Music in the Classroom

From indie to rap, in all of my years in a public education, my teachers have listened to it all. Well, my whole classrooms have listened to it, that is. So today, we’re going to be reviewing and discovering if making students listen to music whilst doing work really helps in the classroom and what you can do if it is.

Having familiar music playing may help students to focus and increase productivity. (photo by shankar, shiv)

Having familiar music playing may help students to focus and increase productivity. (photo by shankar, shiv)

A teacher must take into account a student that can’t work with music, they can not play music in the classroom. However, if majority of the kids are okay with music in the background, it is not an issue for the teacher to exclude those few students who can not handle it.

So why play music in the classroom? Music has the power to set the aura of a classroom. For example, playing a bunch of sad songs may put your students in a morose mood. The slow tempo and the low pitch may make the work pace slower. Playing a bunch of fast paced rebellion songs may make your students unwilling to do work and unruly. Regardless of how much power we think we have, when we subject ourselves to different types of music, we get different emotions and results out of it.

According to this article by teenink, rap music, for example, is thought of as negative in it’s power over others: the lyrics speak of violence, substance abuse, and demeaning sex and women.

Upon further research on the subject of letting students listen to music as they work, I find that, according to Dan Reitz’s research on Cripe’s studies on the matter in 1986, students exposed to music in the learning environment were more upbeat and less distracted as they did their work. According to this article, it even helps ADHD students focus.

Music appears to make time go faster as well as helps students feel more productive. If that is the case, would you not want to allow your students to listen to music?

Since we have discussed that it does in fact help students when they are listening to music and working, why is this so? And how does it work?

Now, there is an appropriate time for music to be played in the classroom. It is while students are working by themselves, not when the teacher is giving a lesson. Children are better able to retain information when it is presented in a quiet environment. However, when, say, doing worksheets or various other subjects, then it is perfectly fine and even encouraged. says that unfamiliar music is the worst music to play; instead, teachers should opt for well-known music or music without lyrics as to not distract their students. They say that if possible, a teacher should allow students to play their own music instead of sharing it. That is also distracting to the student. And finally, only listen to music after a lesson is taught and never during.

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