MIND OVER MUSIC
By Irene Light
So, do you have a student who may have some behavior issues? Have you tried everything but nothing works? I wonder if you have thought about music?
The field of music therapy is huge. It goes way back in time to the caveman. When he wasn’t listening to his significant other, the latter resolved the problem by striking a dead tree trunk with a rock to create a rhythmic pattern and then drummed the pattern into or onto (history is not clear) the mate’s head. Communication is an art.
All right, I made that up but music therapy goes back to the ancient Greek and Roman times where the performance of certain modes (keys) of music were believed to create changes in the listener’s mood, character and morality. For example, Aristotle thought that the Ionian mode, which is our common C Major scale, made the listener stupid! (And you thought that Hard Rock is bad?) Well, the point is that, since music is a natural part of every human, it is easy to “reach” the inner person and try to change certain behaviors for the better.
Much of this is logical. If you want a child to follow your directions, play a march and clap to the beat and you have become a Pied Piper who will be followed anywhere. The same music at naptime will make wiggle worms out of your sleeping beauties. Soft, relaxing music is appropriate here.
Now let us modify inappropriate behavior. Instead of putting a child in an isolated area to ponder why the teacher is looking so mean, why not offer a CD player with headphones and a relaxing, upbeat CD with songs written for his or her age level? After some time, the student will be relaxed while singing and gently tapping to a beat instead of beating up a classmate. You have substituted happy and positive feelings for stressful ones.
So now the other kids think that their classmate is having more fun than they are! Well, take a break from your schedule and let the child teach one of the songs to the class. This will improve his or her self-esteem and peer appearance. Soon everyone will be asking to be the teacher! You’ll get more respect, too. Just be creative!
For more ideas, read Don Campbell’s “The Mozart Effect for Children: Awakening Your Child’s Mind, Health, and Creativity With Music.” Don’t let the title throw you! The author, as a music therapist, writes to teachers and parents alike about how to make better listeners out of children from the prenatal stage on up. You will find many ideas that you can use and your students will not suspect a thing. After all, its just music!
© 2006 Irene Light