Friday, July 9, 2010

Memorising Poetry

Photo by SurrealMuse

Memorise poetry? You've got to be kidding! I had to memorise long, boring poems in primary school. So why should I have to do it now?

If you were asked to recite a poem - serious or humourous, could you do that? Maybe you can remember a rude limerick or a snippet of a larger work.

Recently I started memorising poetry to build my memory "muscle". I am finding this is fun, educational as well as good mental exercise. In this article I hope to inspire you to take up this activity.

Memorising poetry and reciting it to an appreciative audience (or just yourself) is an activity that is losing popularity. Schools appear to view this activity as mere rote learning with no apparent benefit. But there are many benefits and pleasures of memorising verse.

Why Memorise Poetry?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Sheep Falls out of a Tree - Why Take up Memory Training

I recently read Christiane Stenger's book "A Sheep Falls Out of the Tree". Christiane is expert in memory training and grandmaster of the Youth Memory Championships.  She describes some of her techniques she developed starting at school to help her academic results and how these schools helped her become a champion.

Although Memory Sports are a specialised field for elite mental athletes, developing your memory benefits you in many areas. Christiane writes how training her mind helped lower stress, increase creativity, intellectual ability and self-confidence.

You will have to read the book to understand the meaning of the title. I will give you a hint - it is a mnemonic!

Monday, December 21, 2009

More Memory articles in January

I have been very quiet on this blog and the memory-masters blog since mid November.  I will start blogging again in January with topics including brain health, Mind Maps for faster recall and how to recall memories from your past.

In the meantime, spend a few minutes thinking about Christmas celebrations in your life. What have been your most vivid memories? What were the sounds, sights, tastes and feelings of Christmas? 

See you in 2010.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oddbjørn By - Memory Champion and Author

I learnt about Oddbjørn By from Florian Dellé's Memory Sports web site.  Oddbjørn is from Norway and has been a World Memory champion. He published a book titled Memo which describes his various techniques and how these memory methods can be used in everyday life.

To give you an idea of the scope of the book, here is a condensed table of contents:

  • How your memory works
  • Numerical systems - single, double and triple digits
  • Tips for memorising effectively
  • Memo for general knowledge and in school - speed reading, history, dates, languages, geography, first aid, maths
  • Memo everyday - appointments, weekly agendas, birthdays, anniversaries, speeches, jokes, job interviews and parking the car
  • Names and Face
  • Memory tricks and competitions
  • Other memory methods - story method, link method, acronyms, mnemonic devices
  • Myths about memory
  • Profiles and World Records

The Memo method of remembering weekly schedules is to use a journey of seven steps, maybe rooms in the house. Convert the time into a key image using the number system of your choice and associate this with the room and the subject of your appointment. 

This book has some practical techniques which can be applied to many aspects of your life. I have already learnt a few number systems so I won't be learning more. However I am going to memorise more journeys for memorising birthdays, my schedule and a general 'to do' journey.

1. Read an interview at Memory Sports
2. Visit the website of Oddbjørn By where you can watch videos, order books and learn more.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I before e (except after c) - old school mnemonics

When you were at school, did you remember how to spell using mnemonics? My most-used rhyme was "I before E, except after C" used to spell words such as brief, receive and believe.

In this aptly named book "I before e (except after c)", Judy Parkinson has assembled a vast range of mnemonics under the title of "old-school ways to remember stuff".  The book was a delight to read, reminding me of some mnemonics from my school days.  The book is organised by subject and covers spelling, dates, history, science, music and much more. Here are some of my favorites:

Spelling - How do you spell committee ?  Remember Many Meetings Take Time - Everyon'e Exhausted. Diarrhoea is another tricky word to spell - Dash In A Real Rush, Hurry or Else Accident!

Numbers. Can you remember the metric prefixes? Here is an example of using the unit of length - metre (spelt meter in the USA). Kilometre (1000m), Hectometre (100m), Decametre (10m), Metre (base), Decimetre (0.1m), Centimetre (0.01m) and Millimetre (0.001m): King Henry Died Mightily Drinking Chocolate Milk.  Other mnemonics are offered: King Hector Died Miserable Death - Caught Measles.

Science - Taxonomy is the system or arranging animals into groups based on similarities of structure and origin. The classification starts with Kingdom, then continues with Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species and Variety. This can be remembered with Krakatoa Positively Casts Off Fumes Generating Sulphurous Vapours.

English History. From William the Conqueror to the current British moniarch, there have been eight major royal houses since 1066: Norman, Plantaganet, Lancaster, York, Tudor, Stuart, Hanover and Windsor. There are two mnemonics in popular use: No Plan Like Yours To Study History Wisely and No Point Letting Your Trousers Slip Half Way.

Music.  Piano students are sure to know the Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and All Cows Eat Grass mnemonics for remembering the notes on the treble clef and Good Boys Don't Fool Around on the bass clef. I'm not sure if a 7 year old music student would understand the expression of "fooling around". I

The Work Place.  This chapter offers a variety of acronyms for the workplace: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!).  SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainbale, Relevant and Time bound). Advertisers should think of the opera AIDA (Attract attention, arouse Interest, create Desire, urge Action).

Miscellany. Do you play Snooker? Can you remember the sequence of colours in which to pot the six coloured balls after the red?  Remember the mnemonic You Go Brown Before Potting Black to remember Yello, green, brown, blue, pink and black.

More details on the book can be found on Amazon: i before e (except after c)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Memory Training Course in Brisbane, Queensland

Memory is a skill that can be taught. Memory improves with age. The decline of memory with age is a myth! Everyone has potentially a superb memory!
Jennifer Goddard, director of the Buzan Centre for Australia and New Zealand is running a one day Memory Workshop on Thursday, 19 November 2009 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the Press Club on 339 Brunswick Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld.

It is good to see that the skill of Memory is recognised  as important and capable of being trained.

Please visit this link to read more about this course.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Memorising the Chinese Zodiac using a story

In my previous article I introduced the Chinese Zodiac and showed how it was possible to remember the twelve animals and their corresponding years using the number peg system. 2008 is the year of the Rat, and the following years are Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Another way of remembering the twelve animals is to link them together using a story. Each animal is imagined doing some sort of memorable action. In addition, your image needs to trigger recall of the next animal in the series. Here is my story. 

  • A large RAT jumps on the head of an OX.
  • The OX gets really annoyed and charges into a TIGER.
  • The TIGER is trying to eat a large grey RABBIT.
  • The RABBIT runs back into his burrow and finds a Golden DRAGON hiding inside with his eyes glowing and breathing fire.
  • The DRAGON's tail is like a SNAKE, slithering out of the burrow.
  • The SNAKE wraps itself around the leg of a HORSE attempting to strangle the horse.
  • The HORSE shakes its leg and a GOAT runs to the horse dislodging the snake with its horns.
  • The GOAT tosses the snake up into a tree where it is caught by a golden MONKEY.
  • The MONKEY laughs and shrieks, imitating a ROOSTER.
  • Another ROOSTER is running in the farmyard chasing a DOG.
  • The DOG is chasing the PIGS and trying to eat from their trough.
Well, this story seems rather pointless and silly but I am able to recall it easily and identify the twelve animals in sequence. I have made the Dragon and the Monkey "Golden" as these represent the years for 2012 and 2016 for faster recall of the years in the story. After a few days of remembering my story I know that Dragon is 2012 and Monkey is 2016. I knew that the Rat is 2008 from the first time I memorised the story.

Converting a birth year into a Chinese sign is a process of adding multiples of 12 until 2008 or later is reached.  If I wanted to convert a birth year of 1990, I add 24 to get 2014. Recalling my story starting with with the Rat (2008), Ox (2009), Tiger (2010), Rabbit (2011), Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

This process of recall takes time, compared to the Peg System. 2014 gives a peg word of Red Tyre, and my key image was a Red Tyre around a Horse's neck.  Once the "milestones" of Dragon and Monkey were remembered, I could recall Dragon (2012), Snake (2013) then Horse (2014).

We have now seen two memory systems in action to memorise the same set of information. Your choice of system depends on how you want to recall the information.  The story method is great for recalling the animals in sequence, and the peg system is faster for converting years into animal signs.