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Rewind – Memory games with Mara

While last Tuesday (9 July) was more of a planning session, the Tuesday before (2 July) I invited my very talented friend Mara to play around on the piano. The link between memory and music is an intriguing one (check out the following article – and so I thought it would be worth getting Mara in to examine this link and explore how it may be utilised in the show. I’ve listed some of the things we tried below:

– Mara’s exam and eisteddfod reports. Mara brought in a small selection of her large collection of music reports and certificates. We read through them and Mara told me what she remembered of the day she received each report/certificate and the piece of music it related to. I then asked her to try and play the piece of music in question. I was amazed at how much she was able play (having not played some of the songs for years) and we discussed how she was able to do this.

– Memory game. I asked Mara to also bring in a selection of classical sheet music that she had never played before. The basic gist of the game was that I would pick the first page of a song at random from the pile and give Mara 10min to memorise as much as she could. Once the time was up, I would take away the sheet music and ask her to play as much as she could remember. She scored a point for each sequential bar played. We played the game twice under slightly different conditions and I’ve listed Mara’s scores below:

1. Song – Liszt, Klavierstuck, s.193. Conditions: 10min, allowed use the piano to help her memorise the song. Score – 9.5 out of 14.5 bars.

2. Song – Mendelssohn, Scherzo, op. 16 no. 2. Conditions: 10min, NOT allowed to use the piano. Score 17 out of 17 bars.

In short, Mara is incredible and so I’ll be interested in making the game harder for her in the future (more pages, less time etc). In many ways though, the most interesting part of the game for me was watching Mara during the 10min and having an insight into how she went about memorising the music. Definitely something to harness and implement in the show.

– Finally, Mara brought in Suzuki book 1, which was the first book of music she learned from when she started out on the piano. She said she hadn’t played or looked at the book for over a decade but was still confident that she could remember/play the entire thing. And she wasn’t wrong. Again, it was interesting to discuss how she was able to do this.

Until next time…

Chris out!

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