Are you able to finish this jingle? Give me a break! Give me a break! Break me off __ _____ __ ____ ___ ____ ___? Chances are you were singing it in your head, “Give me a break! Give me a break! Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!” You may have even visualized the commercial in your head, thought of eating that crunchy, chocolatey deliciousness, or remembered a specific time or place where you enjoyed one of these candy bars! As we explained in the article Oral Language and Critical Listening Pieces of the Literacy Puzzle, students (and all of us!) have an easier time remembering words put to a tune.
Amazing things happen when we hear music. Music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. It activates both sides of the brain, not just one.
- The auditory cortex, part of the temporal lobe on both sides of the brain, analyzes things like volume, pitch, speed, melody, and rhythm.
- In the cerebrum, the frontal gyrus recalls memories to help you remember lyrics and sounds, while the dorsolateral frontal cortex helps you visualize the music and recall images associated with the sounds.
- Other areas, including the cerebellum in the back of the brain, work together to control rhythmic movement in the body in response to the music.
This major collaboration of the brain areas helps you to feel that emotion, recall that visual memory, tap your foot to the beat, and remember those catchy lyrics (maybe even get them stuck playing in your head over and over).
Research in the study of brain-based mechanisms involved in the cognitive processes underlying music, called the cognitive neuroscience of music, shows us that the areas of the brain that are activated when listening to linguistic and melodic phrases are almost identical. This may not be surprising when you consider that language itself has musical qualities, like intonation and pitch. We can convey different meanings and elicit different emotions with the rise and fall and sound of our voices.
For English language learners, especially students learning English as a Second Language (ESL), music and song can speed up the language learning process. The Power of Music offers five great reasons why music is helpful with language learning. Besides triggering memory, music easily grabs and holds the attention of young students. Isn’t it much more fun and interesting to sing words instead of just repeating them over and over again? Children can also learn words and phrases they may not encounter in everyday conversation or in their school books, allowing them to expand their vocabulary. Singing helps with pronunciation and comprehension; the rhythm and melody naturally encourage articulation and separation of the words, which can result in weakening an accent that’s usually noticeable when speaking. For example, have you heard Adele’s or Elton John’s accents when they speak? They sound like different people when they sing!
The developers of GrapeSEED have leveraged the power of music in language learning and incorporated music and singing into the program materials. Click the following image to see the “Red” video/song used in Unit 1 of the program’s take-home materials.
As in all GrapeSEED songs, pronunciation is deliberate, and the carefully-created images help children understand the meaning of the words. As one parent explained, “There are some sounds that they emphasize, they show the mouth how it works, and my kid is improving with the language. He’s improving a lot. Even me and my wife, we are learning.”
Do you use music in the classroom to help teach your students? Let us know how on the GrapeSEED Facebook page!