As music teachers, I’m sure you already know that there is a huge connection between music and our emotions… but do your students know that? And better yet, do they know how they can use music to help improve their mood?

Story time

While I was teaching music online, my junior students were doing a lot of music listening and analysis. During one lesson, we listened to a cover of the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. We discussed the musical elements and how the music made us feel.

One student then shared how they’ve been feeling anxious since we started online learning. And then so did another and then another… AND THEN they said how listening to that particular song helped them feel better. Woah. This pandemic has taken it’s toll on ALL of us, including your students. These comments grew into a much larger conversation about how we can use music when we are feeling sad, anxious, or uneasy.

So how can we help students within our own classrooms?

One strategy I discussed with my own students was to create playlists containing songs to listen to and that always put us in a good mood no matter what. We discussed how it’s normal to feel “off”, especially when there is so much change around us, and if it ever feels overwhelming, it’s important to talk to a grownup about it.

For music teachers, there are some easy ways we can purposefully use music with our students in the classroom to help them feel better and uplift their mood. To achieve this, the Soundtrack – Connecting Music To Emotions is the perfect music teaching resource that you can use in your virtual or in person classroom.

Playlist Activity: Students create playlists of songs for the big emotions they feel
Soundtrack Of My Life – Connecting Music To Emotions Project

In this project, students explore and create playlists of songs that they can turn to when they are feeling big emotions. These are songs that they love, that help to shift their mood, and that can actively allow music to play a key role as a way to process and feel the emotions they feel. This project also includes a suggested list of age-appropriate songs to help students get started.

Chosen Songs Activity
Chosen Songs Activity

Students then compare two of their chosen songs and describe the musical elements heard. This allows them to practice being active listeners (to meet your curriculum expectations) while also gaining a greater understanding of what they love most about the music that they listen to.

Music and Emotions Activity, and Rubric
Music and Emotions Activity, and Rubric

Finally, students examine the relationship between music and our emotions. They can reflect on their own experiences and how they can utilize music as a processing strategy.

A rubric is also available for assessment, including a checklist that students can review before submitting their project.

This step by step project is available as a printable and digital package and through Google slides, so you can help teach your students these strategies whether you are teaching music in person or online.

Mental health is always important, but especially after the past year we’ve all had. Music is already so integrated in your student’s daily lives, from the music they listen to, to the video games they play, to the movies they watch, to the songs they listen to with their families. Showing them how they can use music in a purposeful way is an incredibly engaging and effective strategy to help address mental health and wellbeing.

Get the full Soundtrack Of My Life – Connecting Music To Emotions resource HERE

Full ‘Soundtrack Of My Life – SEL’ Project

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