Do you ever say that you are ready and ‘in the right frame of mind’ for doing something? But at other times, you may feel you just aren’t in the right mood to do what is needed?
It’s true, throughout the day we experience a variety of moods and energy levels. In these various frames of mind, our attention levels shift, too. Researchers say that, at any particular moment, a combination of mental, physical, and emotional conditions forms our state of being (Jensen 2003). It seems that some tasks are more easily done when we’re in a specific state of being (Caine, Caine, McClintik and Klimek 2004; Damasio 1994).
In the classroom, we want to be sure our students are in the right “frame of mind” to learn. That’s where music can help.
Taking our cue from the Accelerated Learning model developed by Georgi Lozanov (Lozanov 1978, Bowen 2002), we can think of learning as a cycle that involves a variety of tasks, each of which requires a distinct state of being. For instance, curiosity and attention are useful to start and ‘rapt attention’ (or ‘relaxed alertness’ as this state is often called) helps when we’re absorbing information. We also need some enthusiastic energy to participate in experimenting with new info and exploring how things work. Music can be used to help bring our students into the moods, energy levels, and degrees of attention needed for these various learning activities.
If you think about it, most people already use music to help them ‘get into the mood’ for their task at hand, whether it’s visiting friends, doing housework or just driving to work! Check this idea out on the “It’s easier than your think” page under Classroom Modifier and see how you can convert your personal music use techniques to classroom use!
The best music to play varies depending on the mind, body and emotion state that would be useful at any point in the learning process. Playing music that supports an attentive state is beneficial when introducing or working with new material. If we want students to draw out information from within their own experience, we can give them the opportunity to explore the subject material while playing background music that helps to stimulate a creative state. When it’s time to get a job done, we can use lively music to energize their brains and bodies and move them into an active state. If we want them to process and integrate information, we can play calming music that moves them into a reflective state.
In other words, music allows us to conduct the orchestra of brain-body learning states.
The best part is that, once students figure out that music can not only be used for personal entertainment but can also help them get into the ‘learning mood’ as well, they are excited about using it at school or during home study!
The information in this website and the Soundtracks for Learning book will help you recognize the various states that comprise a complete learning cycle and give you tried-and-true ways to use music to support learning. I have also offered music Sound Suggestions for each soundtrack idea.
I hope you enjoy exploring music here, but mostly importantly, in your classroom! From my experience, I can assure you that both you and your students will find it exciting and beneficial!
PS–Here are references for the notations made here. You’ll find a lot more good references in the Resources section of the website!
Caine, Caine, McClintik, and Klimek, (2008). 12 Brain /Mind Learning Principles in Action, Corwin Press.
Damasio, Antonio R. (1994). Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. NY: Putnam.
Jensen, Eric. (2003). Tools for Engagement: Managing Emotional States for Learner Success.. San Diego, CA: The Brain Store ®.
Lozanov, G. (1978). Suggestology and Outlines of Suggestopedy. Translated by Marjori Hall-Posharlieva and Krassimira Pashmakova. New York: Gordon and Breach.