Music that Moves my Students

People are often surprised that I have music playing almost constantly in my English and reading classroom. I arrive to class early to turn on the instructor station and get the music going.

For the first day and last day of the semester when I especially want students up, moving, talking, and smiling, I play the Beach channel, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

During writing and thinking times I play classical, instrumental jazz, and our new favorite: instrumental chill. These are all free from Pandora, and yes, I tolerate the ads.

Music is one of the many brain-based strategies we use to help us focus. Others include snack, water, and stretch breaks, mindful breathing, and aromatherapy.

Some of the customs we’ve established together include:

  • The first student to class chooses the music channel for the day.
  • Some of my autistic students and others who need silence often use their own headphones.
  • I just don’t let anyone listen to lyrics while we’re reading, writing, and thinking. Everything is instrumental (with the first-day exceptions noted above) so that students can focus on the words that they’re reading and writing.

Students tell me that the low background noise makes it feel calm and relaxed. It’s also easier for me to have private conversations with students when our voices aren’t echoing around the room.

For some academic reasons to include music consider this article about the benefits of classical music or this article from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments.

Stop by HT2 152 if you’d like to see what music in the classroom feels like. I’d be interested to know if you’re using music too!


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