Do you find it strange that girls of a certain age all know how to sing “Part of Your World” from Disney’s the Little Mermaid?

What is it about certain songs that make us want to memorize them? Is it because we hear them too many times, or because they strike a certain note in us?

Workshop teaching artists work on memory with their students by using the same song or routine to open and close their classes. They also have students memorize dance routines to songs and also song lyrics in other languages. Practicing memorization with art helps develop a specific part of a child’s brain.

We’ve all used mnemonics – a learning technique that aids memory. Often they are musical in nature. For instance the “50 Nifty United States” song is just a litany of all the states in the U.S. sung in alphabetical order. We may have to sing the whole song, but we can recite all of the states. There are other examples as well, for instance the Alphabet song for letters and the Rainbow song for colors. What compels you to memorize a song and which songs have you memorized?

We asked the Workshop staff: which song has lyrics you’ve memorized–word for word? 

Listen to the complete playlist on Spotify. 

  • Karena, Program Director – Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” My best friend and I heard in on the radio and simultaneously belted it out.
  • Beverly, Individual Giving Manager  – “California Dreaming” by the Mamas and the Papas. This song is my karaoke anthem! I also love the movie Chungking Express which prominently features this song.
  • Jessica, Executive Director – The Turtles “Happy Together” I used to sing it with my best friend in high school and we would make up new lyrics. “How is the weather?” “Do you like tether-ball?” “My name is Heather!”
  • Larry, Program & Administrative Assistant – “Do you know the way to San Jose” by Dionne Warwick. I don’t know why other than it’s asking for direction. And I can sing it in my head right now.
  • Ivy, Finance & Operations Manager – “See You” by Depeche Mode. High school memories.
  • Gary, Artistic Director – 0, nada, nothing, zilch
  • Anne, Program & Communications Manager – “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night. I specifically wanted to memorize a song so that I would know the lyrics and could break it out when necessary. I like this one because other people can sing along and the verses are short and sweet.
  • Aurora, Program Manager – “The Queen Is Dead” album by The Smiths. In high school, I loved the melodrama (and still do).
  • Laurie, Institutional Gifts Manager – “Happy Birthday”