Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Music Memorization Aid: Musical Artmaps

Inspired by the idea from the Practice Revolution to label musical practice sections with names (which I mentioned earlier in this post) I recently used a fun art activity to help my students memorize their recital pieces.  I was impressed by their creativity in coming up with section titles that uniquely reflected the quality of the music.

So for a fun memorization activity, follow these steps:
1-Identify and label the form of the piece.  I typically have them write letters (A, A' B B' etc. above the measures in their music).
2-Choose a creative title for each section that reflects an element of the music (melodic line:slipnslide, rhythm:boomdadaboom, fingering:squish, dynamics: suprise supreeze or mood:creepy fingers) or something the music makes them think of.  Depending on the piece, students could use the titles to create a storyline to match their song to make it even more memorable.

3-Draw pictures or select clipart to represent each section of the music. 

4-As you play from memory, refer to your music art map as needed to visualize the form of the piece.

 Following is an example that I helped my daughter with for her piece Bananappeal from Faber Gold Star Performance Primer Book.
 She chose the following titles for each phrase:
A: Slip-n-Slide (because the notes in the melody go up like a ladder than slide down the scale)
A1: Slip-n-Slip (similar to slip-n-slide but with a little change at the end)
B: Creepy Fingers Boo! (minor sounding section with a "boo" sound at the end)
A: Slip-n- Slide
A1: Slip-n-Slip
Ending: Surprise Supreeze (a couple of notes played slow and soft followed by fast and fun forte open 5ths)

Just through the process of choosing section titles the students reflect on the expressive elements of the piece and therefore tend to remember to play the expressive details.


  1. Just bumped into your blog & so happy about it. I love this idea--what a great way of helping memorization by naming each of the sections with a descriptive title & drawing a picture as a road map!

  2. Great idea! I am a visual learner and I know this would help me personally. I will try it with my students. Thanks.