Why Music Helps You Memorize Items

HOW MUSIC HELPS YOU MEMORIZE:  Heidi Mitchell has this article in the Wall Street Journal explaining how music helps us memorize and recall information:  “Music is a powerful mnemonic device, but the song’s structure is what allows a person to recall the information it holds—not necessarily the catchy tune itself. The added melody encourages repetition and thus memorization, which is perhaps why patients with advanced Alzheimer’s dementia have been known to sing along to a familiar song.”

I always bring this up in my Music Appreciation class when we discuss Gregorian Chant, whose purpose was more to help remember the words than as an artistic expression.  I ask, “How many song lyrics do you know?  Now, how many poems do you know?”  Perhaps this could be a factor in why students who study music are more successful than those who do not?  Does familiarity with musical patterns help us more easily see patterns in non-musical information and recall it more effectively?

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