Teachers go to great lengths to develop a unique, creative curriculum with the hope that their students will connect with the material. With this in mind, it seems natural enough to assume that teachers should use every tool at their disposal in this development process.
Still, one valued educational tool is commonly overlooked in the curriculum design process: music. Many students have some exposure to music and instrumentation in early grades, but the art form seems to be limited to electives as students progress through school.
If you want to spice up your curriculum with something new, take a look at these tips for incorporating music into the classroom:
Assign a Lyrical Analysis
A problem that presumably all language arts teachers have faced at some point in their career is getting students to engage with the material at hand. While many children show a natural propensity and fondness for reading and writing, others only engage when they find there is a direct parallel to their lives. Music can be a valuable tool in bridging this gap in language arts classrooms, as Edutopia has pointed out. Try assigning a lyrical analysis project in which you ask your students to bring in a song from one of their favorite artists, play a snippet for the class and then analyze the lyrics as a sort of poetry. In addition to being fun and educational for the student, it will also allow you insight into your students’ personal interests. As a side note, be sure to screen the music for appropriateness first.
Lyrical analysis projects bring music and fun into the classroom.
Offer Historical Context
Much like the aforementioned language arts scenario, many students have trouble bringing themselves to delve deeply into history lessons. Though this could be caused by any number of factors, it may be because the students feel the events occurred far too long ago to be relevant. Taking time in any history lesson to show students some of the music from that era may help them connect with the material more meaningfully. In a recent tweet, historian Zachary Lechner shared a post he wrote on engaging in this process with the music of Neil Young.
— Zachary Lechner (@ZacharyLechner) May 20, 2015
Establish Musical Rituals
One of the most beneficial ways that music can be used is as a ritual of sorts. Particularly when you are working with young students, music can signal the starting or stopping of events or other waypoints throughout the day. As Responsive Classroom has suggested, using songs that involve all of the children you are teaching may even make transitional periods—which can be times of disruption or conflict in many cases—far simpler from a classroom management perspective. Try looking up popular versions of these songs or creating your own, and then spend a few days teaching the songs to your class at the beginning of the year. You may be surprised by how much they help!