you practice slowly and accurately, you train the patterns accurately and can recall them later accurately. That is the whole secret. At a slow speed where you store that exact pattern perfectly.

    If you are preparing a specific piece, before you play the first note, dissect it into practice sessions, the tough parts first. Play them very slowly and resist the urge to gradually go faster. Get them down at that speed until they are PERFECT, then jump up a couple of notches and perfect that. Increasing gradually generally keeps the player on the "sloppy" border and that means accuracy suffers.

    Your daily practice sessions should involve memorizing "useful" patterns like scales and intervals with varying articulations. St. Jacome called them velocity studies over 100 years ago and they seem to be out of style these days - branded too boring! Nothing could be further from the truth!
  4. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    If you practice something enough the music is like glancing at a road map for security when you really know the way.
  5. rdt1959

    rdt1959 Pianissimo User

    Oct 31, 2003
    I go with rowuk on this.

    Both ways are good. Personally, it depends on what I am playing and the situation. And remember, I am an amateur that plays mostly in church settings....

    For classical or traditional pieces, I like to read the music during the performance. Although I have the piece pretty much memorized, actually reading the music seems to keep me "in style" a bit. In other words, if I don't read the music I tend to start inserting my own stylistic interpretations. Which often I haven't practice because I go by rowuk's advice above...which has gotten a little embarrassing on occasion!

    But that is why I do just the opposite on contemporary music, were that interpretation may be called for. Just two days ago, I play a piece with an improvised jazz ending. I had the music up there just in case, but I played completely by memory.

    But in either case, when practicing you need to get the part down exactly...starting slowly just as rowuk said.
  6. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

    Jul 20, 2006
    Heart of Dixie
    Practice it so much you could play it from memory, but have the music on a stand for security and prompts. You can be much more musical with a piece when you're that comfortable with it.
  7. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    Raphael Mendez stated that proper practice is a process of memorization. The entire concert had to be memorized until he could play it 'perfectly' with no chart in his view at the performance.

  8. Toobz

    Toobz Mezzo Piano User

    Feb 5, 2007
    For myself, I find that after playing the piece a few times, it sticks in my memory. In fact, I even visualize glimpses of it while playing. Not completely photographic, but close.

    The only time this isn't true is when I have trouble with a passage . Then, I need it to be in front of me until I have it mastered . Once I have it securely learned, I can recall it at will.

    So for me, you can tell what instrument I'm playing by checking to see if any music sheets are in front of me. For trumpet, you'll see a veritable library in front of me. For the sax, nothing at all.

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