Part 2: How to Improve Your Memory After Class

In the last post, I gave you memory tips to use during a class to increase your retention. In this post, I offer 5 great tips to use right after class to boost your movement memory.

Tip #1: Jot some notes after class

5 Memory Tips You Can Use After Class

Tip # 1: Write It Down

You can hand write notes, make a drawing or type notes into your phone or laptop. I suggest doing this immediately after class while it’s still fresh. Just the physical act of recording what you learned, even if you never look at it again, is known to improve retention.

Just remember, notes are an aid for recalling your embodied know-how, not a substitute for it. So I recommend refraining from taking notes during class as it takes you out of the experience. You might miss something important the teacher says or miss out on valuable time actually doing the movement.

Tip #2: Take a Video

Taking dance video on cell phone
Tip #2: Shoot a quick video

Pretty much everyone has a cell phone that takes video. In fact, it’s become common for teachers to do recaps at the end of class that students can video record. Alternatively, you can record classmates doing the moves or ask someone to video record you doing them.

Tip #3: Review Out Loud

As an addition or alternative to notes and videos, try recapping the movements to yourself or a classmate. You can pantomime through them, saying what you’re doing out loud. This helps you digest and integrate what you’ve just learned. This technique can be especially useful in clarifying material when you feel confused or overwhelmed at the end of class.

Tip #4: Show or Teach a Friend

Woman shows friend a yoga pose
Tip #4: Teach a friend what you learned

“You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother,” Albert Einstein is quoted to have said. Similar to “reviewing out loud,” considering showing a spouse, friend or colleague what you did in class. In fact, you could even teach them how to do it.

Both of these necessitate you recall then consolidate what you learned into something cohesive that will make sense to someone who wasn’t in class. The benefits to you are not only a deeper understanding and better retention of the material, but also a boost in your confidence!

Tip #5: Put the Pieces Together

Person fitting puzzle pieces together
Tip #5: Sort and organize what you learned

Sometimes what happened in class feels like a bunch of random pieces. Play a game of organizing what you learned, fitting some things together and sorting others into clear categories.

For example, when learning ballroom dance, you might put the pieces together in order of sequence: 1) create connection with your partner, 2) step back on the left foot, 3) raise the left hand.

Alternatively, you might sort moves by the dance position they start in, such as Closed, Open or right-to-right handhold. Or maybe you organize figures by their rhythm, e.g. 6- versus 8-count figures in Swing; Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick versus Slow-Quick-Quick in Foxtrot.

Like most things, remembering movements and figures are a skill that you develop and will get easier over time. I invite you to pick one tip and give it a go! Feel free to modify it to fit how you think and work. Who knows, you might even come up with a few great memory strategies of your own!

Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment.

Want more tips on improving your retention of dance steps?

Read Part 1: How to Improve Your Memory During Class

Read Part 3: Ways to Maximize Your At-Home Dance Practice

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