Music and Curriculum

Music and curriculum – a “win-win” situation for all.

My favorite part of this post had to do with using music to steer appropriate class behavior. I have used this time and time again. For fast-paced lessons, pick up the bpm to above 150. Time for rest or test taking? Reduce the bpm down to 90. Our body’s rhythms want to sync with the music we are listening to.

If its time for serious thinking, play music that does not have lyrics or possesses lyrics in a language that is not understood. Also, adjust music for different transition times. I’ve effectively memorized playlists to pace my teaching to the track being played. This is much more effective than watching the clock and becomes second nature.

Teaching with music is a fluid art. Like all arts, the practice is necessary. Take the time to test out different forms, different artists, different methods.

We have probably all used music for memory devices, “50 Nifty” or “ABC’s” anyone? However, music can go far above and beyond that. We can use music to evaluate our gender bias…such as “Where is thumbkin?”
In the traditional version the song reads:

“Where is thumbkin, where is thumbkin
Here I am, here I am
How are you today, SIR?
Very well, I thank you
Run away, Run away”

Of course, we ignore the element of gender bias in this song most of the time. Its become ingrained in our memory, and we rarely think about those second nature habits. If you want to bring a sense of gender equality into your classroom, try this alternative version:

“”Where is thumbkin, where is thumbkin

Here I am, here I am
How are you today, FRIEND?
Very well, I thank you
Run away, Run away”

Music also offers a chance for much needed brain breaks. Here are some ways to incorporate brain breaks into your day:

Start your day with some yoga, just 5-10 minutes. Listen to some soothing music. Cheb I Sabbah is a good name to start with, if you’ve got Pandora, he’s a great artist station and so is Paramahansa Yogananda.

After focusing on a settled activity for a long period of time, such as reading, quiet play, puzzles, art use music to bring some movement into your day. Play some fast beats and get jumping around. I highly recommend the Tooty-ta for children under the age of 9. Its silly, but I’ve been known to pull this out on my phone while outside of an art music, while waiting for our bus to pick us back up for a field trip. There is nothing like dancing the tooty-ta in public to bring humility and a sense of joy to your life.

For babies, music for major transitions can also be helpful. Some parents find that consistent music or white noise used for sleep routines helps children adjust to the change in pace and environment. I have found that creating a silly diaper changing/potty song helps infants and toddlers with hygiene moments they might otherwise wish to avoid and wiggle-fight their way through.

Above all, use music as a way to connect with and bond with your children. As a parent or educator, attachment is crucial. Music is that element of environment that can link us, even when its difficult to find the words to say how we feel. Music and Curriculum–Win Win, is right!


About otbdirector

Clarissa received her BA in Elementary Education from Saint Leo University in Gainesville, FL in 2011. She has been involved in childcare and education for more than fifteen years beginning as a youth support for her church nursery, expanding to tutoring and city counsel youth advising, to teaching children birth through age thirteen in classroom environments. She has three years experience in developing curriculum for students at all levels. Her curriculum is centered around the philosophies of Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory while incorporating elements from Piaget, Montessori, and Steiner.
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