Artist and Educators articles on heartful and artful education,
published on 1 World Education.
Poetry Connection, Andrea Stark
Poetry and Teens, Penelope Torribio
Writing is Not Writing, Penelope Torribio
Spelling Word Stories, Penelope Torribio
Puppets in the Classroom, Carol Green
Using Puppets in Middle School,
Why Should Teachers Become Puppeteers
You Don't Have to Be a
Ventriloquism and Literacy
Art in the Classroom, Sharon
Music and Education
Please share your visions and effective educational
techniques on this page
and Adolescents: the Poetry Connection
BRINGING WORDS TO LIFE / AND LIFE TO WORDS
Andrea Stark, poetry teacher at The Sycamores, a residence for troubled
She encourages her students to write poetry and helps them get published.
She has made an impact on many students' lives in the Classroom
An article for Teachers and Parents it's about expression.
It's about control. It's about personal freedom. It's about language.
Poetry. Poetry in the classroom. What can it do for your students?
Is it just another day of abab rhyme scheme full of cliches? Is it
just another writing exercise? How on earth do you get those students
interested in poetry in the first place? Are the styles of Dr. Suess
or Jack Prelutsky the only ones of interest to our younger students?
The first topic to tackle is why have poetry in
the classroom? Why write a poem about the Fourth of July in history
class, or describe in poetic form what a plant looks like in biology?
How could this help with learning and or retention?
Well, first and foremost it is an art form that
requires that a student think differently than usual. It requires
that the student use a different part of the brain. Remember all
the left brain vs. right brain materials that were published not
long ago? Remember Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain? Great
ideas such as this encourage the use of both sides of the brain for
learning. This supports the idea that approaching school work in
different ways and gaining a different perspective on the work can
help with comprehension and understanding. It may very well help
a student having difficulty with a topic with feel that they can
relate to and subsequently comprehend that difficult topic. Students
who may not excel in other language arts may find a renewed sense
of ability when writing in poetic form. They may be able to express
themselves better in poetic form than in any other.
I have witnessed that working with poetry helps
give new expression to everyday ideas, allows a freedom of expression
that is not found in other writing arts, creates a heightened sense
of language, and helps develop personal style which can lead to healthy
feelings of individuality.
All this from poetry? Yep.
I currently teach poetry and creative writing to
a population of level 14 boys in Southern California. Level 14 boys
are one step away from incarceration and represent a small but unfortunately
growing population of our American youth. These boys do not have
traditional homes and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
Depression, Suicidal Ideation, Psychosis, and other issues created
through abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Some of these boys have
difficulty sitting down in one spot for longer than 60 seconds and
frequently cannot do even that. These boys are frequently oppositional
and verbally abusive. These boys can be quite violent.
These boys are writing poetry.
In fact these boys have had their pieces published
in a student anthology that sponsors a national poetry contest for
students. The best successes have been with the most difficult to
reach boys. With minimal coaching they are able to express a great
depth of feeling and an incredible range of creative thought. They
have found great pride in their work and lasting feelings of accomplishment.
Many have written about feelings that had gone unexpressed in therapy
and have led them to make great self-discoveries or disclosures that
were extremely useful in their lives. These boys not always open
to the idea of writing poetry but once introduced to it were very
willing to try. They are brining life to words.
So now, secondly, how do you do it? How do you get
those students interested in writing poetry? My suggestion is first
to read poetry. Get the students exposed to more of what they have
already seen. It is likely that they have some of Dr. Suess',Shel
Silverstein's or Jack Prelutskly's work. Bring in all those books
and let the students see how prolific these writers are. These works
never seem to fail to get the attention of any audience. Have the
students read these poems aloud and bring the words to life! Introduce
poetry in the manner that is most easy for your students to digest.
Then start to bring in different forms of poetry. Show them Haiku,
show them Sonnets, show then Epic, show them modern. Let them know
that poetry is a highly valued art form that is as old as any other
art they know, possibly older. Show them poems written by students
their age and older. Let them know about poetry contests for their
age range and get them inspired!
Then, let them write. There are so many exercises
that make writing poetry fun and accessible to the younger student.
First poetry exercises can be as simple and lovely as writing a description
in single word sentences of their favorite toy, or animal. They can
create a Name Poem, where each letter of their name is the first
letter of a descriptive word about them. They can write about a feeling
and describe it with colors and shapes. They can write a poem for
a particular holiday. They can write a traditional Haiku and count
syllables and sounds. (a good exercise for any age)
Following a set of rules and coming up with a creative
product is the challenge of poetry. Just as the creation of a watercolor,
or any specific visual art technique requires adherence to a set
of rules, so do certain forms of poetry. Using a structure often
makes it much easier for a student. Rather than offering "Write
about anything you wish", which can be daunting, offering the
tight styles of traditional Haiku can give students an alluring challenge--a
challenge that can be very fun to tackle.
Writing about a feeling is also a good introductory
exercise. The form can be open or you can challenge them with a style.
A theme for the day can be an inspiring idea. The students can provide
the theme or you can be prepared with one. Examples of themes are:
Seasons, Favorite Music, World Peace, Love, Friendship, A Life Experience,
Some students will need coaching and assistance.
I have actually been the scribe for some of my students and had them
simply speak what they were feeling about a particular theme or emotion.
I then show them what they have dictated and they entitle it. I also
have them work on editing it into a form if they wish. They have
complete control and are never edited. I will also ask them to take
a descriptive sentence they have written and pare it down into images
and emotions. In this way I can get them to understand the basic
notion of this form of poetry in comparison prose.
The greatest element about poetry and its use in
the classroom is that poetry is an art form that specifically uses
written language. In an age where students are graduating from High
School and are unable to write a coherent sentence, poetry can be
of great use. If a student can look at a modern poem and understand
the minimal use of language that it features, then he or she will
likely be able to tackle other language forms with better alacrity.
I emphatically encourage all teachers to include
poetry in their curriculum. It can only enhance the learning process
and help to create new understandings. It truly does bring words
to life and life to words. In addition to all that, it is incredibly
(For information about a wonderful on-line poetry
contest created by teachers for students, please take a look at Creative
Communication. I have found it to be useful and powerful in the teaching
of poetry. (I am not a part of this organization.) There is also
on-line information about Teen Poetry Slams, which are amazing!)
Penelope's experience with poetry kids and teens.
Over the four years that I worked at Charter Psychiatric
Hospital, in crisis care, I have taught hundreds of children and
I was amazed at how many kids write poetry on their own.
If my days stopped,
you would walk past.
Often I wish and dream of the angels.
From a students poetry journal-Charter
If student after student are filling journals with
it must be that they have a need to express their feelings, emotions,
and perspectives in the language of poetry.
Teaching poetry to youths requires trust. Your students
need to know that they can share their poetry and not feel criticized
for their style or their content.
But without guidance students will grow to recognize their limitations
in their ability to express themselves and/or to change their thoughts,
emotions, and perspective.
Their poetry will stop and a window will close.
Writing is not
by Penelope Torribio
I think that one of the biggest problems in teaching
writing is that we use the same term for the act of forming letters,
for the process of spelling and grammar, as we do the creation of
the communication. They are not the same thing at all. We know that
there are many people who can not write-- due to handicaps or other
reasons-- and yet they are great writers, they are great communicators.
When students are convinced of this, writing--communication-- greatly
improves. I learned about the power of oral group writing, many years
ago, when I was substitute teaching in a 2nd grade class. It was
February. The students were to write a paragraph at the beginning
of the day. I was amazed at the quality of writing, every student
was writing complex sentences,filled with delightful adjectives and
adverbs. When I went back to that school to substitute for another
teacher, I immediately sought out that 2nd grade teacher and asked
her why were her students writing so well as 2nd graders. I have
seen 8th graders who could write paragraphs as well as her students.
She told me that until January she did not ask her student to write
sentences or paragraphs. Every day they would write a paragraph on
the board, together,as a group. They would make it the most colorful
paragraph they could, with as much description as they could pour
into it. In January they would get to write their own paragraphs.
The group then moved to writing group stories. together, on the black
board, making these stories the most exciting and descriptive as
they possibly could. I had seen the amazing results of this kind
of teaching and began to incorporate it into my own teaching.
At Charter Hospital I taught K-8th in one classroom.
Many of the young children were ADDH and were definitely of all different
academic levels. I had to find ways of teaching that would cross
all of the different grades and abilities. The group story turned
out to be one of the most fun and effective techniques. I found out
that every student took ownership of the story, that they were individually
proud of what had been created, no matter how much or little they
had contributed. In addition group story writing built a group identity
and often the story included the names of the students in the group.
Here is an example of a great technique. It is particularly
good in a class with kids that have different spelling lists. Since
I had relatively small classes I would have each student pick a word
from his or her spelling list. We would put all the words on the
board and write a group story containing all of these words. Following
is a real example.
precaution, resurfaced, pond, test, socks, bewildered,
rock, eight, dived, night, bent, assistant, animals, sight, completely,
It is a cool night. The trees are swaying gently
in the breeze. The moon is bright and yellow and completely full.
There, in the moonlight, shines a giant greenish pond. A huge, flat,
weathered rock crouches like a tremendous frog at the edge of the
water. It casts its black shadow across the pond. A unicorn, white
as snow, with its golden horn sparkling in the moonlight drinks from
the pond. Nearby eight children are camping. Sal said, "We need
water to wash the dishes." The children raced towards the pond.
They stopped suddenly, bewildered by the sight of the unicorn drinking.
Everyone had told them that these animals were imaginary. A young
bull frog dived into the deepest end of the pond. He resurfaced in
time to catch a dragon fly.
Sal said, "Let's take precaution so that we don't scare the
unicorn away. I need an assistant. Robert stepped up. "Take
your shoes and socks off," Sal whispered. "We'll walk through
the water." Jason asked, "How can we test if it is real?
Maybe we are dreaming or something." Sal bent down and picked
some alfalfa grass and gave some to Robert. "If it eats this,
its real. Then if the horn's real, it is a unicorn! " exclaimed
Robert and Sal crept through the water, around the
large weathered rock, hiding in its shadow. They approached the unicorn,
holding out the long fresh alfalfa stock. The unicorn nibbled at
the grass. Sal touched the golden horn. "It's real!" he
said. All of the children gathered around the white unicorn. It neighed
softly, almost like a laugh. Then seven unicorns, each white as snow,
with their golden horns shining in the moonlight, stepped out of
the dark woods. Each kid stood by a unicorn, then mounted and rode
off into the moonlight.
Elementary Class, Charter
Puppets in the Classroom
I used my puppets from the first day that I taught.
If you aren't using your puppets in the classroom, you're missing
a great opportunity. The kids will actually listen to your puppet
and REMEMBER the info the puppet teaches. You don't have to prepare
a dialogue beforehand either. My puppets have taught math, given
sentences for spelling tests, etc. Just start talking to the puppet
and the puppet will take over. You think I'm kidding? No way....
Kids nowadays are used to being entertained by TV, special effects
in the movies, gorgeous illustrations in books, etc. How boring to
them for a teacher to stand up there and just teach. The minute the
puppets started teaching, interest went way up and so did their grades.
Parents were very pleased. I dropped in on Frank Frazee who lives
in the state of Washington a few years ago just as school let out
for the day. (We were driving up to Seattle do visit my daughter.)
He had all kinds of pictures, etc. about vent up in his classroom.
He uses his puppets too.
TEACHERS BECOME PUPPETEERS?
In South East Asia, for centuries upon centuries
puppet shows were the most honored and primary tool for transmitting
history, religion, culture, ethics, politics and social behavior.
Puppetry was recognized as a grand teaching tool. Puppets are inherently
interesting, often humorous, and first-rate story tellers. They bring
focus and interest to subject matter, they teach without the students
recognizing they are being taught.
But puppetry in the classroom can be more than story
telling and fun. Today, teachers are facing the challenge of instructing
children with diverse needs and abilities. Students once placed in
special classes for physical, mental, psychological and behavioral
disabilities, are now being placed in the regular classroom, and
this is in addition to students who speak different languages and
come from different cultures. Teachers have to communicate and educate
children of varying abilities and achievement levels.
How do you correct behavior in a group without bringing
direct negative attention to a child? How do you repeat primary concepts
without boring those who understand the concept, or making those
who don't, feel stupid? How can you talk about delicate subjects
in a comfortable, non-threatening manner? How can you introduce difficult
concepts in a fun way? How can you bring warmth and humor and unity
to a classroom of student who are so diverse? There are many ways
to do these. But teaching with puppets is one of the easiest and
calendar and clayed
Clyde is a mascot puppet.
DON'T HAVE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL PUPPETEER
You don't have be a ventriloquist. I have always
moved my lips when using puppets. Children, and adult for that matter,
find themselves looking and talking to the puppet, not the puppeteer.
You don't have to have a lot of different voices.
For years, my daughters use to say all my puppets had the exact same
high-pitched puppet voice. But somehow when the puppet was speaking
the kids didn't notice that the voice was the same as that of the
You don't have to have a lot of puppets. In Mary
Freericks and Joyce Segal's book, Creative Puppetry in the Classroom,
"At first, don't be concerned about having
large numbers of puppets. Begin with one puppet. One puppet can serve
more than one subject. If you have made or acquired a walrus puppet,
for example, how many ways can you think of making use of such a
puppet? An obvious use might be literature, to illustrate the Walrus
and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland. In a science unit he
might be used to encourage the study of warm-blooded sea animals.
How about mathematics? Would the walrus's weight be interesting to
use in converting pounds into metric tons? In music, the walrus might
serve as an excellent basso profundo voice, demonstrating deep notes.
If you leave the walrus puppet on the shelf, the children will think
up uses that you might not even have considered. In a political skit,
they may turn the walrus into a pompous official. Once a sturdy,
well-made puppet joins your class, his value may surprise you."
Freericks and Segal talk about the mascot puppet.. "The
mascot puppet is one that stays in the classroom or library all year.
He introduces new activities and people. He takes part in the daily
routine of a class." The mascot puppet was how I started using
puppets to reach and teach children. Finding a mascot puppet is worth
its weight in gold. A mascot puppet can be bought, or it can be made.
It can take many forms, animal, monster or human, but it has to be
lovable and it helps if it is soft and furry and not too little.
THE POWER OF THE PUPPET
I was asked to teach a class of severely emotionally
disturbed, five through eight year olds in a Los County Department
of Education program. The students were categorized as " dangerous
to themselves and others", kicking, biting, hitting, throwing
things, self-mutilation, suicide attempts-bizarre behavior was the
norm. Interest in reading, writing, and arithmetic was very low.
Love of themselves and trust of adults was also very low. How could
I deal with very violent behavior in a soft and caring manner? How
could I get them to focus on learning? How could I get them to trust
me and to begin to learn that they were lovable? How could I teach
them to relate to their peers in a positive manner? These were only
some of the questions I asked myself.
It was at this time that I bought my first puppet
which the class named Popcorn Bear. He had this name because he gave
out popcorn after successful reading lessons. This bear had arms
you could put your arms into. He could pat kids on the head, hug
them, lead them along in their reading lessons, his furry paws under
Popcorn Bear was not always
good. He sometime forgot how to behave and the kids had to remind him, thinking
of better decisions. Popcorn Bear was integrated into many subject areas, both
academic and social. He could listen to things that children couldn't tell
adults. He belonged to this class and because of that was a unifying factor.
Popcorn Bear taught me the power of the puppet.
LEARN TO TRUST THE PUPPET
The hardest thing about a mascot puppet is you don't
have a script. What is your puppet going to say? Well the first thing
I can tell you is that he can say--very little. One of the best tools
of the puppet is silence. You say something and he looks at you incredulously
like, "Today you are going to learn about division." The
mascot just looks at you, looks at the class, looks at his feet,
looks at the ceiling. The kids knows how he feels. They are laughing.
Then he might add, "No way Jose!" This
give you the chance to explain why he needs to know the concept and
that you are going to help him until he understands it.
The second thing I will tell you is that you have
to learn to trust the puppet. This is the most difficult thing a
teacher will have to learn. Edgar Bergen said that he never knew
what Charlie McCarthy was going to say. He said that the puppet seemed
to have a mind and a voice of its own. I have found this to be true.
When you have on that mascot puppet--he will say things you never
thought of before. You don't always have to know what to say, but
to use the puppet effectively and to help you say the right things,
you must identify the behavioral objectives you are after. When I
used puppets to teach, I often jot down in my daily plan book what
I want the puppet to accomplish. Now there will be times when the
mascot puppet teaches off the cuff, so to speak. But you will gain
confidence and will have evidence that your puppetry is more than
mere entertainment, if most of the time you know what it is you are
trying to teach.
Only on rare occasions do I let students use the
mascot. He has a personality that I have given him and he has the
purpose or purposes that I have given him. In a sense he is me. I
break this rule whenever I want to, but when I do, it is for a good
reason and it is very controlled. This policy has the added benefit
of extending the life of the puppet. The students, of course, will
want to use the puppet, and because of this, they are primed for
learning-filled puppet projects.
There are many important lessons to be learned through
classroom puppet projects. How much students learn will be in direct
relationship to what the teacher knows. Children, in general, do
not have an innate ability to bring puppets to life. This is evidenced
by the lifeless puppets stuck in the corner of many elementary classrooms,
puppets seldom touched by the students. Teachers who are not puppeteers
first, who can not lead their students into their projects, greatly
reduce the value the students get from such projects.
HOW DOES A TEACHER BECOME A PUPPETEER?
How do teachers develop as puppeteers? The major
way is through trial and error, using puppets to teach. But teachers
can be greatly helped by puppet organizations like:
Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry
UNIMA, international puppetry organization
Puppeteers of America Children's Resource Center
North American Association of Ventriloquists
Great Ideas from Educators
Judy, using puppets
in middle school
Penelope, You reminded me of something that happened
when I taught SED boys. These middle schoolers already had criminal
records and thought they were too tough. I made some simple moving
mouth puppets (ethnically diverse, of course) and put them on a table
on the side of the room. The boys started to notice them, and I heard
comments like "I ain't playin' with NO dolls." I didn't
say anything. I had to leave the room for a few minutes and had another
teacher stay with them. When I returned, the boys had the puppets
on their arms and were singing "We Are the World." I was
so touched I cried. Other teachers came by and stood in silence and
awe. It was one of the magical moments that keeps me teaching.
Thank you Judy for your inspiring story.
Using Ventriloquism to Reach and Teach Challenged
1. It requires only 1 figure or puppet and 1 ventriloquist-no
props, no other
students, not even a teacher.
2. It allows educators to re-teach phonics in a
new and novel way--without
moving your mouth.
3. It teaches students with reading challenges to
break words up into syllables.
4. It works on communication skills. Many Challenged
learners have problems with communication. Rick Levoie of ldonline.com
many learning Challenged students do not know how to ask questions,
show empathy and must be deliberately taught communication skills.
is a fun and unique way.
5. It is a great way to introduce social skills
6. Good ventriloquism is writing. If you teach students
good ventriloquists, you must teach writing.
7. There is a need for more ventriloquists in the
world, so it is
occupation and hobby training.
8. This automatically brings fun, laughter and joy
into the classroom.
There is much research on the benefits of laughter in everyone's
Did you know that there are only FIVE letters in the alphabet that
require your lips to say them? Here they are
B, F, M, P, and V!
"Hey," you say, "What about W?" Well,
you're right. W takes special practice to learn to say, too. But
it's not considered an "explosive," meaning it doesn't
require lips or teeth coming together to create the sound, like a
B or F.
Anyway, because there are only 5 letters that require lips to say
them, this means ANYBODY can say "Hi, how are you?" without
moving their lips. Try it. See? If you keep your jaw steady and your
lips from moving, you just said your first sentence ventriloquist!
. F = th as in thin
. V = th as in there
. M = ng as in thing
. P = t or k or th as in F
. B = d or hard g
. Take a deep breath, then slowly let it out as your puppet speaks.
You develop your diaphragm and learn to project your voice when you
do ventriloquism. Ask your puppet questions, and have the puppet
answer. It's amazing what your puppets will tell you!
You can use either a soft hand puppet or a hard
Improving Literacy in children and teens.
The primary focus of this area is to improve students'
abilities to think, to communicate and to write.
We have some great ideas by educators and artist
in this area and we encourage other writers and artists
to share their ideas 1 World
Education. So this is going to be like a blogg.
Some thoughts from Penelope, author and creative
I don't have any idea why we use the word write
in so many ways. We write our letters-print, cursive. We write our
name and we write the alphabet. Writing seems to includes spelling
and grammar, fiction, nonfiction, journalism, poetry, songwriting,
script writing, novel writing, filling out forms and more. We definitely
need to find more distinctive and descriptive words for the various
meanings of the word write or writing. Maybe something like composition
for the thinking that leads to writing-but this word seems a little
sterile for such an exciting process. Do you have any ideas?
When we use the word write so broadly, it is hard
to remember that you don't need to physically know how to write and
you don't need to know how to spell or punctuate, after all the early
literature was based on oral storytellers. Even today there are some
writers t who are unable to hold a pencil and yet they write, like
Stephen Hawking, the great theoretical physicist and noted author.
To me writing is about learning to see our world
in a deep and imaginative way and to communicating our thoughts,
ideas, and imaginings to others in a non-spontaneous manner.
By this I mean it is not just talking, but crafting what we say and
the way we say it.
I hear a lot of teachers and writers say that reading
is the best road to good writing.
Reading, of course, is an important tool of writers, but being a
good reader does not
automatically make you a good writer. There are many excellent readers
who are not confident writers.
Another belief is that if you write enough, you
will become a good writer. But many college graduates who have done
tons of writing still do not consider themselves good writers.
It takes more than reading or writing to make a good writer. When
I began to study writing I was amazed to find that many great and
noted writers continue to study the craft of writing
all of theirs lives. So in order to help our students learn to be
good "writers" we have to know how to teach kids to think
like writers and we have to become better writers ourselves.
This--as most writers know--is a life long process. Fortunately it
can also be very fun, enlightening and maybe it will lead us to having
a powerful effect on others.
Art With Children
by Shauna Edwards
I have been teaching children for over 14 years and I have never
experienced any activity that impacts children more than directed
drawing. All children are successful! The best part about teaching
directed drawing is that children that are not able to attend in
other areas of curriculum are 100% successful in art. The children
with special needs in my classroom are all successful and proud of
their accomplishments. I am convinced that directed drawing is a
pathway into the minds of our children that have learning difficulties
in school. I venture to say that I could take any special needs student
and use this style of teaching and reach them in ways that have never
been discovered. I am so excited about teaching art. Directed drawing
envelops every area of curriculum and seems to open parts of the
brain that have not been tapped into. I see a permanent transformation
in the lives of children that transfers into many areas of their
lives. I see their faces light up from the glow of their internal
being that has been awakened. The parents of these children are awed
at their children's work. From parents, I receive comments like, "My
child would not even pick up a pencil, but now he will draw anything
with confidence." "My daughter was intimidated by his older
brother because he could draw so well, now my daughter draws with
confidence." Best of all, my students are empowered and confident
in a new way. Shauna Edwards Educator
you remember songs from when you were very young?
you remember TV advertisement songs from when you were very young?
listen to music and make that music a part of them, forever.
children, music not only entertains, but teaches,
it is deliberate or not.
I have a number
of people emailing questions regarding brain research, music and
behavioral transformation. It is difficult to find this kind
of research because 1) brain research is still expensive and little
research is done outside of the medical field and 2) it is difficult
to say for positive what is the cause and effect of improvement
in learning. I think the best think the best way to find
out whether music education, in terms of singing, improves learning
and positively effect the social emotional atmosphere in the classroom
is to try it, to set up your own experiment. Teachers say
they don't have time. Many music and art experiences, especially
singing a song together takes minutes, not hours and from my experiences
reduces behavior intervention, so it takes no time away from study.
Still there are
some efforts to establish the link between music education--and
I'm focusing not on instrumental music, but listen to and singing
songs in the classroom. Hope this is inspirational.
Florida Center for Reading Research Report
Songs for Teaching
2007 Using Music to Promote Learning
6632 Telegraph Rd. #242
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
This research is about an
award winning software program based on singing. More research
is in the offing.
Based on two years of research,
the Tune In to Reading singing software program helps students
improve in all five areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics,
fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Electronic Learning Products
(ELP) is a software platform company that uses its real time pitch
tracking and speech recognition technology to create products for
an increasing wide range of educational purposes.
There's a growing body of
research exploring links between music, memory and language, and
we're tremendously excited that neuroscientists from MIT and Harvard
are embarking on a study with dyslexic students using our software.
They will use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines to
take "brain maps" showing exactly what happens inside
young brains when students use our software.
- MIND & BODY: HEALTHY LIVING SINGING: Hitting the high notes
Independent, The (London), May 24, 2005, by
Robert Beck, Irvine's assistant
professor of education, who carried out the study with Dr Tom Cesario,
dean of the university's college of medicine writes 'The more passionate
you feel while singing, the greater the effect,' says Beck. 'Secretory
immunoglobulin protein is associated with emotional arousal and
mood, relaxation and sense of humor. If singing leads to higher
levels of IgA, then it's beneficial to your health, as we know
that heightened levels of this protein are effective in the immune
Professor Graham Welch, Chair
of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of
London, who has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing
for 30 years says, “The health benefits of singing are both
physical and psychological. Singing has physical benefits because
it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood
stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even
when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its
normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the
action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of
emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when
people sing together as well as alone because of the increased
sense of community, belonging and shared endeavor.”
The researchers, who included
Hans Guenther Bastian from the Institute of Musical Education at
Frankfurt University, concluded singing not only strengthened the
immune system but also notably improved the performer's mood.
Benefits of singing
Singing is a gymnasium for the body and soul. Singing works deeply
into our physiology: deepening breath and heart rate, altering
brain wave patterns and strengthening the immune system. It also
releases endorphins, the body's pleasure hormones, into the brain
and body. Singing also exercises all the muscles in the head
and neck Singing can also help to build a person's confidence
and self-esteem, and can increase their capacity for self expression.
Recent research also indicates that a wide range of music experiences
have a powerful effect on influencing language development, as well
as increasing concentration, memory, visual and listening skills,
spatial orientation and physical coordination.
Many children today suffer
from a wide variety of ailments and imbalances, from insomnia,
to lack of sleep, to diabetes and depression. We now have the second
most highly depressed population of teenagers in this country,
second only to Japan. We must ask ourselves not only why is this
happening, but what can we do to help. Singing is one of the greatest
A research carried out in
1998 by Dr. Lawrence Parsons of the University of Texas-San Antonio
and his team showed that music involves both the right and left
hemispheres of the brain and is widely distributed all throughout
the brain rather than in one specific area. They also found that
music is similar to language in many respects, including its structure
and the way in which it is perceived by humans.
Excerpts from MuSICA Research
Dr. Norman M. Weinberger, Director of MuSICA.
For more information, contact http://www.musica.uci.edu
Music and Cognitive Achievement
The music instruction was
extensive, five days a week for 40 minutes per day, for seven months.
Students were tested on reading ability at the start of the school
year and then tested again at the end of the year. After training
the music group exhibited significantly higher reading scores than
did the control group, scoring in the 88th percentile vs. the 72nd
percentile...after an additional year of Kodaly training, the experimental
group was still superior to the control group. These findings clearly
support the view that music education facilitates the ability to
Literacy Through Music, Songs for Teaching
Music connects the functions of the right and left hemispheres
of the brain so that they work together and make learning quick
and easy. Brain function is increased when listening to music
and studies have shown that music promotes more complex thinking.
It can make connections between emotions, thinking and learning
The similarities between literacy acquisition and musical development
are many. Therefore, teaching that combines music with language
arts instruction can be the most effective (Davies, 2000).
memory skills can be improved, and aural discrimination increased.(Chong & Gan
Music and songs help increase these listening skills in a fun, relaxed
manner. Listening skills are key in singing, language and expressive
movement, and later reading and writing (Wolf, 1992).
Language in music
and language in print have many similarities, such as the use of
abstract symbols. Both oral language and written language can be
obtained in the same manner. That is, by using them in a variety
of holistic literacy experiences, and building on what the students
know about oral and written language(Clay, 1993).
emergent readers will attempt to "read" along in a shared
reading of a familiar text, just as they will join in a sing along
to a familiar song. (Sometimes making up the words as they go!)
Just as emergent reading and writing are acquired to drawing and
pretending to write, musical learning is connected to song and
movement. Children instinctively listen to music and try to identify
familiar melodies and rhythms, just as early readers will look
for words that sound alike, have patterns, or rhyme (Jalongo & Ribblett).
The use of music
for reading instruction allows children to easily recall new vocabulary,
facts, numbers, and conventions of print. For example,try to remember
how you learned your ABC's or other memory skills -- many people
learn them musically.
Repetition in songs supports and enhances emergent literacy by offering
children an opportunity to read higher-leveled text and to read with
the music over and over again in a meaningful context.
Print put to music also allows children to build on past experiences,
which in turn invites them to participate in reading and singing
at the same time(Child,1996).
use of music has long been scientifically supported. Since the
mid 1900’s when Dr. Alfred Tomatis began his work with the
therapeutic application of sound to treat specific symptoms and
disorders including auditory processing disorders, attention deficit
disorders, developmental delays, and reading and spelling disorders.
The focus of therapeutic listening has been on re-educating the
ear and the auditory pathways.
readers see printed words in the text again and again, they come
to identify those words and phrases by their similarities and configurations.
(Jalongo & Ribblett, 1997).
The successful acquisition of reading and writing in early childhood
depends on a solid background in oral language skills. What better
way to gain knowledge and confidence in oral
language than through music? Oral language is an interactive and
social process, and music is a natural way for children to experience
rich language in a pleasurable way.
he 1800's, lessons in mathematics, history, science, geography, and
language arts were regularly reinforced with song.
We all intuitively understand how the "ABC Song" demonstrates
the effectiveness of music.
The use of music in the classroom is consistent with theories of
learning. Cognitive psychologists have confirmed what educators have
long known -- that we have a variety of different, but mutually enhancing,
avenues to learning. Music is one such avenue.
Research suggests that the more senses we use, the deeper and broader
the degree of learning. Teachers are encouraged to use auditory,
visual, kinesthetic and tactile modes supplement the learning experience.
While music is obviously an auditory activity, the kinesthetic, visual,
and tactile modalities can be activated via clapping, dancing, and
and a lot more fun to rehearse song than text! Music and song stimulate
creativity and foster a positive attitude towards school(Feldman)
Clay, M. (1993). An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement.
Cunningham, P.M. & Allington, R.L. (1994). Classrooms That Work
: They Can All Read
and Write. New York: Harper Collins.
Davies, NL (2000). Learning ... The Beat Goes On. Childhood Education,
Feldman, Jean (2000). Sing to Learn With Dr. Jean.
Gardner, H. (1985). Frames of Mind : The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
New York: Basic Books.
Hennings, D. (1989). Communication in Action: Teaching the Language
Arts. New Jersey: Houghton Mifflin.
Jalongo, M. & Ribblett, D. (1997). Using Song Picture Books to
Support Emergent Literacy.
Childhood Education 15-22.
Wolf, J. (I 992). Let's Sing it Again: Creating Music With Young
Children. Young Children,
Laura Woodall and Brenda Ziembroski Promoting Literacy Through
Hamachek, Alice L. (1991). Enhancing
comprehension through the development of strategies for reading,
learning and remembering. ERIC Document Reproduction Service,
Hanshumacher, J. (1980). The effects of arts education on intellectual
and social development: A Review of Selected Research. Bulletin of
the Council for Research in Music
Education, 61, 2: 10-28.
Jensen, Eric (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria,
1 World Education