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Cognitive memory


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#1 Paola

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 17:48

I would appreciate advice, please on trying to remember 4 bars of music to both sing and then clap back the rhythm in the ABRSM aural tests for Grades 5 and 6.   My cognitive short term memory is not as good as it was and I can only remember 2 bars out of the 4 for both the tests.  I never used to have a problem with remembering 4 bars whenever I practised it.    I can still learn a piece of music because I'm doing that for myself; but it's when unknown music is played by somebody else that is my difficulty.

 

Is there a way of improving the above, please?   Or do I accept that as I get older my cognitive function has declined and therefore I can only get half the marks?   Thanks.

 

 


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#2 BadStrad

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 18:03

I wonder if you are trying to remember individual notes rather than grouping the information into meaningful chunks? So like when you hear a phone number You probably don't think of it as 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 but more like 01234 567 890 because that's how the numbers tend to be chunked: code, then two groups of three. Or maybe in groups of two as 0 12 34 56 78 90, ie zero followed by five numbers. Either way there is much less info to recall.

So musically can you recall patterns of groups, Eg. Tah ta ta (for crochet, quaver, quaver, say) and scales/arpeggio patterns for tones etc and use those to reduce the memory load?


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#3 Misterioso

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 18:27

Listen out for repeating patterns, too, and sequences; also scalic and / or arpeggiated passages.


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#4 Paola

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 21:32

Many thanks for your help BadStrad and Misterioso.    I'm not exactly sure how I try to memorise the 4 bars which seem a lot now whereas they never used to.  Arpeggiated passages and syncopated rhythms are even worse, especially if they are fast as I cannot take it all in.    I may be trying to remember individual notes, but I'm not aware of it.   I will try the patterns of groups as you suggest BadStrad to see if that makes any difference.   Repeating patterns do make it easier Misterioso.

 

By the way Misterioso, how is your guitar playing going?    I hope you are still enjoying it.


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#5 carol*piano

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 22:40

My advice would be to focus completely on listening to the music, and then sing it back before you let another thought enter your head.

 

Wondering how much you've remembered, between listening and singing, just breaks the thought process, so you're likely to forget more!


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#6 HelenVJ

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Posted 30 March 2019 - 22:51

And if you think you might prefer tackling aural tests that don't require superhuman feats of memory - or singing - there's always Trinity smile.png.


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#7 EllieD

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 08:03

My advice would be to focus completely on listening to the music, and then sing it back before you let another thought enter your head.

 

 

 

Agreed! Keep practicing, but remember it's only a tiny part of the whole exam, and half marks for a tiny bit of an exam is still good. Get that first bit right, then just dive into the next two bars with assurance and aplomb and use psychology to get the marks (Leaving the examiner pondering whether s/he really had played it the way you sang it, due to the vigour and confidence of your performance...). OK, I fantasise a little, but still, singing something for those last two bars, finish on the correct note - you'd still get credit for that.


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#8 Paola

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Posted 01 April 2019 - 22:19

Many thanks Carol, Helen VJ and EllieD for your help which I appreciate.    Carol, I appreciate your suggestion, but I already focus hard on listening to what the 4 bars of music are, but I can only remember the first 2 bars and possibly the end of the 4th bar, depending upon the tune.   I can sing, so I am not concerned about that.

 

Helen, I like singing as I sing with a Choral Society and do concerts which I love.   I also sing in my local church choir.     I also like Trinity as they make their exams easier for adults.

 

EllieD, thanks for your explanation which is very reassuring.   I love the way you suggest tackling that part of the aural and I will keep that in mind and try it for next time!   That's great.


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#9 Zixi

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Posted 03 April 2019 - 08:36

Paola - the good and the bad news is that you appear to be describing the way in which working memory (STM) works. I'm not even certain that it's a case of its not being as good as it was. It seems to me that yours is working as per spec! I can only reiterate the advice to find ways of chunking it as that will help and as others have said don't obsess over it. It is what it is. I'm no more convinced that humans were designed to remember meaningless lists of things whether they be words on a memory test or strings of notes that have no particular significance or meaning. And I'm lucky - I have Allan Baddeley on my side! As an aside he once took a bunch of elderly people from a care home to the seaside. They were labelled as being very forgetful and not remembering what happened when. When he questioned them about their day out, they remembered it perfectly because it was different - it made an impact on them. The days at the home were all the same. Memory works like that - the bigger the impact, the more likely you are to remember the event or the whatever. As we age so we're more likely to have 'seen everything' and events have less impact on us than they did when we were children experiencing things for the first time... Rather than seeing your memory as not being as good as it was, I see it as filtering out stuff your brain doesn't think is helpful. smile.png But then I re-frame every negative into a positive!  blink.png

 

Anyway, good luck! It's only a tiny bit of the assessment so try to enjoy it! I think assessment should be fun and useful. I don't think it should be an opportunity to beat yourself up!


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#10 sbhoa

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 18:43

And if you think you might prefer tackling aural tests that don't require superhuman feats of memory - or singing - there's always Trinity smile.png.

I think that there is a lot of memory involved in Trinity aural, especially at later grades with the spot the difference and describing features.


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#11 helen_flute

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 18:56

 

And if you think you might prefer tackling aural tests that don't require superhuman feats of memory - or singing - there's always Trinity smile.png.

I think that there is a lot of memory involved in Trinity aural, especially at later grades with the spot the difference and describing features.

 

 

I've just sat my Grade 8 with Trinity and totally agree with this. The spot the difference in particular was a big challenge for my memory. At Grade 8 level you need to identify changes in rhythm/pitch potentially in both treble/bass clefs in a fairly long piece (maybe 20 bars or so) played on the piano. I had practiced a lot with the sample material, as well as with my teacher, and it was still tricky.

 

Ironically, part of the reason I initially went with Trinity was the lack of singing in the aural, although in the end I found I also preferred the pieces.


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#12 kenm

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 13:56

 

And if you think you might prefer tackling aural tests that don't require superhuman feats of memory - or singing - there's always Trinity smile.png.

I think that there is a lot of memory involved in Trinity aural, especially at later grades with the spot the difference and describing features.

 

I agree with this also.  I did a related test for Part I Music BA at Reading, but there you listened to a recording while looking at the sheet music and marked differences in pitch or rhythm.*  The Grade 7 Trinity Aural demo that I just saw and heard on the WWW was much more difficult, both in the subtlety of the differences and the demands on memory.

Hearing the differences between sound and score is an important skill for a conductor or a teacher, so Reading wins on that one.  OTOH, a good conductor ought also to have a good memory for a performance, so as to run through a substantial chunk of music, and then go to the sections that differed from what s/he wants and put it right.  Sir Adrian Boult, working with good British orchestras and minimal rehearsal time, would not even try it again: he would run a movement of a symphony, then tell the players all the changes he wanted to hear (George Hurst called it "Boult's laundry list") and expect to hear them in the performance.  He tried that on a tour of the US as guest conductor of several orchestras, but found that with American players you had to run it through to get anything different from what they had just played.

* E.g. dotted rhythms that sounded like triplets.


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#13 zwhe

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 15:25

You shouldn't need to memorise anything for the differences question - you have a copy of the score to follow! You have already heard the same piece three times at this point (for grade 8), and get the different version played twice.


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#14 helen_flute

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Posted 26 April 2019 - 17:58

But it still is a test of memory or sorts. You need to keep in mind what it sounded like initially, when you've been concentrating on time signature/dynamics/articulation and other features, then identify and remember the differences in pitch/rhythm until you are asked for them. You can't write them down or mark the score you are given, so you do have to keep the first change in mind, while attempting to identify the next one.

 

Cognitively, this is a complex task, even with the score, because of the way that short term memory works.


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#15 sbhoa

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 15:43

You shouldn't need to memorise anything for the differences question - you have a copy of the score to follow! You have already heard the same piece three times at this point (for grade 8), and get the different version played twice.

You need to remember what the differences were and where they are. I try to keep a finger on the affected bars but you can run out of fingers and then you have to remember what the change was for each finger...


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