Singing Knowledge: How Music Fosters Learning

music-notes-swirlDuring the last few decades, a large number of research studies dedicated to music and its effect on our minds and bodies have demonstrated that listening to music can cause a wide range of psychosomatic effects: it can reduce our blood pressure, help us deal with pain or boost our immunity. It’s no wonder that music caught the eye of psychologists interested in our cognitive capacities – music has in fact been found to improve the learning process and help students memorize a larger number of key information.

Here are examples of some potential benefits of incorporating music into classroom activities.

1. It enriches learning experiences

Music can become a soundtrack for a learning activity, helping to increase the interest of students by activating the information emotionally, physically and mentally. This kind of multi-sensory interaction with information can be then used by instructors to create a highly focused learning state, where students quickly absorb lots of information.

Teachers can try using music in the classroom by reading a short summary of the lesson topic that includes key facts and figures, all the while playing relevant music in the background. The more dramatic or interesting the musical piece, the more easily will the information be remembered by students.

Music can also set a mood and enhance the reception of the learning material – it works great in role play activities, where students move with music to visualize information. The combination of movement and music can be of particular value to abstract subjects, such as physics – for instance, students can visualize the electrical current to a specific rhythm.

2. It improves memorization

When accompanied by music, learning experiences and information instantly become easier to remember. Connecting particular pieces of data to a rhythm, students will use their memory of musical elements to quickly recall the data they experienced as connected to it.

Songs, chants, poems and raps help to memorize information enclosed in their content by means of melody, rhyme or rhythm. Instructors can either provide their own musical pieces to perform or ask students to write their own lyrics to a melody and for specified content. Performing the chant regularly, students of all ages will find information easier to recall and retain.

3. It helps students to focus

Music has a great influence over our emotional, mental and physical states – it sets a rhythm we can follow to achieve a greater state of concentration. This kind of focused learning experience allows students to process, learn and memorize more information than in a standard learning environment.

Which kinds of music create a focused atmosphere? Experts suggest Baroque music – especially pieces composed by Handel, Bach or Telemann (in essence, from 50 to 80 beats per minute). Baroque music has been demonstrated to lead students into a state of deep concentration – the alpha brain wave state.

Learning new facts and reading is rendered extremely effective with some Bach playing in the background. The celebrated Mozart music can be of great help when teachers face the problematic afternoon study sessions, during which students are usually tired and lack motivation to complete their tasks. Mozart’s light tunes can reinvigorate the classroom, helping students to keep their attention and stay alert while working.

4. It accelerates learning

In the 1960’s, two scholars examining the possibility of increasing memory abilities with music unveiled findings that revolutionized the teaching methodology to come. Dr. Georgi Lozanov and Evelyna Gateva performed a series of creative experiments, which then formed the basis of the so-called whole brain learning, or Accelerated Learning.

While the method of this school of teaching is not important to this article, the knowledge gained during its trial sessions is invaluable to teachers interested in introducing music to their classrooms.

The use of background music during various tasks is divided into two categories: the Active Concert, meant to activate the learning process mentally, physically and emotionally, and the Passive Concert – designed to place students in the relaxing alpha brain wave state and help them to stabilize their mental and physical rhythms, improving information absorption. Together, these two methods make up for a powerful strategy for providing an efficient learning experience.

5. It creates a supportive atmosphere

The right background music can immediately set the tone to the class – motivating students to work hard, helping them to focus, as well as sparking their interest in learning tasks. When the classroom is sleepy, music can energize it – in the opposite case, music can act as a calming and soothing agent, helping students to reach their mental balance and turn their attention to the task at hand.

Playing a tune when students enter the classroom helps to set the right atmosphere from the very start, welcoming students to participate in the learning experience and creating an environment of support.

6. It helps to build a sense of community

Playing specific background music in the classroom can be helpful in sorting out and stimulating the social atmosphere. Music can provide a positive environment, which helps students to develop a sense of community, fostering group collaboration and improving the overall student interaction.

Music also helps people to bond and adopt a more emphatic approach towards each other – opening their minds to different cultures and different points of view. Instructors can develop a classroom theme song or a musical habit to build strong community experience.

For more about how music can build community, visit Community Built Through Music.

7. It stimulates creativity

To help students be more creative and reflective, teachers can accompany some classroom tasks with appropriate music – the right tunes will stimulate internal processing, encourage personal reflection and foster creativity.

When students are asked to write down their thoughts or fill an entry in their journals, it’s a good idea to play reflective music, such as piano solos in classical or contemporary style.

8. It fosters individual expression

Students don’t need special musical education to be able to create musical pieces of their own. Instructors should inspire students to write songs related to the lesson’s content, allowing them to express their feelings about historical happenings, literary characters or social issues.  Composing songs in the classroom can provide for a wonderful collaborative project while integrating other content into the arts.

Music can improve various aspects of the classroom – from introducing a certain atmosphere that promotes learning to actively assisting students in memorizing and retaining knowledge. In short, using music as a part of classroom activities is a great strategy for providing a more captivating learning experience.

 

The article was contributed by Isabel Wiliams of http://www.bizdb.co.uk/.

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