Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Memorizing Silently to Perform Tonal and Nontonal Notated Music: A Mixed-Methods Study with Pianists

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Memorizing Silently to Perform Tonal and Nontonal Notated Music: A Mixed-Methods Study with Pianists

Article excerpt

Performing solo repertoire from memory is a widespread practice in the tradition of western classical music. Compared with performing directly from a notated score, memorized performance requires more practice, but the advantages it offers in terms of expressive means and communication with the audience are considered worth the extra effort (Williamon, 1999). In their memorization, musicians use multiple memory systems involving auditory, motor, visual, emotional, structural, and linguistic encoding: Accurate feats of memory in this field are likely facilitated by a multiplicity of mutually supporting constraints (Chaffin, Demos, & Logan, 2016). Musicians' memorization strategies develop through expertise (Aiello, 2001; Hallam, 1997; Williamon & Valentine, 2002), although professional musicians, too, may rely on different types of memories (Hallam, 1997; Imreh & Crawford, 2002; Jónasson & Lisboa, 2016) and differ in their memorizing abilities (see Ginsborg, 2004). Considering memorization's salient role in contemporary performance practices, it is no wonder that beneficial memorization strategies have been a common interest for musicians, music educators, and researchers (for a review, see Ginsborg, 2004).

According to musical lore, some famous musicians such as the pianist Walter Gieseking (1895-1956) have customarily committed large works to memory entirely without an instrument (see Gieseking & Leimer, 1972, p. 11). Apart from heroizing anecdotes, many musical experts quite standardly engage in memorizing away from an instrument (Holmes, 2005; Imreh & Crawford, 2002). Since Kovács's (1916) and Rubin-Rabson's (1941)pioneering studies on mental practice in memorizing music, researchers have found interest in musicians' imagery skills in contexts of music learning, also addressing the effectivity of different types of mental practice and their optimal use together with physical practice (see Bernardi, Schories, Jabusch, Colombo, & Altenmüller, 2013; Cahn, 2008; Coffman, 1990; Highben & Palmer, 2004; Lim & Lippman, 1991; McHugh-Grifa, 2011; Ross, 1985; Theiler & Lippman, 1995). Brodsky and colleagues' research has indicated that musicians' silent score reading is often accompanied by notational audiation-auditory imagery involving covert excitation of phonatory resources and manual motor imagery (Brodsky, Henik, Rubinstein, & Zorman, 2003; Brodsky, Kessler, Rubinstein, Ginsborg, & Henik, 2008). Not surprisingly, then, skills in aural imagery have been found important when musicians memorize music without an auditory feedback (Brown & Palmer, 2012; Highben & Palmer, 2004), although the quality of memorized performance may also be affected by factors such as the general habit of analyzing music (Bernardi et al., 2013).

Memorizing through silent score reading is a mental translation task from a visual presentation mode to a memorized performance, and as such, offers an open canvas for the use of imagery and analytical activities. Individual musicians may differ in their situationally chosen mental practice strategies (Bernardi et al., 2013; Kovács, 1916), but it is unclear to what extent such strategic approaches might be affected by more general cognitive characteristics of the individuals, and to what extent differences in memorization success might be traced either to such broader individual differences, or to the encoding strategies chosen in a given task. The primary aim of the present study is to address the influence-over and above any individual differences in musicspecific expertise and skills-that such cognitive and strategic differences might have to musicians' memorizing and subsequent performance. We will specifically focus on two kinds of broader cognitive differences between individuals: working memory capacity and cognitive style.

Working memory (WM) supports thought processes between perception, long-term memory, and action, and it affects tasks like reading comprehension and reasoning (Baddeley, 2003). …

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