Music in the Elementary Setting

The Value of Music in the Elementary Setting

Tiffany Magennis

There are many who may recall days spent in an elementary classroom, singing their ABCs or joining in song with classmates to memorize times tables. If the research of music in elementary education is correct, one may to this day recall the exact tune and lyrics of songs utilized in the grade school setting.

The value of music in elementary education has been well tested for validity, and yielded positive results. In the classroom, music has been incorporated as a tool for enhancing curriculum, particularly where memorization is concerned. One longitudinal test confirmed, “The researcher found that implementing classical background music in the classroom is strongly linked to increased motivation to learn, the ability to stay on-task, and the production of positive behaviors.” (White, 19)  This finding provides evidence that music within the classroom not only enhances mood, but elevates intellectual understanding of lessons.

Scientific research concerning the involvement of music in the elementary setting focuses on neurological benefits of students, particularly the Alpha Brain Wave state, which occurs in when the brain is relaxed, yet alert.  “Baroque music…creates an atmosphere of focus that leads students into deep concentration in the alpha brain wave state. Learning vocabulary, memorizing facts or reading to this music is highly effective.” (Brewer, 1)  There has also been neurological evidence stating the integration of music in the curriculum of elementary aged children may reap tangible results such as, “Playing music at school and elsewhere can help create a dynamic balance between the brain’s more logical left and more intuitive right hemisphere— an interplay thought to be the basis of creativity.” (Yoon, 25)

The value of music in the elementary setting has been proven in not only science, but in the practice of teachers. Music is a mnemonic device, meaning there is a pattern or association with the topic being used for memory recall. In the study of music, the music itself is the mnemonic device, which elementary teachers utilize often. One study states, “The use of music as a mnemonic device has long been heralded as a positive and effective way of learning, especially for the elementary student. Teachers use them universally to aid them in their instruction of content area subject matter.” (Hayes, 22)

Insofar as the value of music in the elementary school setting, one study found unanimous agreement, reporting, “The teachers surveyed all recognize the effectiveness of mnemonics as a learning strategy in the classroom,” (Hayes, 32).  Another study discovered, “More and more teachers are using music in their classrooms, especially during language arts instruction,” (Fisher, 40) indicating large success in the use of music in elementary classrooms.

In one study, teachers interviewed provided experience from music incorporated in the classrooms of their childhood, “…teachers were able to recall musical or rhythmic mnemonics from their youth, among them a song about planets, the Nifty Fifty United States, and Thirty Days hath September.” (Hayes, 32) This memory recall from years previous strongly supports research that music is a powerful tool in the elementary classroom.

All studies listed have unanimously observed positive neurological, psychological, and developmental effects on children, while also enhancing academic lessons. Furthermore, one study provided additional evidence that the use of music as a mnemonic device in lessons has a lifelong effect in the brain. Conclusively, research has concluded that the value of music in the elementary school setting is, truly, invaluable.

Bibliography

Brewer, Chris Boyd. “Music and learning: Integrating music in the classroom.” Toronto: Zephyr Press. Retrieved, March 3 (1995): 2008.

White, Kevin N. “The Effects of Background Music in the Classroom on the Productivity, Motivation, and Behavior of Fourth Grade Students.” Online Submission (2007).

Yoon, Jenny Nam. “Music in the Classroom: Its Influence on Children’s Brain Development, Academic

PeHayes, Orla C. The use of melodic and rhythmic mnemonics to improve memory and recall in elementary students in the content areas. Diss. Dominican University of California San Rafael, CA, 2009.rformance, and Practical Life Skills.” (2000).

Fisher, Douglas. “Early language learning with and without music.” Reading Horizons 42.1 (2001): 8.

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