Tag Archives: memorization

Infecting Students with Earworms

Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head for hours? For days? The longest I’ve gone is three days nonstop! I was talking with a friend about this phenomenon the other day and was shocked to learn that he doesn’t hear the music in his head, just the words.  Me, I hear the full band, just like if it were on the radio.  How about you?

Well, whether you hear the words, the melody, or the full effect, you can use that experience to your advantage when it comes to learning.  Those songs that get stuck in your head are called “earworms,” and they’re a fun and easy way to learn all sorts of things!

OK, I’m dating myself here, but does anyone remember the “Pump Your Blood” song that Potsy used to learn anatomy on Happy Days?  Or the Pinball Song to learn to count on Sesame Street?  1-2-3-FOUR-FIVE-6-7-8-NINE-TEN-eleven-twelve!  Or how about the Schoolhouse Rock songs on Saturday mornings? A few I loved were:

If you’d like to view all of the Schoolhouse Rock series, just head over to YouTube.  They’re all there!  Or if you’d like to get really adventuresome, check out this musical version that can be performed by your students!

More recently, I know of one Davis (the link’s worth it!) elementary school teacher who offered extra credit for any student who memorized an adaptation of Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” that included all 58 counties in California. The kids were having a ball practicing at recess!  And kids have been learning the “Fifty Nifty United States” for decades!


Another absolutely amazing set of songs comes from The Princeton Review Vocab Minute…mmmm.  🙂   There are a total of 128 short and catchy tunes that review SAT level vocabulary. They are all available for free on The Princeton Review’s website or as a podcast on iTunes.  Here is an example of one of the songs—”Street Cred“—being performed by a junior high class.

There’s even a company named Earworms that makes musical language learning applications. Obviously, using catchy tunes to enhance learning is here to stay, and with good reason!  A researcher named James Kellaris found that 98% of all people have experienced earworms.  Luckily, the same article that reported this fact also has some suggestions for getting them OUT of your head.  😉

So let’s hear from all of you!  Have you got any good earworms to infect us with?