Mozart used to say that we only realistically learnt a piece when we can picture it as an apple; an apple we can turn around and manipulate as it pleases us. This apple is in fact a “sounding apple”, one constituted of singular notes that, when gathered, build up larger compounds that represent different areas around its imaginary surface.
It is crucial that we start build it using our short-term-aural memory first, then, when the fragments are apprehended, we can start building relationships that can be managed by our long term resources. As we relate to sound in a very primitive way, using this aural memory is the quickest way to incorporate all the musical matter related to the artistic object in question. It represents a massive shortcut from the analytical note/harmonic method as it doesn’t involve so many abstract relative conceptualizations. Summarizing, remembering each melodic element, to the point of being able to sing
them from any point of the score, means a lot at the time of having to perform a piece in a reliable and professional way.
The most successful way of testing this notion is to try and pick up from any point of the piece respecting the natural phrasing and making sure that the fragments make musical sense. When delivering piano lessons, it is fundamental to pay attention to how the student configures this fragmented perception of music so it can approach each element at any possible tempo while it remains fully conscious about their role within the piece as a whole.