By Carol Williams
Many research studies have already shown us that music brings about a range of psychosomatic effects to our bodies. It’s proven to be helpful in dealing with chronic pain. Music also reduces blood pressure or boosts our immunity. It was inevitable that at some point it caught the eye of cognitive psychologists interested in human learning capabilities. Consequently, music emerged as a significant factor for improving the learning process among students of all ages. Here are some reasons why introducing music to the classroom is worth the effort.
1. Music offers richer learning experiences
Teachers who use music usually choose it to function as a background soundtrack for a wide range of activities. They note that it simply increases the interest of students in the learning material. Music activates the information emotionally, physically and mentally, allowing students to enter into a multi-sensory interaction with information and a highly focused learning state. This helps students to quickly absorb a lot of information.
Instructors interested in making the most from music can try to read a summary of the class topics, key facts and figures with music playing in the background. To students, this boring summary will seem like a trailer to an engaging movie. And the lesson will become a place where this exciting plot is unfolded. A dramatic musical piece is of great help in remembering these bits and pieces of information.
2. Music motivates student focus
Music in the classroom impacts student emotions and mental states – it can set a specific rhythm to help students enter into a greater state of concentration. A focused learning experience is the dream of many instructors – it helps to process and memorize more data than in standard learning environments.
Studies show that what helps to build a focused atmosphere is the structural Baroque music. Pieces composed by Handel, Bach or Telemann are a good choice. Whichever you choose, it should have 50 to 80 beats per minute. Experts believe that absorbing new information is more efficient when Bach is playing in the background. Mozart is useful during afternoon sessions when students are tired and lack motivation to concentrate and study.
3. Music builds a sense of community
Not many teachers realize it, but playing background music in the classroom helps to sort out and stimulate the social atmosphere in a positive way. Music can help students in developing a sense of community and offers an excellent foundation for smooth group collaboration.
Groups of students should work together to create a classroom theme song – this will help them to feel more included and build a strong community experience. People usually bond and can become more emphatic towards each other with the help of music. Use music to assist learning and open your students’ minds to different perspectives and cultures.
4. Music helps in memorizing learning material
New information is easier to remember when accompanied by specific musical pieces. Students will easily connect particular piece of data to a rhythm, and then use this memory of musical elements to recall the information through association.
It’s clear that teachers like to use songs, chants and poems, knowing that they really work for memorization. This is basically how every child learns their alphabet. Rhymes, melodies, and rhythms help to memorize content – remembering the music itself is almost never a challenge.
Teachers can take this strategy to the next level by asking students to write their lyrics for specified content and come up with a melody. A regular performance of the chant will help students of all ages to retain new information and instantly recall it using their musical memory.
5. Music speeds up learning
Researchers began to examine the possibility of increasing memory abilities with music in the 1960’s. Creative experiments performed by Dr. Georgi Lozanov and Evelyna Gateva brought about a new teaching methodology – the whole brain learning method called Accelerated Learning.
They basically used background music in two ways. First, they created the Active Concert, the goal of which was to activate the learning process mentally, physically and emotionally. The second option was the Passive Concert which aimed to direct students to a relaxing alpha brain wave state and help them to stabilize their mental and physical rhythms.
Both methods were found out to work perfectly for improving information absorption. Accelerated Learning is a powerful strategy for building learning environments which speed up the learning process without losing on any of its aspects.
6. Music builds a supportive atmosphere
Music is a great solution for creating an atmosphere in the classroom which supports and motivates students to work hard, inspiring them and helping them to concentrate. Energetic music will wake a sleepy classroom up. If students are restless and unable to focus, you can use calm music to help them reach a balance and concentrate on their tasks.
When students are entering the classroom, try to play a certain tune. It will set the right atmosphere from the very beginning of the lesson, welcoming students to participate in the learning experience and offering a structure of support.
7. Music stimulates creativity
Instructors should be aware that music powerfully stimulates creativity and even if students don’t have special musical education, they can still create musical pieces of their own. Inspire students to write songs about the content of your learning material and you’ll see how this expertise will help them to develop a bond with this information. This is just perfect when it comes to memorizing the learning material.
Music can also be used to introduce a certain mood in the classroom to inspire students creatively. From creative role play activities to abstract rhythm exercises, students can use music and information to visualize what they find interesting and worth exploring in the learning material.
Music is a versatile tool which can significantly help teachers in enriching the learning experience of their students. And we all know the value of engagement in learning – it’s the secret ingredient to greater knowledge processing and higher retention.
About the author: Carol Williams is a former teacher and a personal coach currently leading the Grapefruit Department of fruit shippers from Florida. She combines her experience in teaching with her love for music.
For more tips on learning — including what to listen to while you’re studying — check out The Secrets of Top Students.