In my studio there are three types of students, the students who memorize easily, the ones who are frightened to do it, and the new ones who have never memorized music. My students are visual learners, aural learners and tactile learners. I have found that the earlier we begin to work on memorization, the more comfortable the student will be. When I ask the transfer or new student how they memorize, they invariably say, “I’ll play it a lot of times!” And that will work if the student has time to “play it a lot of times.” This might be more effective on an eight measure piece but it gets trickier when the pieces get longer.
The sooner I have them analyze (in their own words) the patterns of the phrases, their memory confidence improves. Many students memorize by ear and often try not to use their musical knowledge to aid their memory. My task is to help them see the patterns and ask them about the harmonies. I have them identify the harmonies the easiest way for them to remember the triads, either the official name or whatever triggers their memory. Obviously consistent fingering is vital also.