“Tapping” into your memory

I have recently gotten into “tapping.” I have tried it off and on for many years but I didn’t really feel there was a place for it in my life until now. I find myself drawn to it because of an ongoing health concern. I have tried the standard treatment for this health issue which no longer seems to alleviate the symptoms. I decided that it was time to address the underlying causes. Since western medicine seems mostly focused on treating symptoms, it seemed time to try a less conventional approach.

For me “tapping” is a way to have a conversation directly with my body. It reminds me of some “inner child” work I have done but rather than speaking to a younger version of myself, I am talking directly to parts of my body that have borne the brunt of trauma I have experienced.

“Tapping” or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), involves tapping one’s fingers on certain acupuncture points. This can be done with repeating a phrase that addresses the issue followed by saying an affirming phrase of compassion towards the issue. For example: “Even though I cannot fully memorize this piece of music, I love and accept myself.”

I don’t mean to say that every issue concerning memorization of a piece of music has trauma as an underlying cause. Sometimes a memory slip is just a memory slip. Hopefully the list below is helpful. My point here is that when those wonderful suggestions don’t work, it may be time to try a different approach. I have always been aware that there was more to my memory issues than just not being able to remember a bunch of notes.

I have long felt uncomfortable playing “by ear.” Part of what drew me to the Suzuki method early in my career was my desire to be able to play mostly from memory. I was inspired by reading Shinichi Suzuki’s autobiography, Nurtured by Love.  It was a relief to know that it all came down to a positive home environment, following a step by step method of teaching and learning, consistent practicing, and listening to high quality recordings of the music being studied.

I know my actual memory is fine because I have thoroughly learned the repertoire that I teach my students. It is when I try to memorize my own repertoire that I experience memory problems and anxiety. EFT so far has been yet another way to examine my underlying issues with memorization. EFT can be practiced with or without a practitioner. There is no wrong way to do it and it is done with love, respect and compassion.

Suggestions for working on memorization of a piece of music:
Analyze your piece harmonically and thematically.
Break it down into smaller bits.
Practice with a lot of repetition.
Play it while reading the newspaper.
Listen and play along with recordings.
Work on muscle memory.
Sing each phrase.
Write the music down on staff paper from memory.
Audio and video record yourself.
Memorize fingerings and bowings.
Use imagery, “mental rehearsal” or self hypnosis.
Mime or do air violin.
Act out the music like it’s a play.
Try Suzuki games such as Bingo or picking phrases out of a hat to play.
Improvise on your music or transpose it into different keys.
Memorize landmark pitches.
Make up a story about the music.
Develop your photographic memory.

The Inspiration for Violinists card deck
This “memorization” card is part of a 50 card deck. Every card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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