The Little Book of Music for the Classroom
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The Little Book of Music for the Classroom

Using music to improve memory, motivation, learning and creativity

Nina Jackson, Ian Gilbert, Ian Gilbert

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eBook - ePub

The Little Book of Music for the Classroom

Using music to improve memory, motivation, learning and creativity

Nina Jackson, Ian Gilbert, Ian Gilbert

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Table of contents

About This Book

If you ever want to start a fight in the staffroom then bring up the question of the use of music in the classroom. And if you want to settle that perennial dispute then this is the book to do it with. Nina's groundbreaking research has proven how music can be of direct benefit for learning and motivation in classrooms across the school and this book, simply and effectively, tells you what music to use, when and why. So, put away your whale song CD and your James Last box set and explore how real music can transform your classroom.

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In this chapter you will learn about the use of music as a tool to support your teaching and for raising standards of learning. This chapter is specifically dedicated to memory recall and priming the brain for learning in Ready, Steady, Listen and Learn, solving problems in Solve It Through Music, developing language, literacy, oracy and learning for special educational needs in Listening for Language and Learning, and music to support learners with study and revision skills in Smart Study.
Using music specifically dedicated to learning is an area which seems to cause the most controversy with teachers. However, seventeen years of research has shown that using techniques linked with the theory of ‘Sound Waves Makes Brain Waves’ has helped learners raise their standards of learning. You can find the data to support this research in The Big Book of Independent Thinking1 in the chapter Music and the Mind.
The main focus of this chapter is getting the brain ready for learning – ready to recall information, to solve problems, to learn by rote, to develop study and revision skills and even deduce theorems. I’ve found that Focusing Music can help learners and teachers with abstract reasoning, brainwork such as analytical, creative or administrative thinking and aspects of motivation. Music has the neural firepower to jazz up your thought processes and reasoning skills. Listening to music can help learners encode information and improve the recall process. Theright music at the right time can induce a mood of concentration, filter out any distractions, and structure thoughts for academic learning.
Music can help you work smarter, not harder. The accelerated learning school pioneered by Bulgarian psychologist Georgi Lozanov during the 1950s and 1960s, and then popularised in the USA by Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Shroeder, holds that learning in time to music at about 60 Beats Per Minute (BPM) helps imprint material in your memory with less conscious effort. Learning to music is certainly an improvement on the usual grinding process of silent memorisation; so why shouldn’t something that sounds good make your memory work better?
Sound Waves Make Brain Waves – and with the right music, learners will have a tool that has been proven to raise standards of learning. This Little Book of Music is a tool for you to use and try things out. Hundreds of teachers already have – so give it a go!
The following chapters provide a step-by-step guide to help you implement these ideas.

Ready, Steady, Listen and Learn

Memory Recall

Certain kinds of music induce a receptive mood that generally enhances cognitive processing, can serve as a mnemonic memory aid to help you encode information in the mind, and supports initial learning, recall, and transference into working memory.
Music primes your mind for learning, whether you are deducing mathematical theorems, drawing conclusions from experiments, playing chess, or challenged by any abstract thinking. By using music correctly you will be able to stimulate aspects of the ‘left brain’ in order to promote logical and analytical thinking, as well as stimulating ‘right brain’ thinking to help you grasp the big picture and think in a non-verbal, more creative way. Music also helps when you are studying for a test or examination, for times when you need to recall knowledge, information, shapes or pictures. By following the guidelines in this book you will develop skills and processes to recall almost anything.
Try this for yourself: select a piece of music from the list at the end of the chapter and listen to it while you are engaged in a task, such as remembering the names of Tudor monarchs or the planets of the solar system in the correct order, etc.
  1. Mercury
  2. Venus
  3. Earth
  4. Mars
  5. Jupiter
  6. Saturn
  7. Uranus
  8. Neptune
  9. Pluto
By linking a piece of music, or melody, from one of the tracks, the pupils make an instant link between the information they have been studying and the music they have heard. It acts as a ‘brain trigger’, much like storing information in a little box.

How to do this in the classroom

Listening Stage 1

  • Explain that you are going to use music to assist with memory recall of a piece of work. Present the information you want the pupils to learn, for example using a handout, worksheets or on a computer.
  • Having done that, explain to the pupils that when the music starts they should listen to it with their eyes closed and to follow the ‘shape’ of the melody. They can put their heads on the desks if that helps them feel safe when their eyes are closed.
  • Now, play the music (for between 2–10 minutes). The pupils must not write anything down at this point – they just listen to the music and become engrossed in it. This will link the music to the learning.

Listening Stage 2

  • When you finish demonstrating the musical extract, ask the pupils to choose a suitable way of remembering the information. They may use jotting, noting, drawing, bullets, learning diary or any other preferred form of note-taking.
  • Now play the same extract continuously as they perform this task, again enhancing the link between the learning and the music.
  • Towards the end of the lesson, play the music one more time (volume level on low) and get the pupils to show or tell you what it is they can recall, either as groups or individuals. Here, you wil...

Table of contents

Citation styles for The Little Book of Music for the Classroom
APA 6 Citation
Jackson, N. (2009). The Little Book of Music for the Classroom ([edition unavailable]). Crown House Publishing. Retrieved from (Original work published 2009)
Chicago Citation
Jackson, Nina. (2009) 2009. The Little Book of Music for the Classroom. [Edition unavailable]. Crown House Publishing.
Harvard Citation
Jackson, N. (2009) The Little Book of Music for the Classroom. [edition unavailable]. Crown House Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Jackson, Nina. The Little Book of Music for the Classroom. [edition unavailable]. Crown House Publishing, 2009. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.