Should You Use Music in Your Classroom?
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Should You Use Music in Your Classroom?

Written by 28 December 2012

Should music be allowed in a classroom?

Should You Use Music in Your Classroom?

There's some debate on this question, as it can be a matter of personal preference. Some teachers can find it distracting while others may not want to put in the effort for what they see as white noise. 

Pros: 

  • Music trains the brain for higher forms of thinking.
    • Did you know that listening to classical music exercise cortical neurons in your brain, strengthening circuits used for mathematics?
  • Incorporating music can teach second languages faster and easier.
    • ie) Frere Jacques
  • Effective classroom management tool
    • When used correctly, music can calm excitable children, maintain focus on tasks, and even raise energy/focus levels of lagging minds. 
  • Music creates an open and enjoyable atmosphere
    • Silence can be oppressive and uncomfortable, whereas engaging sounds can trigger creativity and interest. 

Cons:

  • Lyrics are distracting.
    • It's true, if there are words, students won't be able to focus on their tasks.
  • If it's too fast paced, it will wind them up.
    • The tempo and style of the music has a lot to do with the energy level you're trying to attain. Playing upbeat music in the morning can wake the students up, while calm and mellow music in the afternoon can slow them down. 
  • Distraction to find that perfect song.
    • Rather than fumble with the music, create a playlist beforehand so you won't need to correct the music every three minutes. 
  • Students will fight over the music
    • If a student genuinely cannot focus with music playing, that's between yourself and the child to decide. However, any other fighting over the choice of music shouldn't be endured. It's a privilege, not a right. 

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As you can see, it has quite a case. It can be either distracting or a very useful tool, depending on how you use it. 

If you do decide to begin using music as a tool, here are some easy tips:

  • Bring your own ipod in. If you don't own one, use a free music station, such as Pandora, Spotify or Grooveshark. 
  • Select music without lyrics. Lyrics can distract attention away from learning. 
  • Create a playlist in advance, or have a good idea what you'd like to play. It should never be time consuming or need much attention throughout the day. 
  • Keep the volume low. This is not a dance party and you shouldn't have to scream over it!
  • Go ahead and use it as a reward. Perhaps on a Friday, you'll allow the class to have a song of their choice for a reward for good behavior! 

What do you think? Would you allow music in your classroom?

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Should You Use Music in Your Classroom?

4 Comments »

  • Jean Mercer said:

    I am an elementary general Music teacher and English as a Second Language teacher. Music can be the key that opens the door to learning for many students. Research shows that music acts as a positive tool for students in many regards such as language acquisition and development, mnemonics for remembering important information, building community and a pleasant environment for learning, as well as building learning patterns in the brain through subliminal organized musical listening experiences. An excellent book regarding the power of music and the brain is Oliver Sacks’ 2007 work, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. I would say that music can be a motivator and a pleasant addition to classrooms but can be harnessed to do so much more!

  • Vickie said:

    I play soft music without words in my class almost everyday and my sixth grade students do much better staying on focus. Students are so media driven that I believe it enhances the learning in my class. I play music with words when teaching about metaphors and similes-it helps students pay better attention to the songs they are listening to and creates many interactive discussions.

  • Mark Robinson said:

    Vicki,

    I too play music in my room. I teach 6-8 graders and it’s amazing how the class reacts. I usually some form of classical or New Age that has helped them concentrate more and focus on their work. I also use it when I’m giving short quizzes and it works for me. I have a rowdy bunch sometimes and they say that music soothes the savage beast, well it works for me. When I was teaching language arts, I use to play the Flowcabulary piece on parts of a story and the kids just ate it up.

    I fully endorse music in the classroom.

  • Cheryl said:

    Like Jean, I am an elementary music teacher and I think that as long as you, the teacher are okay with allowing music in your classroom, you will reap the benefits. It can also be a way to “reward” your students – I had a group of 4th grades that have been BEGGING to do “Wobble” by V.I.C. I learned the dance that goes with the song so I could teach it to students that didn’t already know it. During class today, they were EXCELLENT (and in SC/NC we have SNOW in the forecast for tonight!!!) They had worked hard, so the last 5 minutes of class, we did “Wobble” – best brain break even for me!

    If you use a site like Pandora, be warned that there will occassionally be ads and there’s nothing you can do about them (unless you pay for a subscription).
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