30 January 2006

Calm Classrooms?

I'd really like you to play a game with me.

Click HERE, please, download the mp3 and let it play. It's only two and a half minutes long. I would like you please to turn it down as low as possible, so it's just audible, and then ignore it.

Get on with reading.

Like the hum of a computer or a fluorescent light, I want it to be one of those sounds that you notice the lack of, once it's finished. I want you to watch where your head goes when it stops, not whilst it's running.


About six months ago this music (its one track off a set of 10 CDs) had such an amazing effect at one school that it was reported (in glowing terms) in the Times Educational Supplement. In between, it was submitted to examination by Worcester University's Department of Psychology, which was doing a full study of the effect different styles of music on students' ability to recall information. Carried out under controlled conditions, the study showed that any music was preferable to silence, in improving performance. However, the stuff you are listening to now (HERE it is again), in fact all of it's originator's compositions, when compared with classical or pop music, both with and without words, achieved the highest scores of all. Heart and pulse rates relaxed, but minds stayed alert and were able to concentrate more easily.

The Magic:

This music, played very quietly, invades the senses just sufficiently to coincide with and reinforce the brain's alpha rhythms.

'Being in Alpha' is a well known state of relaxed alertness, here's a separate article about that, if you hadn't heard of it, but to quote (emphasis my own):
...in deep sleep there are no Alpha brain waves, and if someone is very highly aroused as in fear or anger, again there are virtually no Alpha brain waves.
Delta brain waves
are seen only in the deepest stages of sleep (Stages 3 and 4).
Theta brain waves
are seen in light sleep and drowsiness (sleep stages 1 and 2).
Alpha brain waves
are seen in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness.
Beta brain waves
are seen in highly stressful situations, and where there is difficult mental concentration and focus.
This isn't meditation music, or chill out stuff - that abounds. This music is designed and tested and proven to lift you (or a bunch of students) out of sleepy, disinterested daydreaming, whilst also taking any who need it, down out of adrenalin fuelled stress and 'challenging behaviour'. Given the recent hoo-ha spotlighted by Newsweek, and the fact that the UK DfES has a whole department dedicated to improving behaviour in schools, I can't see how it can fail to be taken up and taken seriously.

I'm sold - at least sold enough to want to know more - aren't you?

HERE's the new website, Calm Classrooms, which includes details of the University study and another link to the Times article, plus contact details

I don't know what a full set of CDs or mp3s for private use would cost, but I'd like to and am working on finding out. If you find out before me, tell them I sent you, and tell me what they said!

I'm going to copy ME Strauss now and re-list all the links.


Anonymous said...

Thats lovely... is there a techno remix? lol ;-)

She Weevil said...

Love the music and it arrived at just the right time was about to tear everyone's head off.

Now feeling floaty and calm as I've got it on repeat....

Aaaaahhh, Bisto!

Just another American Expat said...

…And I interrupted the Stones for this???? Just a joke. I can see how this might help…really.

Le laquet said...

Lovely, off to download ... play to the class!

Ally said...

I have just done a days temping in a school office in a relatively rough school. I need this very badly and so do the kids I've been fielding on the reception desk :/. I am SO jangly now and I've got another four days to go.

But I got there without a panic attack! Yay!

bart said...

hey, i liked this :D

it's said that playing bach at almost inaudible levels gives the same result but i've never seen this verified in a study yet...

keep well...

ME Strauss said...

Okay Cheryl,
I hear you and it. Yes I think it works too. I've read about such music and listened to it before on Amazon, wondered whether I should buy it for myself. It does make a difference. . . I wonder how I might pipe it into someone's house. I know someone who really needs it. hmmmmmmm.

Bonanza Jellybean said...

Wow. Who cares what it is at this point if it will help in the schools... I always listened to music when I used to do homework, etc., and it did help. My mind wanders when it's too quiet, even now.


ME Strauss said...

And yes, I'll be looking for ways to use the music. :)

Ivy the Goober said...

I really like that. Sounds a lot like a couple of instrumental CD's I have from Hallmark. And I have to listen to them a lot at work to drown out the awful noises some of my office cubicle neighbors make!

Writer Mom said...

You always keep me thinking.

I've got to try this out with Jack.

The best success we ever had getting him on a regular sleep schedule was when we'd turn on the classical music by his bed. He'd be out in no time. (CD player gave out a year ago.) Nowadays, even dead tired, he doesn't seem to be able to knock out. I've got to pick this up again.
When he hears music during the day, he's like me...he automatically plugs into it and zooms off into his own imagination. When the music level goes down, his attention comes back. I seem to recall this happening to me when I was seven. (my parents called me space cadet). If the music was up just one extra notch in volume, I tuned everything else out.
Music has an effect on me like laughing gas...just enough, and I relax...too much, and I'm off in the clouds.
Fascinating! It makes so much sense, but I never thought to look into it for Jack's sake!
I hope more comes of it!


Cheryl said...

Oooh WM! My first wish of the day (outside husband & kids) - Thank you!

Badaunt said...

That music was driving me NUTS - until I realized that it was driving me nuts because I was listening to something else as well. WhereTF is that piano music coming from? I can't get it to stop! (I've got several web pages open, and usually have the sound set to mute.

It's not your page, is it? I suppose I won't know until I close this window...

Badaunt said...

It was not your page, you will be happy to know. I should have known you would not have your page playing horrible tinkly piano music.

The calming music is lovely, but I'm afraid it would send my students to sleep! (Well, to a deeper sleep than usual.)

zilla said...


I actually felt annoyed when it ended.

Now I have to go read the links to find out what it is...

fineartist said...

I am waiting for it to download and I am going to get copies, and pipe it all over the air waves in the school where I teach.

We do brain gym here at our school, and they have suggested using music for the kids to work by.

I always have the sterio playing in my class when we are working, we ALL insist, and I let the kids bring their Ipods and cd players, so I don't have to listen to slipknot and they don't have to listen to my music.

Really awsome post Cheryl.

65 percent downloaded now, I'm getting excited....