Music education is a must for growing minds. Researchers have found that musical training at an early age stimulates growth and development in the reasoning and language portions of the brain. Additionally, music increases coordination, memory recall, and pattern recognition. Furthermore, music allows students to relax and alleviate stress, giving them a strong tool against anxiety and depression.
But teaching young students to play an instrument, or even to just appreciate music, is easier said than done. Children ages five to six years old have an attention span of 10 to 15 minutes if the topic already interests them. Slightly older children, six to seven years, may hold out for 20 minutes before they, too, need a break. Even older children and adults may struggle to focus for longer than 20 to 30 minutes before they need to redirect and refocus their attention.
Consequently, a variety of teaching aids and techniques is needed if you want your students to succeed in your classroom. The following tools and devices, like a music whiteboard, can help you maximise your students’ attention and create a more positive learning environment.
1. Music Board
Visual learners in your classroom will have a stronger understanding of music when they discover the basics of the music staff (or stave). As you teach about music notation, your students will need to see how this group of five lines and four spaces provides the foundation for Western music.
On occasion, you’ll need to present clefs, notes, rests and key signatures on the whiteboard for your entire class to see. Using a music whiteboard instead of a regular whiteboard will save you time. You will not spend the tedious time drawing lines over and over.
If you want to save even more time in your lesson, opt for a magnetic music board. Create your own notes out of cardstock paper and magnets, and then move your re-usable notes around the board instead of drawing them again and again.
2. Rhythm Sticks
No matter if you teach six- and seven-year-old children their first stanzas or if you teach 14- and 15-year-olds how to refine their musical abilities, everyone can benefit from a solid sense of rhythm. Students who struggle to find the beat will also struggle to stay in sync with fellow players or follow age-appropriate sheet music.
Rhythm sticks are an affordable, versatile and hands-on way to practice drumming patterns without investing in drums (or other percussion instruments) for each student.
If you wish, you can have all your students sit in a circle and show them to tap gently in time to the beat of their favourite songs. To switch things up, you can invent a variety of rhythm-based games that involve passing, tossing and trading the sticks along with the music.
Worried about disturbing neighbouring classrooms? You can muffle the hard tap, tap, tap of the wood if you cover the tips of your rhythm sticks in soft, thick felt, much like the felt mallets for marching bass drums.
3. Key Signature Charts
If your students already understand basic rhythms and notes, you’ll likely need to introduce key signatures into your curriculum. The sooner your students understand sharps, flats and accidentals, the sooner they can recognise the appropriate key and play their instruments tune.
Although key signatures have a basic nature, not all students may remember the difference between an F major key and a D minor key (which happen to use the same notes, though they place emphasis on different ones).
To help your students magnetic notes, musical mnemonics, posters or charts can be moved around the board as needed.
Make Teaching an Exciting Experience
Although you don’t need all of these teaching aids and tools in your classroom, these products can certainly help you design a music-focused classroom and encourage students to actively participate in your lessons.
However, you should remember that these tools alone won’t guarantee success. How you use your music board and tools will determine whether your students learn and grow under your tutelage.