I was watching a soccer match on television yesterday, and the constant and stalwart singing by the spectators (a European tradition) started me wondering if music and English class would be as fitting a match up as music and English soccer. Most of my students worship music like some kind of supernatural force, so perhaps it would be smart of me to make use of that force in the classroom. Like the singing in soccer stadiums, the students’ beloved songs could form part of the surroundings of our efforts and struggles in class. Perhaps the kids could connect the underlying harmonies and lyrics of the music to whatever it is we’re attempting to do in class, or possibly the spirit of the songs would simply lift their hearts a bit during an especially tedious class. It makes me think of the background music spring birds make as I sit in the park with a book. Does their music interfere with my reading, or make my thoughts less focused and fervent? On the contrary, it might be that the birdsongs bring just enough beauty to my ears to rouse me more fully to the significance of the sentences I’m reading. What if I played a mix of songs on Pandora during class, at a very soft volume, sort of like the songs of birds in spring trees? Each day, a different student could choose a band or artist to make the mix with (with the proviso that the music must be of a smooth and levelheaded kind), and we could then carry on our literary pursuits while the songs make a laid-back milieu for us. Occasionally, I could turn up the volume for a few seconds, just to have a listen, and we could try to connect the words we hear to whatever we’ve been discussing. For instance, while I’ve been writing this, I’ve been listening, on very low volume, to a Pandora mix of Norah Jones-type songs, and I just turned up the volume to these words by Jones herself: “I’m looking for the break of day”. In class, I could ask, “How do those words relate to writing a blog post?” -- and some enlightened young scholar might answer, “Easy. Each and every sentence, you hope, is like the break of day for the reader.” Who knows? The singing in stadiums may inspire soccer players, and perhaps my students might mentally rise and shine if Alicia Keys or Owl City is singing in the background in Room 2.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich