NOTE: This article was written prior to the onslaught of the
conronavirus pandemic. If social distancing and staying home
are still in effect, memorization may be a welcome, new and
useful personal activity during times of isolation. My first attempt at training my memory
was provided by Akela, our Wolf Cub pack
leader, who showed us Kim’s Game, a
display of fifteen or so small items sitting on a tray
under a towel. He removed the towel and we Cubs
had thirty seconds to silently study the items. They
were then covered, and we were to write down all
the items we could remember. Quite a challenge
for young boys! Next came Mother’s advice for how
to learn my French vocabulary words: use a piece
of brown paper bag and write out the words until
you knew them. That was all the direct instruction
on memory training that I can remember ever
receiving – none in high school, none in university,
and none on the job.
Recently, while reading Anthony Glise’s*
text, Classical Guitar Pedagogy: A Handbook for
Teachers, I was stunned to discover straightforward
and useful directions for how to memorize! Just
what I needed to fight the dreaded late-in-life
onslaught of memory loss! At least, that was
my first thought. After trying the techniques,
and expanding them a little, I realized that
memorization could be a challenging, enjoyable and
rewarding activity, and one especially useful for
seniors! It is low-to-no cost, doable anywhere and
anytime, and requires no special coaching, clothing
or equipment – great for all budgets and activity
levels. Couch potatoes can excel at this! So, if you
have tried puzzle books, Sudokus, or crosswords,
read on and consider another way to exercise and
retain the powers of your brain!
Preliminary steps, include:
• Determine a set time each day (if possible) for
this new, cerebral activity: same time and place is
best. Keep your material there, too.
• Find a copy or two of a short first item you want to
memorize. You can use a photocopy, your cellphone,
iPad, tablet or laptop to store your copy. Or, go oldschool
and use a book or a hand-written copy.
• Keep one copy at your usual place for
memorization and use the other wherever and
whenever you like. Examples: A limerick. Your
SIN number. Your bank card number. A Psalm. A
prayer. A poem or song.
• Begin with a small goal. Start with just one long
number or a short verse or stanza.
Use the following “overlapping strategy” to
memorize your piece: it is simple and direct.
1. Repeat the first section or line from your piece,
out loud to yourself, seven times or more until
you feel you have ‘got it’. If it is a long first line
or number, divide it into sections.
2. Repeat the next section or line, out loud to
yourself, seven times or more, until you ‘get it’.
3. Now put the two together - repeat both parts,
sections or lines, out loud, seven times or more.
Memorizing … Huh?
By Richard Oakden
32 n RTAM KIT Fall 2020