By Teachers, For Teachers
For years educators have been incorporating music into their classrooms, because unfortunately the music programs are the first to get cut when schools don’t have the funds. Often teachers like to incorporate music, because it can have a powerful effect on your mood. In fact, research has shown that music can be a catalyst when people want to change their mood. It has a way of increasing your energy when you are tired, making you happy when you are sad, or relaxing you when things get stressful. Students go through a lot of different emotions, and teachers can use music to help their students get through these emotions in the classroom.
The benefits of incorporating music into the classroom are endless. From an increase in reading skills and a higher IQ to scoring higher on standardized tests, music can have a significant impact on how well a child succeeds in the classroom. Research from the National Association of Music Merchants also list cognitive and social benefits for music education. Research shows children have improved memory, are more creative, stronger at attentiveness and listening skills, as well as are more actively engaged in the classroom. The social benefits of incorporating music show that students work better in teams have enhanced critical thinking skills and self-esteem. Children learn to accept and give constructive criticism as well as learn to share and compromise better. Overall, the arts help to motivate students to stay in school and give them a well-rounded education that will help them succeed not only in school but in life.
As you can see, the benefits of music education are astounding. However, for children to reap these benefits, you must know how to incorporate music into your classroom.
It is well documented that children who study music have larger vocabularies and tend to be more creative. When children use their creative skills, it can help them to express their feelings, which can in turn help them enhance their emotional well-being. You can help provoke some of these unexplored feelings by having students incorporate music into their writing. Students can look at a photograph to help inspire them to write a song or turn a writing piece into a musical. Students can watch a composer and write about how the selection made them feel or even sit and listen to music and then write about their favorite artist. Music helps to bring out emotions, and having students listen and write can help them learn more about their feelings.
Incorporating music doesn’t mean that you only have to have students listen to music to reap the benefits; you can also have them perform. Research has proven that putting information to music helps students retain information better, as well as develop their listening skills. Challenge students to write a song based on a concept that you want them to learn; then have them perform it in front of their peers. Allow students to choose their partners or group for this activity, so each student will feel comfortable enough to perform in front of others.
Music is a great was to manage stress levels. In fact, research has shown that music improves immune system function and reduces stress. One study even found that listening to music was more effective at reducing anxiety than prescription drugs. If you notice students are stressed before a test, put on some music. You can even have students listen as they are taking the test. Research has also found that music helps the brain to pay attention. The next time you have a test, try putting on music and see how well your students react.
Music has a way of embedding in your mind. Think about the last time you heard a commercial jingle on the television or a song on the radio that you couldn’t get it out of your head. Music can be used to help students retain information in any subject and on any topic. If you want students to recall math facts or vocabulary words, put it to music. If you want them to remember all fifty states, put them in a song. There are no limits to using music to help students recall information.
The beautiful thing about music is that it is universal and easily accessible. You can use it to help relieve test stress or to get your students energized and out of a slump. You can use it as a tool to help students express emotions through writing or to master essential concepts. Music’s benefits are endless, and it is definitely worth the time and effort it takes to incorporate it into the classroom.
Janelle holds an MS in Education.