By Dorothy Lockhart
music in the classroom make a difference? Welsh science teacher Anne
Savan couldn't believe the difference it made in her chemistry lab.
When the government insisted that all children complete the standard
National Curriculum, Savan became concerned. For some reason her new
group of pupils in the mid 1990's was the most challenging ever. Her
class of boys had special educational needs plus emotional and
behavioral difficulties. One of her students had such poor coordination
he made 19 attempts at a lab experiment requiring the student to put a
peanut on a spoon, then heat it in the flame of a Bunsen burner. He
never achieved it and his behavior resulting from his frustration was
Chance observation of
a television program gave Savan the idea that music of a certain
frequency might help students with poor coordination. She began to play
classical music, usually orchestral Mozart (she tried Mozart's piano
concerto's but they did not work) during daily science lessons over a
period of five months. The response to the music was dramatic as the
pupils became calm and cooperative within minutes of entering the room.
Savan's notes from lesson 1 report, "No one spoke, quarreled, asked to
borrow anything, wanted to go to the toilet for the whole lesson. I
have not had such a relaxed lesson with 7D ever." The remaining lessons
for the five months produced the same results, calm, cooperative
students who were able to complete each lesson.
her experience and subsequent research, Savan believes the music may
have relaxed her pupils enough to improve their physical coordination
and lower their frustration levels enough to allow them to perform
manual tasks effectively and efficiently.
in the classroom may have different effects, depending on the strengths
and weaknesses of the pupils in the classroom. It may also depend on
the existing level of noise pollution at the school and surrounding
pollution is a growing problem, and schools are not exempt. "As early
as 1975," says Garrett Keizer in his article "Sound and Fury" in the
March 2001 Harper's magazine, "researcher Arline Bronzaft found that
children on the train-track side of a New York public school were
lagging a year behind their classmates on the other side of the
building in learning to read."
in Germany found the same learning difficulties with children who lived
near an airport. Various researchers report that kids seem especially
vulnerable to excessive noise. Even schools that are not located near
an airport, railroad tracks, or a freeway have plenty of everyday noise
that can be distracting. Over-head lights emit low buzzing sounds. Air
conditioning, machines, voices in the school cafeteria, and gym classes
all add unwelcome and distracting noise.
children who are sensitive, environmental noise pollution can be a
constant source of stress. That's why Advanced Brain Technologies, with
the National Academy for Child Development (NACD) looked for a way to
produce the healthiest sound environment possible. Over a 20-year
period, NACD experimented with many ways of creating a sound filter
including white noise, environmental sounds, nature sounds, and many
forms of music. NACD also examined the research in a neurodevelopmental
context. NACD concluded that the best
sound filter is simply structured
classical music with some nature sounds. It does not dull auditory
function like white noise and it even enlivens neurological function.
Advanced Brain Technologies was founded, one of its objectives was to
offer recordings that would provide a consistent, high-quality
therapeutic auditory environment. Sound Health
music was specifically re-arranged and recorded to eliminate the drama
and changes of mood and tempo that engage the listener's attention in a
live performance. CD's were created to capture the beauty of the music
without the distractions so they can be played day to day in the
background with consistently good results. Pieces were selected that
were rich in therapeutic tonal harmonics, music that would stimulate
the brain through its structure as well as through a broad spectrum of
Mozart has become the media's favorite buzz word, original studies for
accelerated learning showed that Baroque
music in general, with average
tempos of 50-70 beats per minute (b.p.m.), was optimal for learning.
This music also provided
health benefits such as lower muscle tension,
lower blood pressure, and a slower pulse rate. That is why
Brain Technologies created three CD's in its Sound Health series using
Baroque music with 50-60 b.p.m.: Music for Learning, Music for
Concentration, and Music for Thinking. These
CD's feature only
classical compositions which were arranged for and recorded by the
Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble using psychoacoustic and accelerated
learning technologies to craft the music for use in a specific purpose.
2000 authors Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder tell us that "Tests at
Iowa State University, for instance, found that slow Baroque music
alone (without the full accelerated system) speeded up learning by 24
percent and increased memory retention by 26 percent. Teachers working
for the Washington State Department of Immigration played the music
during English classes for recent arrivals from Cambodia, Laos, and
other Asian countries. Teachers reported it eased the trauma these
older adults experienced at having to pick up a new language and use it
in a very foreign culture. The music also accelerated their learning."
the 1991 Northwestern Indiana Science Fair, sixth grader Jamee Cathcart
designed a study with Baroque music. Eleven out of twelve students
showed remarkable improvement in test scores after listening to Baroque
other types of music work as well? Another study using hard rock music
was done by sixteen year-old David Merrill who won top regional and
state science-fair honors for it. Merrill got 72 mice and divided them
into three groups: the hard rock group, the Mozart group, and the
control group who had no music at all. He got the mice used to living
in aquariums in his basement, then started playing music 10 hours a
day. He put each mouse through a maze three times a week that
originally had taken the mice an average of 10 minutes to complete.
time, the 24 mice in the control group were able to cut about 5 minutes
from their maze completion time. The Mozart mice cut their time back 8
1/2 minutes. The hard rock mice added 20 minutes to their time, a 300%
increase in maze-running time from their original average.
told the Associated Press that he'd attempted the experiment the year
before. He'd allowed the mice in the different groups to live together.
"I had to cut my project short because all the hard-rock mice killed
each other," Merrill said. "None of the classical mice did that."
being calming and increasing attention span, certain types of classical
music can be a powerful catalyst in the creative process. Colin
and Malcolm J. Nicholl, in their book "Accelerated Learning for the
21st Century," tell how Albert Einstein and Charles Schultz have used
music for inspiration.
Einstein's solution to struggles with a complicated formula was to pick
up the violin, an instrument he began playing at the age of six, and
play Beethoven and Mozart sonatas. Einstein's oldest son remembered
that "Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into
a difficult situation in his work he would take refuge in music, and
that would usually resolve all his difficulties."
Cartoonist Charles Schultz credits music as the inspiration behind many
of his insights that came to life though Charlie Brown, Lucy, and
Snoopy in one of the world's most famous cartoon strips - Peanuts.
Schultz describes going to a concert and says "your mind begins to
travel from one thing to another, and all of a sudden you're inspired
by the music by the emotion and from that I will get some of my very
Advanced Brain Technologies wanted to learn just how music from Sound
Health would change the experience in the classroom. So they provided
CD's to several schools and asked for teachers' comments. In addition
to Music for Concentration and Music for Thinking which are in the
50-60 b.p.m. range, they provided Music to De-Stress, with 30-60
b.p.m., to kindergarten teachers for rest and naptime.
Eight teachers at Brookewood Elementary School in Grovetown, Georgia
responded. Both teachers and students benefited from quieter, more
orderly students said Principal Jonny Carr. "Our teachers love the
Brookewood kindergarten teachers used Concentration in their classes
during thinking and working activities. Comments were:
teachers used De-Stress during rest and naptime.
- "Very effective in helping children settle
down quietly. More effective on the teacher!"
- "During work time, the children were more
attentive and quieter."
- "The students have to work quietly to hear the
music, so the music helps to remind them to work and not talk."
All the kindergarten
teachers recommended the Concentration and De-Stress CD's for
relaxation and stress relief.
- "More children went to sleep during rest time
when listening to De-Stress."
teachers of Grade 3 classrooms at Brookewood used Thinking and
Concentration CD's during independent work sessions. They reported:
- "Calming, students more focused, appears to be
more concentration, room quieter."
- "Better focus. Seem to attend to task longer.
The students ask for the music."
teachers of Grade 5 classrooms used the CD's Thinking and Concentration
for individual or small group work, taking a test or quiz, after PE,
during tests, etc. Grade 5 teachers at Brookewood reported:
All Grade 5 teachers
recommended the CD's for enhancing learning, relaxation, and stress
- "Students like them, they ask for the music."
- "It appears that students are working more
diligently and getting better grades."
- "Calms students, settles them down, has a
soothing effect. Beautiful, relaxing music helps students focus more."
teacher at the Wildwood School in Southern California added this note
to her survey form, "Thank you for so positively affecting my teaching
atmosphere." This sentiment was echoed by other teachers we heard from,
that the music helped them to relax and therefore be more effective.
principal of an elementary school in Omaha, Nebraska sent us the
following letter after a third grade teacher began using the CD Music
for Concentration in her classroom.
can't wrestle my copy of Concentration
away from one of my teachers.
This teacher teaches third grade and one of her students is
significantly ADHD with some
characteristics. Concentration is the most effective thing we have
found to help him stay on task. When
that CD is playing he is able to
focus and work for extended periods of time. Thanks, once again.
one child for whom you have made a difference!!!"
also wrote that all the teachers in the school reported value in the
music, and paraprofessionals who tend to be in a number of classrooms
commented how much they liked being in a classroom that was playing
music. She added, "I believe Sound Health has
improved the learning
environment for students."
these early studies, Advanced Brain Technologies has added several
titles, listed below. Whether it is setting a mood, settling students,
masking distracting noises, de-stressing the teacher or inspiring
creativity for a writing assignment, music from Sound Health has proven
to be a welcome addition to the classroom.
To Use Sound
Health In Your Classroom
that playing any music at an excessive volume can be a distraction.
Follow these simple rules:
Select a CD to fit the project your students are engaged in doing:
2. Keep the volume
low. This means you should still have the ability to speak at a
conversational level without raising your voice. The music should be in
the background creating a filter for unwanted noise in the classroom
throughout the day. This creates the body relaxed, mind alert state.
For a break after 45 minutes or more of studying, you may increase the
volume a bit so that students may listen for a few minutes to the
music. This technique is recommended in the book "Learn with the
Classics" by Anderson, Marsh and Harvey. It is meant to relax students
and let their minds reflect on what they have learned.
Marsh, Marcy; Harvey, Dr. Arthur. Learn with the Classics. San
Francisco: The Lind Institute, 1999
Savan, Anne. A study
of the effect of background music on the behaviour and physiological
responses of children with special educational needs. The Psychology of
Education Review, vol. 22, no. 1. (March 1998)
Eakle, Kit. "Music Can be Hazardous to Mouse Health." Sent by
firstname.lastname@example.org_center.org. Educational Cyberplayground
Geary, James. "Mad About the Noise." Time.com. Vol. 152, No. 4 (July
Keizer, Garret. "Sound and Fury." Harper's Magazine. (March 2001)
Ostrander, Sheila & Shroeder, Lynn with Ostrander, Lynn.
Super-Learning 2000. Delacorte Press 1994
Rose, Colin and Nicholl, Malcolm. Accelerated Learning for the 21st
Century. New York: Dell Publishing, 1997
2001 Lockhart Lawrence Studios