6 Reasons to Use Music in the Classroom
We’ve all heard of the ‘Mozart Effect’ and I am a firm believer that music, particularly when combined with strong visuals, can make an indelible impression on young minds. This is why it is crucial that primary school teachers use music in the classroom to enhance teaching and learning.
Here are six reasons why you absolutely must use music in the classroom:
Music changes moods
Everyone has witnessed or experienced the power of music first hand. Whether it’s at a sporting event; a concert or a special occasion, music can unite people and alter their emotions collectively and individually.
Music holds the same power in the classroom. Chris Brewer, author of Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom, states:
““Students of all ages—that includes adults— generally find that music helps them focus more clearly on the task at hand and puts them in a better mood for learning.”
Few things positively influence the moods of my pupils more than the sight of me holding my guitar. Whenever it is uncased and rested on my lap, a sense of anticipation and quiet excitement fills the room before I have even played a note.
The atmosphere that is created by my own musical performances in the classroom can be replicated with recorded music and video that can be accessed in the majority of British classrooms.
2. MUSIC PROMOTES MEMORISATION
Everyone has nursery rhymes, popular songs and chants stored in their long term memory. Everyone has experienced phenomena such as having a song ‘stuck in your head’ shortly after hearing it for the first time. Cheri Lucas at education.com highlights the value of music as a tool to promote memory in a wide range of people including those with conditions that affect the memory:
“Music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain, and studies have demonstrated that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, including a study conducted at UC Irvine, which showed that scores on memory tests of Alzheimer’s patients improved when they listened to classical music.”
The most canny and ardent educators recognised the power of music to support memorisation some time ago and that’s why educational music is not a new thing. For decades, centuries perhaps, teachers have been playing songs to their students in a bid to get them to remember key facts and to get them to engage with curriculum content.
Modern teachers are blessed with digital technologies that allow for the use of music and video at the touch of a button and with a new national curriculum that places greater emphasis on rote learning, carefully crafted musical works are a must.
3. Music motivates
Children are motivated by music and as a step-father and teacher I know just how important rhythm, rhyme, melody and movement is to young people. Offer a child a choice to hear a song to acquire new information or to read a text book or handout and nine times out of ten you can bet the child will choose the song. Why? Because it’s likely to be a lot more fun and engaging and is more easily accessible than a book.
4. Music adds a multi sensory element to lessons
Howard Gardner’s theories about multiple intelligences are oft mentioned at teacher training college lectures. Gardner’s ideas about intelligence and learning styles have persuaded many teachers to adopt a multi sensory approach to teaching where lesson activities include visual, auditory and kin aesthetic or tactile stimuli (VAK).
Music combined with video is the ultimate stimulus in the hands of a teacher who knows how and when to deploy the stimuli with movement and physical actions.
5. Music promotes musical intelligence
The 2014 national curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland requires children in key stage 2 to listen to “a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians”.
Why is there a requirement for pupils to simply listen to music? Because it’s a fundamental part of music education in much the same way that reading and writing are parts of literacy
Furthermore, Brewer recognises the value of having pupils hear recorded music throughout the day:
“As a musician who has taught general music in public and private schools I can speak to the value of having students hear music throughout the school day as a means of increasing musical intelligence. The more students listen and respond to a variety of music, the more they will know about music on a personal, real-experience level, the deeper will be their understanding of why people throughout time and around the world create music, the greater will be their ability to use music productively in their lives, and the more eager they will be to develop their musical skills because they will understand, appreciate and enjoy music more!”
Here at Songs for Teaching UK, we share Brewer’s view and strive to ensure that teacher’s can provide children with opportunities to hear recorded music in a way that academically and culturally meaningful.
6. Music promotes community cohesion
Music is a shared experience that unites people from different cultural and soci-economic backgrounds. It is something which brings people together.
At a time where media reports would have you believe that Britain is a fragmented, divided society, the importance of music can not be underestimated in making our schools and communities more cohesive. Brewer supports this view:
“Music provides a positive environment that enhances student interaction and helps develop a sense of community and cooperation. Music is a powerful tool for understanding other cultures and bonding with one another. Selecting and playing a classroom theme song, developing a classroom “ritual”—such as a good-bye or hello time that uses music, or other group activities with music are ways to build lasting community experiences.”
So there you have it! If you’re still not convinced that music can make a difference in your classroom, let Songs for Teaching UK show you the way with a free trial.