A Tool for Studying – Music & Memory

Do you listen to music? That’s a silly question, of course everyone listens to music! However, have you ever pulled out an old mix CD you made back in the days when burning CDs was “the thing” and listened to it, or scrolled upon a long forgotten playlist and found yourself almost hypnotically singing along to music you haven’t heard in ages? Or better yet, able to recollect the order of the songs, despite having not listened to it in so long?

Therein lies the true power of music; music can shape memory, specifically, our ability to remember. A song from the past can stir up pictures and events that transpired long ago, and be as vivid as though they were just yesterday.

There are numerous articles all over the internet (here and here) and findings such as this:

the melody of a song, in some situations, can facilitate learning and recall. The experiments in this article demonstrate that text is better recalled when it is heard as a song rather than as speech, provided the music repeats so that it is easily learned. When Ss heard 3 verses of a text sung with the same melody, they had better recall than when the same text was spoken. However, the opposite occurred when Ss heard a single verse of a text sung or when Ss heard different melodies for each verse of a song; in these instances, Ss had better recall when the text was spoken. Furthermore, the experiments indicate that the melody contributes more than just rhythmic information. Music is a rich structure that chunks words and phrases, identifies line lengths, identifies stress patterns, and adds emphasis as well as focuses listeners on surface characteristics. The musical structure can assist in learning, in retrieving, and if necessary, in reconstructing a text. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

It is that time of year again, where students are frantically attempting to cram a year or mores worth of knowledge and information into their already overloaded cerebrums before appearing for their examinations.

When you are done studying for the evening, listen to a few savory favorite tracks and allow your mind to wander amidst the pages you just completed. If you should find yourself faced with questions pertaining to said material, the music you heard serves as an anchor for the information you studied, recollect one, and the other will surely follow.

However, it should be noted that not all music will have the same effect; try to go for melodies and not lyrics, as you will be too engrossed in singing along that you forget the subject matter you are studying in the first place!

However, this gift is selective, so if it should not work for you, I claim no responsibility whatsoever in your inability to perfect said method.

You didn’t hear it from me!

Good luck to all those undertaking any form of exam, be it middle school, high school, university or doctorates (in the case of the latter, you really should be familiar with the process by now!)

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