Memorisation & Music Learning

Memorisation & Music Learning

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An important aspect of any musicianship, music literacy or music aural and music theory work we do is memorisation.

This is where you memorise a specific concept or element (e.g. scales or chords etc.) or activity (e.g. a melody or rhythm etc).

The obvious reason for doing this is so that the information is there, in your brain, when you need it in a class or an exam situation, without you having to find the page in the book or the video of someone (Deb!) performing it.

However, memorising something also allows you to truly practice it using all the great ideas available to you.

The act of memorising means you’re more likely to actually know the information, which frees up brain power to continue learning new material. Memorisation upgrades your memory capacity and duration.

Learning benefits of memorisation

  • by memorising, you’re storing the information away for use later, but importantly, you’re also contextualising it
  • by memorising, you’re training your brain for the addition of future concepts and learning – that sort of exercise is key
  • memorisation is a really great progress tracker for your understanding – it’s not just about rote recall, it’s the fact that you’re popping this stuff in your long-term memory
  • aside from the brain boost you get from actively memorising generally, it’s also useful as a musician when applying it practically
  • memorisation is a natural form of extension when building your musicianship – this challenges you, hastens your progress and allows you to really practice something
  • memorisation is just another way for you to learn!

Important note

Our working memory capacity is limited to roughly seven pieces of information at a time – might feel even less when exams roll around! – so in order to gather, store, sort, manipulate and retrieve stuff when we need it, we have to repeat and repeat and repeat!

Your music teachers might have mentioned to you before about “muscle memory” – as in, the more you play or sing your scales, the quicker and easier they begin to feel practically. The same is true of the musicianship muscles in your mind!

How can DSMusic help you do this?

The great news is that this need for repetition aligns pretty well with the regular, sequential practice that builds music literacy skills. We’re all about this at DSMusic so all of the resources and products on offer are designed to incrementally enhance what you’re able to do and what you really know.

There are multiple opportunities throughout the existing DSMusic flagship Musicianship & Aural Training Series – and their accompanying tutorial and practice videos. Below are some examples of Clever Echo activities that help to build your aural and memorisation or recall skills.

Still looking for more memorisation? Check out the Music Language Online Course – Musicianship Module. There are over 150 practice activities to help strengthen your skills and plenty of these incorporate memorisation, just like the example below where the last step involves singing the scale without a video/audio guide.

Read on for more….

Prior to the immediate access to information we have today, people had to memorise large amounts of detail, which they did successfully. This meant they were able to build on the knowledge they gathered in order to understand and apply in their contexts.

Nowadays, despite the wealth of data at our fingertips (or scrolling thumbs!) we actually know even less than our ancient counterparts. We don’t do the memory work needed to properly store things we consume in our long-term memory. Just like anything, it’s a skill to be practiced.

Andrew Ingkavet believes that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life. As a musician I’m sure you’d agree! He says:

“We need to get to the very heart of emotion in the music, and the only way is to memorise, internalise, and interpret as our own. To know the music fully”.

Happy memorising! – Deb


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