Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Co-Chair

Lucy Mauro

Committee Member

Robert Chafin

Committee Member

Andrew Kohn

Committee Member

Bernard Schultz


Memorization of piano music for performance has often been shrouded in mystery. A body of neuro-music research has emerged, mostly in the last twenty years, that addresses how musicians perceive, learn, and memorize music, and how these processes operate in music performance. This paper is a compendium of current research on music perception, learning, memorization, and performance, specifically focused on piano music and piano performance. It is intended to benefit both pianists (performers, teachers, students), and neuro-music researchers.

This research explains the operation of human memory systems and, from this platform, addresses aspects of music memorization such as multi-modal approaches and individual differences. A discussion of motor learning precedes current research comparing it with perceptual learning.

Further, this work discusses memory acquisition, stabilization, and sleep consolidation, supported by current piano-specific research. It considers the role of the original modality of learning, and reviews the significance of metacognition and attention. Additionally, this paper presents information on auditory imagery in practice and performance, and on methods for developing musical expressiveness.

A final section summarizes the most significant implications for musicians and important directions for future research.

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