How to Memorize Piano Music Fast?

If you are learning to play the piano, the time it takes to get your head around a piece can be frustrating. You wish you could memorize pieces so that you can simply sit down at a piano and impress your friends and relatives WITHOUT agonizing over the sheet music.

Or perhaps you have an exam or recital coming up and you feel you haven’t practiced enough. For whatever reason you want to memorize piano music fast, there are some simple tricks that can help you do so.

Ways To Memorize Piano Music Quickly

You too can learn how to memorize piano music fast! It’s not difficult; it just takes some time, patience, and the desire to learn. I have been at it for years now, so I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to an understanding of this incredible skill of memorizing sheet music.

I’ve compiled a list of ideas on things you can do to learn your piano sheets. Within a short period successfully…I mean quickly…as in days instead of weeks or months. Below is my list of suggestions for how to successfully memorize piano music fast…

1. Learn to play the piece by ear

If you rely heavily on sheet music and sight-reading, it will be harder to memorize piano music. Therefore it is a good idea to practice by ear. You can do this by playing with your eyes closed. This will give you confidence in knowing that what you are playing is correct and within the proper tempo.

Learning the song first with your ears becomes an automatic reaction that can easily be transformed into reading/memorizing the sheet music once that has been accomplished. Playing your songs from sheet music isn’t necessarily wrong, but it slows down the process significantly because one must think about every note on the page instead of just hearing what they already know…which is how to play it!

So try this suggestion if you never have before, and you’ll see how much faster your memorization process will be.

2. Sing along to the music aloud

When I was first learning how to memorize piano music quickly, I used to sing along to my pieces aloud. This helps you understand the music and figure out difficult passages. It helps you identify musical landmarks so you know what’s coming next. This helps with losing your place.

By doing this exercise, you create a picture of what the sheet music is saying… it’s like remembering a mental map before heading off on a drive. It helps prepare you for what’s ahead…in this case, helping you remember the journey of the notes over the page.

By singing along, you are making that passage more concrete in your memory bank because speaking it out loud makes it easier to remember. Trust me, this works, and it is an excellent way for learning how to memorize music fast!

3. Practice in sections

This suggestion has helped me tremendously when trying to learn a new piano sheet…practice by sections, not by pages! I know what you’re thinking…”I thought we were talking about learning how to memorize a whole song successfully” – yeah, well, that’s the foundation of this tip.

Once you have learned the piece by sections (and sections can be as small as two bars or as big as an entire page), then it’s much easier for your brain to stitch all those little pieces together. Eventually into the whole thing.

Try this:

  • Practice playing just the beginning 2 bars several times
  • Wait a while and then go back and do it again
  • Once you have memorized it, stop there and practice just the following two bars
  • After a while go back and repeat
  • Then go back and play the two sections together from the start
  • Keep doing this method until you have finally played the whole piece

This is an excellent way to memorize piano music fast because your brain will be receiving a series of “snapshots,” which makes it easier to remember. After all, it’s like creating a patchwork quilt one piece at a time…trust me, I’ve tried all methods!

Don’t be afraid to start big either if you are good at memorizing big chunks. You can try a whole page or even two if that’s what it takes for your brain to get into gear.

4. Focus on accuracy first

Accurate playing equals accuracy in learning how to memorize piano music fast! Playing a piece repeatedly but not being able to play it correctly is not going to help you in memorizing your sheet music…in fact, it’ll do the opposite!

It would be best to make sure that every note you are playing is correct and in its proper place… if there’s a wrong note or an incorrect rhythm, stop where you are currently at and go back to the previous measure that was correct.

By doing this, you will be able to see where the mistake occurred and all of your progress, which will allow you to continue successfully with your piece. Then go through each section afterward until each specific problem has been dealt with – this may take some time depending on how many mistakes there were. Still, eventually, you’ll get everything right, and your memorization process will have been made that much easier!

5. Choose a song that you love

Don’t just learn those “traditionally difficult” pieces that you see all over the internet just because they’re challenging. Chances are, they’re not going to be as fun as the piano sheet of a song that you enjoy! So by choosing something more enjoyable to work on, it’ll make learning how to memorize music faster and more meaningful. This in turn makes practicing a whole lot less painful…after all, who wants to practice something they hate?

6. Play hands separately

Memorizing one hand’s movements on its own is a lot easier than two at once. Therefore get your hands used to playing separately. Once you have repeated the section a number of times with one hand and you feel comfortable, do the same with the other hand. Then try both together and repeat until you have it memorized.

This technique can go hand in hand with the playing in sections method above. And it is a way to further break up the piece to help you memorize it more easily.

7. Get feedback on your playing

A great way to learn how to memorize sheet music fast successfully is by getting feedback from other people, especially if they play the piano. Hearing someone else’s interpretation of the piece often gives you an idea of what the music is supposed to sound like.

It helps guide how well you understand that song or passage. This feedback happens to be a great motivator, too. Playing to others will encourage you to learn faster and keep going. So take advantage of it and let them know this is helping you memorize piano music fast!

8. Create ongoing goals on a calendar

Setting up weekly goals for yourself is a beautiful way for learning how to memorize sheet music fast. Say by introducing one new song each week. That way, you’ll have something new to practice and it will keep you motivated to stick to your goals.

Regularly playing new pieces will also help you become better at recognizing the key signatures, the rhythms, etc. It might be hard if you try to learn everything all at once. You can also sprinkle your goals with other things throughout the week, such as learning a few sections rather than just one measure or being able to play both hands together.

All these little steps will compound over time, and before you know it, you’ll have learned how to memorize music without too much trouble!

9. Be honest with yourself about your progress

This is something that I struggled with when it came to memorizing piano music – by having unrealistic expectations about my progress, which led me to not like myself for making mistakes. I focused more on beating myself up instead of celebrating each success which would have been easier!

This doesn’t just have to apply to learning how to memorize piano music either. It applies to every aspect of life like accomplishing a goal you’ve set for yourself. So remember that mistakes are just progress in disguise. Every action is an opportunity for improvement. Even if you don’t see it at first, success will always follow failure, so be patient and work hard!

10. Don’t just memorize sheet music – understand It

An interesting exercise I did when learning how to memorize sheet music was conversing with the piece itself. First, I’d play through the song without looking at the notes or trying to reproduce any particular pattern…I’d just let my fingers move across the keys and try to go with what they wanted to do.

Once I finished, then I’d look at the music and see what my hands just played by reading the notes on paper…I’d do this a few times so that it’d start making more sense in my head as far as rhythm, key signature, etc. Then after spending about 5 minutes doing that, I’d repeat everything back from memory. If anything didn’t sound correct or wasn’t fresh in my mind’s eye, then I knew where to focus additional practice time.

As you can see, learning how to memorize piano music isn’t all that difficult once you get past all of your initial difficulties and learn different ways of dealing with them. It’ll take some work and patience on your part, but not impossible, and all practice makes perfect!

11. Get enough sleep

Studies show that getting enough sleep increases brain function and particularly the ability to memorize things. Staying up all night and depriving yourself of sleep to memorize a piano piece may actually be counterproductive. Make sure that you are eating well and sleeping enough. This will help you pick up the music quicker.

12. Start slow

Learning pieces slowly note by note creates a solid foundation that you can then build up.

Starting to practice with increased speed immediately actually leads to worse memory. This leads back to slowing down again to figure out what you just played. As starting fast can decrease memory, first slow right down and play the piece about half the speed you normally would.

Do this all the way through and repeat until you are playing evenly with no mistakes. Then each time, increase the speed slightly. With enough repetitions, increasing the speeds each time, you will get there.

Benefits of Memorizing Piano Music Fast

  • Playing in a situation where you have no music to hand
  • The ability to read all types of sheet music, including complex ornaments and advanced notation
  • Improvements at sight-reading any piece without hesitation
  • Playing at speeds above 220 beats per minute with accuracy (if desired)
  • An increase in hand speed that comes from the learning exercises which will help you play pieces faster
  • A boost in confidence due to gaining more control over your performance
  • An increase in memory capacity thanks to the technique of playing in sections
  • An increase in hand independence because you will be able to play more difficult passages faster and with greater accuracy
  • A better understanding of music theory

It is important to remember that there are benefits to memorizing piano music fast. Still, it is also necessary for one to develop a good practice routine, without which none of the above will occur.

Also Read

More Information and Tips on Memorizing Piano Music

– Utilize technology to learn

I have been teaching piano for years. Several decades ago, one page of sheet music could provide enough lessons for an entire week. Today, it is easier to get hold of music online and not just play classical music but all kinds of modern songs too. And people want to learn more, faster.

Technology is also an amazing resource for learning. Utilize platforms like YouTube to play along to instrumental versions of songs, or watch tutorials on how to learn quickly.

– How many piano pieces can you learn a year?

I have asked multiple piano instructors how they teach, and they all said something similar.

According to Andrew Furmanczyk, a professional piano teacher – A person can learn about ten pieces each semester or twenty-five to thirty pieces per year. Of course, many people will say that this is too slow, especially if you take lessons to become proficient quickly.

However, I’m afraid I disagree with this notion because only advanced students need speed when learning music on the piano. It is more important for beginner students to understand what it means to play an instrument before moving forward with any other aspect of their playing.

learning piano

It varies from person to person. We all learn at different speeds because we are undergoing different experiences with the piano. These could make us pick up pieces faster or slower than someone else. The best thing to do would be to ask your teacher how many lessons they think students should have per week and then use that as a benchmark.

If you find yourself finishing more pieces quickly than usual, go ahead and ask your teacher if you can have supplementary lessons for that semester to work on extra material. On the other hand, if there are weeks where you cannot finish your assigned pieces, consider asking for fewer pieces.

– Play songs you know

I can make one suggestion: play pieces you are familiar with if you want extra practice on the side of your normal lessons. This can help you work through your memory.

This will provide you with a chance to play more music for your teacher instead of practicing new pieces every day, which should help make it appear that you are moving faster than other students or at least keeping up with them.

After all, practice does not always translate into progress because there are days where we cannot accomplish anything. After all, our minds are elsewhere. More importantly, never forget how beneficial these supplementary lessons might be for you.

It often takes me two days to thoroughly learn a song after I have first heard it on the piano, so if my student can understand them faster than I do, it only means that they will be able to play with more musicians and in front of larger audiences sooner.

Time to go and put your new techniques into practice!

Good luck and happy playing!

About the Author Linda Ritter

Linda Ritter is a passionate pianist and a songwriter for more than 7 years. With a Masters in Music, she has explored the world of music and has collaborated with several musicians and brands like Roland, Tune Core, and plenty of blogs.