Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Keyboard Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Naoko Takao

Second Committee Member

Santiago Rodriguez

Third Committee Member

Kevin Kenner

Fourth Committee Member

Nancy Zavac


Memorization plays an important role among music performers, especially pianists, since pianists are expected and encouraged to give performances, exams, and juries from memory. Memorization is not often addressed by pedagogues, and students seldom approach memorization with specific techniques and strategies. More importantly, the chief reason for memory slips as well as poor understanding of the music material is not discussed in depth: the left hand. The need for this study stems from the importance of focusing on the left-hand memory, and how to develop practical and sound memorization habits for it. Furthermore, the purpose of the essay is to survey and select approaches appropriate for left-hand memorization. Discussing and reviewing these approaches leads the discussion to finding suitable ways for understanding the left-hand material in its varied forms. The selected memorization strategies are applied to musical examples showcasing the different left-hand arrangements. In chapters two and three the essay surveys a number of important authors on the topics of memorization and Expertise Theory. Additionally, the different components of memory are presented and explained: visual, aural, kinesthetic and analytical. The fifth chapter of the document discusses memorization methods which include creating a map modeled after Rebecca Shockley’s musical maps, a hierarchically structured scheme created after Rogen Chaffin and Gabriela Imreh’s model, and most importantly introducing six different memorization categories created by the author. These categories include examples with left-hand chords that share notes with the right hand, examples with hand-alternating passages, and more. With these categories the author aims to inspire teachers and performers to approach memorization with helpful strategies, mindful techniques, and to achieve a comprehensive grasp of the musical material.


Memorization; Piano; Left Hand; Strategies; Memory