Friday, 6 January 2017


Integrating Classroom Learning ~ Through Song

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The most significant learning occurs when emotions are integrated with instruction, because all body systems are united.  The Arts are strongly linked to emotions, enhancing the likelihood that students will remember something.’ ~ Eric Jensen, author of Teaching with the Brain in Mind

As I sit here writing this post, I hear music all around me.

It’s to be heard in the laugh of the fat, fluffy kookaburra sitting in the gum tree, right outside my window; it’s in the caws and tweets of the marauding neighbourhood birds; the hum of an overhead plane, heading for faraway places. (I’m not even going to mention the rhythmic bang, bang, banging of new carpet being laid, in my study! :-) 

Indeed, our world (to paraphrase a very famous song) is alive with the sound of music! It’s in our DNA from the very beginning - children sing before they talk, rock and sway before they walk. We live in a  rhythmic world!

Image Source: Facebook ~ The Violin Channel

National Arts In Education Week, which occurs each September, states that:
'Arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines... is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.' 
Music, specifically singing, is a very powerful, multi-sensory discipline for helping children to achieve competencies and learning outcomes across key subject areas of the school curriculum.

Today, I’m going to suggest a few simple tips for integrating learning across key subject areas ~ through song.

I've chosen the universal theme, multiculturalism.

First of all, select a multiculturally-themed, age and stage-appropriate song which will help children to understand various aspects of different cultures in our world.

I'm going to use the chorus and a couple of verses from one of our
curriculum-aligned songs'One World' (CURRICULUM KARAOKE™ read, sing & learn along video sample below) that my colleague, Kathryn Radloff, and I prepared earlier (but the suggestions are generic enough, that the same principles apply)!

One World 
©Lyrics: Nuala O’Hanlon / Music: Kathryn Radloff

We are one world with different nationalities,
Some travel here to settle, from far across the seas;
All connected by our one humanity,
We are here because it is a great place to be!

Verse 6
Putting aside fiesta, siesta, we are all the same.
Forget skin colour, food and clothing, customs, different names.
Belonging to this human race, we’re all sisters and brothers,
So let us stand together now and be there for each other.
© 2007 Lyrics: Nuala O’Hanlon / Music: Kathryn Radloff 

Image Source: Facebook ~ Hippie Peace Freak 

Simple Suggestions for Integrating Key Subject Areas:

  • Research and sing songs from different countries/eras in history
  • Research history of migrant families/indigenous people
  • Students dress up in national costumes and present talks, told from the point of view of a child/adult/rich person/poor person/slave…, from different countries/historical eras   
Social Studies
  • Discuss ways people are same/different
  • Unpack song, line by line
  • Explore the different ways people live, e.g. dress, eat, sleep, shelter, shop, celebrate...
  • Research flags from other countries (children may bring in their own, from home)
Science & Technology 
  • Research weather patterns around the globe
  • Discuss the differences in climates and seasons of other countries 
  • Brainstorm the ways in which these impact on people's lives          
  • Make simple dishes from other lands 
  • Share a playground picnic lunch, comprising foods from other lands
'... in the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.' ~ Plato
  • Locate verses, chorus, bridge, interlude
  • Listen for specific instruments, e.g. bells, drums, sound effects, A Cappella (voices only)
  • Allow students to select simple instruments, such as castanets, maracas: each plays a line of the song, all play in last verse and chorus…
  • Discuss different music styles around the world – pop, rock, jazz, current artists…
  • Research national anthems, dances, musical instruments from around the world
  • Students dress in national costumes, decorate stage with world globe, flags from other lands (and those painted in class), and display flashcard greetings written in various languages
  • Perform song, joining hands and circling ‘globe’, performing simple actions for chorus
  • Paint while listening to different types of music, fast/slow; quiet/loud, etc.
  • Paint flags from other countries, attach to rulers and use for assembly performance piece (see above)
  • Use various art mediums to illustrate different lines of song
  • Produce a powerpoint to accompany the music with artistic images that reflect the message of the song
If you are new to the idea of integrating song, it's helpful to start by incorporating just one suggestion that suits your teaching style, and build on that. I guarantee that once you see the effect it has on the children and their learning, you'll be as excited as I am, about this educational practice!

I hope this has been helpful, and look forward to sharing more about song-based learning, in my next post!

Yours in Singing to Learn,
Nuala  ♫

Nuala O'Hanlon
Teacher; Director,
'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

A Review: ‘In terms of application to the classroom, and usability by teachers they rate a tick in every box.’ ~ Brendan Hitchens, teacher: Music In Action, A Magazine for Educators

**FYI: Our curriculum-aligned teaching teaching resources are available as:
**Blog Learning Content: 
©Nuala O’Hanlon & Kathryn Radloff
KEYSTONE CREATIONS ~ Educational Songs
'A Lesson In Every Lyric' ®



'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®

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