Music and Dance in the Classroom

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Educators want learning to be fun, engaging, challenging, and impactful, lasting and exciting. For this reason, an assortment of methodologies has been tried and tested, especially at the primary level of teaching. The search continues for different ways to keep the spark and magic in the Education System.

I think a teacher needs to adopt, adapt, and juggle these evolving methodologies. A good teacher has to play upon his or her strengths and keep in mind the students’ nature. Keeping the students guessing about how they will be taught and instilling a sense of anticipation is a great way to start the class!

Music was my starter kit, especially to tackle the Monday morning blues and the midweek lethargy. It brought a zing, almost like a wand sprinkling dust of joy, across the classroom. As I taught Grade four, the songs would be a medley of feet tapping peppy ones, the mild and indeed inspirational ones, and a few classics which they could get back to at any point of the week (or life).

I used music extensively to make sure that the whole class learnt the concepts. The children could remember the content learnt for a much more extended period than they would have otherwise.

The songs helped in pronunciation, vocabulary, and sentence structure. At a psychological or an emotional level, I realised music could bring all kids to the same energy level almost instantaneously. A child who had a bad morning at home forgot the gloomy mood thanks to the music. The child who was feeling too hyperactive or restless to focus was in a calmer state of mind, more stable, and able to participate and contribute. There was a smile on everyone’s face, which reflected a cheerier, receptive mind. 

Children who always found it challenging to finish notes or get their class tests done satisfactorily came up with brilliant ideas while making songs or rhymes on the subject matter. Many of these students enjoyed performing and loved the adulation they received. I used music extensively to make sure that the whole class learnt the concepts. The children could remember the content learnt for a much more extended period than they would have otherwise.

When I began teaching at the School for the Deaf, I missed incorporating music in my teaching. My previous experience was so productive that I wanted to use music in this classroom, as well. To be truthful,  I’m still researching how to use music for the hearing impaired.  If any reader wants to share their ideas, I would love to hear from you!

I decided to introduce dance movements as part of the learning process to my smaller kids, those aged around six to ten.

These sessions typically last about five to ten minutes; As a dramatisation, of the vocabulary, I taught – ‘Emotions’ (Joy, Sorrow, Anger, Compassion, Love), using dance movements. As I model the facial expressions, the children being such good mimics, express the same. We also taught simple actions such as requesting someone to come, or not to come, to relish something, to tie flowers into a garland and imitate animals with minimal but graceful moments. 

We rely extensively on the dance form, Bharatanatyam, with its beautiful expressions and graceful body movements, as a channel of expression.  My students love doing it. Our focus is not on intricate performances or perfection. Instead, we see how best the steps develop the student’s ability to communicate. Not only does it help them communicate, they learn from observing others perform. It is more like an extension of the Sign Language, with the expressions and movements a tad exaggerated but done artistically.

This method is just a small innovation, at its nascent stage, and we have to work upon it a lot more. At the same time, I’m confident it will have the same effect achieved with music in a regular school – our students will be receptive to learning.  From there, teaching becomes more comfortable, practical, and exciting.

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