My piano teacher was serious.
When she said I was to memorize my piece for the recital, I thought it was a suggestion-- that it would be nice if I could, but wasn't really required. I had to take a break from lessons for about a month, and when I went back a couple of weeks ago, I explained that I don't memorize pieces. I had tried to memorize the Brahms, but it wasn't working. Nope, I am not a memorizer. Some can and some can't, you know. I'm more the 'great sight-reader' kind of piano student, not the 'great memorizer' kind.
She said, "Oh, well, I never let my students perform their solo pieces with sheet music."
Okay. Well, I don't have to do the recital, right?
"We could do some of these duets instead. You don't have to memorize ensemble pieces." And she pulled out these little duets. After I had worked so hard on the Brahms and it sounded so grand. She really wasn't going to let me play my piece, and she wasn't letting me out of the recital, either.
I went straight home and memorized the first three pages over the weekend. I used every stray bit of time I could find after doing my regular wife-and-mom-stuff.
Until the Brahms, I had only memorized two piano pieces in my life. As the material got longer and tougher, my childhood teacher gave up on making me memorize. I am very good at sightreading, but terrible at memorizing.
Something happened as I worked to memorize the Brahms, though. I began to look at the music in a different way, to apply my knowledge of composition to comprehend the work more fully. It became more my own mind-property, if you know what I mean. I understood it better because I had to think it into my fingers without the symbols in front of me.
At the next lesson, I sheepishly told my teacher it turns out I can memorize, and I hope to get the entire piece by memory before the recital. She said it would be okay to do excerpts. I want to do the entire thing. She gave me until Friday to memorize all of it. I am working sooo hard to memorize it. Only fifty-six measures to go.
Being a student myself makes me sympathize with my kids as students, but it also reminds me to be firm. So much growth takes place when we are required to reach above what we think we can do.