Focusing with Music

As I began this year, I was introduced to an article that suggested different Pandora music stations for teachers to use in the classroom. Some of them I had heard of before in my rounds on Twitter, but I’d never actually tried any of them. I read through the article, and then sent it on to teachers at both of my schools. I got some responses back and thank yous. I then began my year.

I quickly found out that once again I was having trouble focusing on staying on task. I dealt with this last year, so it wasn’t new to me. Last year involved having small snacks on hand to deal with the tiredness that might have crept over me. I didn’t want to do that again this year. I remembered the article and pulled up my first choice for a station – Lindsey Stirling Radio. I love Lindsey, and the station was great, but I found I’d be pulled out of the moment when it played one of her more current songs that had lyrics to it. I became more distracted as the song was sang.

Eventually, I switched to the Beats for Studying station, and that is the one I have stuck with ever since. In the weeks I have been listening, only one song has come across that had very soft lyrics, and they were in another language. I have fallen in love with the different string quartets that cover popular songs, such as the Vitamin String Quartet and the Dallas String Quartet. I have used the station at work and at home, and even at the gym for background as I walked and read my Kindle. I have gone so far as to find the songs on Amazon Prime music and download them to my phone so I can have them offline. (Amazon Prime music is free, but you can’t download on a PC).

Since I don’t have a real office at the middle school on the days that I’m there, I am instead in one of the computer labs. Sometimes, a teacher will need extra space to test a few students. On one such day, this teacher came in and asked if she might test a couple of kids. I asked if she needed my music off, and she said no, it wasn’t necessary.

I hardly paid attention after that. I worked, and as I did two students entered to test. The one boy had the teacher with him, and she sat with him as he worked. Both students finished and left, as did the teacher. I was then surprised when the teacher returned to talk to me. I learned that the boy was a student who could not sit still to test, and was easily distracted by the smallest of things. Even when he was pulled into a separate room, he had trouble staying focused and on task.

However, this time, he actually was able to test without so much fidgeting or distraction. He didn’t have to be reminded often to continue to work, or to not be distracted by whatever object he could find to focus on. He simply worked on his test and finished as he was supposed to do. She was amazed and surprised. I explained to her about the music station and why I listened to it. I thought that would be the end of things, and I got back to work on my projects.

Nope, not the end of things. His regular classroom teacher was the next one to visit me, and she demanded to know what the radio station happened to be. She wanted this student to be able to work and focus, and if she had to load up the station on the student’s computer and plug in headphones, she would. I laughed and explained it to her, later forwarding on the article about the different music stations so she would be able to look into it herself.

Music isn’t going to be the answer for everyone, but for some, it’s a great answer, and certainly worth looking into. If you’re interested in the article I am referring to, you can find it here. It has many different stations recommended by teachers.

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