Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music in the Classroom (for Non-Music Teachers)

We all know how music can affect the way we feel. Subconsciously, we play music to uplift our mood, dance, or help us relax. Music can invoke powerful memories and help “set the scene” for our life experiences. Research supports the concept that – “Music can greatly enhance our learning and living.”
Why is it that teachers use music in their personal lives but fail to realize the importance it can have in the classroom?
The intentional use of music in the classroom can set the scene for learning and also make it more fun and interesting.
My suggestion for you to get started is to incorporate one technique that makes you say, “I can do that!” The enthusiasm and response from your students will be a guideline and incentive to try more.
Side effects of using music:
As you begin to use music, you may find that students want to share parts of their life triggered by the music. When this happens, notice and celebrate the connections to real life experiences. Expect and enjoy the miracles that will occur!
Reasons to use music for learning:
ü      Music establishes a positive learning state.
ü      Music creates a desired atmosphere.
ü      Music can help build a sense of anticipation.
ü      Music can add energy to activities.
ü      Music can change brain wave states.
ü      Music can help focus concentration.
ü      Music can increase attention.
ü      Music can improve memory.
ü      Music adds another sensory dimension.
ü      Music can help release tension.
ü      Music can release imagination.
ü      Music can be used to form groups.
ü      Music can improve community spirit.
ü      Music can inspire and motivate.
ü      Music adds the element of fun.
ü      Music can add a layer to theme-based units.
There are many ways, each with a repertoire of classroom techniques, that can be used easily by anyone. You don’t need to be a musician and all ages and levels will experience an increase in the joy of learning by adding music to your lessons.
Try this:
Write or find a poem that you can say to a steady beat of 1-2-3-4.
Example (from The Power of Rap by Barbara Feuring) :
emphasize the underlined words
There are many ways that we are smart
To teach these ways is indeed an art
But if you want to reach ev’ry lad and lass
You’ll use these ways as you teach your class.
Have students clap, step, snap or pat the steady beat while saying the poem. Students can write their own alone or in groups and perform for the rest of the class. It can be about something you are learning in class.
Each student or group can teach their “rap” to the rest of the class. If the students want to add mouth sounds, then someone else can say the words. Most important – keep a steady beat of 1-2-3-4.
For more ideas on how to use music in the classroom you may download my free book (in PDF format) titled The “Sound” Classroom -- Introduction to Whole Brain Learning and Using Sound and Music to Enhance Learning in the Classroom.

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