How To Memorize A Performance Piece

How To Memorize A Performance Piece

Ever wonder how musicians in an orchestra memorize their performance piece? How do school bands memorize their sets? Whatever the genre, many musicians tend to forget at one point or another. In order to avoid this mishap, practicing is essential. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”!

Here are 4 methods that musicians use to memorize a performance piece:


The act of physically practicing is the strongest yet the most fragile way to memorize a piece. Its strength lies in the way you repeatedly perform the song until you understand and recognize every aspect of it. It is described as fragile way because when you rely on muscle memory and fail in the middle of a piece, it’s highly likely that you’ll have to repeat at the beginning.


This is the second most common way of memorizing a performance piece: when you remember how a song sounds like. This method works well on short pieces or short sections of longer ones. Students who play by ear are quite adept at this method. Singing the piece will definitely help enhance your sense of listening and memory as well.


This is the most sought after and admired method of memorization. Like in other fields, photographic memory is quite rare among people, but visual memorization can be taught to an extent.

Memorizing a physical sheet is like listening to a storybook on repeat. You can put colorful drawings and scenes that best describe the melody of the piece. Associating sounds with characters and emotions of a story can help you to visualize a melody with a simple look!


This is a method of memorization that requires a deeper level of concentration. We analyze the story and make a personal connection with the piece. Identifying musical phrases or chords as characters or scenes will strengthen one’s memory of the musical score.

Many people also swear by the effectiveness of drawing pictures along with them! These pictures can be drawn in sequence to complete a logical story that the student can tell in words. Once they can tell this story, they most likely will be able to play it by memory. Personalizing the piece with colors and pictures can make the whole practice more enjoyable. After all, there’s a stronger chance of remembering the piece when you have fun while practicing.