HOW MUSIC EVOKES MEMORIES.

ImagePeople have often asked me how I could remember so much of my childhood and even recall conversations in my memoirs. While taking a writing course in 2004, I learned a technique that helped me sharpen my memories and experiences as if they happened yesterday.
 
A small print-on-demand (POD) company in America called BookLocker advertised a memoir-writing course. When I enrolled, the lessons were sent to me via e-mail. One chapter of the curriculum dealt with memory triggers. We all have sounds, scents, and textures that evoke memories from the misty confines of our minds. Music is one of the strongest memory triggers, at least for  me it was.
 
When I wrote Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind school, I listened to top forty tunes from the sixties. Images came into my mind of where I was and what I was doing when I heard those songs.
 
ImageFor my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, Bible verses on cassette reminded me of where I was and what I did at the time we studied them at the house church I once attended. Some of the memories were painful and some filled me with anger at the injustices I suffered.
 
Not all musical compositions remind me of the hard times in my life. Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield is one of my favourite albums because of the good memories I had when I heard it. A local announcer played the whole LP on his show one evening in 1974. I sat amazed as the music played. Never had I heard such an interesting piece as that before.
 
I scraped together my coins and bought the record as soon as I could. At my parent’s home, I played it over and over. Being in electronics class that spring, the end of the first side always reminded me of capacitance and how it was used in electronic circuits. I was also working on a table-top transistor radio that I bought at a second hand shop. It had some loose connections which I managed to solder back together. Even today, I can still picture that ivory-coloured multi-band receiver with the teal-coloured slide rule dial.
 
Of all the lessons I’ve learned from courses, this one is the most useful. By using memory triggers, anybody can resurrect long-buried memories. This is especially helpful for writers but anybody can make use of it.
 
I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

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Author: bruce Atchison - author

I'm a legally-blind freelance writer as well as the author of three memoirs and scores of articles. Contact me for details.

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