i have a big problem. i have very difficult to memorise tunes.
this is mainly when i try to learn from sheet music.
if a friend tells me how a tune is at a jam, i seem to remember it 1000 times better.  

there is memorising techniques for remebering words, lists, number and so on... is there tecniques for remebering standard tunes?  

it seems like the music is taking a longer passage through my brain when looking at a lead sheet. sometimes i donīt remeber how the tune started 10 minutes after i have played it for ― hour...
itīs like i donīt hear the music in the music... or something...

There are 14 comments, leave a comment.
i'm kind of with you mstore. i read on this site https://www.pianofundamentals.com/ that he has a method for fast memorization.  you can find the section on that site, or just download the entire book and find the section yourself.


i haven't given it much time, but it seems plausable.  

good luck!
if you learn a song by just working it out, or transcribing it, it tends to stick in the memory.  
if you play a tune from a fake book etc, even many times over,it still won't stick in the memory.
when your friends explain a tune to you, you remember it because you understand the whole tune in a general way. if you're busy reading notes, you may miss the bigger picture.  start getting off book as soon as you can.
this is what is going on.
when your friend tells you about a tune he understands about the about the tune ie the chord progression, the number of measures, the form..
he has analysed it... that is what is needed to memorize .... he has done all the work for you... put it in a form easy to memorize.
when you are reading the music you are not taking the time to think about what the chord progression is, what the form is, how many measures there are,  you just keep reading them over and over and expect this to lead to memorization.  this is not a good process.  we call this process body teaching the mind.  this means you think repetition should lead to memorization... not a wize method grasshopper the method you want is:
mind teaching body:  this method has your mind learn everything about the tune and it tells your body what to do ... this is the proper means of means of memorization.
there is an alternative chord sequence memorizing technique in randy halberstadt's "metaphors for the musician".
ya, why don't you tell us about it?
mike is right on the money. funny, this reminds me of when i was studying foreign language. i took a year of japanese during my undergrad, and one of the assignments was that we had to "perform" pre-written dialogues from memory with a partner in drill class -- basically, simple stuff like where we would each take a part and say things like:

yamada: where is the way to the train station?
suzuki: it is east of the library. what time is it?
yamada: it is six o'clock, thank you.

etc... obviously, this was in japanese, and not english. pretty silly, but it was 101.

i soon found that my ability to memorize the passages of written japanese had a direct relation to how familiar with the vocabulary i was.  

now, this sounds really goddamn obvious, but it hit me: at first, when i tried memorizing, i was basically just memorizing (to me) random sequences of syllables. i was basically lost, and said the wrong syllable all the time. i didn't know enough about the words to memorize even words -- i was just trying to memorize it one character at a time.

however, when i knew the vocabulary, i wasn't memorizing syllables anymore -- i was memorizing concepts and complete ideas. understanding the words made them more than just random combinations of characters -- they became ideas that could be combined, like building blocks.  

the characters were the same, but there significance to me was transformed, and thus much easier to memorize.

once i understood the basic building blocks, i wasn't going from syllable to syllable, i was memorizing from word to word; finally when i mastered the dialogue, i was memorizing going from complete idea to complete idea (like the phrase "where is the bookstore?" or "can i buy this?")

when you don't analyze the tune, i think of memorizing a tune as trying to memorize a passage in a language you don't know -- you're memorizing from "letter to letter." if it's a 32 bar tune with a chord change a bar, you are memorizing 32 random chord changes. however, what we define as "random" is merely determined by our unfamiliarity or lack of understanding of the system.

aminor, d7 and gmaj are "random" chords to someone who doesn't understand jazz theory. however, anybody familiar with jazz theory knows this as a complete unit -- a ii-v-i. if you think of each chord change as a letter, idioms like iii-vi-ii-v and ii-v-i are words. naturally, these words can be put together as phrases.  

"ii-v-i in bflat, ii-v-i in g minor; all this repeated" is a sentence made of two such "words." from these two words, we've now memorized the first 16 bars of autumn leaves! that's quite a return on our investment -- we've memorized 3 ideas instead of 16 chord changes!

try doing what mike said and analyzing the tune, and make sure you know all your ii-v-is and other idioms. then you'll see the patterns, and you'll be memorizing bigger chunks of the tunes at once. once you do this for a few years, you'll suddenly realize that 80% of the standards are basically all the same...


and so you have recorded the entire piece in your subconscious memory.
is it so easy?  sure… try it and you will see it.
you will develop a great ability to memorize tunes with this method.
enjoy it.
ok, instead of trying to memorize the whole sequence at once, just take the first chord and memorize it. then, take the second chord and memorize it. if you know both, memorize them together. then take the third chord, memorize it. then memorize first, second and third together. and so on.
instead of memorizing chords 1-2-3-4-5, you memorize 1, then 2, then 1-2, then 3, then 1-2-3, then 4, then 1-2-3-4, then 5, then 1-2-3-4-5.  
it looks like more work, but due to the supposed better memorizing can be done in less repetitions.
of course, that's a completely different approach than analysing the piece for known chord sequences.

i guarantee you 99 out of 100 professionals don't learn tunes the way you're describing. if you memorize all the chords without paying attention to their function, you aren't going to be any better at improvising on it -- you'll be going from random choice to random choice. keeping in mind the function of the chords allows you to memorize 3 or 4 chords at a time as a unit instead of just one.

the way mike and i are describing through analysis makes much more sense and is much faster. also, once you "analyze" enough tunes for memorization, you can memorize the information just by glancing at the chords, observing all the ii-v-is and patterns. after a chorus of unfamiliar changes on a gig, i will have a standard memorized almost all the time by just observing and committing to memory the patterns.

i know it feels to you like you're doing less work with the method you describe, but you're really not; i feel like in most cases you have to memorize 4 times as many things that way. among other shortcomings, the method you mentioned doesn't really help you at all if you have to transpose a tune to a different key. it also doesn't make you a better player, more attuned to patterns and relationships between different tunes.  

also, if you learn the harmonic structure of a tune by just a cursory analysis, it will be much more clear to you where you can substitute chord changes, because you'll be more attuned to all the patterns, and thus all the options at your disposal.

i think all the suggestions here are good ones.  as a teacher, i get to see how differently people use their brains to conceptualize, memorize, perform etc.  in other words there doesn't seem to be a "one size fits all" answer to the dilemmas faced in the learning process.

for me there also seems to be a fundamental difference between having tunes in my head that i can play on a whim (my own impromptu arrangements) and having an entire note by note arrangements memorized, such as a classical piano pieces.  the latter requires a more detailed method of memorization and becomes a combination of conceptualizing the piece and creating a sort of "auto-pilot" muscle memory physical performance, not much different from say, a baseball pitcher learning to throw certain pitches in an very precise way under pressure. blah blah blah:)

in any case, i believe it is important to learn an entire piece before attempting to memorize it, so you can get the whole picture first.  then  see how much you can play off the top of your head.  after that go back and brush up on the parts you can't seem to remember
the same technique that i used for learning languages i often use for memorizing tunes.

it's called "practicing in your head", most typically i do it while in bed just before falling asleep.

in the morning if you can remember what you were thinking about before you nodded off the night before, there's a good chance it'll stick.
once when i was having a conversation with the great george cables i asked him how he learned tunes, if he had a trick or maybe if he had some sort of photographic memory.  if you've ever hung out with cables, you'll know the kind of half smirk funny look i got from him.  he said that basically all he did was play the tune a bunch of times from the paper, then turned the paper over and tried to get through the tune.

i actually really like that method.  you've played the tune a few times, and more than likely you've heard it a few times, so why should playing it be a problem?  when i started learning tunes the cable way i found that after i turned the page over i stumbled all over the place in the tune, but once i worked out my stumbling blocks from what i remembered from playing it before, i realized i knew the tune better than i would have had i learned it my previous way - learning two, three, one, or more measures at a time and trying to put them all together like i used to do with classical music.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
@hepcatmonk: feel free not to use this approach. it's just meant as another option for mstore.
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