How to Become a Good Memorizer

It is clear, from all of the above, that nobody becomes a good memorizer without practice, just as nobody becomes a good pianist without practicing. The good news is that practically anyone can become a good memorizer. Most students have enough desire to memorize and therefore are willing to practice; yet many fail. Do we know why they fail, and is there a simple solution to the problem? Fortunately, the answer is yes!

Poor memorizers fail to memorize because they quit before they start. They were never introduced to effective memory methods and had experienced enough failures to conclude that it is useless to try to memorize. Therefore, the first step in becoming a good memorizer is to realize that our brains record everything whether we like it or not. The only problem we have in memorizing is that we can't recall that data easily. One way to start practicing memorization is to apply the "forget 3 times" rule. Namely, that if you can forget and re-memorize the same thing 3 times, you will usually remember it indefinitely. This rule, by itself, is of course insufficient; it only gets you started because it gives you a chance (actually, 3 chances) to practice various memorization/recall methods. You don't really have to completely forget it, but just give it enough time (a day or more) so that you have a good chance of forgetting it, then remind yourself. Once you start on this journey of practicing memorization and frequent memory maintenance, you can gradually add all of the methods and concepts discussed above (associations, understanding, organizing memory, etc.). A young person starting in life and naturally applying these techniques will become a good memorizer in just about everything. In other words, their brains become constantly active in memorizing and it becomes an effortless, almost automatic routine. The brain automatically seeks interesting associations and constantly maintains the memory with no conscious effort. For older folks, this is not possible, so they need to make a distinction between important things that must be remembered and less important things, and initially apply the memorization practice mainly to the important items. As you succeed in memorizing these limited items (such as a piano repertoire), you will automatically begin to apply the same principles to everything else and your general memory will improve. Thus the age dependence of how you learn to memorize is similar to that of how you develop as a pianist -- the earlier you start, the better. Therefore, in order to become a good memorizer, you must change the way you use your brain, in addition to knowing all the memory tricks/methods discussed here. The brain must be trained to constantly seek associations, especially associations that are especially stimulating (funny, strange, scary, etc.), that will help you to recall what you memorized. This is the hardest part -- changing how your brain operates.