Using classical music to enhance learning and improve behavior in ADHD students

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Sharlene Habermeyer

Sharlene Habermeyer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was inspired by an ADDitudemag.com webinar entitled “Sound Medicine for Your ADHD Child’s Brain” which featured Sharlene Habermeyer of www.goodmusicbrighterchildren.com.

Many people associate classical music with intellectual pursuits, with good reason. Learning starts with listening, and studies show that classical music, with its structure, symmetry, clarity, and detailed ornamentation, strengthens the brain’s listening and comprehension skills especially well. This is crucial for learning disabled and ADHD children, who can hear OK but who have trouble processing what they hear. Studies also show that classical music alters brain waves, putting listeners in a relaxed but intellectually alert mind set.

Sharlene Habermeyer discovered the benefits of classical music first-hand, when her son was diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD. Habermeyer made sure that he listened to classical music at least 20 minutes a day, especially when he was studying. She also encouraged him to play a musical instrument. Although Habermeyer was told that her son would have trouble in school and probably never attend college, he eventually graduated from a four year university with a double major in film and philosophy…and straight A’s.

A teacher, Habermeyer plays 10 minutes of classical music as her students enter the classroom, to help them get into a learning mindset. She recommends playing classical music quietly when students are working or studying in class. She suggests four musical works in particular:

• Handel: Water Music
• Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
• Vivaldi: Four Seasons
• Mozart: A Little Night Music (Eine kleine Nachtmusik)

In addition, Habermeyer found marches, such as those by John Philip Sousa, to be very effective in getting her young son to move along from one activity to another. She suggests that marches be played when children go in and out for recess and lunch.

With the advent of portable Bluetooth speakers, it’s possible to play high quality music wherever you are, even in the hallways or outside. First, however, you need to install a music app.

Amazon Music

Amazon Music

Two popular music apps are Amazon Music and Pandora, both of which have free versions and which are available on multiple platforms. If you are a member of Amazon Prime (which costs about $75/year), you have many benefits, including a lot of free music and movies, as well as free shipping on tangible goods. Most of the music in Habermeyer’s list can be downloaded free with Amazon Prime, or bought for a few dollars if you’re not a Prime member.

pandora logoPandora has the advantage of letting you create a music station, such as ‘classical,’ and automatically providing matching music. If you don’t like the song offered, you can skip to the next song. The drawback to the free version of Pandora is the commercials between songs.

There are a range of Bluetooth speakers which can work well. The AUVIO Bluetooth Portable Speaker ($37.97 from Radio Shack) is small enough to fit in most purses, but powerful enough to fill a classroom with music. If you are a true audiophile, you might appreciate the BOSE Soundlink Mini (also small enough to fit in a purse), which goes for around $200.

AUVIO Bluetooth Portable Speaker

AUVIO Bluetooth Portable Speaker

BOSE Soundlink Mini

BOSE Soundlink Mini

To connect the speaker to your device, turn the speaker on, then open your device’s Settings menu and tap on “Bluetooth.”

Do you play classical music in the classroom, or do you plan to? Please tell us about it in the article comments or at specialedtecheditor@gmail.com. Your comments will be published in Special Ed Tech.

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