Why is it important to memorize?

haredrums

Silver Member
Hi Guys,

I just put up a new post about memorization and I wanted to get some feedback from the community:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-memorize.html

Specifically I am wondering if you guys prioritize memorization in your own practice? If so, what kinds of things do you try to memorize? How do you go about memorizing? Are there things that you think are not useful to memorize, and if so what and why?
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Except where it's proper to read music, such as an orchestral performance or reading/learning charts for the first time, I've always commited parts/arrangements to memory. I never knew there was a reason not to.

Bermuda
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Something I struggle with. We have so many original songs, and constantly have them arranged in "interesting" ways that are difficult to play, let alone keep track of... Let's just say that like many jazz arrangements, we aren't simply talking about verse-chorus-verse.

From a song-writing perspective, I find I have no problem if I'm actively engaged as a musician when writing the song and deciding on all the changes in form, dynamics, and parts. Understanding the "why" to each change as we're making the decision is key for me in remembering with perfect accuracy.

But when trying to remember all the changes in each of the hundreds of songs my band has written without me I have a much harder time. As time goes on, I can usually learn by repetition at practice and what not... Even so, for some reason I'm much more likely to botch a change I did not have a hand in initially writing.

At any rate, interesting article. It's not something you often see drummers putting a lot of thought into when compared to technique and kit prowess.
 

choki

Senior Member
I try to avoid having a music stand on stage. If I'm subbing a gig, or playing with a new artist for the first time, I'll bring charts. Also, if I'm playing a gig with one or two new songs, I'll have a cheat sheet. Usually there is only one rehearsal (if any) before a lot of my gigs, so it's good to have something to look at just in case. Once that new song becomes a regular part of the set, I'll commit it to memory.

To make things look a little better, I put all my charts on the iPad, and have it mounted to my hi-hat stand nice and low. I can still follow the chart, but it doesn't look quite as bad on stage, and looks cleaner and more professional, especially since I would have that anyways as it is also my click.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
the only time Ive ever used charts while playing has been in the recording studio when hired by someone whos material im not absolutely and completely familiar with

even then I try to memorize

or when learning new tunes

most of the time simply writing out the chart results in me memorizing 95% of the material anyway......then the charts are simply there if need be ...or to make any changes that are made on the spot

my chart method looks like some sort of strange periodic table that would make little to no sense to anyone but me...but it has always worked for me

:)
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I think, from the audience perspective, most people don't want to watch someone read a chart.

Obviously, some times it happens, but for the most part, people pay to see a show, or hear a band perform, not to see/hear someone just read a part.
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I agree with all the comments about chart reading so far. Going beyond memorizing arrangements, how many of you actively memorize say transcriptions or snare solos?

I am actually pretty terrible at memorizing, so it is a real challenge to memorize some thing like a solo from the Wilcoxon book.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I agree with all the comments about chart reading so far. Going beyond memorizing arrangements, how many of you actively memorize say transcriptions or snare solos?

I am actually pretty terrible at memorizing, so it is a real challenge to memorize some thing like a solo from the Wilcoxon book.
I do. I ultimately try to memorize everything I play. I don't think there's any reason to read anything after you memorize it. That's not to say it's a bad idea to have charts handy in case you need a reminder. If I'm sitting in with a band, for instance, I write down what I need to in order to get the job done. Mostly, I'm just using the chart to help me remember where I'm at in the tune, from a form perspective.

But I do also memorize things like snare solos and all the drum parts to a song, if I think the song needs to be played that way to sound good.

That said, my memory is nothing special. I make mistakes and get lost as often as anyone. Whenever possible, I like to practice a tune to death so that the memorization is effortless because I KNOW what comes next and have the muscle memory built in. That's when I play my best.
 

Anduin

Pioneer Member
I use charts on gigs all the time. It's no big deal. It's totally common these days to see people reading charts on stage in rock/pop situations. Those with enough cash use teleprompters instead, but it's essentially the same thing.

Sure, ideally I’d have it all memorized, but when that’s not feasible, like if I’m subbing in a band playing tunes I just don’t know too well, I’d much rather use a chart and be accurate with the arrangement/hits/etc. than just bumble through. (Although I’ve done a lot of complete faking on gigs as well.)
 
I think that some players excel when it comes to musical memory - take Neil Peart for instance, who not only writes these intricate drum parts but plays them flawlessly at live shows.

I'm more of an improvisational player so memorization is not high on my list of priorities. :)
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I think that some players excel when it comes to musical memory - take Neil Peart for instance, who not only writes these intricate drum parts but plays them flawlessly at live shows.

I'm more of an improvisational player so memorization is not high on my list of priorities. :)
You should check out the article I wrote, I was saying that memorization is actually the most important for people who improvise.

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-memorize.html

I think that for improvisers, everything you play is essentially coming from some combination of your memory/imagination. So the more things you have memorized the more you will have to draw on in your improvisations. What do you think?
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
I memorized a Max Roach solo I transcribed a while back, when I told my teacher about it, he insisted that I play it as a final snare piece instead of the traditional etude (the first one in portraits in rhythm). He also wants me to be completely familiar with the melodies in both of the songs I have to play at the drum examination. I have another ensemble teacher that made us learn the melodies of all the tunes we'd be playing on the semester. The drummers have to be able to sing the melody while keeping basic time and to play the melody orchestrated around the kit. I think that's a great and very musical excercise for drummers to try out.
 

B-squared

Silver Member
I thought there was something I was supposed to memorize, but I forgot what it was.

Actually, there are some funny stories of great hit songs that almost weren't because they weren't recorded or written down right away. Of course, back in the day, many musicians were, let's say, not in the best state of mind for memorizing.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
As one whose extent of sight reading has been some simple exercises in books, memory is all I've got.

Some of the arrangements I see drummers memorise blow my mind ... there's a ton of talent out there.
 
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audiotech

Guest
My feelings are, the more you can submit to memory, the less grasping at straws latter on. This goes with anything. Memorizing is easy, if you can remember how to do it. Repetition is one way.

Dennis
 

Nealio1987

Senior Member
hi

my thoughts on this are , your memory needs to develop , at first i struggled a lot with memory , but after memorising diferent things i think it becomes easier , i also think its crucial to be able to memorize fills etc so you can pull them out without thinking , im memorizing the crazy army solo at the moment , but when you think people can memorize the rudimental ritual then there is much work to be done for myself on this topic. :0

nealio
 

haredrums

Silver Member
hi

my thoughts on this are , your memory needs to develop , at first i struggled a lot with memory , but after memorising diferent things i think it becomes easier , i also think its crucial to be able to memorize fills etc so you can pull them out without thinking , im memorizing the crazy army solo at the moment , but when you think people can memorize the rudimental ritual then there is much work to be done for myself on this topic. :0

nealio
Yeah,

That is a tough one. I agree about the memory being something you have to develop. One thing I have been working on is "singing" things I am trying to memorize so that I can work on memorizing them away from the kit.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
I try to know what is going on ahead of time in concert band so I can look at the conductor.

In jazz band I try to memorize everything because then I am the only guy without music on stage. :smug:
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
im memorizing the crazy army solo at the moment
The first snare solo I memorized. I actually play it on the "post your practice pad" thread on Your Playing.

However, as you go on to point out, that's a far cry from memorizing some other ridiculous solos. Like this one :)

 
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