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How to Use the Major Memory System

Learn how to use the major memory system in this Howcast video about memory techniques featuring memory expert Barry Reitman.


Hi, I'm Barry Reitman, author of "Secrets, Tips, and Tricks of a Powerful Memory" and I'm going to speak a little bit about the major number system. The major number system has been around for about 400 years. It was tweaked for a couple hundred years and, really, it's been the same for the last 200 years. It's very popular. It continues to be and that's because it works.

I can't go through the entire system now, but I can show you the basics of it. It's a matter of taking consonant sounds, turning them into letters, which become words, words can become pictures, and throughout all of good memory instruction, focus and picture are the important things. So, let me just briefly show you what the sounds are and then I'll just give you one or two examples.

The sounds, the consonant sound for the number one is either the sound of the letter T or the sound of the letter D. The sound of the number two is the sound of the letter N. It's not the letter N, it's the sound of the letter N. The sound of the number three is M. You'll see this material all throughout the web, if you want to go to I have a link there on the lower right that will give you the same list and a little bit more information. For now, I'm just explaining a little bit about the system. I can't show you how to work it entirely, but it's well worthwhile, as all of my classes will attest.

Let's just take those first three sounds. One, T and D. First question. Why is there a letter from the end of the alphabet and a letter from the beginning of the alphabet and they're both the number one? Well, we're not dealing with letters. We're dealing with sounds. So, what I want you to do, if nobody's around and can see you, is form your mouth to say T, but don't say it. Just form your mouth and your lips and your teeth and your tongue as though you're about to say T. Now, do the same thing for D, the sound of the letter D. T, D. It's exactly the same, one is just a little bit more explosive. That's why those two things that seem to be unconnected are connected when we're dealing with sounds.

The question is, how can we make use of this? Well, if we can create a picture, then we can create something memorable. So, let's say I had to remember the number 321. I wanted to remember it because my favorite baseball player is Albert Pujols. His career batting average, as of this recording, is 321. Pretty darn incredible. Look at the chart. Three, M, two, N, one, can be T or D. Mint can be 321. You'll notice 321 can also be minute. It could also be minute. It could also be mound or minuet. It doesn't matter. On the way back to the number, all of those come back to 321.

My picture is me walking down the street and I look in a pool hall and who's shooting billiards, but my hero, Albert Pujols and I want to go in there. I want to get his autograph and I rush to the door and I can't get in the pool hall. You know why? There's a big candy mint in the door. It's blocking my way. I can't get around that mint. I'm not going to say those words. I'm going to see that picture. I'm going to see the picture of myself struggling to get in that door and I can't because of that mint. Mint. M-N-T. 321. Oh, yeah. That's his career batting average. That's how we use it. That's the short version. The long version is available in my book, "Secrets, Tips, and Tricks of the Powerful Memory." It's available in my CD set and yes, it's available in many other good books as well.

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