You may have been advised before that listening to classical music makes one smarter and improves cognitive skills. Indeed, there have been several studies that show an increase in concentration and productivity when listening to classical music while doing certain tasks. They named this phenomenon the Mozart Effect, as experiments showed that listening to Mozart improves task performance.
Although it has not been a common practice, some teachers use music in their classrooms to encourage productivity, which yielded positive effects. If you are one of the teachers who want to try using music in class, you should carefully consider the type of music that would be perfect for your students. Is classical music the only genre you can use? Some suggest that other types of music, like rock, rap, contemporary, jazz, electronica, and pop, can have the same effect as classical music. In that case, it is possible that the genre alone is not the deciding factor. Instead, choosing the perfect music would depend on the tasks at hand and other factors that should be taken into consideration.
Setting the right mood
We probably all know that music can affect one’s mood. The tempo, speed, and rhythm of a song can change how your students feel while listening to it, subsequently affecting their productivity. If the activity in class requires physical movement, or if you want to make the students feel more energized and alert, you can choose songs that are more upbeat and intense. If the task requires extra focus and memorization, a more calming and soothing type of music is best. For brainstorming and other activities that require creativity, you can opt for a more inspirational or reflective type of music. Whatever the task is, just remember that your students’ performance will depend on their mood or how they feel while listening to the music.
Familiarity with the music
Listening to unfamiliar music could be distracting for the students. This is not good for tasks requiring focus and concentration. They would tend to pay more attention to the new sound as they listen to the lyrics and melody. On the contrary, if they already know what to expect in the song, they will not be distracted.
For activities that require increased attention, such as memorization or learning new information, play music that your students are familiar with, like currently popular songs or some classic hits that they know about. Also, if the students listen to songs that they like, their mood could improve, therefore increasing productivity.
Instrumental music versus songs with lyrics
Listening to music with lyrics when doing low-immersion tasks is okay. It could even be beneficial when the students are engaged in creative tasks. When it comes to activities that involve language, however, lyrics are a big no-no. This is because listening to the lyrics of a song activates the language center of the brain, which is the same area used when one is writing, reading, or conversing with other people. This would disrupt the concentration of your students, so for language tasks, instrumental music would be more appropriate.
Although it is still unorthodox to use music in the classroom, there have been studies that show how it facilitates learning. Teachers who are open to non-traditional teaching methods can utilize different types and genres of music in orchestrating a learning environment that would encourage productivity in the classroom. When used appropriately and correctly, music can be a powerful tool in teaching.
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