Thursday, September 10, 2009

Music and Memorizing

What would you think if asked you to memorize a four or five stanza poem? (Who do I think I am, right?) Let's make it two or three of those poems and you have only a few weeks to do it. Are you panicked? Do you think I'm out of my mind? Do you think there's no way you could do it? Translate that to learning the words to your latest favorite song. Quick, what's the name of it? You probably hear it on the radio all the time. Can you sing along? Do you sing it to yourself now and then? If you read the lyrics (which are a poem) you'd most likely be surprised at how long it is, yet you memorized it pretty easily. I just did a quick check on the lyrics to "Hey There Delilah", a popular lyrics-driven song, and it's six stanzas long, not including the refrain.

My point in all of this is to emphasize how important music is to language development. Language gets poured into our children's heads through music, and tons of words and concepts get memorized through melodies. How do we teach our little ones the alphabet? Through a song.

My daughters go (or did go) to a classical school. One of the common tools they use to teach the kids facts, dates and other things that need to be memorized is music. They use a melody to memorize. And believe me, the melodies aren't classical. They learn the Preamble to the Constitution to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", The Declaration of Independence to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", the bones of the body to the theme song for the Flintstones, and the parts of the digestive system to the Gilligan's Island theme song. Kind of silly, but it works.

Another great tool is to make the memorizing physical. We put motions to our songs and rhymes at Toddler Time and with the babies, and they learn them so easily. Connecting the language to physical movement helps cement it in the brain. My daughter learned the history of the Bible - from creation, through Abraham, David, the prophets, Jesus' life, the apostle Paul's missionary journeys and ending with Revelation - in a seven to eight minute presentation. It never ceased to impress me that those kids could memorize this huge list of facts in order. And the reason they could do it is that every fact had a hand motion or body movement associated with it.

It really works. Take a look at the labels on the right side of this page. How many of those rhymes do you know? How many does your child know? Isn't that incredible? Don't forget this technique for learning when your child goes to school. It will help immensely when it comes time to study for a test. Hmmm, the Lewis and Clark expedition...maybe Gilligan's Island again? You know, the three hour tour.


Diane said...

GREAT INFORMATION!! I'm going to pass this on to my daughter who home schools 3 little ones.

bridget said...

I taught my kids our phone number to the "Snake Charmer" song when they were very little.

And I hate to say it but the old "School House Rock" (now on DVD) taught (me... in the '70s!) and my daughters multiplication. We even did the "Preamble" when one was in fifth like charm every time.