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The 4-Step Guide to Better Memorization for Performances

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The following article adapts and discusses concepts developed by Gerald Klickstein that are published on The Musician's Way Blog and in his book,The Musician's Way.


We've all been there. The big gig. Your band has practiced hard for this very moment. Friends, families, and loving fans pack the venue, and they absorb every note dripping from your instrument. The songs should feel like second nature at this point, but something is amiss.

An upcoming chord change is near and as you dig inside your head for the answer, you're met with darkness. The change is fast approaching and your mind scrambles around every crevice to find the solution to this anxiety. Sadly, it's just not there. Memory has failed you and, suddenly, you’re playing the wrong note. Being the good musician that you are, you rub off the memory slip and continue on. The audience is none the wiser.

Mistakes like this happen all the time, and learning how to recover from them is an essential skill as a performer – but it's even better to prevent them from happening in the first place. There are strategies out there to help improve memorization for performances. Different strategies will work for different people, but here's one four-step process to try.

5 Habits of Healthy Music Practice

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It's likely that your music teacher has stressed the importance of healthy practice techniques from a mental point of view, but has he or she helped address the physical discomfort you sometimes feel as a result of practicing? Some musicians tend to brush over this aspect, but it's something everyone should pay close attention to. After all, you aren't going to be very productive with a hurt hand, aching back, or a sore throat.

Think this would never happen to you? In a recent study, 84 percent of professional orchestral musicians have reported pain or injuries that interfered with their playing during practice and performances. Don't let yourself become a statistic like this. There are plenty of ways to approach healthy practice, but today, we're going to look at five of the most important ones.

7 Crucial Performance Skills You Should Work On

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Talk to live musicians about the people they play with, and a few of the same complaints tend to emerge over and over. There are tons of players who are nice people and can get through a song without screwing it up, but there’s a lot more to playing live than that.

Here are seven of the mini-skills that separate the okay from the great onstage. You’ve most likely played with someone who needs to brush up on one or two of them. Could that person be you? Read on.

Why You're Putting Off Playing Music (And How to Change It)

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We're all guilty of a little procrastination from time to time. After all, that guitar isn't going anywhere, right? It'll still be lying around while you nap for an extra few minutes, watch another episode of Sesame Street, or play a few more games of Monopoly. Dodging creative work is almost a part of the creative work itself. Although it's common, that doesn't make it right. We all know that avoidance is a fickle beast. You can try to dodge it all you want, but it will always find a way into the corners of your mind, itching for you to accept that fact that you have work to do.

Everyone is guilty of these behaviors, but do you actually know why you have them? It's not as simple as laziness. Many times, the reason for why we dodge our work lies in the work itself.

Why There's Nothing Wrong With Playing "Easy" Music (No Matter How Proficient You Are)

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Selling out. Depending on who you are, those can be two of the worst words in the music industry. We see it happen all the time, and many aspiring musicians swear they'll never go down that path, unlike some of their once-beloved idols.

Selling out means completely abandoning any artistic freedom in favor of cheap, easy songs that bring in money and appeal to the masses. In theory, it sounds horrible to an artist, which is why legions of musicians stick to their credo and play technically difficult music or seek out large challenges just to avoid this outcome.

Sure, that's honorable in a way, but what if there was a method to play accessible music without selling out? It's possible to play music that's within your range of capabilities without signing your soul over to the devil and playing bubblegum pop for the rest of your life. You may think that taking on difficult music for the sake of impressing your music friends is a proud statement to make, but in reality, it can be damaging to your music career.