Sunday, 29 March 2015

Memory tricks

When I re-started playing the organ, after many years of not playing at all, I was surprised at how much I remembered .  I stopped learning to play the organ when I was about 15, I think.  I carried on playing, intermittently, but I didn't actively learn anything new.

When Orla arrived I found her so easy to play, easy to play well.  I found I could play lots of things I'd never played before. I bought new books, I learned to play dozens and dozens of new songs.

I also learned to play some challenging (for me) pieces,  having to work hard and repeatedly at some bits to get them right. I don't waste energy on getting cross with myself.  I've learned not to get stressed about it, I know that  I will get there. Each time I've "mastered" one of these challenging pieces I feel a sense of accomplishment,, both for the achievement itself and for not getting worked up about it.

I've just this weekend finally managed to master a tricky few bars on an otherwise fairly easy piece, and I'm really happy about it.

I will have to keep playing it though because I've realised that my fingers don't retain the information as well as they used to.    When I was younger, I would find it easy to retain a learned song,  now I have to play it every so often, otherwise I forget a bit. They just aren't going in to my long term, automatic, memory.

The other thing I have noticed is that I can't play many of the new songs without the music in front of me.  That's a big difference to when I was younger.

Today I was tinkling the keys and my hand started to play The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.  I was fascinated as my right hand managed to play the whole of the melody - well, as much as I had learned when I was 15 (It was the last piece of music my teacher got me to play).   Apart from the opening few bars, I couldn't remember the tune in  my head, but my fingers did.  It was a bit like watching Thing in The Addams Family as my hand moved over the keys.

I dug around in a cupboard and found the music.  When I tried to play using my left hand and foot as well, the whole thing fell apart.  And shortly after that, my right hand - which was getting a little tires I think - decided it couldn't remember it all anymore either. 

I don't know how I can get my recently learned pieces into my long term memory storage, maybe it just isn't possible?  

I think I'll select a few pieces and teach (force) myself to play them from memory, rather than by reading the music.Perhaps that will do it.

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