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I’ve watched a video on Mashable of a dot matrix printer ‘jamming’ along to the song ‘Eye of the Tiger’! I remember my dot matrix printer and fan fold paper fondly, but watching the video got me thinking about the way I use music in my teaching. So this week’s waffle is all about music mania!

Music for Art and Quizzes

Music for Art and Quizzes

My first ever lead role in school was to train the girls’ netball team but it was soon after this the music coordinator left and I was asked to take over that role. As well as playing the piano in assemblies, and taking the year 3/4 singing sessions, I also started to use music more in my lessons. What follows are some of the ways I used music in my everyday practice.

  • Tidy up music – One of my favourite films has to be Mary Poppins, and with various songs from this film appearing the pantomime, I soon purchased a double CD of Disney classics. One track was ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ (hopefully I have spelt that correctly). This become the tidy up music within my class. Whenever the children heard the track they knew that they had to be sat on the carpet, tidied up and ready for the next part of the day, by the end of the track. About 30 seconds from the end, Mary Poppins actually whispers the the word, so the children knew that the end was getting closer. I would tell them what they needed to do before the music started – for example – your books need to go into the appropriate marking boxes. This allowed them to complete the tidying up task successfully.

  • Creative Stimulus – I used to use music a great deal within literacy. It allowed me to create the scene for various settings in order to promote imagery for the children. If I wanted them to think of words to describe a setting, then getting them to close their eyes and listen to a suitable piece of music could promote their choice of words and/or their descriptive writing. I always used to try to choose music without words – since the children could often end up listening more to the words, rather than creating their own imagery. Classical music or sound tracks can be a good starting point – for example Carnival of the Animals.

    As people are aware, I am not a very creative person at all, but I did teach art to the class, rather than releasing it to a PPA teacher.

  • Within my art lessons – As people are aware, I am not a very creative person at all, but I did teach art to the class, rather than releasing it to a PPA teacher. I found that the children could get very involved in the ‘creativity’ of the art lesson and this could be further promoted or supported by playing music in the background. I once did a series of lessons on using charcoal – based on the pictures of Lowry. The children got very familiar with both the images and the music of this song. I would also use music to provide background noise for the children to work to – although I only did this with selective lessons. Even now in higher education, I still use this – although some other tutors now refer to me as a the ABBA man!

  • Musical Quizzes! – Whenever I was doing quizzes with the children, and even now in my sessions at university, I always played music in the background. This was a technique to control the noise level within the class. After I had asked the question I would increase the volume of the music to help mask the chatter of the children and then, when I was ready to provide the next question, I would drop the volume and the children would recognise that this was time to stop talking and listen. Although not completely connected to teaching, I did use the aforementioned Disney CD for another purpose – the end of term quiz! For this I would just use the introduction of the tracks, or a bit more if needed, and get the children to work in partners to write down the film and the name of the song.

  • With anything, you should not over use music in your teaching and you need to be aware that for some children it is actually a distraction. When used selectively I believe it can be supportive to the children and the teaching and learning process. So…what music do you use for your tidy up music? Which tracks do you use to support creative writing? Do you use music in any other ways? As always I look forward to hearing your views, comments and ideas. Please add them in the comments below or send me them to be via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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