Recently, I came across an article on the Masonic Trowel website that had some great tips for learning ritual. I adapted to DeMolay and am reposting it here. (Here is a link to the original: http://www.themasonictrowel.com/education/memory_files/memorization_tips.htm)
BEFORE MEMORIZING ANY PART OF THE RITUAL
- Learn to read the ritual fluently without hesitating.
- Check the dictionary to learn meanings and pronunciations of unfamiliar words.
- Learn the full meaning of any strange sentences. Check with one who knows the ritual for explanations of the meaning and symbolism of unfamiliar phrases and sentences. It is difficult to memorize words and sentences that have no meaning to you.
- Decide how each sentence should sentence when read or recited aloud. Decide where voice inflection should occur and where emphasis should be placed. Always read the sentence in the same way, never deviating from what you have once established to be the proper way to do it.
- Read and re-read the ritual or lecture many times until you are thoroughly familiar with it.
- Practice, with the book closed, writing in proper order all of the subjects discussed in the lecture, and then check with the ritual to determine what you have omitted or misplaced. In delivering the ritual you will always have to know what cues next.
- Use every opportunity to hear others deliver the ritual. Make a mental note of what you do and do not like about the way they have given it.
- Understand that these steps are to be taken before memorizing anything and are as important as the actual job of memorizing, and will require as much of your time as the job of memorizing the lines.
- These first hints are very important because the more familiar you are with the lecture, the easier will be the job of memorizing it. Do not be impatient to start memorizing.
TO MEMORIZE THE RITUAL
- Learn it paragraph by paragraph; do not attempt to learn too much at any one time.
- Concentrate on the ritual. Try to be alone, if possible, without distractions from family, television, etc. Keep your mind on the ritual.
- Take sections in the proper sequence; do not skip around in learning different sections.
- Spend as much or more time in reviewing material already learned, as in learning new sections of the ritual. Refuse to learn anything new unless you are fairly confident of your ability to deliver what you have already learned.
- Practice what you have already learned during odd moments. For example, recite while driving your car, riding a tractor, walking. You will be surprised at the benefit derived from the odd moments which would otherwise be wasted.
- Always recite your lines in the same manner never changing voice inflections or emphasis once you have decided how they ought to be done. So: prize how, and what, you say.
- Some prefer to recite aloud when practicing; others prefer the silent method. Most prefer the former, but do what is easier for you. If reciting silently, always concentrate on what you hear in your own mind what the sentences sound like.
- Strive for perfection. Only by trying are we able to limit our mistakes to a relatively small number.
WHEN DELIVERING THE RITUAL
- Always remember that primarily you are talking to the candidates, and the brethren about the Chapter are overhearing your remarks. Talk to them in normal voice volume and in a natural tone of voice. Look at the candidates while speaking.
- Do not let your mind wander to the hard part that comes later on in the ritual. Think only of what you have to say at the moment.
- Graciously accept the prompting, if needed, and go on without worrying or being embarrassed.
- There should be a single prompter. Have this person who knows the ritual sit near your ritual station and tell him not to prompt unless you signal for it.
- Do not talk too slowly or too fast; your presentation should be clear and deliberate.
- Get expression into the ritual as much as possible without assuming an unnatural tone of voice.
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony