Friday, March 16, 2012

Teaching Students the Value of Relaxation

Relaxation can be taught in the classroom but students need to know they can use this technique any time they are stressed. Use a calm soft voice, pronouncing the words slowly but not unnaturally. Listen to examples on the Internet and see if you can tell which voices make you relax and which ones are irritating. Start by teaching the difference between inhale (breath in through nose) and exhale (breath out through mouth).

Music is an incredible aid to relaxation. New research shows that slow music produces a relaxing effect and causes a decline in heart rate.

Some good music suggestions are:
Relax With The Classics - any in the series
Kim Robertson - gentle harp
The Mozart Effect - Heal the Body
Carlos Nakai - native flute

  • Find a place where you can have space to lie down. Lie down on your back, feet slightly apart, arms by your side. When you are comfortable, close your eyes.
  • Keeping your upper arms on the floor, rest your palms lightly on your stomach. Turn your attention to your breath. Breathe into your hands with easy slow breaths, feeling your stomach rise and fall. Consciously slow your breath down, making it smooth and deep. Continue focusing on your breath for few inhales and exhales.
  • Now bring your attention to the top of your head. In your mind, feel your scalp. Imagine it turning into Jello, releasing any tightness.
  • Now bring attention to your face. Begin with your forehead. Feel it turn into Jello, nice and loose. Now feel your eyes and your eyelids. Imagine the feeling as they become Jello. Continue with your chest and your jaw.
  • Now, turn your attention to your neck. Gently turn your head from side to side as the muscles release tightness. Breathe slowly and deeply and concentrate on releasing tension from your neck.
  • Let your awareness shift to your shoulders. Ask your muscles to release tension in your shoulders and start to sink into the floor like a wet noodle. Feel the tension releasing. Be gentle with yourself. Continue breathing slowly and deeply.
  • Next, move your attention down your arms and to your fingertips. With a deep exhale, release any tension that is stored in that area. You might feel like giving them a little wiggle.
  • Now, bring your attention to your chest. Breathe deeply as you sink deeper into the floor. Feel the tension leaving your body.
  • Next, turn your attention to your hips. Take few deep breaths and with each exhale, ask your body to release tension from your hips.
  • Continue with this through your thighs, calves, ankles, feet, and toes. Feel the stress leaving your body, replacing it with a sense of peace and calm.
  • When you have completed the cycle of releasing tension from all the parts of your body, continue breathing slowly. Be gentle with yourself. Feel the peace and relaxation flowing freely through your body.
  • When you are ready, bring yourself back to the present. Wiggle your toes, your fingers, open your eyes, and stretch gently.

Enjoy the sense of quietness and relaxation in your body. Return to this muscle relaxation technique often. With each practice, your relaxation will deepen.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Teaching Moments: Pyjama Day

So ... My school had health week where we focused on something different every day that week. I was looking at the focus topics and came upon "Pyjama Day". "Great!" I thought. What on earth can I do with my music classes on "Pyjama Day"?

I started looking around on the internet and found lots of relaxation music and guided imagery stories so I decided to do that. I told the students to bring their favorite cuddly toy, blanket and pillow to music on this day. It was so great to see a long line of students, class after class, toting their teddy bears, pillows and blankets.

I had a carpeted room that I used for performances next to my classroom and had decorated it with a number of those battery fiberoptic lamps that change color (from the Dollar Store). When the students entered, lovely music filled the air as they found a place to lie down and get comfortable. I had a few stories prepared, and one on tape (Quiet Moments by Greg and Steve). I left the music on very soft and helped them do a simple relaxation starting from their toes up to their nose, taking deep breaths. Slowly the room became very still as the students felt themselves "become wet noodles" and sink into their blankets.

After that we took an imaginary trip on a cloud with Greg and Steve. Greg's voice is so velvety and soothing. To finish the class I put on another piece of soft music and started the story to a magic garden. Then I let them finish the story on their own using their own imagination. From grades 1 through 5, the students said "I want to stay!" When the class came to an end ... and from then on, students asked for our little piece of "magic" to finish every class.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Enhanced Learning Workshops

For those looking for someone to present a music related workshop, you have come to the right place.

1. THE MOZART EFFECT or the use of music to enhance learning in the classroom. Participants will receive a beginners course in accelerated learning with a focus on the use of music in the classroom. For NON-music teachers.

2. ACCELERATED LEARNING TECHNIQUES based on the most recent brain research and learning. This workshop includes brain compatible note taking, exercises to reduce stress in the classroom, and brain friendly tips with regards to color and furniture arrangement.

3. BRAIN BODY CONNECTION - simple techniques that will reduce stress in the classroom and rebalance left/right brain hemispheres.

4. FLASH MOB DANCING IN EDUCATION - Learn how to do an educational flash mob dance and how to properly choreograph a routine. Detailed handout.

5. COMBINATION WORKSHOP - You tell me what you need and I will custom design a workshop for you.