Matt Marvuglio, Flautist, Prof. Performance Division Dean, Berklee College of Music

Memorizing music is an important function for all musicians. Matt Marvuglio, Berklee’s Dean of the Professional Performance Division, has developed a multi-modal approach to memorizing music that can be put into practice and applied immediately.

Below is an excerpt from his Artisthousemusic article entitled Memorizing Music. In addition to being a dean at Berklee, Matt is also a Berkleemusic online instructor and course author. Basic Ear Training and Basic Improvisation are two of his online courses.

The biggest fear of memorizing music is forgetting. Forgetting usually happens when a retrieval strategy breaks down. It happens to everyone if you don’t process the music in a number of different ways. We need to process music in a number of different ways so you will be confident that you will not forget. This way, if one system breaks down, the other one can take over. Maybe a better way of describing playing music without reading it would be “internalizing” the music. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can internalize a piece of music through different memory systems.

Visual is the most common memory system through which we all relate to the world. For some of us, this is the way we learn music. We read it. When you close your eyes, you can visualize the part and see the page in front of you.

Tactile is the memory system through which we can feel the music by fingering the instrument. You can remember how a passage feels and you can reach for it. Through this system you can recognize familiar patterns such as scales and arpeggios. Musicians who don’t read can rely upon this memory system.

Aural is the memory system through which we can hear the music. Solfege is a system of study that clearly identifies the pitches in a systematic way and helps us build our aural perception. Scale degrees are assigned numbers or syllables and you identify chromatic alterations and key changes.

You need to use all of these systems and be aware of what you are seeing, feeling, and hearing when you practice. Also, it is important to isolate each system to fully understand what’s happening. This is a great way that you can put your music theory and solfege to use. Everyone will have a different memory system that is stronger based upon how you practice and learn music. Click here to look at a passage from the J.S. Bach Minuet in G and put it through the different memory systems.

Artists House Music is a wonderful, free educational resource containing a wealth of information and advice from music-industry experts and music educators. There are thousands of video interviews, articles, and timely blog posts available on the Artists House Music Web site, and the available content continues to grow.

Artists House Music just introduced a “channels” concept by of aggregating related-video content into a stand-alone player. The following is the Berklee Channel, featuring interviews with members of Berklee’s esteemed music education community including Berklee’s President, Vice Presidents, Deans, Faculty, Chairs, and Staff.

For more information, visit Artists House Music.

We musicians spend so much time doing it, but how can we be sure we’re optimizing our practice time to further our skills, nail the audition, or land that gig? The following is a collection of thoughts on practicing from two renowned musicians at Berklee: Matt Marvuglio, Dean of the Professional Performance Division; and Larry Baione, Chair of the Guitar Department.

In the following Artists House Music video clip, after an incredible jam session with Matt Marvuglio, Larry Baione shares his own personal practice tips, which are designed to increase versatility, ‘hand intelligence,’ and dedication to improving technique.

In his article entitled, “On Practicing”, Matt Marvuglio says we practice for two reasons, 1. Performance: a specific engagement, audition, or a recording session; 2. Mastery: to keep improving on your instrument because you love playing it and you want to learn the literature and master it. He goes on to explain that sometimes the two meet and practicing satisfies both reasons.

On Practicing” also defines and describes three levels of thinking that are going on when we play music or practice: automatic, veiled, and controlled. The purpose of practicing is to process musical information into these three categories of thinking. This article, complete with sample practice routine charts, will help you to approach your practicing in a more thoughtful and practical way.

How do you approach your practice time? Do you make the most of the time and plan out a structured routine? I hope these resources from Berklee’s performance division will help you to improve your practice routine and make the most of your practice time.

So, what’s it like from a teacher’s perspective? What kinds of tools and technologies are used? How much can a student really learn in this environment? Do the students learn from each other? How is teaching online different from teaching in a traditional classroom environment?

To find answers to these questions, I turned to one of our pioneer educators with Berkleemusic: Matt Marvuglio, Dean of the Performance Division at Berklee.

In the following clip from October 2007, Matt shares his thoughts on what it’s like to teach Ear Training online through Berkleemusic.