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Music as a Way of Knowing

Posted on Jun 16, 2014 by Ishanee Bhattacharyya | Category: Blog, Miscellaneous | Comments: none

There is simply no denying that music enhances our senses, feelings and energy levels. It creates the desired moods we want to engage in- happy, angry, sad, etc. Essentially it sets the tone for a variety of purposes- from a romantic dinner to loud weddings, from quite sombre outings to jazzy evenings- anything and everything. So, how about using music as a teaching learning tool?

Despite the immense pressure on teachers and students to accomplish more and more and to do it faster, there is strong rationale to incorporate music in the classroom. Apart from “The Mozart Effect” principle, there are many ways music (or sound to be precise) can help. Through music and movement, children learn acceptable outlets to express feelings and relieve tension. Music may also convey a specific mood through which children reveal their feelings and emotions. Also, there is a connection between music and the development of mathematical thinking. Mathematical concepts are developed as children sing counting songs.Music can create an imaginary world that stimulates a child’s creativity. A box can become a drum, a stick can be transformed into a horn, or a broom can become a dance partner. Children make up songs or give new words to old songs for pure enjoyment. (Imagine, a classroom that lively?!) Music helps to establish a positive learning state to create a desired atmosphere, build a sense of anticipation, energize learning activities, change brain wave states, focus concentration, and increase attention. It also facilitates a multisensory learning experience and helps to release tension, enhance imagination, align groups, develop rapport, provide inspiration and motivation, add an element of fun and accentuate theme-oriented units.

Now, let me suggest 5 ways for teachers (even those with little or no musical training) to integrate music into the daily life of their classrooms and schools.

  • Teachers can use music and songs for early morning meeting/assembly. They could keep a list of favorite (appropriate) songs posted and ask students to sing together. This will build and enhance a sense of solidarity and group competence.
  • Songs can also be used to reinforce content and facilitate memorization. Rhymes, poems, folksongs, audio aids, can be used to develop vocabulary skills and can also be used as teaching learning tools to teach content.
  • Music is a tool that can be used to help teachers achieve effective and efficient classroom management. The calming effects of music have positive effects on the students when it is introduced into the classroom. Creating a classroom that has low anxiety and stress levels is important to classroom management.Music soothes transitions and soothes tempers, especially in the early elementary grades. There is a long tradition of early childhood educators using songs to support transitions and garner student attention.
  • A great way to give primary-grade students opportunities to play with sounds is to create a music center in the classroom. In these areas, teacher can provide a junk box full of objects which can be made into musical instruments, along with a good set of rhythm instruments. A variety of recorded music should also be accessible. Songbooks and sheet music can be available to introduce children to the musical symbol system. Dancing supplies, such as scarves, jingle bracelets, and ribbon sticks, can add to the fun.
  • Using background music as a tool to limit disruptions and behavior problems is an effective strategy. A recent study found, that music was an effective method to lower behavior problems and increase performance because disruptive students tend to seek constant stimulus. The background music provided the stimulus that they were seeking, and allowed them to concentrate on the task. They also found that instrumental music was the most effective. Music with vocal accompaniment seemed to provide too much stimulus to the students.

The evidence that music impacts the body and learning suggests that music should be included in classrooms. Music can be included in any classroom, regardless of grade level or subject matter. The power that music can have on learners is extensive; it can benefit students and lead them to higher achievement and development.All children should be given the opportunity to discover and develop an appreciation of music and how it brings people together. And as Nietzsche puts it, “Without music, life would be a mistake”, let’s make learning (life) melodious and musical!

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About the Author

Ishanee Bhattacharyya
Ishanee Bhattacharyya
Associate – Research and Development "Education ought to develop all the faculties in a self" A masters in Sociology who handles the research portfolio, she imagines education as an all-encompassing egalitarian system, modeled on Tagore’s, Michael Apple’s and Friere’s ideologies. Her job yields new information each day – making it challenging and her reflective, objective and critical self takes the challenges head on. She enjoys a healthy debate and loves to read.



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