Frequently Asked Questions about
The Brummitt-Taylor Music Listening Program: A Non-Directed Approach
- What is it?
- When is the best time for the listening program to occur?
- Can we afford the time?
- Why classical music?
- What will I have to do?
- What is it going to cost? Where is the money going to come from?
- Does it work?
- Who is going to be responsible for it?
What is it?
Non-directed listening is the process of listening daily to one composition per week with a minimum of teacher direction. It is similar to read-aloud stories for very young children or sustained, silent reading for older students.
When is the best time for the listening program to occur?
Two of the most common times are first thing in the morning or after lunch, although some schools/teachers use the time right after recess. The listening program can be used at any point during the school day immediately following a natural break, or to create a break. Many teachers report a “calming” influence of the music and use that to settle students down and help them to regain focus for the next instructional session.
Can we afford the time?
The program takes only five minutes a day and can easily fit into the regular school schedule and the routines in individual classrooms. Many teachers report that using the music listening program actually helps create additional instruction time because it calms students down and students seem more prepared for learning after listening to the music. One classroom teacher said, “I think the short time given up to the program is well worth it.”
Why classical music?
Classical music is used for the same reason that books classified as literature are used for novel studies. Great art music speaks to individuals in a way that is not fully understood. It is clear from experience, however, that children respond positively to classical music when it becomes part of their daily routine.
A program of music listening at school is, in most cases, the only way to broaden a child's knowledge of music beyond commercial and popular music. One principal said, “The students are being exposed to excellent music that they may not otherwise typically hear.”
What will I have to do?
The individual teacher needs only to model good listening behaviour and ensure students are quiet. Routines using quiet listening habits exist in all classrooms, so it’s just a matter of applying the same routines during music listening.
What is it going to cost? Where is the money going to come from?
Because this is a school-wide program, most schools which have implemented it have paid for the materials from the school budget, or have approached their parent group for funds. Since the cost is low for a school-wide program, this is usually not an obstacle. Broken down over a five-year period, the program costs less than $1.50 per week.
Does it work?
The program was field tested over a ten-year period prior to publication in 1996. Feedback from teachers using the program indicate its successful introduction into a variety of school environments. Since publication the program is being used in schools across Canada and the United States and in several foreign countries. It is estimated that more than 750,000 children listen to classical music at school every day through this program.
One teacher, when asked if he would recommend this program to other schools said, “Highly. Kids need experience listening [to music]. It’s very gratifying to hear students say, ‘This is my favourite composer!’ ”
Another teacher reported that while doing a graph exercise with her Grade 2 and 3 students, they were able to supply the names of seventeen composers after less than a year using the program.
When asked what the most positive aspect of the program is, one principal responded, “The knowledge children receive plus the training of their ears to listen to great composers.”
Who is going to be responsible for it?
Teachers know they are responsible for instruction in their classrooms and school-wide programs require cooperation. For school-wide programs it is essential for one teacher to take a leadership role. In a number of schools using the program, the individual who initially brought the idea to staff also indicated a willingness to be responsible for operating the program. And, of course, the support of the school principal is paramount.