Music and Memory: Why do I remember every word to that song?!

Singing-Waynes World

I would not say that I have the greatest memory. Names, faces…many are a blur, which is made worse when folks call me by name and say it’s nice to see me again.  Um, again? I have even forgotten my own birthday several times, but, to be fair, it is during the summer and I tend to lose track of the date that time of year.

So why can I remember every lyric to a song I haven’t heard since high school? It’s crazy! On a recent road trip, everyone in the car sang almost every word to a classic by Salt-N-Pepa…and there were a lot of words!

My research of music and memory continues, this time focusing on why song lyrics can imprint so well that they are practically permanent.

So far, I have found a few reasons that perhaps should have been more obvious to me:

  1. Rhyming- Of course! If I know that the next verse will rhyme it helps me remember ( or figure out) what it is.
  2. Patterns- Other speech patterns other than rhyming also help us remember, like alliteration, assonance, and repetition.
  3. Exposure- Music is everywhere, and those lyrics we remember have been played a bunch of times, and because it’s a recording, it’s identical.
  4. Emotions- We remember things better when emotions are involved, whether they are positive or negative, and music tend to trigger emotions!

And here are a couple reason that were less obvious to me:

  1. Special Storage- One theory is that our brain has a special storage section for lyrics, that is different from where the melody and other parts of the song memories are stored. Weird.
  2. Motor memory- Since we often sing along to songs, we remember it as a physical motor memory as well! It’s like riding a bike!

Well, this is all starting to make a lot more sense to me.

I have more to learn about music and memory how this can be used as a powerful tool for education and happiness…I will keep writing new posts as I unfurl these mysteries!

Rock 2 the Core Boosts Engagement at Gust Elementary… and something completely unexpected happened!


Wow! We had a wonderful time at Gust Elementary last week, and it led to something totally unexpected!

We had already been having fun working with Ms. B’s classroom, and we were seeing awesome engagement. What we didn’t expect was the huge increase in engagement… from parents!

Sorry for the clickbait title, but we really didn’t see this coming. Every time that I get the wonderful opportunity to work with a new classroom using Rock 2 the Core music videos, the excitement is obvious. The kids love singing and dancing, they get excited about learning something new, and I always see happy and surprised reactions from the teachers.

However, this opportunity that we had last week was a little different. The event was part of a Random Acts of Kindness campaign at Gust. The campaign is designed to boost student’s social emotional skills, as well as initiate community engagement. We were so happy to participate because it gave us the chance to see some of the Social Emotional songs that we released last year in a new school environment. The idea was simple: students would memorize the “5 C’s Chant” and “Community” and perform them at a parent assembly.

Sounds great! What we didn’t really think about was the fact that the assembly was scheduled for 9:00 AM. Not necessarily an ideal time slot for working families. Regardless, we had two hours to work with the students, spread over two weeks, and that’s what we did. The kids had the songs memorized in no time, and it was time for the assembly!

Fingers crossed, we walked into the cafeteria, hoping that some parents had found time in their busy schedules to come to the community meeting. We had heard, by the time that we got started, that some of these meetings only had 3 or 4 parents. When we walked in we were pleasantly surprised by over 40 parents ready to rock out! They had heard that their children were going to be performing R2C songs, and it turns out the promise of a little song and dance drew up 10x normal attendance!

We all had a great time, and after the students performed, the parents stayed for a meeting with school officials and administrators about upcoming events and community initiatives.

Who knew a song about community could do so much to improve the… community!



We’ve Reached our First Non-Profit Title 1 Goal!

This summer we formed a partnership with Fractured Atlas, in order to fundraise for a project that we care about deeply: implementing Rock 2 the Core at Title 1 schools for free. Now we’ve reached our first goal, and will be able to give Rock 2 the Core to all of the teachers, students, and parents at a Title 1 School, in addition to training, professional development, and an assembly concert!

We’ll update on where we are implementing, as we’ve got schools we’re reviewing in both Denver and Oakland.

This is an exciting step toward a larger goal of implementing in as many Title 1 schools as possible, we’re aiming at 20 schools over the course of the next 2 years. Of course, we can still use your contributions, so if you’d like to help us serve the underserved, you can contribute here!

Wish us luck on our grant proposal!

We’ve been working hard on a SBIR grant proposal for the US Dept of Ed! Hopefully, this will help us raise fund to continue the development of our website and our videos, including adding new features such as discussion questions and quizzes to support each song. The grant would also allow us to do additional research on the usability and feasibility of our product. We were lucky enough to partner with WestEd for the research portion which was very exciting!

Wish us luck!!!

Live Performance Today-So Much Fun!

What an awesome morning we had today! Max and I performed a 20 minute set of some of our educational songs to a couple hundred kids at Achieve Academy in Oakland! I am a teacher there, so it seemed to be an obvious choice to play a show at Achieve while Max is in town. He says that it’s like playing a home game because we already had the crowd on our side.  Haha..true!

We had a big, happy crowd of kids from our summer programs, singing and dancing along with songs like Shapes Have Names, Count by 5s, Cause and Effect and more! Live performances will probably not become a huge focus for us since our goal is to create content that teachers can use in their classrooms throughout the country and the world. However, it was so much fun that I think we will have to find opportunities to perform live every once in a while. Who knows, maybe you will be able to catch a Rock 2 the Core performance at and education conference sometime this year!


ASCD Article on Rock 2 the Core

Check out this awesome article 4th grade teacher Cathy Robinson wrote about us and other music based learning resources. She sent us this article and told us to keep an eye out for it in the upcoming fall ASCD newsletter. Will do, Cathy! Thanks!

Road Tested: My Students Sing and Dance While They Learn…  Love It!

      My lessons on prime factorization were over, and I still had many students who struggled with identifying prime numbers, which was an important building block for upcoming lessons. I needed to find an effective intervention and fast!  In my desperation, I rediscovered an amazing tool that has energized my classroom environment and increased my own enthusiasm along with my students: educational songs. Continue reading “ASCD Article on Rock 2 the Core”