There are messages in the melody, educator says.
I remember walking into my 11th-grade English class and hearing jazz playing softly in the background. It had a calming effect. Who could be disruptive with such soothing music trickling through the speakers?
That’s when I realized the power of the melody. It is a tool to establish mood, strengthen lesson plans or aid in critical thinking. It is very rare these days to see teenagers without mp3 players. And since music is such a driving force for them, it is very important to incorporate music into your daily lesson plans.
When students enter my classroom, they might hear anything from jazz, to classical, to R & B. The right song can change the mood of the room, so when engaging in a group assignment, use an upbeat song to get your students loose and adjusted. But if they’re focused on intense writing, using a softer song will keep them focused.
As a history teacher, I use a mixture of local and national music to connect students with their personal experiences. Hip-hop is often seen by adults and educators as a useless art form, but it is a great tool to examine this country’s social and political landscape. It’s also a great way to escape the realities and hardships of the struggle. For instance, if my lecture discusses absent fathers, I play Lupe Fiasco’s “He Say She Say.” If a student is dealing with the loss of a loved one, I might suggest Mambo Sauce’s “Get Away.” If I’m helping students toward the right choices, I might play Gods’illa’s “Decisions.” Music serves as a break from the mundane. It connects students and helps them think critically.
Coupled with planned instruction, music can be a very powerful tool for educators. We can’t be limited by the state and county curriculum; we must do everything possible to make learning interesting. The next time you teach metaphors or similes, grab a Tupac album instead of the glossary. Bolster your history lesson with a Dead Prez song. Teaching the breakdown of syllables? Reach for a Substantial album. You’ll see great results.