Musical Hallucinations (also Known as “Earworms”)

Advertisers, film and television producers love to use catchy tunes that will stay in listeners’ ears and brains and instantly make you think of a certain product or show.  But if a tune or jingle gets stuck in your head and annoys you, that is what Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia, refers to as a “brainworm.”  The best way to get an irritating tune out of your head is to listen to or perform other music.

The hearing part of your brain never shuts down, even when you’re under an anaesthetic or sleeping.  Sometimes the music that the surgeon had playing while performing your surgery, for example, will become embedded in your brain.  Later you will be humming or hearing that tune, and wondering why. You have a “brainworm!”

Musicians, you can use this to your advantage when memorizing a piece of music.  Record the piece yourself or get a good recording of it.  Put the music on as you’re going to bed and when you’re sitting down to relax.  This will automatically speed up the memorization.  You can also read the music visually, experience the feel of fine motor and muscle coordination, hear the music you’re producing, and take in the music by ear only.

Choose your listening music carefully, even when you’re not consciously aware of it.  If you’re going to have a “brainworm,” it might just as well be enjoyable!

“Music, Healing and Harmony” by Sally Fletcher  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0961551305

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