Music in the Classroom: Working Around the Myth

Listening to classical music, specifically Mozart, does NOT make you smarter.

I’m not sure where the myth came from but I had always heard of other benefits of listening to classical music many of which are beneficial for students.

  1. Lower blood pressure. All the problems associated with high pressure are devastating so why not aim for something that will help lower blood pressure? Helping students calm and relax can only have positive effects on their ability to learn.
  2. Reduces stress levels. Just like the above, anything that helps students relax in the classroom is a good thing. Maybe avoid the Overture of 1812.
  3. Fights depression. Now I can’t actually substantiate this but logic tells me that if you are lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress that at least some symptoms of depression would be elevated, at least temporarily.
  4. Reduces melancholy. Personally, I saw students reduce their tension with people while listening to classical music in my classroom. They were more willing to ignore situations that provoked them so this one feels true to me.
  5. Improves productivity. I would absolutely agree with this. When I let students listen to classical music while working, they worked. They completed more and with high quality work than when I occasionally let them listen to their own music.

Music Notes

No one could ever convince me to stop listening to classical music in the classroom. From my personal experience it works. But it isn’t appropriate for every situation.

I believe in using every exam as practice for standardize testing. What I mean by that is students don’t work in groups or partners. They don’t get to use notes or a book. And most importantly they sit in relative silence.

The problem is that I can’t stand silence. As an adult silence makes me tense. I am constantly hearing little sounds that snap me out of my concentration.

I also remember as a student I hated when my stomach growled in class. The silence always made me paranoid that others could hear my stomach growl. Yes, I get it that a stomach growling a period before lunch is no big deal but it feels like it.

Provide something for background noise. A fan is the perfect option.

The gentle hum will block any of the small noises students want to block out and it isn’t something they realize they are hearing.

Few people produce their best work in absolute silence.

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