The Influence of Music on Core Learning

Article excerpt

Glenn (1992) observed that music can hone creativity through participation in one of the great art forms. Leng, Shaw and Wright (1990) believe we can examine higher creative and learning functions through the study of music. Gardner (1983) identifies musical intelligence as one of seven basic intelligences. Therefore, music may help students learn more and more effectively. Music can make a significant contribution to all of education in terms of student benefits by enhancing key developmental goals such as self-esteem and creativity (Music Educators National Conference, 1991). Various studies and observations indicate that music can influence learning in core subjects as well as contribute to the attainment of core goals of learning. Weisskoff (1981) explored selected outcomes of using the medium of commercially-recorded pop/rock music as an integral part of the instructional package in language arts. Comparisons were made between alternate learning conditions-music and no music--with respect to task performance and continuing motivation. The central question to be answered was: What effect does music have on children's task performance and continued motivation in language arts? In other words, would music enhance or take away from achievement and motivation in language arts? According to Weisskoff (1981) students who received the music condition scored significantly higher with regard to continuing motivation. The definition of continuing motivation in this study was the tendency of students to return to and continue working on tasks away from the instructional context in which they were initially confronted. This was measured by a simple three-item self-report device and a three-point Likert-type scale reflecting teacher perception of typical student behavior. In reference to task performance, there were no significant main effects or inter actions obtained. The music condition did not enhance achievement. This study clearly answered questions concerning the theory that music does serve as a motivational force for children. However, it has been found that background music during tasks does not enhance achievement. Music was found to serve neither as a positive force nor as a distraction to achievement. This finding is of particular interest in light of the significant relationship demonstrated between music and continuing motivation. The study pointed out that, students who were almost always unmotivated became motivated because of music.

Tucker (1981) compiled several reports concerning music and the teaching of reading. He reported that using music in teaching reading may enhance motivation and abilities of children, whether or not they are musically talented or intellectually above average. The back to basics approach to education is an important reason why music should be fused with reading in order to enhance the effectiveness of reading instruction. Many similarities exist between music and reading. Both use a symbol structure that can be decoded into sounds that have meaning. Visual and auditory discrimination are required in both subjects and are oriented to a left-to-right framework.

According to Cohen-Taylor (1981), popular song lyrics used as reading materials caused middle grades students to approach printed materials in a positive manner. Students had been approaching reading materials with apathy. However, when song sheets were introduced, students immediately became enthusiastic and excited about using lyrics as reading materials. Reading skills can be effectively taught using popular song lyrics. Some suggested activities involve working with word cards featuring favorite words of favorite songs, forming new sentences from words in favorite songs, guessing first lines of songs for which the teacher has supplied word configuration clues and creating crossword puzzles in which the entries are words in song titles.

A study done by Brunk (1981) validated the effectiveness of a socio-music curriculum. …