Help Your Memory – Write It Down

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
An Easy Memory Aid

Successful Musicians Write Notes to Themselves

Some musicians treat their sheet music like an ancient manuscript to be displayed in a museum. They keep it in perfect, pristine condition.

Sheet music is just a tool to help you learn faster. And, tools rarely stay in brand-new condition when used.

Writing in your music is one of the best ways to use sheet music to help you progress as quickly as you can. (If you can’t stand the thought of marking up your music, then make a copy for all of your written notes and keep the original in mint condition.)

Don’t read music? You’ll still find it extremely helpful to write down musical reminders to propel your practicing forward. Use a notebook, my Musician’s Practice Planner, or anything else that works for you.

What to Write Down

There are several items to write down so you have reminders that keep you on track to meet your musical goals:

1. Tough Stuff
You need to clearly define the small areas of difficult music that will need to be worked on. Use a very light pencil mark to circle these sections. Once you have mastered a section, erase your pencil marking.

2. Technical Stuff
Put in fingerings, breath marks, pedaling, shifts, positions, etc. These markings will constantly guide you as you play through your music.

3. Phrasing
Write down dynamics, emphasis marks, and any phrasing ideas you have.

4. Questions
When you practice, questions probably come up. Write them in the music so you can get them answered by your teacher, colleagues, or by doing your own research.

5. Encouragement
Seeing words of encouragement to yourself in your music can have a wonderfully dramatic effect when you play a song.

Jog Your Memory

All five of the above have one thing in common: They help your memory. What you write today will jog your memory tomorrow!

With these reminders in your music, your upcoming practice sessions will be much easier and much less frustrating than if you try to remember everything you did today.

So, keep a pencil on your music stand and use it frequently.

“What Do You Mean – Pencil?”

I know this week’s Practice Tip will sound old-fashioned if you are using iPads, smartphone, YouTube, and other digital tools to read music, listen to recordings, and take lessons.

Whether you’re using paper and pencil or utilizing digital charts while giving voice memos to yourself on your phone, the idea is the same:

Do not trust your memory if you want tomorrow’s practice session to be as effective and efficient as possible. We all need written notes to stay on track!

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

This entry was posted in Achieving Goals, Memorization, Music, Music Practice Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Help Your Memory – Write It Down

  1. David Motto says:

    Lynn – Thank you for this excellent suggestion! Colored tape is one of the best tools out there for marking up your sheet music. It works well in the practice room as well as during lessons. Thank you for reminding me about this strategy/tool.

  2. lynn kiesewetter says:

    A tip I got from Diane Hidy
    highlighter tape. It comes in several colors, is clear, and totally removable for when you don’t want it anymore. I use tiny pieces to high light the forgotten staccatos, accents, dynamics; medium for slurs and crescendos, etc. etc. We color code on the fly, so maybe all the D7 chords, if that’s a new challenge, will get taped one color; another chord, another color.
    I used to only use highlighter pen, but then you were stuck with that forever- the tape is terrific, leaves no trace when you take it off, does not take any paper or print off.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *