Music and Learning: Why Teachers Should Consider Music in the Classroom

sheet musicCountless research studies have shown us that music causes a wide range of psychosomatic effects to our bodies. It can be helpful in dealing with chronic pain, reduce blood pressure or even boost our immunity. At some point music caught the eye of psychologists examining human cognitive capabilities and learning. Consequently, music was unveiled as a potential factor for improving the learning process and knowledge retention among students. Here’s how introducing music to the classroom can help teachers in enriching the learning experience of their students.

  1. Music speeds up learning

The 1960’s was the moment when scholars began to examine the possibility of increasing memory abilities with music. A series of creative experiments performed by Dr. Georgi Lozanov and Evelyna Gateva and their findings revolutionized teaching methodology. It initiated the whole brain learning method called Accelerated Learning.

Knowledge about human learning processes gained during the trial sessions of the method is of great interest to teachers looking for ways of introducing music to their classrooms.

Background music was used during various learning tasks in two ways. There was the Active Concert aiming to activate the learning process mentally, physically and emotionally. Then there was the Passive Concert with a goal of placing students in the relaxing alpha brain wave state and helping them to stabilize their mental and physical rhythms.

Both methods are excellent for improving information absorption and together stand as a popular and powerful strategy for providing learning experiences that are far more efficient.

  1. Music helps students to memorize learning material

To put it simply, when accompanied by music new information becomes easier to remember. Students can connect particular data to a rhythm, and then use their memory of musical elements to recall the information following their association.

Teachers have been using songs, chants, poems and raps for a long time now and learned that they really work. How do we teach children the alphabet? By adding a melody. Melodies, rhymes or rhythms help students to memorize the content of musical pieces.

Instructors can take the method further and instead of providing their own musical pieces to perform, they can ask students to write their own lyrics for specified content. With a regular performance of the chant, teachers can help students of all ages to recall and retain new information.

  1. Music enriches learning experiences

Many teachers use music to serve as a soundtrack for various activities because it increases the interest of students in the learning material. By activating the information emotionally, physically and mentally, the multi-sensory interaction with information can help teachers to create a highly focused learning state. This is where students are able to quickly absorb a lot of information.

Instructors can start their adventure with classroom music by reading a summary of the class topic (with key facts and figures) with appropriate music in the background. To students, this otherwise boring summary will now seem like a trailer to a fantastic movie – the plot of which will unfold during the lesson. A dramatic musical piece will also help them to remember those bits and pieces of information.

  1. Music motivates students to focus

Another great function of music in the classroom is that it impacts human emotions and mental states. It can set a rhythm to help students achieve a greater state of concentration. A focused learning experience is the best solution for processing and memorizing more information than in standard learning environments.

A focused atmosphere can be achieved with the structural Baroque music, for instance pieces composed by Handel, Bach or Telemann. In essence, those pieces should be characterized by 50 to 80 beats per minute.

Experts claim that absorbing new information or reading is more efficient with Bach playing in the background. Mozart comes in handy during afternoon sessions, when students are usually tired and lack motivation.

  1. Music builds a supportive atmosphere

Music helps teachers to create the right atmosphere in the classroom, supporting and motivating students to work hard, sparking their interest in learning tasks and helping them to focus. Music can wake up a sleepy classroom. If your students are restless and cannot focus, music can calm them down and provide them with a source of mental balance.

It’s a good idea to play a tune when students are entering the classroom – it will set the right atmosphere from the very beginning, welcoming students to participate in your learning experience and providing them with structures of support.

  1. Music creates a sense of community

This is something which not many instructors realize about music. Playing specific background music in the classroom can help them in sorting out and stimulating the social atmosphere. Music can create a positive environment, assisting students in developing a sense of community and building the first steps towards smooth group collaboration.

Groups of students can work together and develop a classroom theme song to build a strong community experience. Moreover, people bond and become more emphatic towards each other with music. Music can become a factor in opening your students’ minds to different cultures and different perspectives.

  1. Music fosters individual expression and stimulates creativity

Finally, instructors should not forget that music provides excellent stimulation for further creativity. Even if they don’t boast musical education, students can still create musical pieces of their own. Inspiring students to write songs about the learning material will allow them to express their feeling about it and develop a bond with it, prefect for memorization.

Instructors often use musical pieces to set a certain mood in the classroom – and we know that moods can be powerful in boosting the reception of the learning material. You can benefit from music in creative role play activities, where students use it together with movement to visualize abstract information.

It’s clear that music is such a versatile tool that it offers opportunities for improvement in many aspects of the classroom. Using music as a part of classroom activities, instructors will simply provide their students with a more engaging learning experience – and engagement is the key ingredient for knowledge processing and retention.

toriAuthor’s Bio: Torri Myler is a member of the team at http://www.bankopening.co.uk/ – an online UK bank branches database. She is a great music fan and believes in its power to transform lives. She is also a great advocate of new technologies and anything digital trusting in their potential to empower people and companies.

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of www.theinspiredclassroom.com. She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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9 Comments

  1. Diana says:

    My son attends a Mandarin Immersion public school where the teacher regularly uses music and songs to help the kids nail down new words. Music is an excellent medium for “tricking” kids into learning and enhancing their skills while having fun.

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