Have you ever had to memorize a piece of music for a recital or contest? Frustrating, isn't it. Here is an easy to follow, step-by-step guide on how to memorize music and keep your sanity!
Step 1: Learn the Piece.
Play the piece through like you would normally practice it. Different students have different teachers and different teachers have different methods on how to learn a piece. Play the piece and practice every day until you have it perfectly learned.
Step 2: Line by Line.
Play the first line, and only the first line. Play it 3 times in a row without making any mistakes. Then, cover up the music or put it aside so you can't see it. Try as best as you can to play just the first line. If you're having trouble, go back and play it 5 times in a row, then try without the music again. You can also try it measure by measure instead, if that works for you. If you get frustrated, take a break, walk around. Don't focus so hard on the memorization that you begin to get angry. Repeat until you have the first line memorized.
Step 3: Daily Practice.
Depending on how long the piece is and when you need it memorized by, set a goal for yourself. A good goal would be 2 lines a day. If the piece is longer, go 4 or 5.
The next day/session of practice, repeat what you played the day before. Try it without the music first. If it's a little foggy, take a quick glance at the music, then try. Always review your previous practice session before you start something new.
When you have memorized the next 2 lines (or however many you have set for yourself), play it with the first 2, all without the music.
Step 4: Page by Page.
Good job! You have memorized your first page. Play it all the way through without music, then start on the next 2 lines of the next page. Once you've completed the next page, play both pages without music. Continue until entire piece is memorized. Remember, if you get frustrated, take a break and relax.
Now you know how to play a piece perfectly from memory for any contest or recital. Just remember to practice daily. Keep the piece fresh in your mind.
P.S.: If a contest you're entering says "memorization is optional", do it. It'll definitely improve the judges thoughts of you!