Yup that’s it. I’ve been attempting to properly memorise a whole song since a few days ago. The song I’m trying to memorise playing is “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” by Randy Newman. It’s that song from Toy Story. I got my piano score from the rather hefty Hal Leonard’s The New Illustrated Treasury of Disney Songs. I bought that 2 years ago just for that song, mainly. Oh and for that other Toy Story song, “When She Loved Me” by Sarah McLachlan too.
Here I am. Having got up to ABRSM Grade 7 piano in my teens, before I decided to quit piano. I have never, ever memorised a single piece I had to play, ever. Not even for exams. My piano teacher did advise me to try memorising the entire piece when I was that age, but I just couldn’t be bothered. She only said it once. I remembered it very clearly. Then she never pushed for it again.
I don’t know what she thought of me back then. I was a pretty angry rebellious teen. I was on really bad terms with my parents, who were very controlling. I loved music but because they forced me to learn piano (when I wanted to do violin, or guitar), it really pissed me off. Actually I would have been more enthused about piano if I was allowed to play what I wanted, not all those boring exam pieces and classical music my teacher told me to play. Actually she was quite a nice person, but towards the end, she regularly nodded off during lessons when I was playing and it did add to my resentment of playing the piano. I was thinking “What’s the point of practicing to play well when she couldn’t even be bothered to listen?” I never thought of learning to play the piano for MY benefit. I could not see the benefit to me. I was so blinkered. At that point, I jammed in a band playing bass. All I listened to was grunge and rock music and I could not see how I could make my piano-playing fit into that. I liked pop piano and even ragtime stuff, but could not play those types of tunes. To be fair, I was far more concerned about stuff like dressing up, going to concerts, watching movies, MTVs, hanging out with friends, going clubbing, having a laugh, etc. etc. I was so unremarkable as a teenager, I know.
Anyway my time away from home – I count about 15 years since I left my home country now – has made me become more introverted, and rediscover things like I actually liked piano a lot. I actually liked classical. I just had no patience when I was younger. I had no life perspective nor depth of experience to enable me to sit still and try to make sense and appreciate things which were more subdued, not in-your-face, and requiring a lot more than just superficial understanding.
I’ve been trying to play the Pavane by Faure. That is hard. Well at first I thought so. After going at it a few times after listening to recordings, I kind of nailed it but only if I look at the score. My next goal is to try and memorise that song by heart as well.
It would satisfy me deeply to have memorised at least 2 of these songs which I really like and hold memories and meaning for me – the Toy Story song, and the Pavane by Faure. I’d be able to play it anytime I sit at the piano. And like Angela Hewitt said (I’ve only just seen this video for the first time a few days ago), memorising a piece of music is the only way to really internalise the song, process it and play it well.
And I want to internalise these songs for sure. I don’t just pick any old song to do this. Mind you. It’s hard work! My memory isn’t the best. Has never been. When I was in high school my favourite and best subjects were English and Maths, because those were subjects that didn’t require any memorising on my part! Just understanding and skill.
When I decided to take on this personal challenge to memorise an entire piano piece by heart last week, I realised what I was up against. It’s been nearly a week and I’ve only memorised and been able to play the first 2 lines of the song by heart!! The entire song has about 16 lines so I guess it will take me what… 2 months to memorise? Who knows. Anyway, it’s been hard work. Well, not really. I sit at the piano for about half to 1 hour each day to work through the bits I’m trying to memorise. It’s pleasure also. Playing piano relaxes me. Now that I am far away from my parents, and no longer under their control, I find I actually love playing the piano.
It’s funny how life works out that way. One thing that has been consistent all my life though is my love of music and what a big part it plays in my life. Playing and listening to music. Music to me is truly a gift from God.