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Teacher Tuesday: Music and the Classroom

I remember it so vividly… the classroom would go silent the static on the raido would adjust just in time for Celine Dion to belt out the chorus to "My Heart Will go On". 

It was 1997. I was in the third grade. I was sitting next to Corey O'Donald (my third grade crush). Clearly I remember it like yesterday. 

That moment in the third grade belting out "My Heart Will go On" with 15 other 9 year old girls I made a decision. 

When I am a teacher I will play music in my classroom. 

Fast forward 14 years (umm FOURTEEN YEARS, REALLY?). I am now that teacher that turns on the music. I use music in 2 ways in my classroom; 
control behavior/volume 
 encourage writing 

 I break the music up into 3 categories; 
No Lyrics 
Lyrics but not "popular"

1. Control Behavior/ Volume 
Being able to listen to music is a major privilege in my classroom. The kids have been taught if you behave you get to listen to music. The moment the music gets turned off you know you better SHAPE up. 
In case you were wondering 20+ 12 year olds can get pretty loud pretty fast. Majority of the time my kids REALLY REALLY want to hear the song playing and they know I am not going to touch the volume so they fix their volume if they want to hear the song.
It works like a charm. 

2. Encouraging Writing.
Music effects a persons mood. Period. 
I make special play lists depending on the writing prompt.

Deep/Nostalgic prompt: slow ballad, acoustic, melodic 
Fun/thoughtful/mindless prompt: up beat, pop-y, energetic 

There are three types of music I play

1. No Lyrics: My personal favorite is Vitamin String Quartet, they take popular songs and record them in the classical style.

2. Lyric but not "popular": My version of "popular" and 6th graders versions of popular vary greatly so majority of the time I play Matt Wertz. They love having lyrics to hear but they don't know them well enough to sing along with them.

3. Popular, THIS is for when my kids are working in groups or being REALLY good! Majority of the time I end up playing t-swift or the Lee Brice Country Pandora station (good country with out all the beer songs) 

I know not all of you are teacher or going to be teachers BUT maybe this has given you a few study music tips ( ESPECIALLY the Vitamin String Quartet) 



Kati - Incorporating Color said...

I'm going to need to check out the Vitamin String Quartet. When I was student teaching, I used instrumental jazz, hip hop, and swing Pandora stations. My kids kept wanting me to play "Party Rock Anthem," but I didn't really feel like that was great music for writing. :)

Crystal said...

Man that took me back. I had a few teachers over the years use music in the various ways that you have written about. I guess I never really thought about it until reading your post. I think it is awesome! Thinking back now on the music from my school career brought a smile to my face. Thanks for sharing!

Jess said...

Ahh LOVE Vitamin String Quartet! I listen to them on repeat when I'm cramming for an exam! SO tonight, they will be blasting through my apartment :)

Seriously my favorite teachers played music in the classroom and I will never forget that - SO look at you, making an awesome/memorable impact on your students...go girl!

You should totally make me a mix CD...just saying ;)

And I'm still sending good vibes your way to day for that STAAR testing or maybe it's (STARR...? we don't have that in FL lol)


Kate @ Classy Living said...

Thanks for the tips! My cooperating teacher during student teaching liked the idea of silence during writing more than music, but I definitely feel like listening to music helps stimulate the brain. One of my professors here at school is a classical pianist and she used to play live music on a grand piano in her classroom while her students wrote! :)

Courtney said...

My mom does this same thing with her Kindergarten class, works wonders!

Kathleen said...

I love this idea! And I love the way you have it broken down too. Brilliant! :)

Hopefully when I finally teach this will work for high schoolers too! Which I think it would! :)

Emma said...

Love love loooooove Matt Wertz! You are such a good teacher, Meg! Those kids are lucky to have you!