Creative teachers are always searching for ways to make their classrooms more engaging. If you’ve ever tried to watch an action scene from a film with the soundtrack muted, you know how vital good music is to storytelling. The appropriate musical touch can heighten a story while discordant music can wreck it. Your classroom is no different.
It’s important to set the learning mood in your classroom, and one excellent way to do that is through the music you choose to play during student reading and/or work time. Here are five techniques for incorporating effective music that I have found successful in my own classroom.
1. Play only instrumental music during student reading and writing time. This is an important point to remember. The music you choose should not compete with the task your students are completing. If they are reading words on a page or trying to formulate their own words, spoken lyrics in a song will actually conflict with what is going on in their minds. Instrumental music, however, will enhance both of these processes. (I still use songs with lyrics during times when students are working on artwork or other non-reading/writing assignments.)
2. Play instrumental covers of recognizable songs. Soft piano music is great work music, but over the years many of my students have asked, “Where’s the funeral?” Apparently, the only instrumental music they have heard is at the funeral home. So how do you find instrumental music that it is a little more exciting to students? Choose some songs they know.
- My students love hearing Disney songs from their childhood translated into “classy-sounding” music. (Look up artist “Tom Ameen” where digital music is sold for some great Disney covers.)
- They also love hearing instrument twists on pop songs. (The Piano Guys and Lindsey Sterling provide some excellent instrumental covers.)
- Even video game music has been turned into some great instrumental choices. Classic Super Nintendo games like Secret of Mana, Legend of Zelda, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong Country have some great instrumental covers available. (Am I dating myself here?) After all, video game music is written to be catchy and ongoing—perfect for background music.