The Power of Music


I love music! I enjoyed playing various musical instruments and singing in the choir throughout middle and high school. Some of my favorite childhood memories center around music- singing along to the “Oldies” with my parents on car trips from New Jersey to Florida every Easter, trying to tape my favorite songs off the radio as a teenager, buying my first CD, and planning out all the CD’s that would go into my 6-disc changer (fancy!) in my first car before a long road trip. There are certain songs that can place me back to a very specific time and place just within the first few notes. Music is powerful. It can change someone’s mood – try not to smile while blasting your favorite song and singing at the top of your lungs in your car!

This is me learning how to play the didgeridoo in Australia!

This is me learning how to play the didgeridoo in Australia!

Music can also be a powerful instructional tool in the classroom. Music can support transitions between activities, can act as a tool for classroom management, can be used as text for close readings or figurative language analysis, can support making personal connections with students, and face it, it’s fun! 😉

I don’t think that we spend enough time supporting teachers with the use of music. One of the strongest teachers I ever had the privilege of working with, used strategies from Quantum Learning, including music, to motivate, encourage, support, and push her Kindergarten students to the highest levels of rigor I’ve ever seen in a Kinder class! Her students knew, by the opening notes of a specific song, when it was time to “clean up” or “put away Language and take out Math” or “line up for recess”. We spend so much time teaching our students the ins and outs of language; music is also a language that bridges communication gaps and enhances understanding.

I recently tweeted out about the lyrics to a song being perfect for an educational lesson:

I often sit in my car, singing along to my latest favorite song, analyzing the lyrics. Some songs have such strong messages (girl power! redemption! forgiveness! joy!) that I would just love to listen to students discussing the content. I truly believe that the lyrics of songs (appropriate to students’ age level, of course) can become excellent sources of text for our students to analyze. It would also be powerful to ask students to bring in their favorite (or original!) lyrics as examples of whatever is being studied in class (figurative language, unconventional punctuation, writer’s craft). Music can even serve as a mentor text for young writers experimenting with their voice and craft!

  • What are you listening to these days?
  • How do you use music in your classroom/ How have you seen music used as an instructional tool?
  • Check out #IamBraveenough on twitter to see the power lyrics can have on many!

“You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do

But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

– Lyrics to Brave by Sara Bareilles



Another post about my love of music:

I Want to Hold Your Hand


About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Power of Music

  1. Love this post. I feel like you took the words right out of my head! Great job!!

  2. Melissa Guerrette says:

    This spring my 5th graders–still new to close reading–did some impressive thinking when given lyrics to Garth Brooks’ “Standing Outside the Fire.” They only had lyrics and I didn’t tell them it was a song. A few days later, we worked through the learning experience again with the Brooks’ lyrics “The River.” It was outstanding to listen to the contrasts and comparisons! Adding the music adds further discussion about musicians’ choices about mood, tempo, organization, etc…extending the critical thinking about authors and writing.

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