Music education in schools should not be confined to the music room

Music education in schools can support reading comprehension and really does not need to be confined to the music room. Links have been established between music and learning as well as music and memory. You know better than anyone else how much children love music, and I hope you will share some of your favorite songs below and tell us how you use music to help your children learn.

Many parents and early care providers know of the link between music and brain development. Research indicates that listening to certain kinds of music may encourage brain development of infants and young children. So compelling was this research that the state of Georgia for a period of several years sent new parents home with a CD called "Build Your Baby's Brain."

Music in the classroom

Baroque Music

Composers during the Baroque period wrote music having patterns and themes which repeated at different times and in different voices or instruments. The beauty of the music satisfies the right brain which is always seeking beauty, and the patterns appeal to the left brain which is always seeking order and logic.

When both sides of the brain are activated by this music, education is supported because memory can only take place when both sides of the brain are active. This makes Baroque music ideal for use in the classroom.

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos and other Baroque music may improve memory when played softly in the background of classrooms.

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, one of our favorites.

A list of some of our favorite compositions appears in the right column. When the music is played softly in the background during center time or individual reading time or when students are doing classwork, both sides of the brain are engaged and memory can take place. This is support for all types of learning, including reading comprehension.

Students say an added bonus of playing the music in the background is that it masks sounds in the hallway that could be distracting to them. It is an acquired taste, and when first introduced, I have found it is helpful to explain to students why I am playing it. They always respond positively and before long, they can't do without it. So music education in schools really should not be confined to the music classroom alone.

The Importance of a Steady Beat

Music education programs in schools teach children the importance of rhythm. Encouraging children to feel the rhythm in their bodies and practice keeping a steady beat are activities which, when brought into the regular classroom, can improve memory and support reading comprehension and learning in general.

The brain operates to the steady beat of blood being pumped by the heart muscle. So the presence of a steady beat in the regular education classroom supports brain function. Clapping and stepping to the beat of music is always a good activity for children.


The brain learns in cycles so it is important that periods of learning be followed by time "off task" so that the brain can organize newly learned information.

Learning Cycles

Cycles of learning

Energizers provide this time and help get kids ready for another cycle of learning. Energizers are like hitting their "Refresh" button so that they are ready to go again.

There are so many great energizers, and I know we all have our favorites. So once again - let's share them! Two of our favorites are the "Hand Jive" (from Grease) and the "Cupid Shuffle."

Now - it's your turn!

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Clapping to the Oldies
These clapping games incorporate crossing the midline and are a super fun way to use movement and dance to improve memory in your classroom. These "Sight Word Oldies," may also be used to help children learn and remember some of their Dolch sight words.

Benefits for Music Education
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.

Suggested Baroque Music

Straight off my Ipod, here is some of our favorite Baroque music. Vocal music seems to be distracting for us so the music we recommend for background music is all instrumental.

  • The Brandenburg Concertos - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • The Four Seasons - Antonio Vivaldi
  • Canon in D - Johann Pachelbel
  • Trumpet Concertos (various) - Tomaso Albinoni, Arcangelo Corelli, Giuseppe Torelli, Francesco Manfredini, Johann Wilhelm Hertel, Antonio Vivaldi
  • Arrival of the Queen of Sheba - George Frederick Handel
  • Music for the Royal Fireworks - George Frederick Handel
  • Bassoon Concertos (various) - Antonio Vivaldi