Friday, March 25, 2016

Do You Play Music at Your School?

Do you like music?  

Duh, of course you do. Who doesn't? In fact, we (@brandonkblom and @jessecwoodward) would argue that music is one of those pieces of culture that is the easiest to connect to. We have both taught at very different schools and we are principals of schools that could not be more different when it comes to demographic or socioeconomic status. But that is what makes music great. It crosses all cultural lines, not just racial culture, but age culture. It makes it easy for people to create shared cultural experiences, using music to bring us together. You can learn so much about a person with a simple question, "What kind of music do you like to listen to?"  

So why do so many schools leave music off the table? We sent out a Twitter poll to find out how often schools play music for their kids during recess or break. Here are the results from 59 educators from across the country..

  • 29% play music everyday
  • 14% play music a couple of times per week
  • 19% play music a couple of times per year
  • 38% NEVER play music

We figured this would be the result. But it makes us sad. There are plenty of articles on why we need music in our schools. Just taking two seconds to look up some research there are articles such as benefits of dancing to your brain from Psychology Today or another article about why your classroom needs more dance parties.  

See? It’s science and research backed, we need to have more music! As educators, isn't it sort of an aha moment that we should be playing music for our students during recess or when we welcome them to school? And isn't it a shame that almost 60% of schools never or almost never play music during these times?

The benefits of music that we see at our schools include: 
  • Community building - watch the hugs get passed around when a song comes on that everyone loves! Anytime you get that many kids making eye contact, smiling and laughing - it has GOT to be good for your community.
  • Exercise - tell me you aren't sweaty after 20 minutes of dancing!
  • Developing body awareness - if you can do all that jumping and hopping and arm swinging without hitting your friends...
  • Building student leadership - give kids the OK to set the music up for you. You don't even have to be out there for the music to rock!
  • Creating opportunities for struggling students to shine - it won't take long for the least successful student in the classroom to find the groove when the music starts. Anytime you can find an #eduwin, you need to take it!

At Jesse’s school @MarshallElement in Castro Valley, California, they only recently started playing music at recess. They got their PTA to buy a new portable speaker system that he can take anywhere and literally set up in seconds. It has bluetooth connectivity, wireless power and BANGS! The old system he had would take about 20 minutes to set up and take down, and could only play CDs. As such, they never set it up at recess, it just took too long to get going. Now they play music before school, during recess and even in the cafeteria if they are eating inside.  

Here are other, cheaper options that you can go out and buy tomorrow - The Party Rocker (with Disco Ball!) or from Costco - The Block Rocker, or Brandon’s favorite The disco ball speaker from Sharper Image (thanks @jkloczko).  

Check out how this guy uses music to brighten the morning. Would you love coming to his school every morning? Heck yeah!

One of our favorite things to do is set up speakers to play on the playground before school starts. We both play this song and love it!  

Tell me that wouldn't set you off on a great day? Brandon loves to roll his speaker all around his school (@rcsdstoneridge). Actually, he brings his speaker everywhere he goes! Thanks for catching it @TechNinjaTodd!

Here is a list of the other songs you can add to your playlist. It is a public document, so go ahead and add any that we missed. Go to iTunes or Amazon or Google Play Store, buy the songs and download them to any device. Get your rolling, portable powered speaker system out to the playground, and crank it up! You will be thrilled with the results, and better yet, so will your kids!

So our question to everyone is how are you adding music to your school? If we know it improves moods, kids love it and sets a positive culture... it begs the question, why are we not doing it more? If you are a teacher, we challenge you to have a dance party as a brain break. If you are a principal we challenge you to play music before school starts, at lunch or recess. Sometimes students will just listen to the music and smile. But sometimes it can become a full on dance party. And if a dance party breaks out, don’t be afraid to join in.  This is where you build your relationships with kids. After all, don't your #KidsDeserveIt? We guarantee you will be smiling and you will make your students’ day that much brighter.

List of music to go out and buy TODAY to put on your playlist!


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