A couple of posts ago I wrote about experimenting with using the initial letters of a piece I wanted to memorize. The initial letters act as a kind of code for reminding you how the words run in the piece you’re learning.
I wasn’t greatly impressed with the results, but I felt I might have done the system a bit of an injustice, so I tried a different piece this morning – a poem: Vassar Millar’s Morning Person, which is about the Creation.
Some years back I had some problems with the muscles in my right leg, and now in the mornings, I exercise my legs while doing my memorizing. This morning, I started by reading the poem over and over as I exercised. Normally I just bowl on in and begin memorizing from the word go.
This time I first got the feel of the piece as I read and re-read it - it’s fifteen lines long, so not huge - and saw how things fitted together, and where there were internal rhymes and so on. It’s a very energetic poem, which helps in the learning, though it doesn’t have an obvious metre to it.
When I’d finished the leg exercises and the readings, I sat down and coded the poem into the initial letters. Working from these, I soon discovered that while some things had stuck fairly easily, others hadn’t; a quick reference back to the words helped. I also wrote the poem out, by hand, in full.
To my surprise, after several attempts I was speaking the poem without errors – for the most part. One or two lines or phrases, as is always the case, kept zipping off and leaving me, but I wasn’t under pressure to have it memorized instantly.
The end result, however, was that after about half an hour, I had the thing under my belt. This is definitely interesting. And quite unusual for me. I’ll keep reviewing the poem during the day, and see what the state of things are tomorrow.
One other thing that helped, I believe, is that unlike most mornings lately, there were no distractions from other people in the house. And being a Saturday morning I didn’t have to rush to get anything else done.