Educational music

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, lullaby from the European Union government funded, education project Lullabies of Europe: Languages from the Cradle[1]

Educational music, is a genre of music in which songs, lyrics, or other musical elements are used as a method of teaching and/or learning. It has been shown in research to promote learning.[1][2] Additionally, music study in general has been shown to improve academic performance of students.[3][4][5]

Music used for learning can be in many formats, including video recordings, audio recordings, sheet music, and improvised music. Most of the time, music is added to an existing lesson plan or story. Songs are usually easy to sing and catchy, so that they can be repeated for later learning. Some children's music is considered Educational, and, historically, most educational music is geared towards children. Prominent examples include songs from LazyTown, Sesame Street, Schoolhouse Rock, Smart Songs' educational rap videos on YouTube, and Tom Lehrer's songs for the PBS show The Electric Company.

Recent developments have extended music's use to secondary and collegiate education, with Cornel West breaking new ground in this regard.[6]



Video recordings are the most use of educational music. Television shows, DVDs, and even some movies use music to teach the viewer, whether it be a moral lesson or a scholastic lesson. Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock are examples of shows that use music to teach topics like math, science, and government. Things like counting, the names of the planets, or the law making process are put to music with simple lyrics to aid in retention of information.

Shows such as Little Einsteins use music as a story aid to teach decision-making and music recognition. Instrumental music represents different objects, people, animals, or actions to help the viewer distinguish between various options.

Shows such as Veggie Tales use a story as well as music to teach biblical and moral lessons to its viewers. This form uses songs to tie the story together and help the viewer remember important aspects of the story.


Audio music recordings are also used prominently as a form of education. The website Songs for Teaching[2] has many songs for teachers to use to help kids learn. Baby Genius is a very popular company that produces educational music CDs for children. The European Union funded an education project to encourage early language learning called Lullabies of Europe[3] that gathered and recorded lullabies in 7 European languages. Some Television shows and DVD series also make Audio recordings of their songs to further learning.

  • Sheet Music is sometimes used to aid in teaching when a song is new and the student can read music. Sheet music is usually used in conjunction with a CD or instrumentation.


Improvisation is used in educational music in a few settings. Teachers might make up a song for times tables and teach it to the students, perhaps having students add parts. Some people also make up songs to remember things or to study for a test.

Hip hop[edit]

Hip-hop demonstrates increasing relevance and success as a pedagogical tool in primary and secondary education. Flocabulary and Defined Mind,[7] focusing primarily on vocabulary building for SAT and ACT (examination) tests, have established a Web presence in addition to their textbooks. Smart Songs,[8] concentrating on middle school, offers amusing and pertinent music video. Rhythm, Rhyme, Results uses hip hop music to help students learn lessons ranging from economics to photosynthesis.[9] MC SKULE (Rohen Shah) of the non-profit makes parody music videos of popular songs where the lyrics teach math.[4] Alex Kajitani, the 2009 California State Teacher of the Year, created original middle school math songs as the Rappin' Mathematician.[5]

Programs that integrate music with education[edit]

Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA)[edit]

Some schools integrate music with other subjects in the hope that the music and the other subjects enhance each other. With this mutual growth, educators hope to improve the overall quality and experiences of education.

One program that integrates music in education is the Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) program, which is done through the Kennedy Center. CETA is a partnership between the Kennedy Center and eight arts focus schools in the Washington D.C. area. They work together to produce staff that can integrate the arts across the curriculum. CETA aims to integrate music and other arts, such as dance and visual arts, into other scholastic areas, such as math and science " teach and assess objectives in both the art form and the other subject area. This allows a simultaneous focus on creating, performing, and/or responding to the arts while still addressing content in other subject areas.”[10]

The objectives of CETA are to:

  1. Develop the knowledge, skills, and beliefs in the arts among individual teachers so they can integrate the arts across the curriculum to enhance student learning
  2. Purposefully network these individuals in their own schools and with teachers in participating schools to develop their understanding and confidence in integrating the arts across the curriculum
  3. Provide an extensive system of internal and external support and resources to the teachers, schools, and the network
  4. Share knowledge and experiences with other educators and arts organizations both locally and nationally[11]

Arts Horizons[edit]

Arts Horizons is an arts in education organization that serves schools in New York and New Jersey. They integrate music, as well as other arts, into learning to help children gain appreciation for the arts as well as stimulate children “through the arts to improve their proficiency in reading, writing and math.”[12]

Arts Horizons has a variety of programs, including:

  • Interactive live performances by professional artists from Broadway, Lincoln Center and around the world
  • Artist in residence programs, custom-designed for your school, that make connections between the arts and the classroom curriculum
  • Three Professional development inspires teachers to introduce innovative, creative approaches in the classroom and implement state learning standards.[13]

An example of an assembly provided by Arts Horizons is the Peter and the Wolf program.[6] In this program, an actor tells the tale of Peter and the Wolf while a woodwind quintet plays the music of Prokofiev to bring the story to life. After the story, students have a chance to learn about the woodwind instruments that were used in the story, as well as other woodwind instruments, and hear other folk tales.[14]

Effects of music on education[edit]

  • Other than a great source of entertainment, music is also a powerful tool that can have positive effects on education. Memory Recognition, stress relief, and Physical Education improvement are some of the benefits of the presence of music in education. The impact of music on learning and consolidation of novel words. Dr. Brian Matias and others have stated in their article, “auditory-motor experience can strengthen or enhance recognition memory for sounds”.[7] This enhancement in recognition memory, otherwise known as the “Production Effect” can help students quickly recollect important information at any time, thus significantly improved their academic performance. For example, if one were to forget and wishes to know the alphabetical position of the letter K, he or she can merely mentally sing the ABC songs that the individual has previously learned in their childhood to find out the answer. There have been many studies on the use of music to aid in teaching, as well as how an individual who plays music fares in their education. Results show that the usage of songs can facilitate and enhance the literacy learning process in children learn and give long lasting results.[8] For example, songs such as the Solar System Song or ABC songs can help children reinforce the earning material and expand their vocabulary.
  • Besides the direct impact on the learning process,  music is also capable of aiding the studying process of the student indirectly. According to a journal, published by Dr. Mari Tervaniemi of the University of Helsinki, “In toddlers and school-age children, music listening gives joyful moments and can also help them soothe and relax”.[9] Studying can sometimes be extremely challenging and stressful for students of a higher institution (such as four years university) due to the immense amount of materials and assignments that they have to undertake. The presence of music can facilitate the relief of stress and give them a concentration boost to focus on their studying.
  • Music does not only optimize the learning process of student, it also benefits the students through the education that remarkably enhance the physical and mental quality aspects of their lives: Physical Education (PE). Multiple researches and studies have been conducted on the students of all educational level to verify the credibility of this claim. For example, a research performed by Barney, Gust and liquor discovered that the preferable songs, chosen by the colleges kids increased the frequency, intensity and duration of their work out in the PE.[10] Another study by Dr. Lindsey Brewer and her colleagues of the Brigham Young University concluded in their journal that music brought enjoyment to high school students and stimulated the student’s motivation to increase the intensity of the work out. Similarly to the study done on the elementary students, those listened to music perform significantly better on PACER test than students that did not listen to music.[11] Due to the ability to create moods of music, when a student exercise while listening to motivational music, the student will feel motivated and increase their workload, thus enhancing the physical and mental quality aspects of their lives.


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  4. ^ "On the Daily: Educational rapper gives math a new beat". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  5. ^ "Alex Kajitani, California State Teacher of the Year 2009 - National Network of State Teachers of the Year". National Network of State Teachers of the Year. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2008-10-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Mathias, Brian; Tillmann, Barbara; Palmer, Caroline (August 2016). "Sensory, Cognitive, and Sensorimotor Learning Effects in Recognition Memory for Music". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 28 (8): 1111–1126. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00958. ISSN 0898-929X.
  8. ^ Ho, Yim-Chi; Cheung, Mei-Chun; Chan, Agnes S. (2003). "Music training improves verbal but not visual memory: Cross-sectional and longitudinal explorations in children". Neuropsychology. 17 (3): 439–450. doi:10.1037/0894-4105.17.3.439. ISSN 1931-1559.
  9. ^ Tervaniemi, Mari (September 2017). "Music in learning and relearning: The life-span approach". Psychomusicology: Music, Mind and Brain. 27 (3): 223–226. doi:10.1037/pmu0000185. ISSN 2162-1535.
  10. ^ Fountaine, Charles J.; Liguori, Gary; Mozumdar, Arupendra (May 2009). "Screen Time Is Not An Impediment To Physical Activity In College Students". Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 41: 22–23. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000353328.76388.dd. ISSN 0195-9131.
  11. ^ Brewer, Lindsey; Barney, David C.; Prusak, Keven A.; Pennington, Todd (2016). "Effects of Music on Physical Activity Rates of Junior High School Physical Education Students". The Physical Educator. 73 (4): 689–703. doi:10.18666/tpe-2016-v73-i4-7024. ISSN 0031-8981.