Memory or not?

I came across recently an interview I gave 5 years ago for the website MemorisingMusic. I still hold to the views I expressed there.

Playing from memory for a professional pianist is the norm, though an increasing number of us nowadays are using the score. Liszt started it, as he started most things associated with the solo piano recital. (He coined the term 'recital' too, hitherto only used for literary readings, and he was the first to give entirely solo performances of piano music, unaccompanied by singers, instrumentalists, or acrobats.) Students at all major conservatoires are expected to perform the solo repertoire from memory, and particularly in America I get profuse apologies even in one-to-one lessons from those students who don't bring memorised pieces to the lesson. Personally I am not worried in the slightest, unless I see it as a sign of compIacency and laziness - which is almost never the case. 

I do recognise and accept all the arguments for memorisation, but I have many misgivings too, as I explain in this interview. But then for me memorisation has always been difficult.

I find it is especially a question asked by Intermediate Class participants at the summer school. I always encourage memorisation without ever expecting it or insisting on it. The beneficial effects for amateurs of being able to play away from the score are incontestable, but it is only one of the many intricate skills required to play the piano and for many it is a stage too far. If you cannot then simply don't worry about it. If you are willing we will still give you some strategies to help you along. I hope my own experience, as I explain in this interview, might prove useful, and for conservatoire students too. 

                                                                                                Paul Roberts