|Photo credit: Library of Congress/Clker|
Like many of you, I have experimented over the years with background or "mood" music in a wide range of classroom settings. In general, I think it is fair to say that it always "worked." The problems, however, were simply time and technology: time, in that it took so much of it to identify and prepare appropriate pieces and excerpts; technology, in that the equipment at the time was so cumbersome that often just the effect or distraction of operating the system during a lesson was enough to more than cancel out any potential benefit. (At one point I did have great system in a mammoth classroom with a 6-CD capacity that seemed to be very effective at times.)
A 2011 study by Jolij and Meurs of the University of Groningen (Summarized by Science Daily) again points to the potential of background/mood music in our work. That research demonstrates dramatically how music can alter perceptions and expectations--based not just on experience, but mood (affected by music) as well. Although the study itself was relatively simple, basically varying speed of identifying happy and sad icons, depending on background music, the underlying effect appeared to be strong. Now that the technology is readily available to quickly create collections of songs with seamless transitions that complement the tasks involved, it is clearly time to reconsider managing the milieu more systematically--with music.