Updated Memorization System
Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love iRealPro…
For the longest time, and reasons unknown to me, I resisted getting iRealPro – the app full of Real Book charts in various styles, with the ability to transpose chords into any key and provide customized backing tracks. I’m pretty bad at being a millennial and am loathed to solve any problem with an app or other high-tech solution.
I finally bit the bullet and got iRealPro because I needed it for gigs and because many of my students were using it – often in counterproductive ways. I’ve road-tested it at gigs and used it practice solos – both of which worked very well. However, my primary use for it has quickly turned to using it with my updated memorization system (in my attempt to meet my end-of-year resolution and learn 50 tunes).
Initially, I structured my memorization routine to learn tunes functionally, in all 12 keys. However, I’ve come to realize that for me (and the majority of my students), practice time is a scarce and valuable resource. If I go on a gig where there will be singer(s), I can just bring along my tablet with iRealPro in case someone calls an obscure standard in a weird key.
That said, I do believe that there is value in memorization – having a basic library of common tunes at your disposal and being able to these tunes in the 1 or 2 most common keys. I’m still using Anki, but I’ve changed up my system a bit. Instead of inputting all the chord information, I just put the title of the tune (and key if there are multiple ones) on the front and an ‘X’ on the back. Once I see each card, I try playing through it from memory. If I can’t remember a section (or am still learning the tune), I pull up the chart in iRealPro. I just use the back of the card to record my progress – which determines when and how often I see each one.
While it’s certainly not perfect, it allows me to review about 5-7 tunes each day in 10-15 minutes. While 50 tunes may be far too many (or far too few!) to learn, this system can be adapted to suit a variety of needs. If you try this system, let me know how it goes. Happy practicing!