i'm here wonderin what the best way to memorise tunes is? i've got a job playin in a bar three nights a week so i like to play the stuff without music.i've learnt a lot of the stuff from sheet music, which is probably not a good thing. i'm wonderin if i should just not let myself read music for a few months, and get the ol' ear and memory working harder? does it work? it might. i find that the stuff i learnt by ear or from a lead sheet always stays with me whereas the stuff i've learnt from sheet music is learnt in a different way, unconscious of key changes, passive actually and falling victim to sporadic "i'm not sure what to play next-ness."  i'd appreciate any advice.  
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i think you've already answered your own question -- to amplify a bit, i've always found it helpful when trying to memorize, for example, a piece of classical music, to learn it (in part) *as though it were* based on a lead sheet.  in other words, make a roadmap of the harmonic and melodic structure, and use the left brain to fill in the rest.   there's always something to "fall back on" that way.  this works pretty reliably for the music produced from bach to at least chopin's age, although you may require some more advanced analytic tools for more advanced harmonies as you get into the 20th c repertoire, say, after wagner.

you should be able to reduce just about any piece of "sheet music" to a lead sheet -- especially if it's just a pop standard or jazz standard.  there are shelves and shelves of books on how to analyze large swaths of classical music in terms of functional harmony, if you're trying to commit more complicated music to memory -- these tools obtain for pretty much any standard jazz tune as well.
this might sound simple, but playing a lot of songs from memory is pretty simple if you just set your mind to it.  
i made a rule for my self not to use sheet music when i perform in public because i don't really think my audience likes to look at the piano player and then not  be able to see his face because of huge stacks of sheet music piled up.
when i learn a new piece of music from a leadsheet i make it a habbit to try to play it from memory after i played it through twice.this really works and forces you to use your ears. i 've done this for 3-4 years and i would estimate that i by now can play 400-500 jazzstandards by heart as well as some folksongs and pop tunes.
by the way it gets easier when you have learned the first 60 or 70 songs.
hi! well i'm guessing it's time to give the memory and ear the challenge they've always wanted so..it's good to know it gets better after 60 or 70 songs nihonjin - thanks, i will bear that in mind! now to go practise....! thanks for the advises

a soon-to-be playing only by memory!  
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