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Using Rap, Rock & Pop Music as a Teaching & Learning Tool

Vince Welsh


UsingDid you know that rock, rap and pop music could be used as a teaching & learning tool? This doesn't mean you have to stand in front of your class belting out the rules of reading, writing and arithmetic either.

Educators, teachers, and school administrators could all use music as a way to reach students and make learning more fun, interactive, and memorable. Rock music can even be used very effectively as a tool in whole brain learning and multicultural learning.

Perhaps the most exciting part about  music in the classroom is that it can be used as both a teaching & learning tool. Both uses are effective for teachers and students alike.

How to Incorporate Rap, Rock & Pop Music in the Classroom

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For example, one of the functions of whole brain learning is to build self-confidence in the classroom and to help students learn to their full potential. Music can help with both.

Using Music to Teach History

Teachers can incorporate historical documentaries on rock stars, bands and music artists to introduce relevant elements of history into their lesson plans.

Some of the topics covered in rock ‘n’ roll documentaries, for example, could cover relatable topics such as history, business, politics and the arts. Because rock documentaries involve storytelling and history, students will learn about American history and culture while remaining interested and focused. 

Rock, rap and pop music are undoubtedly an important part of cultural history, especially when discussing the developments of the 20th century. For example, even the story of rock ‘n’ roll music can teach important lessons, The story of rock ‘n’ roll holds many important lessons about the major events and developments in American culture over the past 60 years. This can go very well with whole brain learning by helping students think creatively.

For instance, how do musicians represent the social issues of their era? You can choose an artist to represent different eras - from Tupac to the Beatles to Elvis to Madonna to Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga. Starting with song lyrics, you can see the different values, speech and political issues at play for these artists and their fans.

Music for Language Arts, Math & Business Education

For younger students (and all students really), introducing learning elements through educational songs will help them to remember rules, vocabulary and basic facts. Poetry and writing analysis lessons always get more enthusiasm when students are allowed to use song lyrics as examples.

The music business can also be infused in your math and business lessons. You can use artists and bands' actual sales information to teach any element of math, from addition to equations.

For a fun, creative option, you could even have students create their own musical persona, budget their profits and earnings based on sales and plan their rock star purchases (including sales tax, interest on any loans, etc.). These typically dull lessons just got tricked out before your students' very eyes.   

Multicultural Education with Music

Music can also be used in multicultural learning environments. For example, teachers can help implement multicultural learning by using rap, rock or pop music as a unifying medium.

To help put multicultural learning into action, teachers can use music as a great universal language that everybody can understand and relate to. It unites all different people from various backgrounds and can help students from different cultures work and interact together.

Music can be especially helpful in multicultural learning for those who teach students who have English as a second language because storytelling combined with rhythm helps students remember and integrate new vocabulary.

Everybody can benefit from this type of education. Teachers can use rap, rock and pop music to learn how to communicate with students better and how to make their lesson plans more exciting. Whether or not the teacher is communicating with non-English speaking students or is simply trying to reach unmotivated students, music reaches everybody. It involves creativity, history, and storytelling. Rock ‘n’ roll can help both teachers and students enjoy education.

How do you use music in the classroom? Share in the comments section!

About the Author: Vince Welsh is CEO of Teacher Education Institute. TEI offers rigorous, graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 classroom teachers. For more about TEI, whole brain learning, multicultural learning, visit

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