Modern Music Transforms Traditional, Enhanced and Virtual College English Classrooms

Maryann P. DiEdwardo, Ed.D.

Music and Poetry Connection

• Compare Vanessa Carlton, “A Thousand Miles” and Sylvia Plath’s Poetry


• Cognitive study

• Concepts design heuristics

• Juxtaposition of music and literature create synthesis

• Transformation – definition

• Bilateral asymmetry of brain hemispheres

• Influence of musical intelligence

Statement of Problem

• Problem focused on lack of motivation of students.

• Causes of lack of motivation.

• Using popular culture to stimulate students to learn.

Can playing music in the classroom improve …

• Students’ grades?

• Attendance?

• Writing process?

• Reading comprehension?

• Word processing?

• Research paper writing?

Why Use Music?

• Participation precedes knowledge

• Multiple Intelligence Theory

• Pythagoras: Music of the Spheres

• Writing Process Theory

Why Use Music?

• Don Campbell: music’s effect on brain waves

• Din phenomenon

• Johns Hopkins Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, in Exuberance, The Passion for Life, writes “Music …transforms…psychologists find that it generates a mental state in which flexibility, memory, and originality increase (New York: Random House, 2004, pages 156-158.)

Mozart Effect

• Music brings positive effect to the classroom

• Sensory integration for long term memory

• Releases stress and instills excitement

• Music instruction aids overall academic achievement

• Enhances creativity

• Improves self-esteem and develops social skills

• Increases perceptual motor skill development and psychomotor development


• Hueristics

models, paradigms, frameworks

• Music acts quickly on the brain, and fast, simultaneous chemical changes in individual brains within a group make a quick cohesive response to circumstance (Johns Hopkins Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, 2004 Exuberance, The Passion for Life, p.156.)

• Synthesis

• Self-efficacy

• “Music transforms and synthesizes two intelligences and offers a breakthrough in reaching multicultural communities” MontgomeryCommunity CollegeTechnology Fair, DiEdwardo, 2004.

Models and Frameworks

Learning Paradigm

Socratic Method

Aristotle“Art is Imitation”

Platonic Methodology

Web Based Portfolio

Cognitive Thinking and Literature/Music Connection

• Strategy #1 - Use same songs, same language, same strategies.

• Strategy #2 - Pre-writing - literacy narrative, free-writing about music, who am I in my music.

• Strategy #3 – Music lyrics in journal helped students learn research process.

• Strategy #4 - Music in writing process.

• Strategy #5 - Personal transformation is central to thesis design.

Using Music in the Classroom

• Listen to music in the classroom.

• Use music to prepare students to write.

• Use single line excerpts in essays.

• Reach students through lyrics.

• Help students feel connections to the classroom.

Example 1: Sonnets

The song “If You’re Gone” by Rob Thomas from the album Mad Season relates thematically to William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

Example 2: Literary Concept

A positive response to the pairing of music and linguistic intelligences:

student writes about Tolkien and Led Zeppelin.

Example 3: Harlem Renaissance

“Where is the Love” by the Black-Eyed Peas prepares students to write about poet Langston Hughes.

The Results

• In English I: Use of modern music stimulated students to think beyond just the textbook.

• In English II: Importance of transformation went beyond the basic skills of critical reading and writing. Transformation was vital in the development of the student as thinker and doer.

Musicality Contextual Framework Design Sequence

• Identify transformational educational goals.

• Determine transformation in students.

• Organize into musical contextual framework.

• Music and context of literature relate through the writing process with necessary number of curriculum activities including journaling, groups, technology and processfolio.

Comment from a Colleague

“Hi and thanks for sending me your study. Very worthwhile. The next step is to figure out why you got the effects that you did. Is music motivational? …. Lots to think about.”

Student Comment – English I

“Relating music to different subjects kept my interest and let me be free. I do more research now because relating music to other subjects compels me to do research. …. I think that music in the college classroom is a great idea. It’s fun to work with.”

Student Comment – English I

“I really enjoyed having music around. Even in the background when I’m writing, music helps me think better. My sentence structure became better. I even researched and used new vocabulary. I learned to write a one to two sentence thesis, became a faster reader, and was able to pull things out of the literature I never thought I could!”

Student Comment – English I

“Music helped me develop a mental process for expression. Music improved my ability to put ideas down and made me use more dynamic sentence structure development. It made it easier to write a thesis. I was better able to develop strong independent paragraphs. I think I am better able to comprehend what I read. My research paper writing skills have improved.”

Student Comment – English II

“Music is so inspirational and such a different way of communication. This makes for thought provoking writing. The first or main sentence in a song is just like the thesis. Music is a good example of how to construct a piece of writing and makes me want to come and sit through class more when I know that I can select my own music. Music helps me understand where the writer of literature is coming from.”

Student Comment - English II

“…Music made it easier to connect with the literature. I came to class excited and ready to do assignments and projects. It is easy to connect modern music we know to literature that we aren’t too aware of. It was really easy to do papers and I enjoyed that…. Reading poetry, fiction, and drama improved because I understand better through music.”

Student Comment - English II

“…After I realized the connections, writing became easy for me. I enjoyed writing! When I researched the songs I was going to use, I found that there were awesome connections between the music and the literature we were studying. After I realized the connections, I ran to the computer and started typing….”