Has anyone used Sythesia to *memorize* pieces?

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occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-08-11 7:59 pm

Hi everyone,

the program is beautifully designed, I'm enjoying it.

Has anyone ever used Sythesia to learn a piece by memory, away from the computer? If so, what techniques did you use?

The way I've been playing the game, I get a good muscle memory when trying to get the A+++, but my brain has no grasp of the piece, I can't even remember the notes, and it's totally out of the question to switch off the computer and play the piece without the green and blue bars to guide me.

This is a pity, because I really need to memorize pieces, so I can internalize the music and develop my "mental play".

The impression I get is that Synthesia is a fun game of hand-eye co-ordination, but it doesn't teach you to understand what you are "playing". You get a physical memory but not a musical memory.

I would love it if someone could show how I am wrong, so that I can use the program's features to help me improve. I tried going back again and again over one part to try to get the notes down, but it was less convenient than just reading a sheet. If I can't find a trick to memorize what I'm playing, I might just leave it.

summary: I would be very greatful if anyone could give me a memorization technique using Sythesia. Thanks!

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-09-11 2:12 am

Hi,
I have been concentrating on only one music for the past month. I try beat by own score and continue use the visual aid. Then I also try not look at the screen and focus on my finger movements and sometimes when I miss, I press the keys and listen to what I am looking for.

I do remember one music I played almost fully now.

My technique is to master one first then move to another.

My disadvantage: I do not play by the sheets. (If it is - it is the opinion of others).
My advantage: I know the movements of the music I wanted to play by heart.

This is what I wanted, This is what I got.

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-09-11 4:08 am

Hi Hrubesh,

I'm not sure how stopping the piece to play by ear is an improvement over reading the sheet music at the beginning. It seems like it would take longer. In my opinion, a month is a really long time. Of course, it depends what piece you are learning.

It doesn't seem like people should use Synthesia to actually learn a song.
Last edited by occurin on 07-09-11 9:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-09-11 4:19 am

I am playing a short classic music and one month is nothing compared to the one year goal i have set in which i need to know at least 3.

To me, synthesia is fine, I am learning through it.

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-09-11 9:47 am

If you enjoy it, that's great. It just seems like you would learn a lot faster if you didn't use Synthesia.

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-09-11 10:08 am

Nops, I started by myself from the videos of synthesia on youtube. I couldn't read sheets, found them too hard, and nowadays, I slightly can understand. I did not set goals in learning sheets after I saw synthesia but now I am trying to.

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jimhenry
Posts: 1758
Location: Southern California

Post by jimhenry » 07-09-11 11:41 am

There are so many variables in how people learn that it is impossible to say whether Synthesia would be an aid to memorization or how much time it should take to learn a piece. At the moment I am learning guitar using Rock Band 3, which is very similar to using Synthesia to learn piano. I use sheet music that I transcribe from the falling notes display in addition to the screen display. I find I need the sheet music on paper to grasp the structure of the overall piece, repeated themes etc. as an aid to memorization. I need the screen display to develop the feel of playing in proper tempo. I also need the backing tracks as an aural aid to jog my memory as to what I should be playing. For me, there is no magic silver bullet to learning a piece. I use a "multimedia" approach picking every tool available to help with the process.
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.VirtualOrgan.com/

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-09-11 1:23 pm

Jim: I agree that it's impossible to say how long a piece should take to learn, because people have different amounts of experience.

I can see how Synthesia can give you a feel for tempo if you don't have the bpm on the score and you aren't sure by listening.
I also can see how having the other hand being played alongside might help. (I sometimes record one hand with my keyboard's record function, and play over the top).

I don't think these things outweigh the serious disadvantages Synthesia presents if you want to play by memory instead of blue and green bars. Instead of relying on your own musical sense and comprehension of the peice, you become reliant on the blue and green bars. It's inconvenient to go back and practice just one short segment, so you end up wasting much of your time playing parts of the song that you've already mastered. In general I think it replaces musical understanding with a hand-eye co-ordination game. I'd like to see how people use it to learn songs that they then go away and play at the piano. At the moment this software looks pretty counter-productive.

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-09-11 1:34 pm

there is a reply to a question about synthesia on this blog thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthre ... 940/4.html

covers alot of what I think about Synthesia.

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jimhenry
Posts: 1758
Location: Southern California

Post by jimhenry » 07-09-11 3:13 pm

If you become reliant on the blue and green bars the important word is YOU. Is that any different than you become reliant on the sheet music? If your goal is to memorize a piece, and that is not everyone's goal, then it is up to you to pick the tools to accomplish that goal. Obviously you don't think Synthesia is helpful to you for memorization. So don't use it. Simple, no?
Jim Henry
Author of the Miditzer, a free virtual theatre pipe organ
http://www.VirtualOrgan.com/

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-09-11 3:34 pm

I think people will love it when someone is playing music, they can see the falling notes on a projector.

I think it gives many people a different view of music.

According to some theory, we have multiple intelligences, some argue 8 others 12. None master all of these at the same time just like that. Music is one of the intelligences and the way music specialists see music is not necessarily similar to those who do not play.

There is no good nor bad here. Every tool has its purpose where another ends and the same tool ends where another begins. This is a never ending process and it goes on beyond different worlds of music and the opposite.

Let me take the example of my good friend who does not listen to music (a true story). He is a genius with words. His imagination is vivid only in this field. What he can see with words, I know I don't and many of you all don't. If he could make a software to show how the words play in his mind, it's a connection created. This is exactly what synthesia is about, to me. I came from another intelligence group and the blue and green lines pulled me into it, giving me the understanding I needed.

To sum up, there is no good , bad or better. At some point in time, we like, in others we may not, be grateful for the good times you received from something.

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-10-11 5:50 am

Jim: relying on the blue and green bars is fundamental to Synthesia. If you don't want that, you should switch off the computer. No, that is no different from relying on sheet music in any way, it's exactly the same. I also think relying on sheet music is damaging to your development.

Yes, my goal is to memorize pieces, but I would argue that memorization is fundamental to learning about music. If you can't play a piece in your mind, it seems logical to expect a flat and mechanical performance. Hand-eye training is a non-musical form of practice. But people learn the piano because they enjoy music, right? It's quite a boring way to play over the long term, and liable to put people off the piano, just because their mental appreciation of music won't improve that much, for all the hours spent.

Hrubesh: It's not a question about multiple intelligences, it's the difference between playing from memory or not.

This book:
http://www.pianofundamentals.com/book/en/1.I.3 has a lot of explanations of musical and non-musical playing.

Thanks for your replies, guys, I love the interface so much I am desperately trying to give myself a reason to use this program, but at the moment I can't find one.

Nicholas
Posts: 12029

Post by Nicholas » 07-10-11 6:10 am

occurin wrote:... I would argue that memorization is fundamental to learning about music. If you can't play a piece in your mind, it seems logical to expect a flat and mechanical performance.
I would claim your second statement there doesn't follow from the first. You can play with all manner of expressiveness from sheet music (or software that allows rubato) without memorization. You may need to be intimately familiar with it, sure... but I've never memorized a piece in my life and yet I believe myself to have "learned about music" and am perfectly capable of playing without a "flat and mechanical performance". So are millions of others that don't subscribe to strict memorization.

Maybe it's your premise that is flawed, because that doesn't seem like a logical expectation at all.

Memorization is a lofty -- if hardcore -- goal to strive toward. But don't try and convince yourself it's the only way to be musical.

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-10-11 6:39 am

occurin wrote:I also think relying on sheet music is damaging to your development.
In my opinion,

People go to school and then go to work. Why should they go to school first? Why were we all not given job placements at get adapted to work environments one time? In this light, is school damaging to our development?

Your above statement is like mine. I also sometimes think school is not appropriate and we should directly start learning work one time since kids.

occurin
Posts: 7

Post by occurin » 07-10-11 7:16 am

Fine, I never said "strict memorization" if that means playing without the score in front of you, but I hope you can agree that the process of becoming intimately familiar with a piece is the process of internalizing the peice, recognizing how you need to play it at different points etc. I don't see how you can be intimately familiar with a peice without memorizing important parts of it, at least unconsciously. Isn't it the parts that you have considered and committed to your memory of how to play that prevents it from being from being flat?

Here's a thought-experiment to show my general point. Imagine someone who uses Synthesia, but never spends enough time on any one song to learn how to play it well. They just like the game and never get more than a B before moving to a different song. After x amount of time they enter a competition against other players who have spent the same time using normal methods. Surely their hand-eye coordination would be better than anyone else's, if they spend the same amount of time at the piano, because they have had the advantage of Synthesia. But they have never learnt a whole song before. So would we expect that person to win the competition? Have they learnt about music to the same degree as the others?

I still can't see how Synthesia is better for helping you get that familiarity to play musically, at least at the early stages. For the later stages, when you are familiar with a piece and need to mechanise it hands together, yes I can see the fun of Synthesia at that point. But that's a really late point after a lot of spade work has been done gettting to grips with the music. Looks to me that the spade work can be better done without it.

edit: clarity

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-10-11 12:58 pm

I need synthesia to start playing a music. Then I also try not look at the screen when I know the piece. I look away, look again to see if I am in coordination.This is how it works for me and it is going good.

Nicholas
Posts: 12029

Post by Nicholas » 07-10-11 4:53 pm

occurin wrote:I don't see how you can be intimately familiar with a peice without memorizing important parts of it, at least unconsciously...
Alright, so we were talking about the same thing. I suspected we might have been.
occurin wrote:I still can't see how Synthesia is better for helping you get that familiarity to play musically, at least at the early stages.
Today it's not. Rhythm practice, not at all. Melody practice is close but I still can't claim parity. Once Synthesia has the "Exhibition Mode" listed on the voting page (similar to that video I linked last time) it will be. Then you'll be able to interpret the falling green/blue bars however you like, the same way you can sheet music. Only you'll have automated accompaniment, feedback about your playing and improvement, some tools to make learning difficult sections easier, and all the other things Synthesia can bring to bear that traditional notation can't.

Even then, like Stephen has mentioned a few times before, it'll still only be a practice tool at best. Until I've got some high-end AI in there that understands musicality and can advise you in it, software or sheet music is just a supplement to a good instructor.

Electrode
Posts: 187

Post by Electrode » 07-10-11 6:47 pm

I don't have time to go into too much detail on the points I'm about to make at the moment (I've had a busy day, with church and then a hardcore piano lesson in preparation for my next piano exam on Thursday this week), but it is my experience (both first-hand and from observing others), that trying to memorise while only concentrating on memorising the movements (or in other words, purely concentrating on muscle memory) results in poor memorisation and (arguably more importantly) retention.

One of my friends did his Grade 5 exam a few months before I took mine. About six weeks ago, I asked him to play me one of the pieces he played for his exam - he couldn't remember it beyond the first bar. That is proof that he purely concentrated on muscle memory and not on the musical content of the piece. Proper memorisation requires some music theory and a good ear. It is the subconsciously coordinated effort of all the different musically-related areas that results in a full, all-around memorisation of the piece, as well as retention of the piece for great lengths of time, possibly even resulting in lifetime retention.

In order to memorise properly, attention has to be paid in more areas than just muscle memory. I have been able to memorise a piece purely by listening to it a couple of times. OK, this is coupled with 18 years of musical experience in my case, but for some people, a good ear comes naturally. (This involves the ability to recognise and accurately play or sing pitches after hearing them, among other things.) For others, aural ability must be worked on. For that, some great software exists nowadays to aid in developing your ears. (GNU Solfege is the software I use with a university student I am coaching - he wants to get better at theory and aural work. I wish I had this software when I learned the bulk of my musical knowledge!)

Don't get discouraged. Everyone has some musical talent - it just needs to be nurtured and grown with hard work. Even those for whom music comes naturally won't break new ground if they don't put in the practice hours. You really do get out what you put in.

The greatest component of memory, for a musician, is listening. You must listen to a piece you want to memorise - many, many times in some cases. When you are playing a piece, do not simply play it without paying attention, but actively listen with great concentration to what you are playing. You are memorising sounds and notes/chords/patterns, not motions. Music theory is closely related to this. Hearing a chord of C major, knowing the notes of C major, and recognising a chord of C major when it appears means that if there is a C major chord anywhere in your piece, you're no longer thinking of the individual notes in the chord, but you're thinking of the chord itself and can instantly play it without thinking of what the notes are. In this way and using other similar methods, memorisation is greatly eased by reducing the number of details you have to remember.

In the piano grade exams we take in the UK and in other countries, memory is required from the very beginning of your piano education. All of the scales and arpeggios required for each grade must be played from memory at every exam. At Grade 1, this is only very few of the scales that exist, but by Grade 5 you need to know the major and either harmonic or melodic minor scales in every key, as well as all chromatic scales, four contrary scales (two major, two harmonic minor), and all major and minor arpeggios in every key. Grade 6 (which I am taking on Thursday) requires you to have both of the minor scale types memorised for every key (instead of just one), in addition to new contrary scales and new types of arpeggios, as well as everything else that was required for Grade 5. Grade 7 requires everything Grade 6 requires, plus more. There are eight grades in all.

The best thing to do when beginning to memorise would be to work on your ear training, and start working on your memory by memorising scales first. Scales are the building blocks of the vast majority of music out there. Memorising the scales (the notes, not the motions!) is the first step to increasing your capability to memorise. You're also learning music theory at the same time by doing this. Once you've got the scales down, broken chords and arpeggios come next. (Scales teach you what notes are in which keys, broken chords and arpeggios teach you what notes are in the most important primary chord of each key - this is fundamental information for all musicians).

I realise I covered a lot of ground here, and probably created more questions than I answered, but if you want to know more, I can try to answer any questions anyone has.

hrubesh
Posts: 13

Post by hrubesh » 07-10-11 7:15 pm

Electrode wrote: The greatest component of memory, for a musician, is listening. You must listen to a piece you want to memorise - many, many times in some cases. When you are playing a piece, do not simply play it without paying attention, but actively listen with great concentration to what you are playing.
Thanks, I am indeed a late learner and this is exactly what I am doing, only listening to the one music I want to play all the times.

I seize the opportumity to thank

Nicholas for the bridge he laid before me to the musical world. Thank you, it has been a nice trip and still is ;)

kickininthefrontsea
Posts: 39
Location: Newcastle, Australia

Post by kickininthefrontsea » 07-10-11 9:11 pm

>summary: I would be very greatful if anyone could give me a memorization technique using Sythesia. Thanks!

occurin
This is a really good question, it's the gaping hole in my work on the wiki, re learning piano
Electrode, Nicholas and Stephen in the link mostly address the problems in that synthesia is just a practise tool.

85% of learning piano is achieved with a teacher, studying the score, listening to a new piece of music, background reading, scales/arpeggios etc.

memorisation by watching the falling notes may be fun and has it's place, but long term is limiting,
studying sheet music, recognising and grouping larger and larger sections in your mind is what is needed.

I'm sure software (and it may as well be synthesia) has a place in practice, maybe only to 'drill the tricky parts',
but probably more, tracking progress and competing is very motivating.

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