Testimonials, Anecdotes, and Quotes

Testimonials

  • Listening to music every day, and making the connection with the composers and the times they lived, has helped them with their own experiences and to make sense of their own world. For example, last week we were studying the Saguaro Cactus, which lives to be very old, more than 200 years. One student said, “That cactus is as old as Schubert’s music,” which we had listened to just a few weeks before.  

    (Gr. 3 Teacher) 

  • The listening goes into all areas of the curriculum. It stimulates students' creativity. Parents tell us their kids are asking them to take them to music stores to buy classical CDs. And now, their kids want to listen to classical music in the car. 

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • I love how the narration changes. There are parts of it that are repeated because that’s important, you know the title and the composer and so forth, but this little anecdote about this instrumentation and this one about whatever…. I think that’s really powerful. 

    (Gr. 7 Teacher) 

  • They are more intent listeners. I notice in Math that they seem to pick things [instructions] up quicker. I find I am repeating myself less. They are getting it the first time.

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • They are better listeners. They are more aware. They notice music in other areas of their environment now. They comment on the music they hear in movies and videos we watch in class and comment on how it adds to their enjoyment or understanding. They say things like, "I didn't notice it before!”  

    (Gr. 2 Teacher) 

  • I put music on all the time now in my class. The students really like it. Sometimes I use it to quiet them down and sometimes just to give them a bit of thinking time. Sometimes it is just on quietly in the background. They are listening to it rather than chatting to themselves and the room is more peaceful.

    (Gr. 4 Teacher) 

  • They look forward to the music. They want to hear it, especially on Monday. They look forward to who the new composer of the week is going to be.

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • The music is wonderful. The students just love it. It really helps their focused listening. 

    (Gr. 2 Teacher) 

  • I use it every day and play it softly in the background for their daily journal. It helps to stimulate their writing and keeps them focused. I also often play classical music in the background during art projects. It stimulates their creativity.  

    (Gr. 2Teacher) 

  • We play it right after lunch. Very calming. It settles the children right down. We have Math immediately after and it sets them right up for it.  

    (Gr. 3 Teacher) 

  • It has become part of their lives. They have accepted it wholeheartedly. They love it. 

    (Gr. 3 Teacher) 

  • I play the music from the program every day. I also go back and play pieces we have heard before at other times.  The students love to hear the music they have already heard.  

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • One student told me he didn’t like one piece, Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” When asked why, he said it made him feel like he did when his best friend moved away last September, very sad, and he didn’t like that. I told him that music had the ability to make us feel emotions and that was OK, and that this piece reminded him of the sadness of missing his friend, but it also reminded him of his friend so that was a good thing. He felt a bit better about that and I think he better understood the communicative power of music.  

    (Gr. 3 Teacher) 

  • The focus on the music is very important.  I see my students concentrate on and react to the music, much like they would attend to a story being read aloud to them.  

    (Gr. 2 Teacher) 

  • I’ve noticed an improvement in listening skills over the course of the year, especially in the ability to listen to music.  The students are better able to listen now, particularly to longer pieces. 

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • Listening to the music has a calming effect. This is very noticeable. I play the music right after the lunch period to start the afternoon classes.

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • Students are able to identify instruments they have heard in one piece in other music. Recognition improves with repeated listening. 

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • I use the music in other areas. For example, with Host’s “Mercury” from The Planets we drew pictures using the music as a stimulus. The students really liked that piece. It was a real favourite. 

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • The students make connections with the music to other things going on.  Sometimes they will talk about it in relation to things in the classroom and sometimes to things happening outside of school. After we listen, we always spend a few minutes and talk about the music.

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • I’ve noticed, generally, that the listening skills and the attention span of this group of students is better for the middle of February than for other groups of Grade 1 students I’ve taught.I would have to say that part of that is due to the listening program.

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • Sometimes a student will say he doesn’t like a piece, but might like only part of a piece, like where the music had the “crescendo” in it, or he might prefer “pizzicato” pieces.I’m impressed that they are picking up musical terminology in context from the scripts and using it this way.  

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • One thing that has emerged, repetition is critical. It is really the key. Many times students have stated that they don’t like something early in the week, but by Thursday or Friday they have changed their minds. They notice things they didn’t before or they say they understand it better. Sometimes they say it just takes a little getting used to. They seem to accept that now.

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • One thing that fits into our classroom mode is how it helps to develop critical thinking skills. This is very important. I don’t care if they like the music, as long as they can make an intelligent observation about it. That’s where the repetition comes in. We often relate it to a book we have read in terms of analyzing content for immediate impact or appeal. It helps to develop discriminating taste.  

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

  • I do it right after lunch. It really helps to calm the students down. It is great for making the transition into the afternoon.

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • What really amazes me is that on the fifth day, every time, the students always remember the name of the composer.  They never forget. That is really something!  

    (Gr. 3 Teacher) 

  • They definitely have their preferences. You can see it in the way they react to the music. They want to move and they can become quite animated. I don’t ask them to remain totally still, just quiet.  

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • Their listening skills have definitely improved.  

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • I use the music in their reading and writing. I find it spurs creativity. I play it softly in the background. I don’t necessarily play the listening selection of the week. I sometimes, usually, play something different. They like that.  

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • I’ve noticed that the students are able to identify instruments in music they haven’t heard before. They remember the instruments from other pieces and pick them out in new music. I love that. 

    (Gr. 1 Teacher) 

  • It’s a nice, calming, quiet way to start the day. They come in and they are all over the room. They sit down, we have our announcements, then they listen to the music and it helps them focus.  

    (Gr. 2 Teacher) 

  • I can tell you that, in the amount of time that the listening program takes out of our day, there is so much that students are exposed to.  That’s what I am amazed about.  I mean, how much time does it take out of our day?  The length of the passage we listen to could be three minutes or five minutes.  To be able to put that, plus the little introduction, that much information, that much exposure to music, I could not do it. I have too much other curriculum that has to be covered.

    (Gr. 5 Teacher) 

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Anecdotes

  • One of my students has Attention Deficit Disorder.  He told me that since we began listening to the music every day, he was finding Math less difficult.  He had an explanation.  He told me, "Because I listen to music, it is easier to listen to the numbers more.” In asking him to explain what he meant, I discovered that when he first started listening to the music he heard it all as one sound.  Now, he is able to identify individual instruments within the music.  Somehow, that skill has translated for him to Math.  Before, the numbers seemed to be all jumbled together in a big wash.  Now, he is able to separate them, process them, and focus on them one by one, to "listen to [them] more.

    (Gr. 2 Teacher)

  • My son came home very excited about the new music program at school.  He talked about the composers and the instruments he heard and the different pieces he was hearing.  At home, we have DirectTV that allows you the option of selecting classical music. My son began to program the TV for classical music to play during dinner for the whole family. One day my mother was visiting. My son spoke with her for an hour about Beethoven!  For a whole hour! 

    (Parent of a Gr. 4 student)

  • A student told me that she and a group of friends were playing “school” one day at home. I asked them what they did.  She told me the first thing they did was the “morning music.”  How did you do that? We have classical CDs at home and we just used them. Did you read scripts? Yes, we used the notes that come in the CD packages. Who did the reading? We all took turns being the teacher.

    (Conversation between a Gr. 4 Teacher and a student)

  • I took my son into Borders, a bookstore that also sells CDs.  We decided to split up and meet in 30 minutes. On his own initiative, he approached an elderly (60ish) store employee in the CD section and asked him, “Do you have anything by Bach?” The gentleman’s jaw dropped, and he looked at my son and asked, “Do you mean Johann Sebastian Bach?” My son’s reply was, “Uh, yeah.” He spent the next 45 minutes listening to selections of Bach’s music (and only Bach’s music).  I had to go find him and collect him from the classical music CD section before leaving the store.  The store clerk told me the story. 

    (Parent of a Gr. 4 student)

  • I have an autistic student in my class. He goes for Occupational Therapy every afternoon. We listen to the daily music selection right after the lunch break. This student refuses to go to his OT session without hearing the music first.  Last week, we had planned some Valentine festivities for Friday. My autistic student was absent from school on Thursday and Friday to participate in some previously arranged testing. When he returned to class on Monday, he was disappointed that he had missed school for those days the previous week. He was quite agitated and I had to spend some time calming him and reassuring him that, while he had missed the Valentine party on Friday, some treats had been saved for him. That was not why he was upset.  He was mad because he had missed two days of music. He told me, "I didn't get to hear the Holst!" (The week's feature composition was Gustav Holst's "Mercury" from The Planets, a particular favourite of this student and the class.)  

    (Gr. 1 Teacher)

  • I can tell you the difference between that first year with my eighth graders, and for them it was like a foreign language. The students, when they come into my class now, they are so used to it. And some of the songs they remember hearing before and some of them will tap their foot to it and you can kind of see that they are… And then I have a new student that just came in and her, looking around and wondering, “What is this?” So we know that their appreciation for it I think has increased even if they may not even consciously know it. 

    (Gr. 8 Teacher)

  • We go to hear the Phoenix Strings every year and they do little quizzes with the kids—you know, “Raise your hands if you know what instrument this is.”  I hear my kids chiming in, “Oh, that’s an oboe” or “That’s a….”  They hear the sound and identify the instrument. So that’s exciting to me and I have even had some of the docents or the people standing around me say, “How do your kids know this?”  I tell them, “Oh, they listen to it every day.”  And they will say things about the composers and you know I don’t even talk about the program unless I make comments, sometimes about the mood or something like that, but I don’t teach it.  I know that you could. So, that’s been kind of fun for me to see that they are picking up some information. 

    (Gr. 6 Teacher)

  • I see a big difference by the time Wednesday comes around.  So some students may not, by body language or whatever, even be particularly interested in a piece on the first listening, but by Wednesday are indicating, through non-verbal communication, that they are being more positive about the music. Absolutely. Whereas if you just played a different piece every day, I don’t think that would happen.  That suggests that at least some of the kids are interested in the information that is given about the piece.  I don’t how much of that is just my reaction or that I find it interesting.  Although I know they are picking some of it up because of the fact that they are starting to learn and identify what the instruments are.

    (Gr. 8 Teacher)

  • I have been trying with this group to get them to listen more and to tell me stories because I have a lot of kids who are not readers and, because of what I have heard about music listening and reading, I have been trying to have them look at images in their brain—tell me a story—and maybe it has worked.  It’s hard to say.  I have kids who have had huge growth this year.  They are still not independent readers, but from where they started they have improved.  They came to me reading at mid-first grade level and in six months they are reading at mid-second grade level. They are not great mid-second grade readers but the mere fact that they made it that far is progress.  We keep really careful track and we have a system of when we bring them in to test them: the reading level mid-first grade; getting close to the end of first grade; and now, mid-second grade.  I have tested those same kids and I showed the Kindergarten teacher from last year and she said, “Wow!”  I mean it was just a huge jump.  

    (Gr. 2 Teacher)

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Quotes

  • If you want to understand music better, you can do nothing more important than listen to it. Nothing can possibly take the place of listening to music.

    Aaron Copland

  • Often a single experience will open the young soul to music for a whole lifetime.  This experience cannot be left to chance; it is the duty of the school to provide it.

     

    Zoltán Kodály

  • Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because the rhythm and harmony find their way into the secret places of the soul.

    Plato

  • Sometimes the best art isn't immediately obvious. You might not get it or even like it the first time you experience it. But if you take a moment and give it another try, it might reach you in a way you never thought possible. It's a bold move to see again, read again, listen again.

    Erin McKeown,
    contemporary pop/folk composer,
    performer