For some reason, the other day I started thinking about mnemonic devices that my teachers occasionally gave us to help us remember certain things in our classes, back in my hazy school days. Most times, my teachers tended to discourage us from relying heavily on mnemonic tricks, but sometimes they yielded to reality and actually gave us a device outright. I can't remember most of these, but as I've thought back, some have burbled up from the depths of my memory. Here are a few:
:: "Oscar had a heap of apples."
My algebra teacher taught us this one, when it came time for us to study right triangles and the properties thereof. (Which I guess was, basically, entry-level trigonometry. I wish I'd had that teacher for Trig as well...I loathed my trig teacher.) But anyway, this device helps keep straight the formulae for determining the sine, cosine, and tangent values of various angles. Sine is defined as the Opposite side over the Hypotenuse. Cosine is the Adjacent over the Bypotenuse. And Tangent is the Opposite over the Adjacent. I think. It's been a while...but anyway, "Oscar had a heap of apples."
:: "KP can ordinarily form good soldiers."
This one comes from biology. Our teacher was telling us about the various levels of taxonomic classification of life forms. It went:
And I still remember it!
:: "Every good boy deserves fudge."
This one was used by every elementary school music teacher I ever had. It indicates which notes each line represents on a standard music staff, using the treble clef. The bottom line is E; the second one up is G; then B, D, and F respectively.
A parallel device was simply the word FACE, as those letters are also the notes in the spaces between the lines. Interestingly, once I joined band, these mnemonics never came up again. I never learned any kind of mnemonic for the notes of the bass clef.
:: The ASS Postulate
This came from my geometry teacher, and it's actually a reverse mnemonic device. When we were learning how to prove that two given triangles were actually congruent, we learned a number of postulates about congruent triangles, all involving side lengths and angles. There was the SAS Postulate, for example, which tells us that in two triangles, if two sides and the angle between them are equal, than the triangles are congruent. Similarly, there was the SSA Postulate (two adjacent sides and the following angle); the ASA postulate (two angles and the inclusive side). Ah, but! our teacher warned us. There's no such thing as the ASS Postulate, and we could remember that by virtue of the fact that if we tried using the ASS Postulate to prove two triangles congruent, she would consider us...an ass.
OK, then. Point taken!
:: When I got to college and took ear training courses in the music program, one of the earliest things we had to learn to do was recognize intervals by hearing them, and not by reading them on the page. Our professor strongly discouraged the practice, but mnemonics for intervals went round the class, anyway. If the two notes played are the first two notes of "Here Comes the Bride", that's a perfect fourth. The first two notes of Star Wars? Perfect fifth. The old NBC three-note motif? The first two notes of that are a major sixth. The first two notes of "Maria" from West Side Story? That's a tritone. And so forth. In time we got away from relying on these, anyway.
:: And yes, I remember the one that Marcia Brady taught younger brother Peter on The Brady Bunch when he was having trouble remembering what a primate is: "A vertebrate has a back that's straight."
So, what mnemonic devices do you all remember still?