6 Quick Tips for Memorizing Music

A key tip to memorizing music is to know that there are four kinds of memory in music: visual, auditory, motor memory, and analyzing. Using all four kinds in the right way is the best way to memorize music and keep it solidly in your memory.


Visual Memory. Visual memory is memorizing with your eyes. This can be that you can still see the way the music looks like on the sheet music, or it can also mean seeing where your hands go on the keys.

Auditory Memory.
Auditory memory is memorizing using your ears. This means you remember how the melody and harmony sound before you press the next note. You remember how the piece goes.

Motor Memory. Motor memory is when your fingers just know where to go. They are on “autopilot.” Motor memory, however, is the LEAST DEPENDABLE kind of memory, because it is the first kind of memory you forget when performing or recording, so don’t depend on it. This kind of memory is not altogether bad, though. Repetition is what builds motor memory, but when you repeat a section to perfect it, use the other types of memory at the same time.

Analyzing. Analyzing is having an understanding of the piece. For example, understanding would include knowing what key the piece is in, the hand positions, chord patterns, and intervals. This is the BEST kind of memory because when you understand the piece, you are able to know where you are going and pick up again if you make a mistake. Analyzing is the most secure kind of memory because you remember music in “chunks.” Knowing what the next chord is lets you at least move on to the next part and not get stuck as you can with motor memory.

2. Practice using different tempos

Be able to play the piece at the extreme tempos and in between. Practice at very slow, medium, and faster tempos to make you more secure. The most valuable is slow practice.

3. Counting Out Loud.

When you count out loud, this helps you be more focused and lets you remember more accurately.

4. Hands Separate and Together.

Even when you know a section very well, it is still a good idea to play hands separately sometimes. It keeps you more secure, especially for fingering.

5. Know Thy Sections.

Know where the beginning of all your sections are and be able to pick up from any of them “cold.” Start playing in the middle of the piece and go to the end.

6. “Three Times In A Row, Perfectly.”

This is a learning tool as well as a memorizing tool for practicing. If you can play a section three times in a row perfectly, you know you have a good handle on the section. Perfectly includes counting, fingering, notes, and remember, a pause counts as a mistake.