‘Teachers who use music appropriately have a tremendous advantage; it’s like having a second teacher in the room’. Jensen, 2008
Recent research suggests that music may be a powerful tool in building reasoning power, memory and intelligence. The brain responds differently depending whether you are learning music by listening to it, playing it, reading it, being told about it, visualizing a score or recalling a concert. Each of these events is registered and processed differently by the brain.
Reading or composing music engages both sides of the brain, melody activates the right brain, harmony and rhythm activate the left brain and measuring beats activates the cerebellum. Eric Jensen states that music in the curriculum maybe a valuable tool for the integration of thinking across both hemispheres of the brain and suggests that we may be underutilizing music as a learning context. Music has been shown to affect the body and the mind.
- Increases muscular energy
- Increases molecular energy
- Influences heartbeat
- Alters metabolism
- Reduces pain & stress
- Speeds healing and recovery in surgery patients
- Relieves fatigue
- Aids in the release of emotions
- Stimulates creativity, sensitivity and thinking.
When information is ‘imbued’ with music, there is a greater likelihood that the information will be encoded in long-term memory. Bangurt & Altenmuller 2003 found that when musical novices listened to music, the right hemisphere of the brain lit up whereas the left hemisphere and the amygdala were activated when professional musicians listened to music.
Music needs to included in school curriculum because:
- Countries that have the highest science and maths scores in the world, have strong music and arts programs.
- Learning benefits such as, relaxation and stress reduction, fostering of creativity through brain-wave activation, stimulation of imagination and thinking, stimulation of motor skills, speaking and vocabulary, reduction in behavior problems, focusing and aligning of group energy and conscious and unconscious information transmission have been attributed to music.
- Music enhances emotional states, which in turn can enhance learning and memory. Jensen states ‘Teachers who use music appropriately have a tremendous advantage; it’s like having a second instructor in the room’.
I was fortunate to attend a six day residential conference hosted by Eric Jensen, in San Diego, USA. Since attending this inspiring professional development opportunity, I constantly think about stimulating the brains of my students in positive ways, to enhance the potential for their learning. One brain compatible strategy I use more intentionally since attending Eric’s conference, is to play music in my classroom a lot more often.
To encourage students to start their day at school in a positive emotional state, regardless of how they were feeling when they walked through the school gate, they are greeted warmly at the classroom door by our ‘Greeting Manager’ and they can hear upbeat music being played in the background. This never fails to make my students smile, which ensures they are feeling positive as the start of each school day.
If you don’t already, I suggest you try using this strategy with your students each morning. I would love to hear how you use music in your classroom!
Recommended Resource: ‘Music with the Brain in Mind’ by Eric Jensen
Optimise Learning Australia