Many have heard the commonly used proverb, “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.” The majority of learners lose interest when the material presented to them relies merely on listening and viewing. What is one of the most wonderful aspects of a quality music education? Practically all learning is done by doing.
The term Kinesthetic Learning refers to learning by doing, or using the sense of physical movement to learn and express oneself. Through interacting with the space around them, students are better able to solve and process information. Music students, both young and old, will become more knowledgeable musicians when exploring concepts through performance-based experiences - movement, dance, singing, playing instruments, composing, and improvising. Simply put, experiential learning plays a key role in lasting connections, understanding, aptitude, retention, and excitement!
How is this type of learning incorporated into a typical music room, lesson, or choral rehearsal? Well, for starters, by bringing students away from their chairs and getting them moving! When identifying specific examples, let’s begin with the foundations of rhythmic and melodic note reading. Instead of simply showing the symbol for a half note on the board and teaching its characteristics, imaginations ignite as the classroom is turned into an ice skating rink. Students glide past one another with widely-stretched arms as they feel the sustained two beat value. Similarly, students exploring high and low pitch can engage in standing, kneeling, and sitting movements, as well as large arm motions and Kodály hand signs. For pitch accuracy, a kinesthetic connection can be made by throwing an invisible dart at the bullseye on an invisible dartboard while singing each pitch in slow motion. These examples of bodily connections help to deepen understanding. To view more examples of movement used in our HAA Training Choir rehearsals, please view the slide show below. You will notice the cooperative use of hula hoops while singing to experience the build-up and release of beautiful musical phrasing. In several other images, students use hand gestures and large arm movements to create tall and unified vowels while propelling energy into their vocal warmups and repertoire.
These engaging activities remind students how fun learning can be, and most importantly, they keep the blood flowing. It is unnatural for students to sit and be still for stretches longer than ten minutes at a time. The next time you find your child, student, or possibly even yourself at a musical plateau or crossroads, try incorporating movement. Although it may seem a bit unconventional, students of all ages love to get out of their seats and get involved!
Music Educator and Choral Conductor, Hunterdon Academy of the Arts