Music Aids Memory

It turns out that music education can help you learn more than just music. Music can be used to learn many different subjects through the use of mnemonics. Mnemonic devices are used to assist memory, and there are nine types: Music, Name, Expression/Word, Model, Ode/Rhyme, Note Organization, Image, Connection, and Spelling Mnemonics.

Putting difficult concepts to music helps students learn. Songs with lyrics or advertisement jingles tend to stick in the mind. If you learned your ABCs to the Alphabet song, when was the last time you recited them without singing? I find it hard to just say them.

Schools have taught with music at the preschool and Kindergarten level for years, but as kids get older the music disappears. Some expression and rhyme mnemonics exist for older students, but there are resources out there to continue with the music theme, such as Songs for Teaching and Educational Rap.

Medical students use music as a technique to remember some of the volumes of information they need to memorize. Music ought to be part of the process throughout school. Imagine the difference in your worst subject if the hard parts had little rhymes set to music to aid you through the tests.

One of the best parts about mnemonic devices is they aid through the tough part: learning. Once the student really understands the information, the device doesn’t get in the way. The other great benefit is to recall seldom used information. Remember this one?

Thirty days in September, April, June, and November – after February’s done, the other months have thirty-one.

That was in a beginning piano book and I’ve remembered it ever since. I know they twisted the well-known rhyme for the song, but that doesn’t make it less true. It’s also a little more subtle to sing in your head rather than check the knuckles like many of my classmates did.

Consider music next time you have a difficult concept to remember. You can put new words to a song you know, or find a new rhythm in your head, and the next time you might remember.


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