There are many benefits for music education in schools. The importance of music in education to support brain function and memory in academic subjects adds to the value of music education in schools.
In the public school music room, children learn to appreciate music and to move to the beat. They learn to feel the rhythm in their bodies which is very important because the brain, too, has a rhythm of its own as blood is pumped by the steady beating of the heart muscle.
Beyond the music room the benefits for music education are often overlooked.
As a vehicle for memory, music just can't be beat. It is one of the greatest benefits for music education. If you ever learned something using a song, you know that once you have learned it, it is almost impossible to forget. The song gets stuck in your head and stays with you forever.
The tune to Frere Jacques makes learning the quadratic formula a snap ("Negative b, negative b, plus or minus square root, plus or minus square root...."). So why don't we all use songs in our classrooms to help children with the task of remembering?
Is there a better way to study poetry than through the lyrics of songs? It is the best way I have found for teaching figurative language. I had to screen the songs carefully, of course, but I always managed to find songs from every genre for illustrating simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and personification. I've shared some suggested titles in the right column.
Children learn whole/part relationships and fractions when studying music since two quarter notes typically equal one half note, two half notes (and four quarter notes) equal one whole note, and so on.
In addition, songs and chants can be used as memory aids for key vocabulary, concepts, and procedures. My sixth grade math students say they can't get our current song about decimals and percents out of their heads! (I have to admit, I find myself humming it, too!)
The song, along with the fact that there is a letter "l" in the word decimal (for "left") and an "r" in percent (for "right") should provide a vehicle for memory as we learn the true relationship between the two.
Decimal to Percent, Percent to Decimal Song
Tune: I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart
If you want the decimal, hop to the left, hop to the left, hop to the left.
If you want the decimal, hop to the left, hop to the left today!
And if percent is what you want then you must hop to the right, hop to the right, hop to the right.
If percent is what you want then you must hop to the right, hop to the right today!
The entire history of the world could be taught through its music. Every culture has its own music, and since mothers everywhere sing lullabies to their children in many different languages, a sense of the oneness of mankind could be instilled in our youth by teaching children how we are the same rather than focusing on how we are different.
Adding music to any PE program makes it more fun. Carrie Flint, a leader in the field, offers tips and suggestions at her website,
Musical PE Plus.
The brain does not function well under stress. As a matter of fact, it "shuts down" and switches to survival mode at these times. So anything we can do to limit stress is going to help the children in our classrooms.
One of the most important ways we can reduce stress and create the optimum learning environment for our children is by using music for stress reduction.
It is well-documented that music can lower blood pressure and promote healing. Listening to favorite songs can elevate the mood and foster a sense of well being.
There is power in music, no doubt about it. Most relaxation techniques used in yoga and meditation involve music, and it is what I believe to be a largely untapped resource in our schools.
LET THE FORCE BE WITH YOU
Without question the best resource I have ever seen for nurturing the musician in every child are Harmony Park outdoor instruments and playgrounds by FreeNotes.
The instruments are designed by Richard Cooke who feels that everyone can and should be a musician, even without formal training.
Cooke also designs beautiful indoor instruments for music therapy.
Harmony Park musical playground in Utah
Here are some examples of songs with lyrics which may be used for teaching figurative language, important when teaching children to write poetry.
Some are kind of dated (so they're "oldies" now, right?), but once you start listening, you'll find that you will have no trouble building your own repertoire for use in your classroom.
Life's a Dance - Garth Brooks
The World Is a Vampire - Smashing Pumpkins
Dust in the Wind - Kansas
Rat in a Cage - Smashing Pumpkins
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
Candle in the Wind - Elton John
Just Like a Yoyo - The Osmonds
Hey Ya - OutKast
Circus - Circus
If I Were a Rich Girl - Gwen Stefani
Cry Me a River - Justin Timberlake
The End of the World - Skeeter Davis
Bye Bye Bye - N Sync
Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day, Jackson 5
Turning Tables - Adele
Good Golly, Miss Molly - Little Richard