The Benefits of Using Songs and Music for Warm-Up Activities
2019-05-22 Mark Crocker Alumni Experiences Teaching Ideas
Although all parts of a lesson are important, the engage phase (or warm up) may be the most important. The engage phase is the departing point of the lesson, where you need to draw the attention of the students away from other occurrences of the day and make them focus on learning the English language. Choosing an activity to grab the students' attention can be a challenge, as it needs to work within just a few minutes. Through various studies, music has shown to be an activity which utilizes many parts of the brain at once, and therefore is a great activity to “jump start” the brain, and get students to focus more quickly.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Paul V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Why Music Activities are Great for Language Learners
Music can benefit a classroom environment in many ways. First and foremost being that music, in general terms, is something that is enjoyed by more or less everyone. It can help students to be calm and relaxed, while at the same time grab their attention. Learning a language, combined with music, helps bring students to their fullest cognitive level within a very short amount of time, and as a result, has their brains “warmed up” for the remainder of a lesson. Various musical activities can be employed within the walls of a classroom, regardless of the age of the students. The easiest is to simply play a song and give the students the lyrics so that they can follow along. This can be a very effective comprehensive activity. Generally, most teachers use popular music that is appealing to a wider audience. Pop songs generally have quite simple lyrics and are not too long, perhaps 2-3 minutes. Additionally, within these songs there are repetitions, such as the chorus, that help students hear the same material more than once. Also, pop music is very pattern like, often with a catchy melody which further helps students remember the material.
Music to Make Things More Challenging
Other types of music may be employed for a more interesting and challenging activity. An example could be to use a more “avante-garde”, or obscure style of music, such as “Pierrot Lunaire” by Arnold Schoenberg, in which the music is sung in what most people consider to be a rather bizarre manner. This creates an interesting challenge for the students, as they will have to more intensely focus on what the singer is trying to communicate. This method can be used for all ages and levels of students, however the “Pierrot Lunaire” example is best employed with more advanced students.
Also read: 4 Tips on How to Teach English Using Music
Music Activities Using Instruments
As many students may be uncomfortable singing, group activities can also be devised using instruments. I have found it is best to use percussion style instruments which merely require a pulse to play, or a very simplistic pitched instrument which can be taught and understood almost immediately. Alternately, a simple “clap along” can work as well. As this type of activity is rhythm based, it can be used for helping learn the pronunciation of syllables, and also the rhythm and phrasing of a language. This kind of activity is particularly useful as it can be used for all ages and levels of students. It is also what I would call a "full engagement” activity, meaning that it requires students to use multiple functions of their brain, thereby gaining and retaining their full attention.
Are you ready to teach English using music?
Learning a new language can be a difficult and frustrating process, but by adding some light, fun activities we can go a long way to helping students feel comfortable and relaxed. Music in the classroom can prove to be a beneficial activity that not only helps relax students, but also engages them to be able to learn in a more effective and focused manner. It is a fantastic warm up activity to not only motivate students, but also to “jump start” their brain so they can remain immersed for the duration of the lesson.
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