Taylor Swift and Auditory Memory

My daughters and I love Taylor Swift’s music. We were so excited when she recently released a remake of her “Red” album. As I was listening to the music one day, I noticed one of the songs was exceptionally long. “All Too Well” was a delightful ten minutes! Taylor even directed a short film that goes with the song.

Well…what does this have to do with learning, you might ask.

A lot.

Did you know the length of songs is gradually getting shorter and shorter? The average length of a song today is approximately three and a half minutes. I grew up in an era when many songs were long. “Stairway to Heaven” is over eight minutes long, and we listened to that song over and over again.

According to an article by Dan Kopf, from 2013 to 2018, the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 fell from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to approximately 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Six percent of hit songs were 2 minutes 30 seconds or shorter in 2018.

Well…our kids listen to music, and I feel it’s a healthy thing for them to do. But with the modern glut of faster internet, quicker speeds, and skimming information because there’s just so much information available, our children’s auditory memory is getting weaker and weaker.

By listening to longer songs, kids are forced to focus and attend to the music. As the songs get shorter and shorter, kids tune out faster and don’t stretch their “auditory memory muscle”. In essence, they get lazy…by no fault of their own.

Auditory memory is crucially important for not only learning, but communication skills. Have you ever been talking to someone and you lose your train of thought? Or have you forgotten the name of a movie star or a friend’s mom? These are common auditory memory lapses.

Kids who struggle to process auditory information have more meltdowns and temper tantrums than those who can recall and process what was heard. These children get so frustrated trying to process what is being said, that they often say awkward things, appear to be rude or aloof, or simply stare with a slack jaw at whoever is talking.

Processing auditory information is just too hard for them, and trying to remember what was said or what they were told to do is overwhelming. They either retreat or act out as a way to cope. As these kids grow up, they have a difficult time holding down jobs because they can’t take directions well. And they often struggle to get along with peers and coworkers because the process of communication is simply too hard.

Reading is especially dependent on auditory memory skills. As a child reads, he/she must make an auditory connection between the sound/word/phrase/sentence being read, depending on their ability, of course. Then, the information must be recalled for meaning.

That’s where the problem usually arises for kids with weak auditory memory skills. They just can’t seem to remember what they read. All too often, these kids are given a dose of more reading comprehension practice and strategies. This is all well and good, but what they really need is a prescription of auditory memory skills building.

If you see your child in any of these scenarios, don’t fret. Auditory memory is a skill that can be learned and built up. It’s no different than playing baseball, learning to read, or jumping on a pogo stick. You start easy, practice regularly, and build up the skill.

And listening to longer songs doesn’t hurt, either.

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