On Memorising Music


Dear reader, this is the only guide you'll ever need for memorising music. If you want to do it 'like a pro' then here's the real inside view on how it works. Ready? Didn't think so.


  1. Procrastinate. Organise your scores, translate the songs, choose a font to the program notes - do all the things that count as productive but really are not, since you're only doing them to avoid the thing you really should be doing, aka. practicing.
  2. Tell all your friends that you should memorise things. Complain that it's hard and that you're running out of time. Whip up a sense of urgency and panic.
  3. Procrastinate some more. Place the scores somewhere visible like your bedside table, so that every time you walk past them they can stare at you with righteous indignation.
  4. Start trying to get the music into your muddled head. (I work in short sections and write down chords and such things.) After an hour or so of intense effort, realise that this will never work out - you'll never learn anything by heart anymore - gone are the days of youth when you still had a working brain - why did you want to be a pianist in the first place? Then step away from the piano, go get a coffee and try again later.
  5. Repeat numbers 1 - 4 so many times that you remember the things.
  6. Feel an insane amount of relief - you did it! Congratulate yourself and think that you're quite the pianist, after all. Then return to the practicing room the next day and realise that you cannot for the life of you remember anything after page 2. Swear, cry, or just whimper in a corner for a while, and return to repeating numbers 1 - 4 with more intensity and purpose.
  7. Play the pieces to some friends or other people that you can blackmail into listening to you. This is an important step and will go like shit. You will find out all the things you thought you knew but really didn't, and probably also some things you didn't even know you didn't know, if you get my drift.
  8. Finally, fix the aforementioned stuff, do the gig you practiced for, and then - depending on how it goes - either feel great about yourself or burn the scores in the sink. Or both.

Yep. It's that simple.