V.com weekend vote: Do you have music in your head at all times?

January 29, 2021, 8:46 PM · Do you ever get a song or a piece of music "stuck in your head"? Do you always have some kind of music stuck in your head? Or maybe you have a nice, peaceful brain.

music in head

For me, the music is going at all times, and sometimes on more than one track.

The German language has a word for a song that won't leave your head: "ohrwurm," which translates in English to "earworm." Judging from this word alone, it's a pesky condition. Who wants a worm in their head?

But the ability to carry music in your mind can also be considered a skill. While I always suspected there was a benefit to being able to hear music in one's head, I stumbled upon a concrete description of this concept a number of years ago, when I started trying to give my own young children a music education. I enrolled them in a series of baby-toddler classes called Music Together, and when the teacher described something called "audiation," a light bulb went off in my head (no doubt annoying that worm who is in permanent residence).

One of the aims of "Music Together" is to cultivate a child's ability to "audiate," or to create a mental representation of sound and remember it. Children can learn to "audiate" words, pitches and rhythms, and that skill is a kind of baseline for later learning to speak, sing, dance and play an instrument.

It's also a basis for the Suzuki method - listening to the music you are playing, so that it is "in your heard" to help you learn faster and with better accuracy.

Interesting, eh? But it doesn't mean you need to have a song in your mind constantly. How often do you find yourself humming to the tune in your head? Noticing the tune in your head? Trying to get rid of the tune in your head? When does it happen? Is it constant, occasional or rare? Or do you simply not have music in your head? Please participate in the vote and then share your thoughts.

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January 30, 2021 at 03:40 AM · I wonder if my vote will change now that you've made me think about it.

January 30, 2021 at 05:00 AM · I sing songs to my dog. Her name is Haley. For example, I sing this to Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” theme.

Haley, Haley, Haley, Haley........

I’m begging of you please don’t bite my hand.


(She doesn’t pay me no mind anyhow.)

January 30, 2021 at 05:07 AM · Most of the time. Usually orchestral music. I've had the Schumann Concertpiece for Four Horns and Orchestra stuck in my head for most of this week.

Sometimes it's obscure or unfamiliar enough music that I sometimes take a very long time to figure out what it is. Once, a few months ago, I had the first movement of Miguel Marques's 4th symphony running through my head for four days before I was able to identify it.

January 30, 2021 at 07:47 AM · Thanks for that, Mark.....not. Now it’s stuck in my head.

It will stick there for a day, until something replaces it.

January 30, 2021 at 08:53 AM · Until relatively recently music in the head was a constant companion. Sometimes a nuisance (an earworm which I was struggling to identify, or if I was trying to concentrate on something else) but often helping to keep me sane (especially in boring business meetings). More recently I am getting a break from it at times, since I've been doing more practices aimed at calming the mind and body. But I do value the ability to hear music in this way.

Imagine how much poorer we would be if this facility did not exist - no middle-period or late Beethoven...... and maybe others (Smetana?). And is it possible to compose music without this facility? Even composers who composed at the piano must have used it for orchestration etc.

January 30, 2021 at 02:44 PM · I have music in my head essentially at all times. A few years back I was quite ill and needed emergency surgery. I distinctly remember that the night of the surgery in recovery I was music-less - a quiet vacuum of musical thought. As I improved in the following days, there was a clear point at which the music came back. Strange, yes?

January 30, 2021 at 03:41 PM · I sing to my cat ... When I was a girl, I had a different cat I sang to.

When I'm not relaxed at night, I'll often wake up in the early hours with a jumpy tune in my head. Usually one particular tune, but sometimes a piece I'm working on in lessons.

In the early days of the pandemic, when my Zumba classes hadn't yet gone online, I would find appropriate tunes on Spotify to dance to and I would never be able to get them out of my head.

January 30, 2021 at 04:25 PM · Yes, I have always had music in my head - when I was a toddler in my cot I apparently sang through all the nursery rhymes I knew every night. What amazes me is that at night, a tune has often been playing in my dream, and when I wake up, it's still there - it will be something I've listened to, but it plays now with much more clarity and detail than I really picked up on at the time.

January 30, 2021 at 04:31 PM · Charles, I found an article about this, which seems true to my experience as well...


I have had a couple of friends who had this too. Both of them musicians. And like you, my music goes away under stress such as sciatic pain.

My folks said I used to sing along with Perry Como on the radio when I was 2 or 3.

January 30, 2021 at 04:46 PM · Re ~ Hearing Music in my 'inner Soundtrack'!! {#10}

Most of my life I've enjoyed inner hearing full symphonies plus violin concerti & piano concerti playing non stop! Particularly intriguing is when I'm working on a specific Violin concerto & a sonata or partita from Bach's unaccompanied Violin Sonatas & Partitas for performance or for prep revisits prior to teaching my pupils ~

Another element of what's playing on my inner soundtrack are emotional feelings being felt or re-experienced. When just 19, we lost my beloved Grandmother & for at least 3 days prior to

our receiving the devastating news that Grandmother had just passed my sibling and I had been sitting on our living room carpet listening to a recording of the Berlioz 'Symphonie Fantastique'. After hearing the news, one particular movement I was then listening to continues even to this day and still plays in my 'inner sound track' when a loved one/friend is suffering a serious illness & I'm afraid then my inner hearing of it 'playing' returns bringing tears to my eyes because I recall the day my treasured Grandmother passed ... It was obviously traumatic & my father with one of his siblings travelled the very next day across the country to the eastern U.S, to say farewell to their cherished Mother ... Realising I've just shared a very personal & private experience, perhaps others here have had similar happenings, but understandably prefer to keep their privacy ...

Music is a Gift from God & to have wondrous music playing in one's inner sound track I find utterly fantastic! Preparing for major orchestral concerts when in Solti's Chicago Symphony

Orchestra, I would practise-hear an entire symphony or Piano Concerto of Chopin or Bartok {Chopin when Arthur Rubinstein performed as our CSO soloist, and Bartok when Isaac Stern came to appear in this extraordinary favourite violin concerto #1 with Maestro Solti & all of us hearing the opening strums of the Harp w/underneath melody prior to the solo violin entrance getting Chills every time!!) Just writing about it I'm hearing this right now! And it goes without saying that when one is involved concert touring carrying 5 or 6 major violin concerto's, all are 'inner playing' depending on which one is current or next pre-scheduled far in advance of subscription concert appearances.

I've wondered if certain violin concerti bring out deeper held in emotions some carry yet don't actually 'feel' until preparing for very specific works or sections of a violin concerto associated with good & the truly life changing memories from varied times in our lives? I do and think of this 'condition' as a Gift ~

Once conversing for over 2 & 2/3rds hours with Great Violinist, Ida Haendel, she wanted me to visit her in Miami to play the Sibelius which was grand, but when mentioning Shostakovich #1 in a minor, Op 99, I teared up to say it was far too traumatic to perform after recording it with Bamberg just 2 weeks prior to the passing of my dearly treasured Poppa & lifelong mentor of

the Violin for whom I would practise while he lay so ill at home just prior to my flying to Germany's Bamberg in the magnificent 13th Century Abbey they {Bamberger Symphoniker} always

recorded in & where we recorded for over 16 hours non stop (via my request) so I could leave to fly back to Chicago, then within 3 days ill w/pneumonia, received The Call I'd 'better come' ... I've yet to re-perform this resplendent Violin Concerto which is still somehow 'tied' to the trauma of losing my father, RM. (I later actually agreed to teach it to one pupil, transferring from the Moscow Conservatory of Music to study with me here whom one sensed had particular life experiences which truly deepened his insights into the profound Diary of Dimitri Shostakovich, long oppressed by Stalin & Powers that Be, composing his inner most emotions into this Score of The Profound with suffering's yet emerging victorious when the Composer finally escapes his miseries just toward his finale of the Fugue Cadenza with whirling Fifths & Octaves in 32nd runs in to his Brilliant Final Fourth Movement of Liberation!)

Maybe, only maybe, a chance will occur to perform it just one more time or teach it to a violinist who understands & has felt darker valley's in Life & having prevailed over all? To return to the Question of Music playing in one's 'inner mind' {aka, head}, Yes! Shostakovich Violin Concerto Number 1 in a minor is now 'playing' in the third movement 'Passacaglia's' vast Cadenza

which grows into an Edifice as if Bach's 3rd Solo Sonata in C Major Fugue then the great composer, Shostakovich, chooses Victory w/final virtuosic runs into a Fourth Movement Triumph!!

I may withdraw this after a few hours if 'something' tells me to as I don't write about it except to share a bit w/a few musician colleagues and the pupil, Danny, whom I taught this to and for whom the Shostakovich brought him great relief & an inner fulfillment, professionally - now a cherished Violin I member of a major London Orchestra & married to the girl of his dreams, living a dream life in 'inner' London! (May the pandemic cease soon so all musicians can rejoice playing Live in person Music once again ~ )

Heartfelt Thanks to Laurie Niles for this unique Subject on her Violinist.com Weekend Journal, 1/30/2021!

~ Musically from America ~

...... Elisabeth Matesky ^......

^ https://www.violinist.com/directory/bio.cfm?member=Milstein

January 30, 2021

... Fwd ...

January 30, 2021 at 05:07 PM · I permanently have music in my brain, and it can become annoying when I’m trying to focus on something else. So I try to fill my brain with beautiful music. Sometimes, however, I wake up with some long-time forgotten and annoying tune that I haven’t listened to in years (last time it happened it was the intro music to a cartoon series I used to watch as a child... and that I hadn’t listened to in the last 20 years...)

January 30, 2021 at 06:41 PM · I used to have it a lot more than I do now (My absolute pitch is also a bit shaky these days - I think gone are the days when I could set an oscilloscope to A440 without looking at the frequency (I've never driven along the A440 either - and I think Argon-440 must be incredibly short-lived)).

January 30, 2021 at 07:33 PM · Interesting that other people used to hear music in their heads more in the past. I've tended to hear music in my head more and more as I've gotten older -- but it's actually caused me to stop composing, because my own musical ideas are increasingly drowned out by other people's music.

January 30, 2021 at 08:33 PM · At least twice a week, an earworm gets stuck in my head and drives me crazy. At the moment, ever since playing with a grandson, all I'm hearing over and over and over and over is "Baby Shark". Help!

January 30, 2021 at 08:41 PM · Hearing music in my head has never been a problem, as far back as I can remember (as a young child). My problem has always been getting the music into my fingers.

January 30, 2021 at 11:24 PM · I knew I shouldn't but I did anyway, I looked up Baby Shark. Sigh...

January 31, 2021 at 01:47 AM · I call it the Internal Tape Recorder, and it frequently prevents me from getting to sleep. And it is defective, it skips sections, then rewinds and repeats things, and I can't find the pause button. It works especially well with memorized solos (of course), and maybe that is good, part of the memorization process, which needs sleep to put it into the permanent memory bank.

-E.M.--Thanks for the stories.

January 31, 2021 at 01:32 PM · A book by Oliver Sacks called Musicophiilia addresses earworms, auditory hallucinations etc. but it seems those phenomena are distinguishable from above discussions of simply having “a tune in one’s head?. Einstein once remarked that he had this phenomenon, and reported that he even had musical dreams. My current internal tape recorder seems to be endless variations on La Folia.

January 31, 2021 at 01:34 PM · Here’s a reference with the quote:


January 31, 2021 at 02:54 PM · For Joel Quivey ~ (#20)

@J.Q. ~

Thank you very much!!! We are in a Real Blizzard here ~ More Snow to come with already 7 or 8 inches with very high Winds of up to 40 mph!!! On this day, January 31st, I met "God", aka, Jascha Heifetz, and was astonished to see That Face holding out his hand to welcome me, a very young teenaged violinist whom my Poppa had so exceptionally taught & prepared for what took place which changed my playing and life forever for the better with Poppa always "There" to consult!!!! Before taking out my Ceruti violin, I had the Sad Honour to offer Great Jascha Heifetz my Condolences upon the just before my 11:00 AM audition passing in New York City, of Great Fritz Kreisler, and to a very red eyed Heifetz. We spoke together about Mr. Heifetz's adored, cherished Friend, Mr. Kreisler, whom he so revered and loved whom Heifetz had just lost to the Ages . . .

We became unlikely immediate friends in Grief ~

....... Will be in touch .......

E. M.

*In Jascha Heifetz Violin Master Class - Khachaturian, JH-7,

Elisabeth Matesky {Russian vs Library of Master Performers}

Film, I'm playing my glorious Enrico Ceruti violin!

January 31, 2021, Sunday


January 31, 2021 at 03:17 PM · Sorry, Ann. I've read that to get rid of the earworm, you should sing, "God Save The Queen". Doesn't work for me, but perhaps it will help.

January 31, 2021 at 05:48 PM · Michael, I got rid of it by practicing my piece for this week for an hour. Now I have it in my head but at least it's maybe helping me memorize it!

January 31, 2021 at 05:54 PM · Well done, Ann. I'll try your strategy. Mine failed. Now I have a different song rattling around in my head. However, I won't say what it is, because I don't want to inflict this earworm on anyone else.

January 31, 2021 at 09:41 PM · It happened to me that a tune was going around in my head and I started wondering about what it was. Is it a piece of music, maybe something I have played? Is it something wellknown? I couldn't figure out for a while what it was. Until suddenly I realized it was one of my own compositions. That was weird.

February 1, 2021 at 12:37 PM · Quite frequently! Not always what is called an, ear worm, but getting rather analytical such as methods, etudes, writing ideas or something new in theory, etc. That's when my mind will start sifting through pieces looking for examples. Since I started focusing on the electric bass years ago, thanks to rotator cuff damage that has greatly limited what I can play on the violin, I'll be working things out in my head what to accompany my drummer, whom also plays the tenor sax, presented the last time we were together.

February 2, 2021 at 11:18 PM · I've had music going in my head constantly, ever since I was very young, listening to pop tunes on the radio. I memorize the recording in such detail that often I can tell an original from a remix from the same master. This is either the cause of, or is closely coupled to, my ability to play by ear, which I've also had since I was very young. It's reached the point where I can recall a piece of music I haven't heard for 20 years, well enough to pick up an instrument and play it.

Often I'll start working out fingerings for the music, although this takes enough concentration that I can't be doing anything else at the time. It helps when practising a piece, though, even when I can't pick up an instrument (e.g. while standing in the shower). At other times I'll just analyze the structure of the music, and really get to know its nooks and crannies.

Currently I've been sorting through some pop tracks from 1961, so my current earworm is Mother in Law by Ernie K-Doe, sometimes alternating with Faron Young's Hello Walls. I loved those ones as a kid, and still do. Those pieces were remarkably well put together.

February 5, 2021 at 07:54 AM · Do people generally have their 'ear-worms' and the rest of their aural memory in the correct keys?

It is early in the morning, I have not yet played or listened to anything, and I have just checked my mental Beethoven 'Spring' sonata. My brain had it in E flat, rather than F. Now, as I tripped and stubbed my toe last night while taking the garbage out in a hurry before the curfew, I may have sunk a tone.

Do V.com readers have any data on this?

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