Unit 1: How Does Music Enhance Learning?



Shannon McShane (my portfolio)

Music Strategies in the Classroom (introduction to course)

You are currently in Unit 1

Unit 2: Analyzing Music-Based Strategies

Unit 3: Implementing Music into Typical Classroom Routines

Welcome to Unit 1!

Objectives: ·

  • The participant will define music. (prerequisite)
  • The participant will compare and contrast the two songs: Alphabet Song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • The participant will identify the different parts of the brain affecting by music.
  • The participant will complete a quiz on the effects of music on learning. (Assessment)

What is Music?

Click here to answer this question

Now that you answered this question, see other responses HERE

Elementary musicians, doctors of music, music historians, and many more have been having this discussion for years. What exactly is music? The truth is, it's whatever you consider it to be. Perhaps you consider it beautiful, or unique, or just sound. Because music has such a broad definition, the application of music is versatile. No one in the world could ever collect every composition of music because there are millions of new pieces composed each day!

If music is so abundant in our society, why are we afraid to use it as a teaching tool? Children know what music is; they most likely hear music every day. Why is music not abundantly in our classrooms?

In the beginning early elementary grades, music is used frequently. Check out these two songs that should already be familiar to you:

Song 1

Song 2

Listen to the melodies of each... Hum each of them to yourself... Notice anything?

That's right! They're the same! Music is used all the time in younger classrooms, and sometimes even the same melody. Why do you think that is? (We will discuss this in Unit 2).

Why no music?

However, as the students get older, teachers use music less frequently.

Why do you suppose that is? Click here to answer this question

Click here to view other responses

When looking at why there is a lack of music in the classrooms (especially the older-aged classrooms), we must look at the perspective of many teachers in history: music is a distraction. A colleague of mine once said, "... testing and education needs to be done in silence in order to guarantee complete understanding of the material being taught" (D. Paniccia).

In addition to the typical look as music as a distraction, we must also look at the individual teacher's confidence in their own musical abilities. In the task analysis survey for this course, many participants said they do not use music in the classroom because they do not feel confident in their own musical abilities.

The Proof

There are several studies done on whether or not music helps students in the classroom. Most of the studies involve teachers utilizing music within their instruction.

The following are examples of which music was found to has a positive effect on student learning.

The Effects of Music on Achievement, Attitude, and Retention in Primary School English Lessons

  • Researchers taught vocabulary words to 5th graders with songs, rather than just discussion. There was a retention test performed a month after the students learned the vocabulary words; the group that learned via song outscored the control group that was instructed via discussion (without music) (2013).

Music Strategies to Promote Engagement and Academic Growth of Young Children with ASD in the Inclusive Classroom.

  • This article was publishing in 2015, and concentrating on providing information about children on the ASD spectrum. They concentrated on three music strategies they found that increased engagement, academic skills, social skills, and emotional regulation. The three music strategies were: (a) the use of precomposed songs, (b) the use of song-writing, and (c) music stations.

Still not convinced?

Music and the Human Brain

This picture shows the different parts of the brain.

The human brain is quite a complex organ in our body. There are different sections of the brain that are responsible for different things. The more parts used as once, the better the learning and engagement.

Take a look at this picture.

Each section has a different responsibility. Here are the ones specifically for music:

Left frontal lobe: a familiar song

Right frontal lobe: timbre (the quality of the sound; what differentiates a violin from a trumpet)

Left posterior: pitch (how high or low a note is; depends on frequency of sound wave)

Cerebellum: those dance moves resulting in hearing a good song (smooth body movement associated with dancing along or playing an instrument)

Limbic system (within the brain): emotional reactions to music

This picture is a side-by-side comparison of a brain without any stimulant and a brain listening to music. The more red there is, the more intense of an activity there is in that area of the brain.

The second picture shows a comparison of two PET scans. Notice the brain image on the right was take while music was playing. The more sections of the brain are activated, the more synapses and connections we make-- we learn better with music!



Ready to assess your knowledge? Click here for your quiz!

Once you have reviewed your answers and understand the feedback for each question, you are ready to move on!

Click here for Unit 2: Analyzing Music-Based Strategies


Koksal, O., Yagison, N., & Cekic, A. (2013). The Effects of Music on Achievement, Attitude, and Retention in Primary School English Lessons. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Science, 93(3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching, and Educational Leadership), 1897-1900.

Leaf Group Ltd. Livestrong.com, Noreen Kassem. (2014). What Parts of the Brain are Stimulaed by Music? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/175434-what-parts-of-the-brain-are-stimulated-by-music/. Doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.136.

Vailouli, P., & Ogle, L. (2015). Music Strategies to Promote Engagement and Academic Growth of Young Children with ASD in the Inclusive Classroom. Young Exceptional Children, 18(2), 19-28.

YouTube, Oh My Genius – Nursery Rhymes and Kids Songs. (2014). Alphabet Song – ABC Song – learn Alphabets – nursery rhymes – kids song. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7InEgfPGxc.

YouTube, Super Simple Songs – Kids Songs. (2010). Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCjJyiqpAuU.