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Incorporating Music Into the General Education Classroom

What is one thing that can be incorporated into a classroom to focus attention, motivate engagement, calm nerves, engage minds, encourage personal development, increase interpersonal connection, and accomplish learning goals? Music! You do not need to be a musician to incorporate music into your classroom, and your students do not need to be musicians to enjoy the benefits! Here are some tips to help you use music in a general classroom setting:

To focus attention, use a prearranged tune as a signal to return to a task or to regain class attention after a break or small group discussion. If students line up outside your room before entering, help them focus before coming through the door by using a call and response with body movement.

To motivate engagement, offer a song break after a task is completed or a goal is met. Students can listen to a song as a class from their seats, take advantage of a musically accompanied movement break, or listen to music individually or in small groups on available technology.

To calm nerves, play instrumental music when students are entering the room, transitioning between tasks, or preparing for a test. Allow students whose native language is not English to listen to songs in their native language when possible, as this is a way to give them a needed mental and emotional break.

To engage minds, encourage students to create a song that incorporates or summarizes the information they are learning – bonus points for performing the composition for the class! Creating music or using music already available can also be an effective way to memorize or review information.

To encourage personal development, prompt students to use music to process and convey thoughts and emotions. This could be accomplished by journaling as they listen to music, composing their own music and lyrics, or writing their own lyrics to an already existing piece of music. Especially when this strategy is introduced gradually and gently, students begin to feel safe to explore their inner experience more deeply, and can feel more seen, known, and understood by you and by their peers. This could be used as a creative writing assignment such as a listening journal or a reflection on a social studies lesson – or get creative with how to incorporate this in another content area!

To increase interpersonal connection,
ask students to share music that represents their background or conveys something they have experienced or are experiencing. Time for this could be incorporated for a holiday, as part of a learning goal, or as a fun and consistent class tradition (example: Music Mondays). Coming up with a class theme song can promote a sense of class unity and belonging. If you or any of your students or students’ family members play an instrument, consider a mini concert for a special event or sharing time.

To accomplish learning goals, use music to connect to the content area. For example, use note values to practice fractions in math, instrument design or sound production in science, rhythms for learning vocabulary, popular music from different eras in history to explore how history influences art and how art shapes the zeitgeist, or creating an art piece based on a music sample.

While music is not the same in every culture, therefore is not truly a universal language, it is a gift from God and has an integral place in the human experience – and it can be part of your students’ learning experience as well! As seen in the suggestions above, the benefits of music are not limited to arts and entertainment but can also be experienced in the education system—and not just in the music room! Remember, you do not need to be a musician to incorporate music into your classroom, and your students do not need to be musicians to enjoy the benefits. Choose 1 or 2 of these strategies that will fit you and your class best, and start seeing music focus, motivate, calm, engage, and encourage your students, while increasing student connection and accomplishing student transformation!

Katie Daugherty
Mobilization Coach
TeachBeyond US

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Photo Credits:
Music Keyboard by Jeshu John via designpics.com
Notebook & Earphones by Jeshu John via designpics.com
Girl Playing Guitar by Jeshu John via designpics.com

08 Dec 21
by Guest