Mimio Educator

Digital Music in the Classroom

Posted by Kelly Bielefeld on Tue, Nov 27, 2018


When we incorporated 1:1 devices in our school, there was one issue that came up quickly that I wasn’t expecting: students using their device as an MP3 player. For those youngsters who don’t know what that is, it’s an old-fashioned music playing device—much like the CD players, tape decks, and 8-track players from yesteryear.

I guess I didn’t see a Chromebook as being the same as the types of devices students typically use to listen to music. I’m not sure why I had this blind spot, but I quickly realized that students would read books, work on math problems, and even talk to friends with their ear buds in. Why does it matter? There are a few reasons to me why this was both potentially positive and negative.

The Benefits of Music

For one, it may help students reduce distractions in their room. Classical music is scientifically proven to help improve a student's focus. It can also relax them and calm them down after getting back from lunch or recess. Classical music calms the nerves and slows the heart rate, which can bring the student back to focus after an exciting event. It’s possible that listening to music during class could actually help students learn better.

There are other student-centered or cultural reasons on the teacher end, too. Music can put students in a good mood and become a motivator—however, it is best to play music that doesn’t become a large distraction. 

Some teachers or parents might argue that listening to music while studying may decrease the ability for a student to absorb the learning. They may even say that the music is a distraction and that with the music on, their work may not be their top priority. Students fiddle and mess with their music when they should be following the teacher’s directions.

Music as a Motivator

I found that there are other reasons for limiting, or even prohibiting, music listening during the school day. For one, it may be hard to make sure that every student is listening to appropriate music. Some of the students steam music from YouTube, so there is the added concern of the appropriateness of the images that they are seeing as well. Many parents don’t police this much for older students, but the risk the teacher runs is allowing access to something at school that the parent does not allow at home.

What are some approaches that a teacher can use to help make music a motivator in the classroom rather than a distraction? Here are a few:

Use it as a motivator: One great way to incorporate music into the classroom is by using it as a reward. For example, if the student has no missing assignments or is consistently respectful and responsible, then they may listen to music while they work. If they cannot maintain this, then they lose the privilege. 

Listen as a group: The teacher may also try creating their own Spotify or Pandora playlist for the whole class. This could be decided as a reward (for example, the student with the best behavior gets to pick the song) or through a class vote. It can be fun and engaging for the kids and can be a good compromise between saying “no” and letting them have free reign.

Tips for Getting Started

If this is something that you would be interested in but don’t know where to start, Spotify and Pandora are both good sites to use for listening to music. Teachers can even create a class playlist or find a channel for music that helps students learn. On Pandora, teachers can look up a song that you find helpful or appropriate and it creates a playlist you can follow based on that particular song. If the teacher wants to play music that has words in it, Disney is a great option—it’s always clean and enjoyable for all ages.

As fun and helpful as music is, students may run into some problems with the internet. Our school quickly found that 400 people all listening to their own music had an impact on the internet because of a lack of bandwidth. This is something to keep an eye on as you weigh the options for adding music to the classroom.

Whether music is something that will help or hinder the learning in the classroom is probably a class-to-class decision. Overall, there could be some benefits to it, but there are some downfalls worth considering as well.

Learn how to easy it is to add audio files to your MimioStudio lessons with Boxlight's helpful training resources. Watch the MimioStudio: Adding Content video or attend the live MimioStudio: Adding Content Quick Learn session.



Topics: Lessons, tips for teachers


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