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Using Music to Carry the Message of Learning
Chris Brewer, M.A.

     Chris Brewer, M.A., a noted authority on the integration of music throughout the curriculum, discusses the benefits of of music in our daily lives -- and the similar benefits of using music to enhance the learning environment.
     She discusses the use of music to elicit specific reactions that energize, focus, inspire and create other positive states of mind.

"If you have never tried using music in these ways.... please do!" -- Chris Brewer

Excerpted, with permission, from Chris Brewer's Soundtracks for Learning: Using Music in the Classroom.

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 Music is one of the most powerful ways we have of understanding one another because it provides a connection in a way that words cannot. Some say it is created 90 percent from the heart and 10 percent from the mind. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous German writer, once stated that music is “the language of the heart.”

     I believe that all music is a message from the people in the time and place in which it was written. Information communicated through musical sound carries with it an emotional content that reveals the impact of a person’s or society’s experience. For instance, one hears within the righteous tunes and ballads of Celtic music the breadth of the culture’s history. There is Celtic music that sonically upholds a valiant fight for freedom, and lilting ballads that speak passionately about human rights. The haunting melodies of some Celtic songs express the universal longing for love, life, and happiness. Listen or dance to a popular Celtic jig and you will experience the Celtic exuberance for life. The sum of this culture’s existence is expressed fully within its music.

     Every culture creates a unique musical version of life. The sounds vary with the personality of the culture and the environment in which it has evolved. The music of a society often mimics the qualities of the landscape the culture inhabits. For example, seagoing people often incorporate pleasant flowing sounds, playful ebb and flow, grand tempestuous music, and songs of the sea. Mountain culture music provides grand vistas of sound, the gentle music of whispering pines, and sonic depictions of journeys to great heights. Urban cultures express the rapid rhythm of city lifestyles, emphatic ballads about tight community, and intense songs portraying cultural clashes.

     Playing the musical messages of a culture to our students conveys the essence of that society in a deep and meaningful way. When we have listened to the music of another culture, we have gained a sense of what they have experienced in their own lives.

     All music speaks of the human experience. People orchestrate their sorrows, joys, challenges, and desires in sound. Play a song of celebration from Peru and another from Russia, and you will experience the same festive sensation of joy dressed in unique harmonies, but shared in the universal language of music.

 

 

 

 

 

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