The Power of Music - Part 1

I kicked off The Power of Music Series on Blog Swap Sunday on July 14, 2013.  That day I swapped blogs with Jessica from Mrs. Harris Teaches.  In case you missed it, here is the post that started it all - The Power of Music Part 1!

 Hi, I am Amy the teacher/blogger behind Teaching in Blue Jeans. First, before you judge me let me say that I do NOT get to teach in blue jeans everyday. I wish I did, but not so much. But I do love me some blue jeans. One day as I was thinking about my beloved blue jeans I started thinking about why I loved them so much: they are comfortable, oh so comfortable; I can dress them up or down which means they are versatile; and most importantly I just feel like myself in them. When I wear blue jeans I find that I am more willing to try something new or take a risk, more likely to have fun and be silly, more likely to focus and work hard (probably because I am not tugging at hose or thinking about my aching feet (but shoes - that's another blog post entirely)). Somehow in my brain I went from thinking about all the reasons I love blue jeans to concluding that "the blue jean feeling" is exactly how I want my classroom to be. I want me students to be comfortable and feel like themselves. I want them to be willing to work hard, try something new, take risks, have fun and be silly. So there you have it - my Blue Jean Mentality and the idea behind Teaching in Blue Jeans!

Today I would like to talk to you about the power of music.  Music has this ability to touch the soul, if it didn't then it would not be such the business that it is in society today.  But music has the ability to touch the brain too!  Think about things that you have seen - a song comes on the radio and and little baby starts rhythmically kicking their legs.  The toddler stops walking and starts bouncing to the beat.  These sweet kiddos aren't making a cognitive decision to "dance" but there is something in the music that just connects with them.  I don't know if you have seen this video or not, but it's one of my favorites and always good to bring a smile to your face.

Aside from comedy in this video, think of the power of music in this little ones life.  Music also has the ability to touch our emotions.  It can bring us up and bring us down.  I think that movies have some of the best music for this.  I've always said there's no sense closing your eyes during a scary movie because if you can still hear the music your body is still reacting.  Last, just in case I haven't convinced you yet, think about the ability to hear a song that you haven't heard or sung in years and join right in.  Coincidence, I don't think so.  It's all part of the power of music.  So, all that being said, what does that have to do with education?

Music can be a powerful tool in the classroom in many facets.  I use music all the time.  In fact, if you were to come into my classroom you probably would be there 10 minutes or less before you heard some type of music!  Now I know what some of you are thinking - I can't sing.  Well neither can I!  But hey its not a concert.  I have to say there is something uninhibiting about singing with a bunch of kids.  They don't care and in fact you'll probably get claps, hugs and smiles just for your effort.  I would like to share with you some of the ways that I use music in my classroom. 

The first and I think most obvious way that I use music is to support the learning of content.  In this day and age there are soooooo many resources available to us it is amazing.  As I am planning my lessons, one of my go to planning places in You Tube!  No, I'm not just procrastinating by watching videos like the cute little baby above.  I am looking for that 1 go to song that I want to use to help my students learn and remember the concept we covering.  Why 1 song you ask?  Well, if I can find 1 song that says everything I need it to say then I use the song repeatedly while studying the concept to help the students learn the song.  Sometimes I will use more than one song but I try to space them out and introduce them as they correspond to the lesson.  Let me give you an example using one of last year's most favorite songs ever!  Topic - comparing numbers.  I visit You Tube and type in "comparing numbers" just to see what pops up.  Here's what happened:

In the red circle I circled the number of results that came up - about 37,500!  Can you believe it - thirty-seven thousand results for comparing numbers?  Amazing!  I also wanted to show you that on most search pages the top 1-3 results are are actually ads.  The section I marked in yellow is not actual search results.  Then you can see the first 3 search results.  Here's the rest of search page 1.

Now just so you don't think I am crazy, I don't look at all 37,500 search results.  I actually skim through them very quickly.  If it doesn't jump out to me, why would it jump out too my kids is my thought.  As I scroll through I like the first result - math lesson, cartoon format - but I am not looking for a lesson - I'm looking for a song.  Keep skimming and then I see it - Number Eating Alligator Song.  This is the first one that I watch.  I already know that I am going to use the concept of the alligator when teaching this so this one is worth my time.  I watch it, love it, and know this is the one!  Just like that, search, skim, watch 1 and done!  No - it's not always that easy but it never takes too terribly long.  So here it is - one of our class favorites - the Number Eating Alligator Song:

You can find songs for just about everything on You Tube.  Here are a few more of my favorite content based learning songs that I found on You Tube.
This is one of the songs we used during calendar time to learn
the months of the  year.  I had a few different months of the
year songs that we used throughout the year but this was another
class favorite. 
This video reinforces skip counting by 10.  I used this when we first
started learning the concept, but also as a brain break song
too.  The music and the movement work so well
This is a great video that reinforces all the things I want my
kiddos to remember when they are writing.
I could go on and on, but I will save you from a day of watching You Tube videos.  I hope I have encouraged you to use music to support your content area teaching and to give You Tube a try.  I would be amiss if I didn't give my You Tube disclaimer - please pre-view the videos before showing them to your class because you never know. 
Although I originally intended to make this a single blog post, I realized there was just too much I wanted to share to do it justice in one post.  Please visit me tomorrow at Teaching in Blue Jeans to find out more about how I use music in the classroom.  In this little series I will also tell you how I get this music/videos off You Tube to use in my classroom so that I don't have to mess with network blocks or using lots of bandwidth for streaming video.
Do you have a favorite video that you use to support the teaching on a concept in your classroom?  Please share in the comments.  Thank you Jessica for allowing me to come and "take-over" your blog today.