Teaching With Tunes
With remote learning creating a disconnect in classroom environments, professors and students alike are taking it upon themselves to try new methods of bringing courses together. On the rise is the incorporation of music to further expand on course themes. I’ve had the chance to experience that firsthand since the pandemic began.
One of the first things Professor Michael Dwyer did for us when we were forced home suddenly was to send out a playlist with a few songs that help him when he’s away from the classroom. He invited us to include songs that would unite us as we finished the Spring 2020 semester. While the playlist was not totally class-oriented, it did help me get through an emotional time of being home in confusion.
I pushed through the rest of that semester alongside those songs, and the concept of the class playlist only grew from there. This semester, I’m taking a special topics course on loneliness in literature and one student took it upon herself to send the class an empty Spotify playlist. We all had access to it and were encouraged to add songs that evoked a sense of loneliness.
I’ve been listening to this loneliness playlist before class to create an ambience for the environment that the texts create. I know this may sound like my normal English major spiel, but I feel it breathes modern life into classes in a way that other courses may lack. Especially with a lack of personal interaction, it can feel even more crucial to spice up lessons with some unique tactics.
I always caught myself attaching songs to books, and there are endless artists who seem practically intertwined with authors. Whether it be Pink Floyd with Orwell or The Doors with Huxley, adding another form of media to the senses can give students a better understanding of what they are supposed to be digesting from their coursework.
Zoom fatigue, as I have learned, can be a real thing for students. Having a different medium to digest the same morals that professors are trying to instill in their students can be a great way to break up any traces of tedium that may emerge over the semester. The collaborative aspect only takes this to the next level, as it is a creative and engaging way to discuss the coursework on the go. Whether it be on campus learning or online lectures, playlists can always add to the experience.
If anyone is interested in checking out a playlist from my class on loneliness: