Background Music in the Classroom

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 113 – 6 December 2011

Welcome to Kidz Newz especially to all new subscribers. Kidz Newz is a regular newsletter with information and teaching tips for anyone involved with young children. You are receiving this because you have attended one of my workshops, purchased a book, or you have requested to be on the mailing list. Thank you. Please forward this to anyone you feel it may be of interest to. Feedback is welcome.


‘Let’s Get Physical’ DVD will be available in February. Thank you to all those who have already put their names down as being interested. I will contact you immediately it’s available. If you’d like me to contact you, please register your interest at

Background Music in the Classroom

I’ve just come across this article by musician and composer, Michael Griffin, and thought it worthy to pass on to you. It is food for thought. I have been advocating this for a long time so it’s good to see someone of Michael’s calibre endorsing it with research. The following is extracted from the article.

“Even if we are not consciously aware of it, music has a physiological and psychological effect on everyone. Listening to music can alter heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature. It can stimulate us to action, or assist our retreat into slumber. A growing body of academic research asserts that background music has the capacity to influence human behaviour.

In 2008 I instigated an action research background music study in my school. The primary aim was to determine whether music could contribute to a scholarly ambience in morning. The idea was that when students arrived at school, they would hear music (chosen using the principles I had researched) that would foster a mindset approach for a school day.

30-minutes of music played from arrival till class.

For this experiment I chose mostly refreshing, awakening and positive music with characteristics of moderate to allegro tempo, major tonality and instrumental in nature. My playlist primarily consisted of baroque and classical music. Some selections were slower and slightly more serious to reflect a scholarly atmosphere. Many selections were well-known classics in the hope that as a secondary benefit, some curiosity and interest from the listeners might transpire from recognition.

Response to my ‘morning’ playlist was very positive. Of 55 teachers who completed a post-experiment survey, 53 found the music selections appropriate for the mood we were trying to create. The overwhelming response from staff described the beauty in the music. Many teachers reported an increase in personal morale on entering the school with comments such as ‘what a lovely start to the day’. Teachers believed that the music enhanced students’ frame of mind prior to form class because a studious atmosphere was created around the school entrance. By and large, the teachers believed that music assisted in settling the students and lifted the general school atmosphere.

Students were less vocal in their response to the music. Some expressed a desire for ‘their’ music, but after a settling period, they accepted and came to enjoy the new music. Staff reported a positive effect on student behaviour.

The feedback from both staff and students clearly showed an increase in curiosity for music, particularly among the staff. I had many requests regarding names of pieces and tool the opportunity to share the personal musical joys of my colleagues. Such discussion raised the profile of music in our school. Occasional criticism centered on if the volume level was too high, and if a selection was deemed musically inappropriate.”

I can distinctly remember my own primary school years in which every morning we marched into the school to the sounds of John Phillip Souza marches. It was indeed uplifting and a wonderful way to start the day.

At this time of year tempers are easily frayed as everyone is exhausted and there is so much to do at school and privately as we gear up to Christmas and the holidays. This is especially true in the southern hemisphere where Christmas holidays are also the summer holidays and end of the school year. I recommend you play some music in your classroom if you can’t convince your principal to pipe it through the whole school prior to start of class. I’m sure it will make a difference to your day.

If you are looking for ideas and don’t know where to start, I have some wonderful music I can recommend for various mood states that you may want to create for any time of day. Please go to and look for the Sound Health series of music CDs. Motivation is 120-140 beats per minute (bpm) so that’s perfect for first thing, either prior to start or during the early part of the class (just turn the volume down a little). The blurb describes it as being for peak performance, task completion, organizing, morale boosting, inspiring to action and increasing energy. Productivity is 70-130 bpm so you’d play that next. It’s for enhanced performance, mood elevation, organizing and increased alertness. Inspiration is 60-90 bpm for improving performance, mood enhancement, artistic expression and creative writing. Learning, Concentration and Thinking are all at 50-60 bpm so these would be for increasing focus during research, writing, brainstorming, strategizing, organizing, problem-solving and computer work. When the day is done or your students need ‘time-out’ I’d play either Relax (40-60 bpm) or De-Stress (30-60 bpm) – perfect for stress reduction, reducing hyperactivity, decreasing anxiety, encouraging calm thinking. I actually play these last two while working at home. I find them very therapeutic and they certainly don’t put me to sleep. Instead I can calmly solve the problems of the day. I recommend them all.

If you’d like more information about Michael, please go to his website, I highly recommend you attend one of his workshops if you get the chance. He’s very entertaining as well as being good value.

Scarf Book

Nearly there! I hope you won’t have gone on holiday by the time this finally arrives. If so, you can always stay up-to-date on my Kidz-Fiz-Biz Facebook Page or get in touch with me prior to first term. I will have an e-book version if you just want to get the information online but don’t necessarily need a hard copy. I will also have a DVD as I know a lot of people prefer to see it in action. The pack contains the picture book, 2 scarves and the DVD.

Quotes of the Week

“Music is what feelings sound like” ~ Source Unknown

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ~ Hans Christian Andersen

“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” ~ Sergei Rachmaninov



…have a GREAT Day!!!

Perth – Glass Art Workshops for Children

If you are in the Perth (WA) area, you may be interested in these classes as year-end activities for your children aged 6-12 or if you have your own children that age and are looking for a school holiday activity or birthday party activity. Check out or phone Gina on 0412 724 127 or email at

Feedback (Scarf Magic)

“Marlene you know I think it’s fantastic. It’s a great idea and I personally can’t wait for it!!! It’s been long enough now!

If I am in the middle of a session and they need a break and I need to do something different or get them moving, so I need the book! Beautifully laid out, excellent ideas and above all, fun! What more could you want?

A book launch would be fun. I think parents will love it – it gives them ideas – sometimes they don’t have much spontaneity and it will encourage those reticent ones to join in with their kids. Therapists will love it too – believe me.

Can’t wait to see the DVD – GREAT WORK!”
~ Hazel, Paediatric Occupational Therapist, Perth

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

Enjoying Kidz Newz?

Perhaps a friend or colleague would enjoy it too!  Add their contact address and click “Forward”. (Be sure to include this entire message, including the subscription details) By doing this you will help us grow.

Looking for lots of ideas? Visit the Kidz Newz archive where you will find back issues of Kidz Newz.

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our blog for more interesting information, articles and discussions or connect with Marlene on Linked In.


Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

{tag_subscribe} if you would like to stop receiving these advices.

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00