Music in classrooms may foster better learning

Staff writer

Songs like Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” or Usher’s “OMG” and music from the baroque and jazz genres may not be on every student’s iPod, but they all serve a purpose in Rick Reed’s classes at McPherson High School.

“Music is everything,” Reed said. “I just can‘t believe that music is such a big part of everybody’s lives, and then we run kids in the classroom and it’s dead. Absolutely dead.”

An advanced placement and special education teacher at McPherson, Reed spoke to other educators about incorporating music into the classroom Monday in one of many seminars at the Technology Excellence in Education Network inservice at Marion High School.

“So we have a conference on how to teach teachers how to teach their kids how to use technology, and it’s all about the brain,” Reed said. “How do we stick that technology in the brain?”

Reed explained to teachers how he uses differently themed music at specific times to prepare students for class, direct them back to their seats after an activity, celebrate accomplishments, and leave the classroom wanting to come back. He demonstrated different playlists, ranging from songs for small and large groups to songs that incite feelings of happiness, sadness, critical thinking, and timeliness.

Reed’s classes even analyze the lyrics of different songs, to help with analyzing subject matter that is more difficult. He suggested teachers begin with four songs then build their playlists from that base.

“I think there were a lot of good things I could use,” Herington Elementary School music teacher Allison Schrader said. “We do a lot of small-group things, so putting a lot of those songs in so there isn’t a lot of dead time, I think is good.”

Reed said the goal of his seminar was to help other educators understand they can alter students’ emotional, physical, or mental state with one change in the classroom.

“There’s always been a lot of trial-and-error, and probably more failing than success, but I always thought if I’m erring on the side of helping a kid then I’m in pretty good shape,” he said.

TEEN Executive Director Lena Kleiner said 300 educators attended the inservice, including teachers from Centre, Herington, Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody-Burns, Marion County Special Education Cooperative, and education students from Tabor College.

Seventeen local teachers and administrators held seminars, 12 coming from surrounding school districts and universities.

 

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