Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Get a Better Grade - listen to music

What is your favorite singer or a band? Gaga? Bad for you. Not only in a sense that you will be shunned by the society and mentioning her name in public would cause derogatory glances being cast on you, but also because listening to her while brushing up your subjects will in no way increase your chances to do better on the exam. Listening to Mozart or Handel, on the other hand, will produce the opposite effect, significantly increasing the information retention rate.

The unquestionable authority on mnemonic processes, Dr. Georgi Lozanov, conducted profound research on techniques of suggestopedic hypermnesia, in which he was experimenting with music, colors, movements, etc. The results of using music in trying to boost memory productivity are amazing. Here is, for instance, one of the experiments that some of his followers did:

In 1982, researchers set out to find the effect that combining music and memory would have in the retention of information. They chose 300 graduates and post graduates, all with PhDs. They split them into two groups. To the first group, they orally taught vocabulary words, with no other sound in the room. They did this by saying the word, then the definition. To the second group, they taught the same words in the same way, but added music in the background, particularly music from the Baroque and Classical periods.
The results, they found, were astounding. The disparity in the two groups of the recall of the vocabulary words was so great, that they did another test a few weeks later. The group that had not had music playing in the background could remember almost none of the words that had been taught a few weeks previously. The group that had the music in the background could remember almost all of the words.
Music is so powerful because it helps us:
  • establish a positive learning state
  • create a desired atmosphere
  • build a sense of anticipation
  • energize learning activities
  • change brain wave states
  • focus concentration
  • increase attention
  • improve memory
  • facilitate a multisensory learning experience
  • release tension
  • enhance imagination
  • provide inspiration and motivation
  • add an element of fun
  • accentuate theme-oriented unitsThe key is to choose the right music for your exam review sessions. 
According to another research, bands and performers like Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, Queen, The Doors, Janis Joplin decrease your abilities. Tempo is the key:
Listening to classical music set to 60 beats per minute (such as Mozart and Baroque period compositions) stimulates both the right and left parts of the brain and allows the listener to be more susceptible to processing information appropriately. Dr. George Lozanov used this 60-beats framework to instruct his pupils to the tune of a 92% rate of retaining the material.
So here is a bit of "perfect" music for information retention. I found Handel's Water Music Suite very relaxing and disposing for studying. Enjoy!

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