How Tony Buzan’s books improved my memory

As a young adult I remember being intrigued by adverts in the national papers for improving your memory. I dismissed them though, as I did other adverts for things like hair-restoring, improved sex drive and how to win friends etc., as just money-making schemes or scams. In my early 20s (I estimate around 1982), my sister showed me a book she had been reading about improving your memory. It was written by Tony Buzan. I was impressed by her quick demonstration of how his memory systems worked involving a very useful memory trick. Even as a young man, I have always had the reputation of being extremely forgetful, but within weeks I was able to perform all kinds of memory tasks, including the unlikely feat of being able to memorise a complete deck of 52 playing cards in order.

Ironically, I’m unable to remember the name of the book, and as he has written so many, I am only able to narrow it down to two or three of the books on his website. I would imagine, though, that it was one of the first (if not THE first) of his books. Although I’d use the memory systems mostly for fun and the occasional party trick, I would sometimes use it for going shopping without having to write a shopping list. In later years, I bought one of his Mind-Mapping books. A local business man invited me to do a talk to some of his colleagues about something completely unrelated. As I only had about two weeks to prepare, I decided to give this mind-mapping a test. The result was phenomenal. I was able to do a forty-minute talk with no notes whatsoever, not forgetting a single thing that I had planned.

The biggest barrier between people and learning the memory systems is that it all seems to be too good to be true. It is something that should be taught as a part of the national curriculum in schools at a young age throughout the world. The concept is actually quite simple to both understand and to implement. I would certainly have achieved more academically if I had been introduced to the brain powers that we all have unknowingly harnessed within us.

Somebody on Twitter asked me about these memory systems just recently. In my own book, I refer to memory systems and how I was teaching them to some nurses while I was in hospital after my brain haemorrhage. She had read my book and recommended it to others on Twitter. When I thanked her for it, she asked me if I could tell her more about the memory systems. So I explained a little to her. It is this that has inspired me to write this blog about Tony Buzan’s books. I have since had the privilege of communicating with the great man himself on Twitter. It seems that we both have so much to share with the world.

In recent years I have taken up 1950s-style swing dancing and lindy hop. It is a form of social dancing involving “leads” and “follows”. The lead traditionally, though not always, is the male, while the female follows. It is the lead’s responsibility to think of a move and to guide the follower into the correct position, step and whatever the move entails. The problem that leads have is that when they are on the dance floor their minds may go blank and they cannot think of anything other than a few moves. It is common to return to your seat and think, “Oh, why didn’t I do that move,” but it’s now too late. It can be frustrating or boring for the follower to be led the same moves over and over again with no variety. However, I have been able to adapt Tony Buzan’s memory systems to enable a constant stream of different moves to come into my head. More than 30 years on after my sister introduced me to it, I am still finding uses for it. It has had a very significant impact on my life.

Click on the link below to visit his website. He has written books for adults and for children. If you have just half an interest, go into it with an open mind and prepare to be amazed.
http://www.tonybuzan.com/books/

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The story behind Sugar Push Blues

It’s about two and a half years since I saw posters in Abergavenny advertising Easy Jive lessons. Sarah had said on many occasions that she’d love to have someone to dance with. It’s not something that I’d ever considered. We did learn a few foxtrot steps for the First Dance at our wedding six years ago, but that was a means to an end and something that was not revisited. It was a real struggle for me – I was just two years post brain haemorrhage, although the problems were more to do with confidence rather than any disabilities. We managed it on the day, and the thought of doing any further dancing was never even a consideration. It was best left to others, frustratingly for Sarah after being discouraged from continuing her ballet classes in a previous life.

It was only two years after that First Dance that Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. After beating the illness, we did Route 66 to celebrate our double survival. But it didn’t stop there. At a time when many people are winding down in their lives (we’re both in our fifties now), our illnesses have spurred us on to do better things. We seem to be speeding up. It was this driving force that motivated me to suggest taking dance lessons. After about eight months we moved on to another class which focuses more on lindy hop and swing dance. That was nearly two years ago and it’s all coming along nicely. We’re not brilliant (well, she is better than me), but the social dancing scene is great fun, and it gives me chance to be in charge for once! I lead (the man usually does) while she follows.

Last year, I downloaded GarageBand, a recording studio app, for my iPad. I used to be a semi-professional vocal guitarist back in the late 70s and early 80s, but I never gave up the day job. I’ve always dabbled in a bit of song writing, and I suppose one or two of my compositions are pretty good (I think). Sarah suggested that I composed a song for us to dance to. Many of my songs are composed in my head during the morning and evening commute – I sometimes spend over an hour travelling, depending on where I’m working. I could go a couple of days and not find anything worth writing down, but every once in a while something pops into my head and I build on it. I created some lyrics in my head to a blues tune I’d been working on at home on my guitar. I incorporated lindy hop moves into the lyrics such as Boogie Back, Shorty George, Frankie Dip, Texas Tommy and, of course, Sugar Push. To the lindy hopper, many of the lines contain a familiar dance move or two. I recorded it on my iPad – I’m not a brilliant musician, but the beauty of studio recording is that you don’t have to get everything right on the first take as if you were performing live.

Sugar Push Blues

After posting it on YouTube and Facebook, two of our dance organisers have requested to use it at some of our social dances. It’s now become a bit of a regular at our dances. It’s very odd dancing to your own recording, and I still feel a little uncomfortable doing so. I occasionally sit it out and watch. It’s been suggested that I should compose some more, but at the moment I’ve not been able to get the lyrics as I’d like them. I’ve got some music going around my head, but I need to get it all just right. Maybe something will come, maybe it won’t. I’m in no rush. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I think people generally accept that my book, I’m Never Ill (A journey through brain surgery and beyond…) is much better than my music. It tells the story of how we dealt with our illnesses in a light-hearted way. If you like Sugar Push Blues (or not, for that matter), why not at least take a chance on the book. It gets mostly five star reviews. You’ll find purchase details on my website: http://www.markdpritchard.com The e-book is a mere £1.99 UK (that’s less than $4.00 US) and is available worldwide in all major currencies from http://www.amazon.com.

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The story behind Sugar Push Blues

It’s about two and a half years since I saw posters in Abergavenny advertising Easy Jive lessons. Sarah had said on many occasions that she’d love to have someone to dance with. It’s not something that I’d ever considered. We did learn a few foxtrot steps for the First Dance at our wedding six years ago, but that was a means to an end and something that was not revisited. It was a real struggle for me – I was just two years post brain haemorrhage, although the problems were more to do with confidence rather than any disabilities. We managed it on the day, and the thought of doing any further dancing was never even a consideration. It was best left to others, frustratingly for Sarah after being discouraged from continuing her ballet classes in a previous life.

It was only two years after that First Dance that Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer. After beating the illness, we did Route 66 to celebrate our double survival. But it didn’t stop there. At a time when many people are winding down in their lives (we’re both in our fifties now), our illnesses have spurred us on to do better things. We seem to be speeding up. It was this driving force that motivated me to suggest taking dance lessons. After about eight months we moved on to another class which focuses more on lindy hop and swing dance. That was nearly two years ago and it’s all coming along nicely. We’re not brilliant (well, she is better than me), but the social dancing scene is great fun, and it gives me chance to be in charge for once! I lead (the man usually does) while she follows.

Last year, I downloaded GarageBand, a recording studio app, for my iPad. I used to be a semi-professional vocal guitarist back in the late 70s and early 80s, but I never gave up the day job. I’ve always dabbled in a bit of song writing, and I suppose one or two of my compositions are pretty good (I think). Sarah suggested that I composed a song for us to dance to. Many of my songs are composed in my head during the morning and evening commute – I sometimes spend over an hour travelling, depending on where I’m working. I could go a couple of days and not find anything worth writing down, but every once in a while something pops into my head and I build on it. I created some lyrics in my head to a blues tune I’d been working on at home on my guitar. I incorporated lindy hop moves into the lyrics such as Boogie Back, Shorty George, Frankie Dip, Texas Tommy and, of course, Sugar Push. To the lindy hopper, many of the lines contain a familiar dance move or two. I recorded it on my iPad – I’m not a brilliant musician, but the beauty of studio recording is that you don’t have to get everything right on the first take as if you were performing live.

Sugar Push Blues

After posting it on YouTube and Facebook, two of our dance organisers have requested to use it at some of our social dances. It’s now become a bit of a regular at our dances. It’s very odd dancing to your own recording, and I still feel a little uncomfortable doing so. I occasionally sit it out and watch. It’s been suggested that I should compose some more, but at the moment I’ve not been able to get the lyrics as I’d like them. I’ve got some music going around my head, but I need to get it all just right. Maybe something will come, maybe it won’t. I’m in no rush. We’ll just have to wait and see.

I think people generally accept that my book, I’m Never Ill (A journey through brain surgery and beyond…) is much better than my music. It tells the story of how we dealt with our illnesses in a light-hearted way. If you like Sugar Push Blues (or not, for that matter), why not at least take a chance on the book. It gets mostly five star reviews. You’ll find purchase details on my website: http://www.markdpritchard.com The e-book is a mere £1.99 UK (that’s less than $4.00 US) and is available worldwide in all major currencies from http://www.amazon.com.

 

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