For schools and educators to prepare students for the workplace of the future, it’s important to prioritise music. Learning music is not just an “extra” to abandon in favour of math or science. It goes hand-in-hand with students’ efforts to grow and succeed in the future, and music can be a powerful teaching tool.
Studies around the world point to the benefits of using music in the classroom. Here are three of the most compelling reasons:
- It speeds up the learning process. Exposure to music helps accelerate the brain development of young children, and impacts the areas related to reading and language development. It also speeds up mental processing and problem-solving. Students with exposure to music usually have a higher volume of grey matter, which is directly related to comprehension.
- It helps students memorize better. That’s why it is an important tool to help children memorize faster – right from toddlers learning the alphabet to older students trying to recall complex lessons.
- Students can apply it to daily life. For example, you can use the violin to explain string thickness, and vocal percussion and rhythm to better understand mathematical patterns. In a history lesson, you can use a song like We Shall Overcome to explain the civil rights movements and start important conversations.
The National Education Policy of 2020 suggests that there be no hard separation between the sciences and the arts. Music is a great way to bridge this gap, and connect the two seemingly opposite subjects.
From encouraging individual expression to helping students learn complex material better, music is an important gateway to ensuring a well-rounded education for every child. If you are an educator who understands its transformative power, here are some suggestions to keep in mind while using it in the classroom:
Get best results from using music in the classroom
- You can use it in different ways, depending on the age of the students. In very young children, it can be a way to teach resourcefulness and overall coordination. Action songs that include clapping, snapping, and body movements can help with overall development. In older learners, you can use music to start important discussions and create a sense of community.
- Music can help students learn more languages. Research has shown that early childhood is the best time to learn a second language, as the child is more likely to retain fluency in both languages over time. The part of the brain that controls musical ability and language comprehension are related. In other words, our brains process language musically, so introducing young children to music will help language development as well.
- It is a useful classroom management tool. Young children are still learning the concept of time, and could have trouble understanding how long one minute really is. Music helps them keep track of how long they are allowed to spend on one task.
- You can continue to enjoy the benefits of music while teaching online. We still don’t know when schools will open, and the arts can be a great way to improve students’ emotional health. You can use music to make the virtual learning experience better, and create teaching tools that work online. Streaming platforms, discussions via video conferencing, and customised playlists are all things you can add to your lesson plan.
Finally, music is much more than a feel-good element; it comes with many tangible benefits. When used in the classroom, the learning experience becomes more impactful for everyone.
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A version of this post was originally in The Hindu. Read it here.