The Effects of Music on Learning
Incorporating rhythm activities in the regular classroom supports learning the essentials of math. Fractions and multiplication skills are important foundations for more complex calculations. Understanding and applying note values contributes to learning how to correctly compute fractional numbers.
Spatial intelligence involves the ability to transform mental images into a concrete idea. Children who continually work to improve their musical skills have proven that they possess advanced spatial reasoning. These kids are able to visualize information and put meaning behind concepts that are more abstract. Students with strong spatial abilities identify similarities and differences in physical and intangible objects.
Being a part of a musical group supports the development of age-appropriate social skills. Kids learn to work cooperatively and communicate effectively with each other and their instructor. Constructive feedback is essential when perfecting musical performances. The ability to process positive and negative feedback supports kids to gain confidence and determination. Children also thrive when a musical presentation is performed well with encouraging responses.
Supporting kids to learn how to play a musical instrument or in taking voice lessons has a positive effect on their academic work. Children who take music lessons have been found to grasp mathematical and sciences concepts with more ease than students who are not involved in advancing their musical talents. Learning to play the piano supports improved physical coordination and mental focus. Problem solving skills are increased. Children with developing musical skills tend to have stronger abstract thinking skills. Abstract thinking is the most complex form of thought that is required for drawing conclusions and adapting to situations.
Children who take voice lessons develop excellent pitch discrimination. This, in turn, has been found to support children in cultivating phonemic awareness. There is a clear connection between identifying musical sounds and applying letter sounds correctly while reading.
Reliable research-based information is not totally conclusive about using background music in the classroom to enhance learning. However, using music during instruction could be used more as a classroom management tool. Differentiating instruction keeps students engaged; thereby reducing the amount of time the instructor spends on discipline. People traditionally think that a classroom needs to be quiet for the most efficient learning to take place. In some cases, the quiet is actually distracting. Students may be drawn to other actions or sound in the classroom if everything is quiet. Some soothing background noise can help cover environmental noise that causes distractions.
Popular music tends to be more distracting while instruction is taking place. Research has confirmed that loud and harsh tones interfere with concentration and comprehension of material. Some students are affected more so by background sound than others. Slow instrumental music without percussion is generally the best background music for learning situations.
How to Start Introducing Music into Your Classroom
Instrumental music appears to have the most relaxing effects and motivates both the left and right brain to work simultaneously. Learning and retention increase when both sides of the brain work at the same time. Music can be attributed to recalling specific events from our past. Try teaching targeted concepts while playing a specific piece of music that could be easily recalled. Engaging and simple classroom decorations and furniture, coupled with calming Baroque-era music, can support students to focus attentively and retain information more efficiently.
Experiment with background music in the classroom by starting out with Baroque-era pieces. Choose pieces with a tempo of about 60 beats per minute and a moderately complex melody. Keep in mind that songs with constant repetition and an overly simple melody tend to be more distracting during learning.
Music can support students to work more productively. Songs with a faster tempo can increase energy and alertness. Experiment with different types of music with similar tempos. One study has shown that the ability to visually recognize images is increased with classical music playing in the background. Use this to your benefit when teaching letters, numbers, or anything that requires visual learning.