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Beginner Quickest way to get a tune in long term memory

BrianJoeSandy

Member
Messages
269
I am currently learning Ornithology by playing bits of it over and over til it sticks. But what is the most efficient way? How many repetitions? How often? Best time of day? It's a question relating to any kind of learning and there must be oodles of research on it somewhere. If time is limited both for practise and for getting it done in a couple of weeks.what is the best strategy?
 

QWales

Senior Member
Messages
722
I'm tempted to say something along the lines of, take to the trees or go and sit in a nest for a while but I wont >:)
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
I am currently learning Ornithology by playing bits of it over and over til it sticks. But what is the most efficient way? How many repetitions? How often? Best time of day? It's a question relating to any kind of learning and there must be oodles of research on it somewhere. If time is limited both for practise and for getting it done in a couple of weeks.what is the best strategy?
Does it have a demo backing track? if so listen to that whilst following the music notation a couple of times, then play through as far as you can with the music, any dodgy sections go back and play slowly again and again til they're under you're fingers. hth
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,377
Break it into 4 bar chunks and learn them by ear - don't look at the written music after the first couple of times. I have found that the more time I spend looking at the dots, the less I actually memorise and the more I have to rely on written music when I play.

Hope that helps for you

Rhys
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Brian!

1. You have to have an overall sense of the structure of a piece at some stage. You may be familiar with concepts such as ABA AABA ABACA and others. Following Rhys's idea many tunes have a structure involving 4 bar segments - such as Cantaloupe Island (Herbie Hancock) which has a 16 bar structure, divisible into 4x4 bar chunks. Once you can focus on the structure you can break it down into smaller parts and devote some time and energy to these. Also lots of these chunks involve certain phrases which can become east to play and practice in isolation.
2. Break each piece into parts and practice them seperately, therefore.
3. Most pieces I have committed to memory I will have worked on as I did when doing exam pieces - knowing the scales, arpeggios, doing some improvisation and I will be playing them over quite a period of time (50+ times) before I demonstrate well developed muscle memory, and can play and/or improvise at will, vary rhythms, add/subtract notes and really love a piece.

I won't say much more at this stage. I do think it can take weeks to "get" a tune and then to develop the necessary muscle memory, and probably sufficient improvising to rescue the piece if you temporarily lose your way.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
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2,146
Not sure this applies as well to Ornithology as other "tunes", but internalizing a tune or any music makes it so that you hear what you are going to play. The easiest way to do this is by singing the tune. If there are words this will help in several different ways: the words prompt memory of the tune (for some people, not everybody), and the words give meaning to the emotional content of what's being played.

This is a beginner's thread, but I don't think it's ever too soon to learn that the music has to come from WITHIN YOU. If music is something that's always mechanical and external (read note, place finger in appropriate position, and have no idea what the sound will be), then you will never be a real musician. You must hear what you are playing, especially playing an imperfect instrument like a sax, otherwise it's difficult to play in tune, and the listener can't be expected to have any idea of what you are playing if you haven't got a clue either. I know that many teachers ignore this, but ear training is just as important as every other aspect of learning an instrument. The sooner you put yourself into the picture, rather than just being the manipulator of keys blowing into some strange pipe, the sooner you are going to be able to own what comes out of that instrument.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Many years ago when I was starting to learn a thing or two about playing jazz, I would learn one Charlie
Parker tune after another. My teacher would play it through and then slowly play it down to a few bars at a time and I would listen and find it by ear, and that includes tunes like Donna Lee.
This way I automatically envisioned it and I always found it easy to memorize anything at all. I must have learned about 25 Charlie Parker tunes this way without ever reading a single note!

If you don't have a teacher to utilize this practice then yes, do read it, but read it once, or until you grasp it, then get away from the sheet music altogether.
 

BrianJoeSandy

Member
Messages
269
Thanks for all the good advice. I have Charlie Parker Gold collection so can hear what it ought to sound like. Transcribe is very useful for slowing it down. I also have the dots.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
Messages
1,581
I think Wades advice is right on the money....I'm certainly no expert, I've spent years reading and this only leads to needing to have the dots in front of you.
Ear training which links directly to your fingers and the sax without thinking about it, is what we all would like.

Ive been re-reading Kenny Werners Book "Effortless Mastery" and his approach to Mastery is bringing different ways of practising which highlight the ways we don't practise something to complete mastery, this means, you can play it on automatic pilot without thinking about it.....it's a big subject and you really need the book....however... this little awareness happened to me a few days ago....

........ while playing/learning Misty (from the dots), I decided to read something else which was on the stand while playing (text about long tones) and ignored the written tune......I just played through it with added emotion and feeling while I continued reading the long tone text. I played it perfectly, so this showed me there are other practise techniques and attitudes which do work well!

I believe that learning a tune, the first step is to listen allot, then be able to sing along to it with the same inflections, then break it into chunks and copy, via the transcribe programme or similar....repition , alternating from singing to playing the phrase and really grinding it into your brain, fingers till you can play it without thinking....you know you've got it when you can do that...you might have to revisit this again and again, and sometimes may need to slow it down,...get that right, both singing and playing and then speed it up.
Especially singing the tune in your mind while playing it, for me took some time to come to grips with, but gets easier with practise. It's been said about learning the words, this also keeps your place in the form of the tune, with the added emotion and weight or the words you can bend the time a little to make the tune really come alive!

Recently I've found that playing slow ballads, it's sometimes easier if I speed them up.

With this approach I'm finding good results, and yes it takes time...play it till your totally bored by it, this will get the tune learnt at that deep grass roots level.

I hope to keep following my own advice here!

Best of luck.
 
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