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!