Volume IV - 1997

Connecting the Powers of Music to the Learning of Languages
by Sandra Adkins

         Sandra Adkins is an eighth grade Spanish teacher at Park View Middle School in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, where she has been on the faculty for twelve years. She is working on a doctorate in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Language acquisition is her curricular area of interest, and she intends to study the relationship between music and language learning for her dissertation.

Rhythm is gonna get 'cha,
Rhythm is gonna get 'cha,
Rhythm is gonna get you,
The rhythm is gonna get you_tonight!
- Gloria Estefan

         This song exemplifies what music and rhythm can do to grip you. A song can stay stuck in your head all day, and you simply cannot seem to get rid of it. What is it about the power of music that takes hold of your mind and your mood to create an intensely emotional experience? Music can surround you, it can make you feel energetic and motivated. Is there any way to unleash this power in the classroom to energize and motivate students? Can music possibly be used for instructional purposes in a foreign language classroom to assist students in acquiring the plethora of new vocabulary required in a year of language learning?

The Search for the Connection Begins

         I began my search for this answer many years ago. In my Spanish-I classes for eighth graders, I had games to reinforce and enhance oral proficiency, activities to provide practice through cooperative learning, and a myriad of physical response sessions to enable students to acquire the vocabulary and grammar concepts expected of them. I kept thinking about music and how younger children memorize songs and fingerplays in nursery school so effortlessly. The songs are "stuck" there, and my eighth graders can still recite them today. It seemed to me that music would coordinate and enliven so much of what I was trying to do. I wandered from display to display at foreign language conferences searching for music to use with my lessons. Textbook publishers occasionally had songs from the culture to accompany their programs, but somehow bullfighting anthems and mariachi music tapes seemed useless to me. How could I teach using those when my students were listening to Van Halen and Bon Jovi? I suspected there must be rock music from the Spanish culture that I could use in class to teach the language. After all, I reasoned, if the songs contained the words I was teaching, the students could sing to learn them, and the learning would be fun too. Teenagers love music, they listen to it constantly!

         I began to see more and more music at conferences in the late 1980's. In Minneapolis, I met two teachers presenting a workshop using rock music from the culture, and I bought everything they were selling. These teachers had painstakingly transcribed the lyrics and had worked out some exercises and activities to accompany the songs. If a song contained future tense, for example, they explained how the song could be incorporated into the curriculum. If the song contained adjectives, they had activities for the song to reinforce the verb "to be." I eagerly slid the songs into my lessons wherever I felt they could enhance learning. I attended more workshops with music and became armed with quite a collection of popular music from the Spanish culture. When I played the songs in class, the students quickly joined in on the chorus. The more repetitive the rhythm and words, the quicker it seemed to "stick." The students began to ask for songs, "Can we sing that song again today?" I noticed that they would leave class singing, and I began to hear comments from other teachers regarding the fact that my students were coming to their classes singing. Other teachers began to shut their doors, and my friends at work did not want their classrooms near mine. With a stroke of luck, when my school was remodeled, they put me next to industrial technology. I finally had a home where no one cared how much noise we made!

Enter a Composer-Materials Writer

         Though it would seem that I had now accomplished my goal of incorporating music in my curriculum, the songs I had were fun, but they did not contain much first-year material. They were alive with colorful idioms, subjunctive tenses and various other complicated structures that one would never find in a first- year book. In Indianapolis I met a presenter, Ronald J. Anton, who was introducing a new concept in foreign language instruction. He had written a set of ten songs specifically intended to accompany textbook Spanish. His system, called "Contemporary Music Approach," contains original songs he composed and orchestrated himself. The tunes are very catchy and represent the kinds of music to which students listen, tunes with which they are already familiar. The songs include several styles of music: rap, rock, country and blues. The first song is written to highlight present tense verbs in a first year class. The second song contains interrogatives, certainly an important but difficult concept for first year students due to the syntactical differences between English and Spanish questions. Other important grammatical concepts presented are the two "to be" verbs in Spanish and verb forms used with infinitives. The remainder of his songs quickly surpass the material I teach in a first year class, but I decided four of the ten songs could be utilized. Anton had also created listening comprehension, speaking and writing activities to be used with the songs.

         Singing the songs and memorizing them is only part of his program. After memorization and presentation in a group or language lab, he directs students to write their own original lyrics. In his article in Hispania, Anton explains his Contemporary Music Approach and describes his research and rationale. As the teacher systematically builds a program based on music, the students can learn and remember basic fundamentals of Spanish grammar. Music is an effective memory aid, and since it is something students enjoy anyway, it helps them relax and become more receptive to language learning. Anton further points out that music combines the creative, non-verbal and emotional processes carried out by the right hemisphere of the brain with the specific verbal and logic-based learning carried out by the left hemisphere. When students write their own lyrics to his tunes, he feels that they are reviewing and integrating what they have learned in Spanish: vocabulary, verb tenses and idiomatic expressions (1990).

         I was intrigued by Anton's Contemporary Music Approach, and I bought his set of tapes. As soon as I tried them in class, I knew that music was going to become a key part of my curriculum. I was determined to create music that would correspond to what I was teaching in my first year course. Anton is a musician; I am not. I just love to sing. About this time, two events occurred which melodiously transported me down a new path. First, I became aware of the fact that students were listening to hit songs from the 60's, 70's and 80's, and second, Karaoke machines became available in stores. Equipped with my Karaoke machine and assorted Beatles' songs, I was ready for my first attempt at song- writing_or to be more exact, "lyric writing" since we were not creating melodies. I was teaching the verb "ir", "to go" in Spanish, and I wrote a song in Spanish to the tune of "She Loves You" (1966). In the song, we sing about all the things we are going to do such as: go to the bank, take out some money, have a big party, invite our friends, play Spanish songs and dance, and it's going to be "padrisimo" (way cool)! The reaction to the song was incredible. I had students eagerly volunteering to come to the front of the room and lead the class in song using the microphone. They were not content to sing it once: we had to sing it several times to allow all who wanted a turn in leading to get one. I soon had to purchase another microphone. I was astonished and thrilled. One day in the local grocery store, a parent approached me and asked if I could please teach the students a new song because they were getting tired of having to listen to the same song repeatedly in the car on the way to soccer! Since that time, I have encountered other comments from students and parents which have reinforced my original "gut-feeling" that music is a powerful pedagogical tool in second language instruction.

A More Serious Inquiry

         This brief history of my application of music to language learning has led me to research the literature to answer several questions:

1. Is learning truly enhanced by incorporating music?
2. What is the relationship between music and memory?
3. Will test scores reflect better memorization of material when a song is used as a vehicle for language learning?
4. Will the syntactical structures contained in the lyrics to a song be transferred to students' everyday use of the new language?
5. Does music have the power to motivate students and create a positive and relaxing environment in the classroom?

         In his book Human Brian and Human Learning, Leslie Hart has summarized the inner workings of the brain to explain how learning happens. The key cell of the brain is the neuron. In essence, neurons are switches. Thinking and learning can be thought of as the throwing a great numbers of switches to one position or another. The number of neurons could be as high as 30 billion, but no one knows for sure. The main point is that the number of neurons we are dealing with is staggeringly large. The possible pathways between these networking neurons could soar up into the trillions. In the great majority of people, the left hemisphere of the cerebrum is concerned with language and the right hemisphere concerns itself with recognizing visual and rhythmical patterns. But this does not mean the division is complete. The main connection between the two halves is a bridge called the "corpus callosum," which consists of 200 million or more nerve fibers. They carry information both ways. Therefore the brain acts as an elaborate system of interconnected parts and operates by simultaneously going down many paths.

Questioning the Very Basis of Education and Its Relation to Thinking

         The principle of linear processing is essentially that one limited unit of thought follows another unit in a logical, more-or-less one-dimensional relationship. The implications of this principle for education is that the student's attention should be guided from one focus to the next focus which is closely related to it. According to contemporary research on the brain, the whole miraculous procedure bears no relationship to linear processing. Therefore, to expect students to react in the way the educational bureaucracy often expects them to is often counter-productive_it actually inhibits learning. These important findings have led to suggestions that the left side of the brain is logical and sequential because it is so involved with language--but language is so full of irrational twists and turns that it is anything but logical. Hart (1983) pointed out that listening to speech is no more sequential than listening to music. The two sides of the cerebrum probably work very much the same way but have different "assignments." Our goal in education should be to employ the rich connections the brain is capable of making.

         Don G. Campbell is an author who has studied the musical brain and who is the director of the Institute for Music, Health and Education in Boulder, Colorado. He states that music has a way of connecting the two hemispheres by utilizing the left for language and the right for distinguishing musical intonations through consistent integration via the corpus callosum. Though one cannot totally separate the functions of the two lobes, we do know that the more connections that can be made in the brain, the more integrated that experience is within memory (1992).

Each Teacher Can Integrate Music According to His or Her Comfort Level

         I am sometimes asked how music should become a key part of the curriculum and what the program should be. I feel there are so many ways to use music that each teacher would have to create his or her own program depending on their level of comfort with regard to music. For me, the program is a compilation of several approaches. I write songs that showcase the grammar and syntax in the lyrics, or songs that are about grammar. I also try to set my drills and oral practice sessions to rhythm using a choral approach to practice. I never force students to sing or dance in front of others, but I never have a lack of volunteers. I have found that students usually take my ideas and build on them on their own. Armed with a dictionary, they create their own learning.

Trying Anton's Way

         As a result of my research, I decided to try Anton's suggestion of directing students to write their own lyrics to melodies that they knew. I had previously felt that they did not know enough Spanish to write anything, but I was wrong! We were learning how to tell time in Spanish, and we used a song by Barbara MacArthur from her set of Spanish songs in Sing, Dance, Laugh and Eat Tacos 3 (1993). The song is to the tune of "Frere Jacques," and it has three verses. I gave the students a list of verbs, showed them how to change the verb endings to express first person singular and plural, and instructed them to write a new verse to the song telling what time it is and what they are doing. Each group created a verse within 10-12 minutes with scant assistance from me. Each group sang their verse in front of the class, and we videotaped their verses the next day. They role-played the content of their verse and even brought props for the taping to augment their song. A few groups deviated somewhat from the tune I had chosen: they created a song from a different tune. One group of boys asked if they could do a rap song. They met together after football practice that night, set up their keyboards and guitars, wrote an original song, recorded it, and brought it to class the next day to play for us! They were highly motivated to go to all that work. They were proud of their accomplishment as they played their creation for the class_all for no grade! Most important, they were using Spanish.

         Unusual creativity and motivation was also seen in another group's effort as they decided to use the melody of Beatles' song "Hard Day's Night." They wrote the chorus, and I finished the song at home. The song takes place at three o'clock in the afternoon after the bell has rung; they are happily out of school and are planning a game of football. The next day, the class learned their song which we practiced and videotaped. Their desire to construct their own learning literally bowled me over! Music is indeed a powerful avenue of instruction.

Musical Intelligence and Howard Gardner

         Howard Gardner, in his book Multiple Intelligences, suggests that in classrooms of the future, teachers must realize that not all people have the same interests and abilities, and not all of us learn in the same way. Lessons need to planned in a manner that utilizes the different intelligences we possess. In order to assess what kids know, teachers need to become "assessment specialists" and to devise ways of assessment that utilize activities that are contextualized and meaningful to students. Gardner also advises engaging children with materials from the child's own environment. This measure of assessment is more "intelligence-fair" because it looks directly at the intelligence in operation instead of through a linguistic or logical- mathematical lens (1993). The verses that my students created, and their subsequent enthusiasm to share them, exhibited a way for me to assess their understanding of time-telling without a worksheet. The music represented what Gardner calls a "hook" that is used to exploit students' interests, capabilities, and confidence in one domain of knowledge as a means to facilitate growth in other domains.

         Several authors have taken Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligence and have written books to assist educators with incorporating theory into practice. David Lazear, in his book Seven Ways of Knowing, has created a handbook for teachers who want to plan teaching strategies utilizing Gardner's work. He states that learning is most successful when we consider the possible plurality of intelligence and that the intelligences work in combination with each other. The brain makes connections within certain contexts to what is known and has been experienced with what is new and is being introduced in the classroom. Lazear singles out musical intelligence as a way to awaken and stimulate memory and learning. Music is a subject to be studied and appreciated as a separate skill, but music can also be used as a means for acquiring other knowledge. He reviews the Lazanov technique known as "Suggestopedia." Certain types of classical music are played while students learn vocabulary and pronunciation in a foreign language.

Music Unlocks Doors to Other Content

         This "super-learning" strategy has been shown to dramatically increase the neural activity in the right hemisphere of the brain. In a relaxed "alpha" state of awareness, the mind is able to absorb and assimilate information much more readily and quickly than in the more normal "beta" state. The primary factors that influence and moderate brainwave patterns are sound, especially music, and vibrational patterns, especially rhythm or beats. Millions of neurons can be activated in a single musical experience. It is through the activation of these neural connections that learning takes place. The more neurons that can be connected, the greater the learning potential (1991). These authors have both advocated the use of music as a classroom tool to unlock the doors to other content. Music is a way to use a multi-sensory approach to learning that can enable students to absorb content with a relaxing and creative vehicle as a catalyst.

Children's Games and Bach: Partners in the Great Dance of Learning

         We have already mentioned Campbell, another interesting author who has studied the effects of music and learning. He has written in his book Introduction to the Musical Brain that music is not only seen as art and entertainment, but as an essential manner of sensorial patterning that increases long-range memory, reading skills, and physical development. He states that the more connections that can be made in the brain, the more integrated that experience is within memory. By understanding the nervous system and the parts of the brain, existing methods of experiencing music can be enhanced through the use of music to increase memory and perception in other fields of study. Music has an uncanny manner of activating neurons for purposes of relaxing muscle tension, changing pulse, and producing long-range memories which are directly related to the number of neurons activated in the experience. These connections can now be measured by injecting the brain with radioactive chemicals that are detected when the brain cells are active. The stimulation of more neurons produces greater memory. The different parts of the brain and the nervous system filter and process information in different ways that are relevant to the musical mind and overall memory. These different ways provide us with some clues which can assist us in our teaching processes. His goal is to provide teachers and other interested professionals with the tools to bring about sensory integration within the two hemispheres of the brain. He calls his exercises kinesthetic, image-making, and gimmicks for amusement. The implication is that skills in other areas improve through the use of the integrated arts which lead to improvement in the overall education of a child. He ends one chapter with a particularly appropriate quote for me, "Children's games and Bach need not be strangers, but partners in the great dance of learning" ( 1992). The exercises and teaching suggestions outlined in his book highlight music and the arts as part of an integrated system for holistic education.

A Link between Music and Spatial Reasoning

         After reading Campbell's book, I felt that I had discovered a surefire method of saving my colleagues, the music teachers, from the tax-slashing chopping block! I inquired as to whether they were aware of all this wonderful music research going on that could undeniably prove the pedagogical value of their bands and choirs. They informed me of even more intriguing research from the University of California at Irvine. A research psychologist, Frances Rauscher, has been studying the effects of music on the brain. In conjunction with two neurobiologists, Gordon Shaw and Xiaodan Leng, she has demonstrated a connection between music and spatial reasoning. By studying neural firing patterns through a computer-generated model of the brain, they discovered a link between music and the type of reasoning they were mapping_spatial reasoning. Studying music relies on the same neural firing patterns as spatial reasoning, and the biologists needed a psychologist to conduct some behavioral research with children to see whether studying music could enhance spatial reasoning. They worked with pre-schoolers, providing them with keyboard lessons, daily singing lessons, and supervised practice periods. They tested their spatial reasoning skills at various intervals along the way and found 46% increased accuracy in those skills.

         Dr. Rauscher feels that music training will translate to better mathematical skills as these children grow, particularly in geometry. Besides mathematics, spatial reasoning is also heavily relied upon in the fields of architecture, engineering, navigation, and any other field that requires an understanding of how things go together in space and time. She also intends to study singing independently from the keyboard lessons and to study older children to examine the effect of their music program on mathematical ability. Rauscher recommends engaging children in music study at early ages to involve kids in an activity they already love, making noise, in order to advance their other intellectual capacities (1995). The notion of music being a means for acquiring other knowledge is an exciting possibility. Teachers intuitively know when students are enjoying their learning, and we strive to motivate and interest students with new strategies and techniques that have been shown to enhance and increase learning.

Music Creates a Positive Learning Environment

         Brain research and its connection to learning has enjoyed an explosion in recent years. It makes sense to teach students using strategies that parallel brain processing in order to facilitate learning. Educators do not need to become neuroscientists, but a rudimentary understanding of the brain is in order. If students are to be actively involved in their construction of knowledge through multi-sensory experiences, the learning environment will become more positive as they acquire information in the different content areas. Two leading authors in this arena are Renate Nummela Caine and Geoffrey Caine. They have attempted to define new approaches to teaching and learning that take into account how the brain actually functions. They are hoping that by challenging outdated beliefs about learning, teachers can make sense of the link between neuroscience and education. In their book Making Connections, they highlight the need to access the millions of rich connections that the brain is capable of making. They advocate a need for helping students acquire "meaningful knowledge"_knowledge that makes sense to the learner. Music is of interest to students and should be included in a discussion of searching for meaningful knowledge. Singing and creating music to purposefully learn content engages students in talking, listening and acting out what they are learning. Caine and Caine specifically mention that using music as a teaching strategy provides complex connections which are part of the students' natural environment. The type of brain-based approaches to teaching described by these authors acknowledge the brain's ability to relate and connect vast amounts of information that is already "in" the learner through identification of underlying relationships and patterns among the sciences, humanities, and arts (1994).

         In their companion book Mindshifts, with author Sam Crowell, they have discussed music as creating a sense of playfulness and joy in the classroom. Music can bring about a feeling of freedom as students search for and create unique patterns and rhythms. This helps create an atmosphere that encourages emotional well-being within a positive learning environment. Emotional comfort is crucial to prevent "downshifting," a psychophysiological response to perceived threat accompanied by a sense of helplessness. Conditions in the classroom that bring about downshifting are fairly predictable. Downshifting occurs when prespecified "correct" outcomes have already been established by an agent other than the learner. This significantly narrows the options available to students and makes them feel as if they are not in charge of their own learning. The predetermined responses do not allow for connections within the students' personal lives. Learning must be connected to what students already know ( 1994).

The Rhythm of Discovery and the Orchestration of Lifelong Learning

         Connecting new information to students' background knowledge through the use of music appears to be validated in other literature as well. Listening and being "in tune" with the rhythm of discovery toward a goal of orchestrating lifelong learning is a topic explored by Chris Brewer and Don Campbell in their book Rhythms of Learning. This collection of activities and exercises accentuates the joyful feeling of comfort that can be obtained through music, movement, and rhythm. They highlight the skill of listening_which is extremely important in second language learning_as a way to connect new information with previously stored data. Attentive listening creates a neurologic patterning that is imprinted within many circuits of the brain. The information consolidates with data obtained through other senses and learned in different ways, increasing the length and breadth of neurological circuitry. The implications and details of these patterns will not be easily forgotten.

Brain-Based Learning

         Changes in the pulse and flow of the lesson also contribute to optimum learning and memory as time is allowed for new input, rehearsal and retrieval which coordinate with the way our brain stores images. The authors suggest rotating and contrasting the presentation of new material with changes in routine during the lesson. The contrast can be a review, a change in voice pattern, learning games, movement activities, art exercises, stories, and music to either stimulate the classroom mood or to relax the intensity of focus. These breaks help create a positive emotional climate in the classroom and help prevent students from drifting into sleepiness or daydreaming modes. Learning is not simply knowing facts: creative activities assist in building confidence within students' personal expression. The authors conclude that music can be used in the classroom to accomplish the following goals: to create a relaxing atmosphere, to establish a positive learning state, to provide a multi-sensory learning experience that improves memory, to increase attention by creating short bursts of energizing excitement, and to add an element of fun (1991).

         This short synopsis of some of the available information on brain-based learning points to the importance of creating a positive emotional climate in class and involving students in creative activities with which they are personally connected. Practicing a second language within a functional context will always be more meaningful to students than worksheets and grammar drills and will facilitate acquisition of the new language. Music has been mentioned by all of these authors as a way to improve the classroom climate in order to allow creativity to take place. Music is a thread that can tie together the best techniques in foreign language learning with the new brain-based research.

Musical Motivation: We Seldom Ask the Students Themselves

         Teachers often use their intuitive sense in the classroom to develop activities that students enjoy. Since I began using music, I notice that it motivates my students to continue studying Spanish. They request music and constantly inquire as to when we will be singing again. Singing one song is never enough, they ask to sing all the ones they have learned. John M. Green, an English professor at the University of Puerto Rico, states that research reports of what students find enjoyable are frequently based on anecdotal evidence and the reports of teachers who think they know what students enjoy. Almost nobody seems to have actually asked language students to rate the extent to which they enjoy different classroom activities. He found only one study in the ERIC database which focused on the attitudes of students in their teens toward their study of a second language. Effectiveness claims made by proponents of various methods and techniques have provoked a great deal of comment among teachers, but no one seems to have asked students what techniques and procedures they value and perceive to be effective. Green conducted a study to find out whether his students shared his assumptions about which activities were enjoyable and effective. Students were given seventeen descriptions of "things that might happen in a language class" and were asked to rate them on a five-point scale as to the effectiveness and degree of enjoyment for each activity. The questionnaire items were a mix of communicative and non-communicative techniques one would most probably encounter in a foreign language class. As might be expected, students rated communicative activities more enjoyable than noncommunicative. Though he did not form a hypothesis with respect to music, music was one of the communicative activities he asked students to rate. On the "enjoyableness" level, music received the highest rating (1993). This study is by no means an exhaustive study of student attitudes, but music does seem to be an enjoyable activity and can be used in the foreign language classroom to motivate, inspire imagination and creativity, and give the class hour an element of surprise. Music is not generally expected when students walk in for class; mine are always excited when they walk in and see the Karaoke machine out with the microphones all ready to go.

Gertrude Moskowitz and the Notion of the Unexpected

         Other instructors sharing ideas in journals have emphasized the idea of the unexpected for motivation and for stimulation of the imagination. Gertrude Moskowitz shared a wonderful "teacher-in-role" strategy in The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning. She suggests coming to class as a character in order to effectively teach and communicate certain aspects of the target language or culture. Fortune tellers to teach future tense, Judge Lance Ito to teach ESL students about the American judicial system, and a teacher-reporter interviewing students about their lives are just a few of the characters she and other teachers have portrayed. Student reactions were positive. They used such adjectives as "stimulating," "exciting," "very educational," and "amusing" to describe the technique (1995-1996). Moskoswitz is certainly an example of one who attempts to capture the imagination of her students to emphasize meaningful communication and to help students remember what is taught by using contextualized approaches. She states in an earlier article for The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning, "When imagination is unleashed, creativity is born; the two go hand in hand." She encourages teachers to recognize the potential of imagination; too much schooling does not. Traditional ways of learning and teaching ignore the imagination, which is why students feel that school is so boring. Moskowitz also touches on another important reason to use imagination and creativity in the classroom_enhancing student memory and subsequent learning (1994).

Music and Memory

         Though at times I have felt that singing in class was not "real" education but simply "fun" for students, the books and articles I have studied indicate otherwise. In addition to using all your intelligences, learning in a positive environment and feeling motivated, several authors have highlighted the use of music as a memory aid. Paul Newham, a musical therapist, writes that language learning can be enhanced by looking beneath and beyond the process of language learning in the classroom to see what precedes it in the organization of mental development (1995-96). He has studied the blue-print upon which language is built. Linguistic and verbal activity consist of the phylogenetic spontaneous rhythmical arrangement of sound and silence which constitute the composition of music. The instinctive musical arrangement of spontaneous vocal sounds are evident in babies as they advance from cooing to babbling. The infant learns quickly that his needs are met in consequence to sound making. Healthy babies compose melodic structures of rising and descending pitch using the full vocal range available to them from the moment they are born. Through the use of music in the language classroom, it is possible to bring a cognitively challenging activity to a dimension reminiscent of one of our most primary and primitive pleasures: singing. Newham further states that music allows material to be remembered. Attaching tones and gestures to specific words sets them in a firm and easily retrievable form. He has conducted experiments at his studio in London using both children and adults. They were shown to be significantly more able to remember a series of verbal constructs, ranging from lists of objects to poetic excerpts, when they were taught as simple songs rather than as tuneless phrases (1995-1996). Certainly, there is no learning without memory. A major goal of second language teaching is to enable students to remember what they have learned, and to be able to call upon that material when needed as they begin to produce language.

         In order to understand learning, it is necessary to understand how material is transferred from short-term memory, a temporary storing device, to long-term memory, the library in the brain from which facts can be recalled. Colin Rose, in his book Accelerated Learning, explains this process in a non- scientific manner which can be easily understood by educators who are not necessarily members of the medical community. The key to storing material in a person's long-term memory is rehearsal. Unless an item is rehearsed, it is lost out of the short-term memory and does not enter the long-term memory. Powerful rehearsal techniques include reading aloud, listing new vocabulary in picture form, actively involving students in organizing and categorizing information, and presenting lessons that are colorful and bizarre. These techniques greatly increase the probability of recall. The reason that music works so well for any type of memory storage is that a song is "chunked" with rhythm and rhyme. "Chunking" material means that the ideas are broken down into memorable segments and when these "chunks" are rhythmical, so much the better. Rhythm and rhyme are undoubtedly aids to memory. When teenagers learn popular songs, they seem to do so without much effort because the material is "chunked," i.e., the music provides a strong emotional association with the words, the music is enjoyable, and they are motivated to learn the song (1985).


         The necessary factors for learning and memory, in all the reading I have done, can be contained in a song. Setting the new language within a familiar context forms strong associations, creates motivation on the part of the learner, and aids in memory storage. I feel strongly now that the use of music and singing in my classroom satisfies many of the tenets of brain-based learning techniques and accelerated learning techniques as well. If rehearsal is the key to learning and memory, my students are learning! Their requests for music, their composition of tunes for production in class, and their pure enjoyment of the music we use in class is evidence that learning is, in fact, taking place. No longer do I need to fear that our noise is chaos. Our noise is involvement, sometimes messy and unorganized, but if the end product is students speaking Spanish, I have indeed accomplished my goal.


Anton, Ronald J. "Combining Singing and Psychology." Hispania, 73 December (1990): 1166-70.

Brewer, Chris, and Don G. Campbell. Rhythms of Learning. Tucson: Zephyr Press, 1991 .

Caine, Geoffiey, Renate Nummela Caine, and Sarn Crowell. Mindshifts. Tucson: Zephyr Press, 1994.

Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections. Menlo Park: AddisonWesley, 1994.

Campbell, Don G. Introduction to the Musical Brain. Saint Louis: MMB Music Inc., 1992.

Estefan, Gloria M. "Rhythm is Gonna Get You. " By Gloria M. Estefan and Enrique Garcia. Let it Loose. CBS Inc., 1987.

Gardner, Howard. Multiple Intelligences. New York: Basic Books, 1993.

Green, John M. "Student Attitudes Toward Communicative and Non-Communicative Activities: Do Enjoyment and Effectiveness Go Together?" Modern Language Journal 77 Spring (1993): 1-10.

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Lennon, John and Paul McCartney. "She Loves You. " You Sing the Hits of the Beatles. MacLean Music, Inc., c/o ATV Music Corporation, 1966.

-----. "Hard Day's Night. "You Sing the Hits of the Beatles. MacLean Music, Inc., c/o ATV Music Corporation, 1966.

MacArthur, Barbara. "Que Hora Es?" Sing, Dance, Laugh and Eat Tacos 3. MacArthur Studio, 1993.

Moskowitz, Gertrude. "Humanistic Imagination: Soul Food for the Language Class. " The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning. Volume II (1994).

-----. "Spellbound in the Language Class: A Strategy of Surprise". The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning. Volume III ( 1995-1996).

Newham, Paul. "Making a Song and Dance: The Musical Voice of Language. " The Journal of the Imagination in Language Learning. Volume III (1995- 1996)

Rauscher, Frances. "Music and Reasoning." Teaching Music, 2 April (1995): 40- 41.

Rose, Colin. Accelerated Learning. NewYork: Dell, 1985.

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