Wednesday, 7 December 2016


'In the patterns of music and all the arts are the keys of learning.’ ~ Plato
Kathryn recording students for chorus of our 'Bully-Free Zone!' song.

My first-born daughter loves going to school; she loves singing and learning ~ and she's the teacher!

It seems like only yesterday I started my own journey as a young teacher - brimming with excitement, enthusiasm and a passionate desire to help children learn.

I am still, if not more passionate about teaching, and feel so privileged to be able to pass on the benefit of my knowledge and experience to my very own child!

I have always sung with my students, and years of teaching experience have taught me that they not only love to sing (yes, even the older ones!), but they also learn what they sing. It was this concept that prompted the idea to write songs  that would help them to learn curriculum content, life and school themes and values - through this enjoyable and highly effective medium.

This multi-sensory activity helps children to learn because it activates and exercises the whole brain, and I will go to my grave (hopefully not for a while yet!) espousing the importance and endless benefits of song-based learning.

Song is a very powerful teaching/learning tool for many reasons.

Songs can:
  • Tell stories
  • Engage & motivate students
  • Integrate learning across key subject areas
  • Help students learn 
  • Convey important messages and information
  • Espouse values
  • Aid recall
  • Create unity
  • Extend literacy - through rhyme, rhythm, and vocabulary...
  • Make learning fun!
The big plus for teachers is that singing is fun, so it’s almost guaranteed to attract disengaged students!

The influence of song across the human lifespan is undeniable.

From an early age, children are introduced to nursery rhymes and other educational songs that assist with early language development and social skills. There are numerous songs teaching everything from the alphabet, number sequencing, and animal names, to the weather, personal hygiene and months of the year.

As children grow older, songs infiltrate their daily lives via television shows, jingles, radio, films, interactive computer games, and pop culture.

As teenagers they listen passionately to 'their' music on stereos and iPods, avidly following their music idols and aspiring to be legends in their own right.

I know that I’m not alone when I say that rhythm helped me to learn and remember (even to this day) my Times Tables. I can only imagine the difficulty of trying to order (let alone remember) the 26 letters of the English Alphabet, without the aid of rhythm and melody!

Music is the one truly universal language. It has no barriers of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status.

It is the language of today’s youth, and Gerald Ford, former President, United States of America went as far as to say, “…The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.” (I live in Australia but the same principle applies!)

Song is one of the most powerful resource tools we have at our disposal for helping children learn, making it such a shame that so many teachers balk at using it in the classroom, citing reasons such as lack of talent, confidence, time, etc.

The good news is that we don’t need to be able to sing like Adele or Pavarotti (or indeed, be able to sing at all), to provide children with the many benefits of this learning medium. Nor is the time factor relevant, as the right song choice can actually cut learning time in half, and ensure retention of the content being taught.

There is no reason for music to be the reserve of the specialist music teacher (if there is one). Modern technology (the good old-fashioned CD player, or smart board) puts daily music integration for learning within the reach of all educators.

Weaving relevant songs into lessons is not only fun, but it can also help to achieve learning outcomes across key subject areas.

(Browse the catalogue of curriculum-aligned songs (& lesson materials) Kathryn & I have created for this very purpose, including our new read, sing & learn along Curriculum Karaoke™ series of illustrated MP4 videos.)

Use Songs For:
  • Setting the mood for the day
  • Motivating & engaging students
  • Introducing and summarising new units of work
  • Kick-starting discussion
  • Reinforcing learning content
  • Aiding recall
  • Extending literacy
  • Assembly & performance pieces
Simple General Tips:
  • Be intentional about the use of songs in your classroom
  • Select, a song that best suits your needs and use it to introduce lesson
  • Older students often respond better to songs from the Rhythm and blues, hip-hop and dance genres
  • Younger children like anything catchy and repetitive
  • Play and listen to song ~ Repetition! Repetition! Repetition!
  • Read through lyrics, then read along while song is played
  • Unpack and discuss the lyrics, line by line
  • Define new/difficult words
  • Maximise participation by learning chorus first
  • Sing the whole song
  • Move to beat
  • Play simple body/music percussion (clap, click, tap, stamp…)
  • Allow students to bring in their own CDs
Until next time,  I'll leave you with these inspired words from Plato, who is quoted as saying:
‘Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education.’
Yours in Singing to Learn,
Nuala ♫

Nuala O'Hanlon
Teacher; Director,
Keystone Creations ~ Educational Songs
'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
# QUESTION: How do you use songs with the children in your care?
**FYI: Our teaching resources are available as:

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During the Middle Ages, few workmen could read or write, so they relied on songs, rhymes, and chants, to help them to be organized to build the great cathedrals of the world.

'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®


  1. As a piano teacher, and former public school music teacher...I heartily add my "Amen!"

    1. Hi Wild Child!

      We're clearly 'singing from the same song sheet'!

      All the best with your teaching.

      Have a lyrical day,

      Nuala :-)

  2. The kids chuckle when I sing, but it's probably because I can't hold a tune.

    1. I hear you, Joyce - my children always chuckle when My husband sings (he's tone-deaf, I'm sure he won't mind my telling you)!

      If you're ever looking for some curriculum-aligned songs to support your classroom teaching, Kathryn (Radloff, my collegue) and I have taken all the work out of it for you. They integrate learning across key subject areas and there really is 'A Lesson in Every Lyric'®!

      Have a lyrical day!

      Nuala :-)

  3. Such a great post! Singing is a great way for students to learn.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Mrs Tech - very much much appreciated!

      Couldn't agree more ~ as we say: Children Learn What They Sing™

      Have a lyrical day!

      Nuala :-)

  4. Music is such a powerful learning tool!

    1. SO true, Cristina!

      As we say, and firmly believe:
      Children Learn What They Sing™

      Have a lyrical day!

      Nuala :-)

  5. Great! Sharing on K to the Core!

    1. Thank you, Tamara - very kind of you and much appreciated!
      I'll be dropping by K to the Core.

      All the best with your teaching!

      Nuala :-)

  6. Awesome post! We've used songs to learn states and capitals, multiplication facts, and just for fun. :)

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Terbet, and thank you for sharing.

      ♫ FYI, if you're an Australian teacher, we have a curriculum-aligned song, 'Australia', for Middle/upper primary, that discusses such things as states, capital cities, seas, islands, rivers, significant places, sites & environments, Aboriginal place names, etc.
      *Details (including sample song lyrics and a link to a Yr 3 student assembly performance video.

      Have a lyrical day!

      Nuala :-)

  7. I absolutely agree about the benefits of singing and music to support learning; I use it to build foundation in learning a second language - rhythm, pronunciation and early vocabulary development. I think the suggestions you make are so useful and songs are so portable so every waking moment can be a opportunity to sing to learn! Love the quotes and historical facts in your blog! Thank you for your wonderful blog article!

    1. Thank you for your lovely, positive, kind comments, Sarah - very much appreciated! We're clearly 'singing from the same song sheet'...! Wishing you all the best with your teaching, Nuala. :-)

  8. Thank you for such a wonderful blog article! I absolutely agree about how amazing songs and music are for teaching and it is very much part of my philosophy in second language learning. Your suggestions are so useful and the quotes and historical facts are very engaging! Will be visiting here again!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and lovely comments, Sarah (I can't believe I missed this comment ~ a YEAR ago! Humblest apologies!). :-)