“Can we listen to music while we work?” is a question that is often asked, but instead of the harmonious images of a calm class quietly working away what usually happens is the following:
- Pupils assume you are an international superstar DJ.
- When they realise you have never spent a summer DJ’ing in Ibiza they fire song requests at you. Every pupil does this. At the same time.
- No matter what song is selected it is an unpopular choice with more than half of the class.
- You spend far too much time switching between song.
- Occasionally (but always at the most worst possible moment!) an inappropriate lyric containing a swear word or details of a sexual conquest will blast out of your once structured and productive learning environment.
Fortunately, there is a way (or “ways”) to use music to your advantage and even enhance the learning of those in your class. Read on!
The Tricks of the Trade.
Without any hesitation, this is what you need to do…
Establish a low, but perfectly audible volume level. And whatever you do don’t turn it up once it is playing. Music is a tool that you can use in your favour to keep a class quiet and productive. Yet once music is playing pupils will subconsciously raise their talking voices to overcome the background noise.
If pupils get too loud for the music to be heard then some pupils will request for the volume to be increased. Please resist the urge to do this as you would just be initialising a vicious circle of increasing talking and music volumes. Instead, if a request is put in to raise the volume of the music then this is your cue to let the class know that they are being too loud for the music to be heard and so they need to be (much more) quieter.
Don’t do requests, under any circumstances. Taking and playing requests throughout the class is a sure fire way to ruin productivity. When each song is played the majority of the class will be unhappy that their song is not the one that has been chosen. Plus, at the risk of sounding old before my time, teenagers listen to some truly awful music that quite frankly offends my ears.
Instead you need to have ready-made playlists that you can put on shuffle to eliminate any aspect of choice from students.
This is where things get a little interesting.
Instead of using a playlist of songs populated by the likes of Beyonce and Little Mix, to which most people feel strongly positive or negative about. Play orchestral or instrumental songs that have no lyrics, these are the most effective for increasing productivity.
The only problem with those is that they are not too popular with the youth of today. The work around for this is to use the below playlist that I have created using the Amazon Music service which contains a more than decent selection of the best music from past and present video games. The music is calming, uplifting and most importantly, recognisable by young people. In the worst case scenario, a pupil wouldn’t recognise a song but because is does not contain polarising content they would not have any strong negative opinions of the music.
Video game music is very much overlooked in classrooms but with musicians such as the London Music Works, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Gustavo Santaolalla there is plenty of outstanding compositions that students can recognise. Within today’s computing classrooms, pupils are also often creating games and so this music can also be used to immerse pupils into the topic, and can lead to discussions about setting a tone for a game, and how music can enhance the users experience.
To access the playlist.
To access the playlist you need to have an Amazon account, which if you don’t already have one you can get for free, and either an Amazon Music account (free for Prime members) or an Amazon Music Unlimited account which is £7.99 a month for Prime members or £9.99 for regular customers.
However, if you are not a Prime or Music Unlimited customer then I’ve left a banner directly under this paragraph which will take you to a free 30 day trail for either service, which will cost you absolutely nothing if you cancel before the trial period ends. Possibly the best part though is that apart from using the music in class, you will also get access to Amazon’s extensive music catalogue which has an excellent selection and choice, all of which can be downloaded to listen offline.
My playlist can be found by clicking here (you need to have an account first though) but feel free add your own songs and create your own playlists.
What are your experiences with music in the class room?
Have you used my playlist? Do you have any feedback? Please let me know in the comments section below.