Musical Memory: The Many Pieces of the Memorization Process

“The demands placed on memory during a piano performance are remarkable, sometimes requiring the production of over 1000 notes a minute for periods of up to 50 minutes,”Chaffin and Imreh wrote in their 1997 article about musical memory (315). Their work, as well as the work of many other scholars studying the elements of memory …

Mindfulness for Musicians

Part 1: Research on Mindfulness (and Music) Review of the Basic Research on Mindfulness Mindfulness is defined as a mental practice that focuses one’s attention on the present moment with non-judgmental awareness. It originally stems from Buddhist traditions but has found its way into popular media in the past couple of decades, especially with the …

7 Steps to Practice Joy While Practicing an Instrument

Introduction In his 2019 literature review on the study of joy in positive psychology, Matthew Kuan Johnson explains there are four types of joy. Joy can be an emotion, mood, a disposition or trait, or what religious or spiritual practices consider a “spiritual fruit.” As an emotion, joy comes from an external situation; it’s an …

Twinkling Possibilities: Performance Tips and Theory Tidbits for Mozart’s 12 Variations on ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman,’ Part 2

Part 1 Last week we looked at the theme and first six variations of this famous piano piece by Mozart. This week, we’ll pick up right where we left off with brief analyses of what Mozart does to make each variation unique as well as the physical piano techniques required to successfully play each variation. …

Twinkling Possibilities: Performance Tips and Theory Tidbits for Mozart’s 12 Variations on ‘Ah vous dirai-je, Maman,’ Part 1

Mozart's "Twinkle Twinkle Variations" rank among his more popular piano pieces, probably because of the humorous nature of concert pianists sitting down to play a child's tune. (I love the laughter in this performance): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUSDpxZgy0I By the first variation, the true difficulty of this piece shines through. Because of this plot twist and the sentimental …

Chopin’s Architecture: Phrase Structure in Chopin’s Waltz in B Minor, Op. 69 No. 2 for Composers, Performers, and Listeners

One of the toughest parts of creating anything is figuring out how to start. The biggest issue for me is that there is just so much I want to write about, say, or do in a project that I get overwhelmed and many times end up pushing it off. There’s our answer: limit the scope of …

The Sound of Rain: Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude for Listeners, Performers, and Composers

170 years after his death, Chopin still captivates audiences with his music. His set of preludes that cover all 24 major and minor keys are a great starting place to learn how to analyze his work, as it can be dense. This post looks at the qualities that make us feel the melancholy of the …