Music is for everyone, of course, but why is this article focused on educators? I mean, we listen to music and think of our first kiss, a sports team we played for, or the birth of our first child. Music connects us, but there is something very interesting about how music actually improves teaching and learning. Here’s how:
1. Music is linked to educational memory-making: Students will remember how we infuse music into our lessons. You will remember a lesson based on the music that you use. Think about the movie School of Rock. Can you remember any songs from that hilarious movie? Do you think the students remembered some songs as they played their parts in the movie—you know, songs that they are probably still humming today?
2. Music motivates us: Everyone loves a teacher who is juiced-up, pumped up, off the wall, and ready to go! The energy that music creates can be epidemic and viral. We all can remember our high-energy teachers and I’m almost positive that one of my teachers in 7th grade, Mr. Foster, listened to “Eye of the Tiger” before he came in to class each day. Loved that guy.
3. Music triggers any and all emotions: When teachers are in touch with their own feelings, they are better teachers. Why? It is because of the reflective process and empathy building that they go through when listening to music (which actually helps them to become better mentors to children everywhere). The more music that teachers listen to, the more in touch they become with others’ emotional triggers, not to mention the lyrical creativity that can strengthen language acquisition and vocabulary usage and the overall sensitivity and empathy that educators have when working with both colleagues and students.
4. Music drives meaning-making and building connections: The best educators in the world are the ones who can make REAL WORLD connections to their content. Take it from Denis Sheeran and his book, Instant Relevance. We want our students to see how the world comes together, how anything can be important to us if we want to make it important, or how everything plays a role in our lives—good or bad. And, we need to teach students how to look for connections in all sorts of mediums.
I’ve seen Principals and Superintendents infuse music into their presentations, as well. And, quite honestly, those are the presentations that I remember. Music transcends us in so many different ways and for educators who prepare students to relish music, we are getting to the heart of what might make a huge difference between student engagement and disengagement during that very next lesson that we are preparing for them. So, whistle away. Humming is perfect too. Or, better yet . . . Turn up the volume and get ready to educate and lead.
Rick Jetter, Ph.D.
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