Beats and Bells: Improving the school day

So a few weeks ago I was leaving a local school at the end of a very long day. It was Term Four and a Beyonce song was blaring out of one of the classrooms as students were released into the summer afternoon.

I heard a student comment saying ‘I freaking love this song!’ and a few of them were dancing along. Some students sitting down were tapping their feet too and there were many smiles. Even the boys who rolled their eyes had a laugh.

It got me thinking, what if this school started each day just like this. Imagine if before school a few songs were played over the PA, or if instead of a bell that sounds like a factory or a prison alarm, schools announced the commencement of the day with one up-beat song. Many school PA systems now have the capacity to make announcements or play music.

Sure, it’s not like every student (or teacher) walking into school is going to look like this:

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but, playing Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ or another song to start the day would be sure to make at least a few people smile.

You could have a different song for each day, both beginning and ending school off with one. Students could submit their favourite song, or perhaps a student or teacher’s favourite song could be played on their birthday.

At times there are debates about the reasoning behind and effectiveness of school bells or alarms. Some argue that the bells are too loud, disruptive for lessons and don’t teach children the value of time management. Others say they help in the smooth operation of a school.

A principal in the UK removed bells in his school to help create a more calm atmosphere, he says it worked. A teacher Patrick Todhunter experienced the same thing in Australia. Todhunter says that ‘Many catholic colleges in the Brisbane area now have a ‘silent 5 minutes’, a short period of silent meditation which has been shown to produce positive outcomes for students.’ Sounds like a good idea to me!

Apparently the subject of school bells can also be quite controversial. Thanks to the Wikipedia article on school bells, I picked up this article from the BBC that told of Somali Islamist militants who banned school bells because they sounded like Christian churches.

Bell or no bell, music could be a great way to start and end the school day. Why not mix it up with a song at lunch time too, or even better, allow students perform music live at lunch (who knows, they could end up performing at the awesome ‘Lunch Hour Concert‘ at the University of Melbourne).

I’m not a musician, I just love good tunes and happy people.

Yes, schools are meant to be places of learning, not a rave… but why not have a little more fun along the way?

**If you know of any schools that use music and songs in this way, please email me on ben.duggan@raisinghope.org.au or tweet to @Ben_Duggan 🙂 **

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5 thoughts on “Beats and Bells: Improving the school day

  1. Hi Ben,
    Yes music can help us all enter a good state for tasks ahead. I deliver confidence building coaching sessions in Primary schools to 10 yr & 11 Yr olds. I use all kinds of music in my sessions to help the children practice ‘feeling’ confident. One school has a ‘self’ composed song about learning and aspiring to be their best. I have advised the school that it should be sung every morning so all make a good start to each day 🙂 I’ll let you know if they are doing it after my next visit in April.

    Cheers Bernadette
    Myself&Me

  2. Hi Ben, I used to put a PA system and play music outside when I was on before school playground duty on our K-2 campus, mainly because I was taking an outdoor dance session first period and I was making sure everything was working. The whole atmosphere in the playground was different on those mornings. The normal before school business would continue on, but kids would also start dancing, along with some of the parents. They’d have great smiles on their faces and it lifted the mood. The playground atmosphere became lighter and happier.

    We recently had a new PA and bell system installed across our school and we’ve done the same on a few occasions, usually when we’re testing the PA for some upcoming event. Again, the mood in the playground just lifts. It is something I’d consider doing daily, but I also wonder if it would lose its specialness if I did that.

    • Hi Corinne! 🙂 thanks for commenting. Yeah, I do wonder if doing it every day would make it less special but I always think a good song lifts up people even if you’ve heard it 100 times. A different song every day would be good though 🙂

  3. Pingback: Exploring the World of Educator Blogging | SLM508SDW

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