Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Using Music to support Learning

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” (Plato).

I wish I could articulate the way I feel about music the same way as Plato, but I can't, so I won't even bother trying. Instead I will offer you some examples of how I music to enhance learning and engage pupils:
  • Playing songs as pupils enter the room. Choose songs which are related to the lesson and and ask pupils to try and make the link between the song and the learning, for example, Prodigy's 'Firestarter' for the Gunpowder Plot or the Wonder Stuff's 'The Size of a Cow' for a lesson on Jenner's vaccinations. I use Spotify to play the songs but you could just as easily use YouTube or depending upon your access. 
  • Instead of using a timer to set a task, use a song instead. If pupils need to work faster put something on that will wake them up and get them motivated OR if they need to calm down then maybe some Pan Pipes might just do the trick!
  • One of my favourite ways of using music is the plenary 'One Song Summary' where pupils, in groups, choose a song which best sums up the learning which took place during the lesson. The best suggestion gets played as pupils pack away and leave the room. One of my favourite suggestions was when a pupil suggested Ludicris' 'Area Codes' after a lesson on Henry VIII. If you are not familiar with the song then you should check it out! I didn't play it!
  • Get pupils to write a rap about what they've been learning about. There's the AutoRap app which turns your spoken word into a rap song which is great for pupils who don't want to try their hand at wrapping. 
  • Use music as a volume controller - I find playing some really loud Slipknot acts as a reminder that pupils' noise levels have gone above an unacceptable level. 
  • Pupils will often use music to gain greater understanding of a historical event, for example, the Death of Emmett Till by studying Bob Dylan's lyrics: 

  • Similar to the above pupils also use music to carry out an investigation such as The Farm's All Together Now as the basis for an enquiry into the Christmas Truce: 

As previously mentioned I love music and take every opportunity to use it to enhance learning and engage pupils. I actually find pupils complain if I fail to play any music during a lesson.....

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