Practicing Perfection: Memory and Piano Performance

Practicing Perfection: Memory and Piano Performance

by Roger Chaffin, Mary Crawford, Gabriela Imreh
     
 

ISBN-10: 0805826106

ISBN-13: 9780805826104

Pub. Date: 05/28/2002

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

The memory feats of famous musicians seem almost superhuman. Can such extraordinary accomplishments be explained by the same principles that account for more ordinary, everyday memory abilities? To find out, a concert pianist videotaped her practice as she learned a new piece for performance, the third movement, Presto, of the Italian Concerto by J.S. Bach. The

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Overview

The memory feats of famous musicians seem almost superhuman. Can such extraordinary accomplishments be explained by the same principles that account for more ordinary, everyday memory abilities? To find out, a concert pianist videotaped her practice as she learned a new piece for performance, the third movement, Presto, of the Italian Concerto by J.S. Bach. The story of how the pianist went about learning, memorizing and polishing the piece is told from the viewpoints of the pianist (the second author) and of a cognitive psychologist (the first author) observing the practice. The counterpoint between these insider and outsider perspectives is framed by the observations of a social psychologist (the third author) about how the two viewpoints were reconciled. The CD that accompanies the book provides for yet another perspective, allowing the reader to hear the polished performance.

Written for both psychologists and musicians, the book provides the first detailed description of how an experienced pianist organizes her practice, identifying stages of the learning process, characteristics of expert practice, and practice strategies. The main focus, however, is on memorization. An analysis of what prominent pianists of the past century have said about memorization reveals considerable disagreement and confusion. Using previous work on expert memory as a starting point, the authors show how principles of memory developed by cognitive psychologists apply to musical performance and uncover the intimate connection between memorization and interpretation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805826104
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
05/28/2002
Series:
Expertise: Research and Applications Series
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword
Preface
1In the Green Room1
2Improvisations8
3In the Words of the Masters: Artists' Accounts of Their Expertise26
4Expert Memory66
5The Way to Carnegie Hall74
6Lessons From J.S. Bach: Stages of Practice93
7In the Words of the Artist139
8Effects of Musical Complexity on Practice165
9Memory and Performance197
10Stages of Practice Revisited239
11CODA247
App. 1Discography for Gabriela Imreh270
App. 2Score of the Italian Concerto (Presto)271
References279
Author Index289
Subject Index293

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