Music literally speaks to some people. They have an uncanny ability to understand the rhythms and patterns of sounds. If you often find yourself whistling, humming, finger tapping or singing lyrics that are stuck in your head, then music can become an effective tool to enhance your online education.
If you have a musical learning style, which is one of the eight types of intelligence, then you likely excel at passing oral exams or writing essays just after a lecture. In contrast, you probably struggle with timed tests that require you to respond to something you just read. As an aural learner, you can incorporate music into your study sessions to increase your understanding and retention of information.
Using Music as a Learning Tool
Music has a mysterious effect on the brain. It simultaneously relaxes the mind and provides that extra boost of energy and attentiveness you need to tackle a complex subject. Some melodies actually alter your alpha brainwave state so that you achieve a higher level of awareness and relaxation. When your brain is energized yet calm, it is most receptive to learning.
As a result, music is an exceptionally effective memory tool for auditory learners. Music works as a study aid because it stimulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centers, and it excites the right side where long-term memory is stored. When combined with reading, which rouses the left side, music engages your entire brain in the learning process.
Since this increases your ability to organize and recall information when you need it, music is a valuable tool when reviewing classroom materials. Your ritual can be as simple as switching on the radio or as complex as creating special playlists for specific class topics or types of assignments. The key to success is selecting the right types of music, at the right volume, to produce a stress-free learning environment that capitalizes upon the strengths of your learning style.
Start with a motivational song that signals the start of your study session, then switch to something that is appropriate for the subject matter. Classical, jazz or baroque music might calm your nerves long enough to understand basic algebra while thumping rock and roll might provide the inspiration you need to knock out a fantastic PowerPoint presentation.
You can also use music to reinforce class concepts that you are having a difficult time understanding. Seek out music that resembles the content, such as playing 1970s protest songs while reading Shakespeare or listening to blues as you read about African American history.
If you are having a particularly difficult time studying for a test, listen to only one song or artist repeatedly. You can play the song before the exam starts for motivation, and hum it to yourself if you are stuck on an answer. The music will open the vault on your long-term memory bank and likely present the answer.
Create Your Own Musical Mnemonic Devices
Auditory learners often excel in their studies once they learn how to properly employ mnemonic devices. These little ditties, which are used to teach children essential information about things like their ABCs and 123s, group small bites of information into larger chunks that are easier to remember.
As a learning technique, mnemonics are best exercised when you need to memorize a long list of facts, such as names, stages, steps or characteristics. You can write your own songs, poems, phrases, rhymes, chants or raps to help you with the word association game. For inspiration, borrow the tune of an old nursery rhyme or a current advertising jingle. Think of songs like “One, two, buckle my shoe…” and “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Although the lines do not need to rhyme, the lilt of the similar words is easier to recall.
Additional Auditory Tools
If you find that music makes a noticeable difference in how well you study, then consider incorporating other popular auditory techniques into your online learning plan. This can include podcasts, text readers and books on tape. Most modern computers also include speech recognition tools that can type as you speak then read the text back to you. By closing your eyes when you listen to these study aids, your ears go on high alert.
Reading your textbook or study notes aloud can also stimulate your auditory system as well. Utilize your natural abilities by recording the reading and then listening to it as you drive to work or eat lunch. When taking a test, close your eyes and repeat the facts you do remember out loud. This just may lure the elusive answer to the surface.