Bring the Joy of Music to Your Classroom
From world music to today’s tunes, melody and technology are combining across the curriculum to promote deeper learning. Strike a chord with these online resources and fresh ideas.
We’ve all seen the magical effect that music can have—lifting spirits, increasing energy, sparking memories, and encouraging creativity. Music can also have a profound influence on learning, in terms of promoting engagement, focusing learning, and much more.
Unfortunately, budget cuts are often resulting in cuts to school music programs. However, music can be incorporated throughout the curriculum to support academic learning standards, as well as to build deeper learning.
Music, songs, and music videos can play a role in helping students remember math facts, master history and geography, learn new languages, and expand vocabulary. The Internet has made available a wealth of resources for this in every grade level and subject area.
Beyond basic practice activities, music in the classroom can give students access to different places, time periods, and cultures, as well as providing multimedia building blocks for creating projects that build higher order thinking skills. Teachers Melvina Kurashige, from Honolulu, and Caitlin Krause, from Belgium, collaborated on a thematic unit on water by writing songs. Students brought their passions for music, art, writing, and video production together and learned a lot in the process.
Including music that is currently popular with your students is a way to bring relevance to studies. Students can be asked to find examples of figures of speech in current music or to interpret the lyrics for storytelling techniques or social commentary.
Here are a few creative ways you can incorporate music in your classroom activities across the curriculum with some handy resources that you can use to get started:
- Explore geography and world cultures through music. The Travels with Music collection of videos includes videos with musical artists from around the world, highlighting their unique cultures (grades K-5).
- Bring history alive by listening to music from different historical periods. There are many resources you can use to help students connect to a time period and its events, including: historical musical collections (grades 3-12), primary source analysis tools (grades 6-12), and this lesson looking at music from war times (grades 9-12).
- Have students create a podcast to synthesize what they’ve learned about any academic topic. Students will enjoy incorporating music into these podcasts, and these open-licensed music clips will leave you worry-free about copyright issues. There are many resources to help you get started like this podcasting lesson and accompanying resources from computer applications teacher Judy Scharf (grades 6-8) and this podcasting lesson from Extra NewsHour (grades 9-12).
- Discover the impact of music on digital storytelling. Create your own digital stories with music to bring together technology and the arts, with English, math, science, and social studies. Good places to start are this digital storytelling resource collection (grades 3-12), this personal narrative unit (grades 3-5), this musical storytelling lesson (grades 3-10), and this collection of digital stories of social commentary (grades 9-12).
All of these rich resources from Curriki are free and open licensed under a Creative Commons license. That means you can remix, modify, and redistribute them freely, as long as you cite the source. This makes these resources great for differentiation. Curriki also provides tools for you to upload and share your own classroom resources with others.
So as you’re looking for ways to add extra spark to your classroom activities, bring some music in!
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