Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Don't forget the lyrics

I used to have a fantastic memory. You name it, I could remember it, even if I didn't need to: phone numbers, license plates, dates, names, events, whole conversations word for word ... I was a great asset at 'delicate' meetings when friends or colleagues needed evidence to back them up at a later date. My father always says I should enter music competitions like Don't Forget the Lyrics, as I had an uncanny knack for memorising every single lyric of every song my bands have ever played, including backing vocals and everyone else's parts. It really annoys me to see singers with large folders of lyrics in front of them when performing on stage; a singer not learning lyrics is akin to an actor wandering around a stage and reading their lines. Grrr!

A few years on and now my memory is like a sieve, both short and long-term. Whereas previously I could hear something once (or only a few times) and have it almost completely committed to memory, now there are huge blanks where data should be. Alternately, I could visualise whole chunks of text/images/diagrams etc, which was extremely helpful when sitting exams. I was the queen of multitasking. Nowadays, if I don't write it down (or put it in my phone/iPod/Google Calendar etc), it's as good as gone. Sometimes it's funny, and my sweetie never seems to tire of tormenting me about it, but there are only so many times I can bear going from one room to another for a very specific purpose then completely forgetting why I was there in the first place!

Up until recently, I thought I had pinpointed the demise of my memory to my final year of post-graduate study. All my thoughts were poured into processing the information required to write a dissertation, and my poor, overloaded brain slowly started discarding anything unnecessary or unrelated to the task at hand. Unfortunately, somewhere during that year, my brain also took it upon itself to sift and sort things that I would need later, and without my permission!

I now see that, as my studies intensified, my musical activity declined; I had previously been in bands since I was 17 and, while I enjoyed having some time out from the music scene, work and study increasingly filled the gaps where music used to be. Over the years, I've been interested in research which links music and enhanced memory. Looking at my own experience, I can't help but wonder if I'm the living proof.

As I prepare to put another band together after a hiatus of around five years (I can't remember the exact date!), I wonder if I'll get to say hello again to my long-lost memory. Well, after I remember what I was going to do next, anyway.


~JarieLyn~ said...

I can certainly relate to this post. I've always been good at remembering details such as phone numbers, credit card numbers, driver's license, etc. Today, I was addressing a post card to my mother in law and I drew a blank. I never forget her address. But for about five minutes, I couldn't pull up the data. I finally relented and got my address book out and as soon as I saw the number it magically reappeared into my mental filing system.

Ugh! It sucks getting old.

Sab said...

I can also relate. I used to have a fantastic memory, and I used to be singing in choir and at home and playing in a band and so on. Now... I don't do so much. I still sing in a worship team on occasion, but it's not like it used to be, and my memory isn't either. I think the link is definetly there!

OK... I've forgotten what I was going to write!