Becoming Literate through Music

Certainly there is a plethora of information about illiteracy in the United States. But what exactly is literacy?

Although literacy is the ability to read and write accurately and with ease, it goes beyond that. It is the ability of any individual to use those skills to shape his own life. Therefore, literacy skills may pertain to more than reading or writing accurately. Simply looking around, one can easily detect how poor literacy skills have had a negative outcome in the lives of many people.

What’s more, poor literacy skills not only cause one to be viewed less favorably in the workforce or even society (in some cases), but also promote low self esteem. Perceiving the self as less than up to par, further determines a person’s negative behavior towards himself and by extension his community.

For the sake of a healthy united nation, it is significant to have a literate society and the best way to promote literacy is by stimulating interest. The best way interest can be stimulated is the arts. And what person is not responsive to or touched by music?

Music is the means by which every individual, in all corners of the world, expresses all types of emotions, sends messages and has recorded history. It can be used to develop a variety of skills and sharpen the mind.

Listening skills

By listening to a variety of music, the ear is trained to distinguish the diverse pronunciations of a language, lexis and expressions. In order to expand all of these factors, the students need to be exposed to a variety of types of music. Due to technology today, especially Internet, a class may listen to a symphony or watch a theatrical or musical performance at the touch of a button.

An even better way to do that, when possible, is to take students out of school to visit musical and theatrical performances. For their better appreciation, lessons may be conducted before the performances to be attended.

After the performances, it is constructive to talk with students about what they heard. Speak with them about how the performers articulated their feelings or conveyed particular messages.

Reading, writing and speaking skills

Learning to read music or musical plays promotes great interest and the will to learn in children. While most students will be shy to sing parts of a musical play, they will be more than happy to read their lines. This can be a short part of class on a daily basis until their parts can be memorized and performed without the scripts.

For those talented children, it may be done on a separate occasion where they may perform in song. Since the airing of ‘Glee,’ the musical teen series, usually shy young students have traded in their inhibitions for personal liberation and will more than likely be pleased and enthusiastic to do so.

Report assignments on musicians or singers will be another means by which reading and writing skills will be encouraged and developed. And in developing those skills it is inevitable that there will be an improvement in terminology and vocabulary relevant to those topics. Remember to include in this the history of music and music from around the world. In a multicultural society like that in the US, this will have a positive reception by students and parents.

When the students are requested to read their reports out to the class, this assists in refining their own speaking. Repeating and revising is how people learn, after all. Furthermore, a cultivating exercise for speaking may be to have students give a short speech on their favorite type of music or performer or even both as separate assignments.

The reason school children respond to music is that it moves them. Through those sounds of guitar strings, the beat of the drums or the blast of loud trumpets, children have the opportunity to relax and allow their minds and bodies to create. Creativity is what leads to learning since it sharpens the senses and of course cognitive thinking. And best of all, it’s lots of fun!