Have you ever wondered why your students can remember every single lyric to the hottest song on the radio, but can't seem to remember 8 x 4? Or how they can recount, in specific detail, every line of every song from their favorite movie, but they can't remember the difference between the tens place and the ones place? The catchy tunes on the radio and the whimsical songs from their favorite movies stick in their heads for a reason: brains like music. Combining music and math in the classroom is a great way to keep kids interested in the lessons, and improve their math scores. Here are 7 reasons why music in your math classroom may be your next right step.
1. Music Improves Memory Research shows that music accelerates brain activity, especially the areas responsible for language, memory, and spatial reasoning. Our brains, and the brains of your students, are programmed to connect music with memory. This is why it is easy for students to remember all 50 states in alphabetical order or the sequential order of the American Presidents when taught using a song. Studies on music and the effects on the brain link music with long-term memory, which is extremely helpful when teaching memorization techniques such as multiplication facts or formulas.
2. Music Improves Students’ Attitude According to a study done at Johns-Hopkins University entitled Music and Learning: Integrating Music in the Classroom, "a successful lesson is dependent on the attitude of the students, the amount of attention they pay to the lesson, and the atmosphere in which they are learning." A fun and catchy song that the students enjoy is a sure-fire way to peak their interests and put them in a good mood, shifting their neutral or negative attitudes about math into a more positive direction.
3. Music Makes Them Pay Attention The rhythm and tempo of music can help students stay focused on the task at hand. When you introduce a new song to the classroom, the focus and attention of each student is on analyzing, listening to, and learning the new song. They focus on the tempo, the beats, and of course the lyrics, and they are giving 100% of their attention to the new concept being taught. Most teachers agree that having the full, undivided attention of every student, all at the same time, while introducing a new concept, is priceless. Music makes it happen.
Rock out while adding and subtracting!
4. Music Enhances the Classroom Atmosphere You can change the entire atmosphere of your classroom with just a song. Need your students to calm down? Play something soothing and classical. Need to grab their attention? A high energy and playful song will do the trick. Outside of the classroom, students are immersed in music on a daily basis, so why should it be any different in the classroom? Using music to teach a math lesson gets kids excited and adds something unique and different to their daily routine.
5. Music Is Personal You may not think of a math classroom as a place where kids are in touch with their feelings and emotions, but music has a mysterious way of connecting with people in different ways. You may be able to reach a student through music that you couldn’t connect with in any other way. Music affects the part of the brain responsible for creativity and reflection and has a calming effect, so students who are easily frustrated, distracted or overwhelmed during a math lesson can use music to redirect, calm down, and focus.
6. Music Encourages Classroom Involvement Even for the classroom extrovert, getting up and reciting math facts or strategies in front of the class can be a little overwhelming. But, if the whole classroom is standing up, dancing and singing along, everyone is included and everyone is participating. If a student forgets the words or a specific part of the song, there is no judgment or embarrassment because everyone else is focusing on the music! #nojudgementzone
7. Music Is Really Fun! Nobody wakes up and says, “Oh boy! I can’t wait to sit down all day in my silent classroom and listen to my monotone teacher go on and on about fractions!” However, students who spend their day in a creative, hands-on, safe, fun, and diversified classroom environment come into class each day ready to learn. Incorporating music into the math classroom is a great way to get kids excited about the lesson, and have them learn while they’re having fun.
Whether you are simply playing classical music as they enter the classroom, or have them rocking out to the Multiplication Mash Up, you’ll see major improvements once you start incorporating music into your math classroom, both in test scores and in overall student confidence, participation, and comprehension.