Music & Learning in a classroom

Music & Learning in a classroom

If your question is, “why would I need music in my classroom”?  The answer is, “how can you NOT have music in your classroom everyday”?

I won’t start with the sappy, reasons like, music is fun, it makes people smile, kids will like your classroom more, and how it is like the 4th. dimension of the Pinterest perfect room.  Let’s start with the data!

Our brain is a meaning making pattern seeking device.  Nina Kraus, a professor in Neurobiology at Northwestern, says that engagement with musical sounds enhances neuroplasticity and provides a stable base for patterns important in learning.

The enhanced connection between information bearing elements in sound is important for aspects of human communication.  Our whole written language is based on the information bearing elements of sound AKA phonics.  If you have ever asked a child what sound does a letter make you know that learning information bearing sounds is where it is at for reading. Additionally,  Educational Psychology reported children who did better at pitch discrimination also did better on phonemic awareness a skill every reading teacher hopes her students  master.

Data also shows children trained in music develop have enhanced sensory abilities which improve their ability to hear speech in a noisy room.  That in conjunction with data that children with learning disorders have weaker skills in tuning out background noise.  It is even suggested that music training can strengthen processes to help overcome difficulties students with dyslexia have in hearing speech.

So . . . am I advocating directed music instruction for children – eh, I am not ready to go there but it seems like we will be finding more data to back up the importance of music in my life time.

What I am talking about are the “make it work” and “keep it simple” kinds of music additions to our classrooms.

  1. Even if the research is still to be documented I for a fact know, KIDS LEARN SONGS QUICKLY.  The learn the days of the week song, the month song, the wiggle song and sometimes still can’t count to 6.  I say it is because music excites them, engages them and while joyfully participating they accidently learn.  hint – kids who actually participate in ANYTHING will learn more of that thing.
  2. The rhythm of music can change the mood of a person, the pace of their walking and the rate of their breathing.  This information can be used for good.  If we need to wake them up on Monday play a fast tempo classic from the 50’s.  If you need to calm them down after basketball play a lullaby, waltz or ballad.
  3. Music as transitions result in more time on task because students will learn quickly to pace themselves.  Unless you focus on a timer it doesn’t tell you how much time is left, it only tells  you is up.  A song like the famous Jeopardy tune lets everyone know time is almost up.   It can hurry along a 16 year old like no nagging teacher in the hall ever could.

Those are my 3 biggies (AKA 4th. dimension level of Pinterest perfection) as to why you can add music to your room tomorrow and see changes but I have more!

Yes a bonus, bonus, bonus.  Elementary teachers – you know how glitter can contaminate your whole classroom with the create of just one mothers day card?  Well, what if you changed it up and added some music instruction, or lyric writing to your class for gift giving occasions?  Pick a tune and allow kids to write their own lyrics to, You are my sunshine, to give as a song to their moms?  Do it again in June for Dads, via digital download, youtube posts and video emails.

I know my step-daughter Bella can spend hours writing songs about anything.  She processes her world by writing and singing.  What a joyous thing to learn with such activities.

Teaching music lessons, gift giving lessons are just as important as the reading lessons and what a reward to find out we can do them all at the same exact time!

I would love to hear from you.  Please feel free to comment below or drop me an email.

I  am singing off singing the ZOOM song ending with  . . .”Boston, Mass 0  21  34″

 

More information can be found in the article “Music training for the development of auditory skills,” by Nina Kraus and Bharath Chandrasekaran, set to be published in July of 2017.

 

3 Comments
  • Posted at 5:43 pm, January 6, 2017

    Your article is so inspiring and I couldn’t agree more! When I was in the classroom I would do simple things like write a rap with their spelling words or write a song in their journal, instead of a regular entry. Thank you!

  • Posted at 1:34 pm, January 7, 2017

    Thanks for sharing. Lots of great reasons to use music in the classroom. I enjoy having soft music in the background. Also like teaching Math Songs. Even the students who say they dont like the Math songs seem to know the words and master the concepts/patterns.

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