How to use music in my classroom

How to use music in my classroom
Nancy Crider, Briarwood School, Camden, Tennessee
“Wow, Ms. Nancy, this is cool. Where did you learn how to do this?
No other teacher has ever let us write this way,” exclaimed ten-year-old
Haley earlier this school year. She let me know in her own unique way that
she never thought writing could be so fun. Maybe she was just trying to
make me feel good, but I like to think that music has made a difference for
her and made her think about reading and writing in a different way.
Since the last summer institute follow-up, I have worked with the
students on bringing out their feelings on paper with song. Several of the
TC’s last summer brought this concept to life for me, and I just adapted it a
little for my fourth graders. I have let the children listen to 1950’s and
1960’s popular tunes, like Hound Dog (and other Elvis hits), Do You Love
Me, Barbara Ann, My Girl, etc. I have been floored at how much the
students love “doo-wop” type songs. It is amazing the feelings that have
been expressed on paper through these songs. These songs really touched
many of these ten year olds.
I have been working with other teachers in my school to enhance my
research and make the overall experience with music “across the
curriculum.” The music teacher at Briarwood has been working with our
students on three musicals: a sock hop for third grade, Annie for fourth
grade, and Oliver for fifth grade. My fourth grade class learned five songs
from the musical Annie, and we used this as a jumping off point to look at
other famous musical plays and hear tunes from them. I had the students
write colors that came to mind when they heard these songs and why they
chose that certain color. The students also performed the play for the whole
school and for a group of parents during a PTO meeting. They were
exposed to other musicals as well because our class viewed the third grade
sock hop program, and we will be watching the fifth graders perform the
Oliver play next week.
The musical theme has not just been limited to my writing classroom.
The CDs I bought to narrate novels that we read are still a big hit. The
students beg to read more and more so I know they really like this approach
to reading. How different it is to have the CD with music instead of just my
voice or the voices of other students! I really like this use of music in my
classroom, and know that I will use it year after year.
As I told you in my last follow-up paper, I wanted my students to take
a piece of their writing and set it to music. I tried the reverse of that (letting
them listen to music and compose writing from what they heard) at the
beginning of the school year. It was successful and fun for the class. I have
not yet had time to implement my “Soundtrack in Reverse,” but I am
looking forward to it. I am also planning on again building a planetarium
with my students in the next few weeks. I have decided to enhance the
dramatic effect with music playing in the background as we work. I am
planning on playing some Star Wars type instrumental music to set the
mood and liven the overall experience. I have also purchased a CD that
narrates the constellations with some neat science fiction sounding music in
the background.
All in all, I feel my year with music has been a tremendous success.
There are other ways that I would like to implement music next year, so this
research will be ongoing. Writing, reading, and music go hand-in-hand in
many fun and unique ways. My classroom has loved being part of my
research. I am not sure I could ever go full fledged like some of my fellow
TC’s, playing music in the background at all times, but I think I have made a
good start. This research has made me open my eyes to new and endless
possibilities, and also made me aware enough of using music in my
classroom that I actively look for ways to fit it into daily lessons.
One of my student’s words sums up the vibe music gave in my
classroom the best. Zach told me that I, Ms. Nancy Crider, was in the
groove. Now I’m not sure exactly what he meant, but it sounded like a
compliment to me. His words led me to believe that he was getting
something more out of Language Arts class than he ever had in the past. It
made me feel like a success. Even if that’s not entirely what he meant, I’m
going to take it that way! 