For Teachers

Creative Academic Instruction: Music Resources for the Classroom

By Jeremy Renner April 28, 2011

French novelist and poet Victor Hugo once said, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” Many teachers today would likely agree with Hugo’s statement because they have seen how music can help create a caring community in the classroom and support academic instruction.

A 1993 study in the science journal Nature reported that listening to classical music may provide a temporary boost in spatial reasoning. The degree of and long term benefits of playing  classical music have not been scientifically proven, but teachers frequently report that music from the Baroque era has a soothing and calming effect on children.

Music can support academic instruction, too. If you teach Kentucky history it would be interesting to expose your students to Bluegrass music. If you are reading a set in the World War II era, it might be helpful to play some Big Band selections. As you study different time periods and geographic locations, consider the benefit to sharing music from the era or region.

Streaming music online

You might be wondering how this could be possible without spending a great deal of time and money organizing a collection of songs for the classroom. The answer is to use Pandora Internet Radio, a free music streaming website, which can open the world of symphony, sonatas, cantatas and jam sessions to your students and enhance their classroom learning experience.

Amy Mattox, a fourth grade teacher, used Pandora to support the novels her class was reading. “I used Pandora when I read ‘Bud Not Buddy’ and ‘The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.’  Music plays a big role in the lives of the main characters. Pandora allowed me to easily bring music from those time periods into the classroom and give students more background knowledge about the culture of the two eras.”

The first step is to navigate to Pandora and create a free account which is simple to do by following the online prompts.

Once you are logged into Pandora you can build music stations. Each station is based around one or more artists or songs, and once a station is built it can be accessed for a constant stream of music that is similar to the song or artist that it was built upon.

A feature that Pandora does not provide is the ability to search for a specific song.  If you need to play “The Star Spangled Banner” or “My Old Kentucky Home,” for example, there are other online music streaming services available that will let you search for a specific composition. Two of the most popular are Grooveshark and YouTube.

Enjoy many hours of free streaming music resources for the classroom. Your students will benefit from the exposure to new genres.

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