Do you use music in your classroom?
I do and I couldn't imagine it any other way :)
Every year I seem to appreciate having it more and more. Especially this past year, with my boy-heavy group, I really enjoyed the tranquility and focus it gave us during our reading, writing, and other quiet work times.
Many of you may have heard of the Mozart Effect (read about it HERE)- its basic premise is that listening to Mozart for as little as 10 minutes improves certain parts of a student's IQ.
If you Google "Music in the Classroom" you will find numerous websites, articles, and books all about the benefits of background music and its impact on learning, environment, and classroom management.
One article worth reading is The Benefits of Incorporating Music in the Classroom by Audrey Merrell. She points out the highlights of several research studies that support the role of music in learning. A few key points are:
- Music is a set of patterns and and processes that benefits the brain and the act of learning
- Music increases attention and lowers behavior problems
- Music lowers stress and anxiety levels within students
- The type of music played directly relates to the mood you can create- calming music=calm class, stimulating music=raises energy
Ok, so onto how I use music in my class!
In the Classroom:
Have you ever used Pandora? I am in love with it!
It is a free music program that is web-based and allows you to create your own radio stations based on a song or artist.
It's free, but with commercials. I spent the $36 for a one-year subscription that allows me to listen commercial-free- this has paid for itself 10 times over and makes using Pandora in the classroom possible.
You can create up to 100 stations and believe me, they have nearly every artist and song imaginable in their database!
Best news: If you hear a song you love, you give it a thumbs-up and it will direct more music of that style to your station. If you hear a song you don't like, give it a thumbs-down and you won't hear it again :)
The artists I love include:
- Don Ross
- Andy McKee
- John Danley
- Tommy Emmanuel
- Leo Kotke
- and many, many more!
What's great is that when you create a station, you can "Add Variety" and add additional artists to the station to make it more diverse and finer-tuned to your needs.
We use this music during Independent Writing Time and during DEAR (Silent Reading). I have also used it during Daily 5, social studies and research time. It fills the room quietly and really does help my students stay focused. I have even reminded students that their voices need to stay quiet enough so they can still hear the music if they are whisper-reading or conferencing.
- If you are interested in using Pandora, START NOW! It takes a while, in my opinion, to make a station "your own" and ensure no wild cards are in there ;) This would be a fun summer project!
- Pandora requires consistent internet access- your district may block it (boo!), so you may want to find some fun artists you enjoy and get their music on iTunes and make your own playlist
- My laptop is my best friend during the school year, but the speakers are not great- it sounds so tinny and doesn't project the sound across the classroom. I purchased these speakers which are perfect and simply plug into the USB port, no extra power cord needed!
- Try finding other fun music that fits with your content areas and/or the time of year! We listened to some instrumental Celtic music during St. Patrick's Day, Bluegrass Instrumental and Native American Flute during our unit on Pioneers & Native Americans, and Holiday Instrumental during the wintertime. The key for me is to remove the vocals so kids are not distracted by the words and a sing-along doesn't break out in the middle of Workshop time. You can choose to include vocals in your selections, it's up to you and what works for your group!
- Stuck trying to find artists that fit your style? Ask your music teacher in your school or in blogland!
Do you use Pandora, iTunes, or any other music in your class? How does it go? I would love to hear about your experiences :)