#LTHEchat 232: Learning through music. Led by @AttardoJoe @egillaspy @Danceswithcloud on 06 April 2022, 8pm BST

Music Desk via Pixabay

Welcome to the #LTHEchat #creativeHE mash up to explore how music can facilitate learning and teaching in HE! On 8 February 2022, we asked the #creativeHE community to explore meaningful ways of using music in our teaching practices to facilitate learning. Read the #creativeHE blog  Let’s dance! Play that funky music to facilitate learning to find out more. 

Since then, we have collectively been reflecting and experimenting with music and we would invite the #LTHEchat community to take their own unique musical journeys…

Composing teaching: Classical jazz

Similar to musicians, teachers choose their tools for their “compositions”. Long presentations, full of text and pictures, often dictate the tempo of seminars and lectures, with rigorous musical structure. Academic texts too have their rhythms and structures. Finding the rhythm can release us into our academic community, facilitating our own thinking and writing. On the other hand, creativity and unstructured thinking play a fundamental part of the process of emergent learning. We need to drop the classical score and go a little freeform jazz, get a little bit messy if we want something transformational and indescribable to happen.

The soundscape of learning

Imagine the sounds you find in learning environments… What do you hear? What do those sounds mean to you?

The sound of silence in a classroom can indicate deeper learning but it can also put us on edge while we wait for someone to answer our question – “Argh, somebody say something soon!”

The occasional white noise resonating in the metal bars of the tables and chairs. 

Wind whistling through the windows’ fixtures, thumps of feet walking up the stairs. 

Music wants to be there. Rhythms, patterns, motifs, they all want to be there.

Anything can emit music. Ever listened to “Saturn’s Music”? Even our brain, while in sleep mode, emits “sound” (with all those delta brainwaves). If only we could hear those as we can see them in an electro-encephalogram, maybe cats can? Wondering what music that would be. Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) probably…..   

Our learning environments – and even our learning processes – generate their own soundscapes. So, how can we harness the power of music to guide how we learn and teach?

The power of music in learning

I really need to point this out. Thanks to (also) music I could learn another language (English). Listening to the British and American bands Nirvana, Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd when I was little, hugely contributed to how I learned English. It’s weird to think how I could possibly have understood what they were saying in their songs. I could not grasp the whole sentence, but I knew exactly what sort of anger Kurt Cobain (lead singer of Nirvana) was going through. You could appreciate the depth of the feeling thanks to music. 

Music can make you cry; music can empower you when you go to the gym or whatever you do to keep healthy. A film would not be a film without a soundtrack.

Music is an effective communication tool, abstract, intangible, invaluable. It helps to surface the unknown, to make explicit the implied, enabling non-verbal ways of knowing to emerge. Music has the potential to break down barriers and power imbalances, encouraging differences and diversity.

Music can be fundamental in childhood to help you memorise the alphabet at school, same with numbers, poems, the colours of the rainbow. But how many ‘put aside such childish things’ and forget these powerful ways of thinking and learning?

Following this question, could we expand the perception of music as a teaching tool in academic areas where art does not necessarily make an impact? Could we do more to support inclusive learning through the use of music?

Something inside so strong

On our first meet up for 2022, the #creativeHE community explored ways to introduce music in teaching. We shared ideas on how to break the ice through music or to create a calming atmosphere for “keynote” sessions, creating positive associations for students about the session, knowledge and lecturer. We considered music to help thinking and to help creatively organise and communicate thoughts.  We shared music workshops that we had run with students that developed self-efficacy and confidence in the academic classroom.

As highlighted during the meetup, music might appear as imparted, forced or obliged and not necessarily to students’ taste. At first glance, variation in genre should be sufficient to satisfy most of the audience. We could also use these differences in musical preferences to develop core skills of valuing and welcoming others’ views.

We invite you to join us for an hour to explore how you might use music in your teaching and how it could facilitate learning in any discipline.

Join Us 🕗

The live tweet-chat will take place via https://twitter.com/LTHEchat on Wednesday 06 April 2022, 8:00 to 9:00 pm BST.

During this time 6 questions will be posed (one every 10 minutes) – everyone is welcome to contribute (as much or as little as they like) or just to read. Conversation is also welcomed at any time post 9:00pm BST.

TweetChat Questions

Q1 If your teaching and/or supporting learning practice was a musical genre – what would it be and why?

Q2 In what ways have you used or are aware of others using music to support student learning? If you’re not aware of any, why do you think that is?

Q3 What might get in the way of using music in learning and teaching?

Q4 How can we as an #LTHEchat #creativeHE community overcome barriers to using music in teaching and/or supporting learning?

Q5 How could you use music as part of the process of facilitating learning?

Q6 If we had an #LTHEchat playlist, what track(s) would you add and why?

Wakelet 🖺

Here’s a link to the Wakelet of this week’s chat: https://wke.lt/w/s/69Tisc

LTHEchat playlist 🎹

Listen and relax to the 2022 LTHEchat playlist on Spotify https://open.spotify.com/playlist/56swCTErEZWKGiETEHPkbf?si=b82a2a9a5d7c43df&nd=1

The Hosts’ Bios 📷

Gioele Attardo @AttardoJoe

Hi, I am Gioele Attardo. Born in Sicily, I grew up near Agrigento, famous for its “La Valle dei Templi”, Temples Valley. I studied nursing at the Policlinico di Messina and once qualified I moved to the North-West of England. What a journey. Love for nursing and the inner drive to bring positive change drove my career into becoming a Lecturer. Electronic music making has always been a passion and a hobby on an amaturial level. Synthesisers populate my desk at night, sonic exploration dictates my creativity. I strongly believe that music and its physical vibration are a powerful, mystical, tool for communication.

Emma Gillaspy @egillaspy

Hey, I’m Emma Gillaspy, a National Teaching Fellow, #creativeHE host, academic developer and executive coach based at the University of Central Lancashire. I blend appreciative inquiry-based coaching, heutagogy and social learning to support academics in realising their amazing potential and becoming the best teachers they can be. I use creative materials and non-linear learning technologies to support this approach which enables non-verbal ways of knowing to emerge, leading to congruent development aligned with learners’ core values and beliefs

Sandra Sinfield @Danceswithcloud

Hello, I’m Sandra Sinfield, currently I’m an academic developer but have previously worked as a laboratory technician, a freelance copywriter, an Executive Editor (Medicine Digest), in the voluntary sector and with the Islington Green School Community Play written by Alan (Whose Life is it Anyway?) Clarke and performed at Sadler’s Wells. I’ve taken a production of Bouncers on a tour of Crete music venues and produced teaching and learning courses and materials in a range of settings. I am passionate about the role of creativity for learning.

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