As our understanding of brain function continues to advance, it is becoming increasingly apparent that not all brains function in the exact same fashion. For example, some individuals may find themselves more susceptible to logical thinking while others may be more visual. With this in mind, teachers have developed various styles and techniques to accommodate these differences. Below, we will explore some of these methods as we address how music education can be altered to fit multiple learning styles.
Before introducing different learning styles, it is important to keep in mind that each student is unique. Thus, it’s important for music educators to stay flexible and offer multiple learning styles to accommodate and challenge their students.
An Introduction to Different Learning Styles
While cognitive learning is a topic that is constantly being researched, some of the most common learning styles include:
- Visual (spatial) – Visual learners prefer to learn through images and video due to the brain’s occipital lobes being of primary dominance.
- Logical (mathematical) – Logical learners depend on the parietal lobes to utilize reasoning and systematic repeatable procedures
- Aural (auditory) – Aural learners have strong temporal lobes so they learn the best through sound and melody
- Physical (kinesthetic) – Physical learners rely heavily on the cerebellum and motor cortex, so they prefer to learn by using their body and sense of touch
- Verbal (linguistic) – Verbal learners have very strong Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the temporal and frontal lobes so they learn best through speaking and writing words
- Social (interpersonal) – Social learners have strong frontal and temporal lobes, thus enjoying projects with other people, usually in assigned groups
- Solitary (intrapersonal) – Solitary learners rely on the frontal and parietal lobes, as well as the limbic system, so they often enjoy solo projects or self-study
For implementing music education across multiple learning styles, it is important that teachers first discover their own preference for learning. The reason is that, whether done consciously or not, teachers often utilize the learning styles and methods that make the most sense to them. Thus, a logical learner will be more prone to teach from that style, a social learner will be more likely to consistently assign group work, etc.
By uncovering your own learning preference, music educators will be able to identify areas where they can incorporate multiple learning styles to provide a more well-rounded education environment.
Music educators should also encourage students to uncover their own preference for learning styles, as well as expand themselves by experimenting and trying learning styles that might not feel as natural as others. Keep in mind that the goal of identifying and implementing multiple learning styles is not to get students to shun one style over another, but rather for all students to experience equal amounts of success and challenge in the classroom.
Tips for Molding Music Curriculum to Fit Multiple Learning Styles
Music is unique in the sense that it is a flexible subject that can be equally molded to fit any learning style. For example, music can be well-designed to fit visual learners as much as logical, whereas a predominately logical subject like mathematics may weaken if attempting to appeal to aural learners. Considering this, there are a multitude of ways that music education can be spread across multiple learning styles, so the tips listed below should be thought of as inspiration for educators to create their own methods.
Provide sheet music to students as they listen to a song and clap to the beat
Learning styles covered: Visual, Aural, Physical
Ways to alter: periodically stop the song and have them continue clapping to the beat (Logical); provide a song with both musical notes and lyrics (verbal);
Divide students into groups and have them identify and write out musical symbols (such as a half-note, whole rest, etc.) as examples are played
Learning styles covered: Social, Visual, Aural
Ways to alter: Have students clap out the beat of each symbol (Physical)
Provide students with a measure that is already half complete, then ask each group to fill in the rest of the song (with both the symbol and the name of the symbol) as the song is played
Learning styles covered: Logical, Solitary, Verbal, Aural, Visual
Ways to alter: Work as a class (Social)
Have students listen to an instrumental song and write lyrics to it that fit its (or any) music video
Learning styles covered: Aural, Visual, Logical, Verbal
Ways to alter: Have students work in groups (Social)
Divide students into groups and have each group clap out a beat, the students not clapping out the beat need to write the beat out using musical symbols
Learning styles covered: Physical, Aural, Visual, Social
Ways to alter: Have students clap part of a beat, then ask for the rest of the class to finish (Logical)
Pg. 33 and on from: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/108224/biedenbenderthesis.pdf?sequence=1