A recent 2015 study, Music Congruity Effects on Product Memory, Perception, and Choice, by North, Sheridan and Areni, published in the Journal of Retailing (DOI, below), suggests some interesting possibilities. Quoting the ScienceDirect.com summary, the study basically demonstrated that:
- Ethnic music (e.g., Chinese, Indian) increased the recall of menu items from the same country.
- Ethnic music increased the likelihood of choosing menu items from the same country.
- Classical music increased willingness to pay for products related to social identity.
- Country music increased willingness to pay for utilitarian products.
- (Recall) For example, we might predict that using English music of some kind with prominent vowels, consonants, intonation and rhythm patterns would enhance memory for them.
- (Perception) Having listened to "English" music should enable being able to better perceive or recognize appropriate pronunciation models or patterns of English. I suspect that most language teachers believe that intuitively, have seen the indirect effects in how students' engagement with the music of the culture "works".
- (Milieu) I, like many, have used classical music for "selling" and relaxing and creating ambiance for decades. There is research from several fields supporting that. Only recently have I been attempting to tie it into specific phonological structures or sounds, especially the expressive, emotional and relational side of work in intonation.
- (Function) I frequently use country-like music or rap for working on functional areas, warm ups, rhythm patterns, and specific vowel contrasts.
The "Music congruity" study begins to show in yet another way just how music affects both associative memory and perception, conveying in very real terms broad connections to culture and context. More importantly, however, it gives us more justification for creating a much richer and more "memorable" classroom experience.
If you use music, use more. If not, why not?
In press (2015) doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2015.06.001