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Teaching with Music


"I started writing [music] as a way of helping myself (and my colleagues) survive the year with an intact sense of humor," educator and songsmith Eric Baylin told Education World. "But now I wonder -- seriously -- if laughter itself isn't one of the soundest pedagogies, a "best practice" that can help us re-tune our schools and shift the culture to one that genuinely embraces wellbeing and lightness of heart as sound supports for learning. I wouldn't mind working at a school whose mission statement included the words 'And this is a school where we love to laugh!'"

If you feel the same way, be sure to tune in to the latest Education World column Time for a Tune-Up: Songs to Brighten a Teacher's Day, in which Baylin offers original musical compositions that are sure to make any teacher smile.

Learn More About Teaching with Music

Teachers, of course, aren't the only "savage beasts" who are soothed and inspired by music. Education World has featured a number of articles about how music is being used in schools to enhance and support learning. They include:

Morning Sing
What has "risk takers" performing on stage, teachers singing to the entire school, and students talking about elementary for years to come? Lake Street School's "Morning Sing" brings together the school community for music, literature, and friendship.

Making the Case for Music Education
What will it be -- music or computers? In some communities, it all comes down to that question. New research, special programs, and dedicated teachers and community members are helping make a solid case for putting music "Bach" into our schools.

SteveSongs Transforms Kids Into Songwriters While Reinforcing Classroom Skills
Setting Columbus's journey, the virtues of kindness, and even the long "e" sound to music are part of a day's work for Steve Roslonek. The musician conducts workshops to help students employ skills and concepts from class in the songwriting process.

The Schoolhouse Rocks
Educator Max Fischer reflects on the first time he used pop music lyrics in the classroom. Since then Fischer has found many ways to introduce music -- from the Rolling Stones to Steve Martin -- to achieve learning objectives. Included: Tips for getting started.

Opera Is a Class Act
In an effort to enhance learning in all subjects, some teachers have adopted opera. As students become acquainted with Aida and The Barber of Seville, they develop an understanding of music, language, and culture. Included: Resources for teaching opera.

In addition, Education World has posted several lesson plans that use music to teach about history and social studies. They include:

Teaching About Tolerance Through Music
Students analyze the lyrics of Peter, Paul and Mary songs that express themes of tolerance. They then choose a follow-up activity -- write a poem, perform a poem, sing a song, or draw a picture -- that evokes the sentiments of one of the song's lyrics.

The Black History Rap
Students research famous Black Americans in history, learn how rap compares to other forms of poetic expression, write a rap or hip-hop lyric about the life a famous Black American, and then perform their original raps.

Songs of the Civil War
Students investigate music of the Civil War era, explore how music can be used to arouse and express emotion, and try to imagine how the composers of such songs as "Music in Camp" felt as they wrote their music.