Two Powerful Systems: The Major and the Dominic
While the other memory techniques provided here in this ebook definitely take time and effort, these two powerful memory recall systems require a significant amount of time before you understand what they can do and you master how to apply them to your own memorisation needs. So, while it is considered to be difficult to use, it is very effective and powerful. Just make sure you have the time to invest and not assume this is something you can do last minute while you cram for your upcoming exams.
The Major System essentially converts number sequences into nouns, then nouns into images, and finally images into sequences, which then become very detailed and complex. The association comes from numbers that are connected to consonant sounds. This list will first need to be mastered before moving on with the Major System:
- 0 = s, z, soft-c (think of zero)
- 1= d, t, th (letters with one downstroke)
- 2= n (has two downstrokes)
- 3=m (has three downstrokes)
- 4=r (a four and an R glued together)
- 5=L (five is propped up against a book end that looks like a L)
- 6=j, sh, soft –ch, dg, soft-g (g is rotated 180 degrees)
- 7=k, hard-ch, hard-c, hard-g, ng (k looks like two 7s rotated and stuck together)
- 8=f, v (bottom loop of 8 looks like effluent pipe)
- 9=p, b (b is a 9 rotated 180 degrees)
There are multiple layers to how this can be understood:
- The first part involves the coding of the single digit numbers as seen above into consonants and/or small words.
- The creation of the small words is to understand that it is only the consonants that serve to code the information while the vowels should be used in order to help you remember how to reconstruct the image word.
- The next layers include using double number and triple number words.
Here's how those work:
- The first level codes single numbers into a short word – a noun – that has the number consonant sound plus one or two vowels.
- The double number words use similar rules to create a word from two numbers.
- The triple number words may not be necessary as the double number words usually do the trick. If you want to push it to the triple number, then you would use the same construction rules as the single and double construction.
Start practicing this technique by trying to memorise a long phone number. To do this, try combining a couple techniques:
- Associate a couple images through the link or story technique.
- Associate words made up of components of the number system used here and include landmarks along the way by incorporating the journey technique.
A variant of the Major System is the Dominic System (developed by Dominic O'Brien - pictured right - British mnemonist and author of several memory related books, eight time world memory champion and trainer for Peak Performance Training), which also is viewed as challenging and requires significant time and effort to learn, but the results are that this very power memory technique can be very effective. This is a great system if you prefer to use images of people (famous or just personally known by you) over images of objects as part of your association, imagination, and visualisation efforts.
The basic premise is that people – and the actions associated with these people – are used to code numbers for memory recall. It is thought that human beings actually have an easier time with this than they do on storing imagery and information associated with objects. Here's what happens in this technique:
- Numbers are converted into letters.
- Letters are converted into the initials of people.
- Initials of people are converted into mental pictures of these people along with the actions associated with them.
- This must be practiced quite a bit before proceeding with the system.
Once you have that down, it is time for the next steps:
- Write down numbers from 00-99 along with the letter initials that go with each of them.
- Pick the initials of people you can associate with that information whether it is a loved one, a historical figure, a celebrity or a work colleague.
- The next step is to put down an action that you could correlate to that person that resonates with you.
Just be patient and prepared to take a lot of time on this part of the technique because it is not very easy and requires quite a bit of thought to create these types of associations. However, once you do, they will really stick in your brain! Your list will be individual to you because most of the people associations you make will be unique to your culture and to you as an individual.
Now, it is onto the application part of the Dominic Memory System. By now, you have the number-initial-person-action association created. Next is to apply them with the following methodology:
- 2-digit number: associate the person whose initials code for that particular number.
- 3-digit number: associate the person whose initials code for that particular number and an action that comes from the number system
- 4-digit number: associate the person whose initials code for that particular number and an action of another person
- 5-digit number: Follow the same construction as for the 4-digit number
- 6-digit number: Follow the same construction as for the 4-digit number
Both of these systems are very powerful, which means that they also require a lot of practice before they become second nature to you. Like the other memory systems, do not become discouraged; just keep trying to use them. Your brain will not only thank you for the mental exercise, but you will also be able to unlock new layers of memory recall ability that can prove useful to you as a student as well as for the ongoing learning practices you will need throughout your career and life.
Now that you have some of the memory basics now, let's look at how you can improve your memory ability for various types of learning across different subject and topic areas that you tend to come across as a student.