Playing Music Before Class

Media Type: Teaching Ideas

Ten years ago I decided to begin my classes by playing music.

I came to the conclusion that the time before class starts is often poorly used and that this makes starting class difficult since student attention is not focused. This often necessitates what I refer to as an opening monologue where the instructor warms up the audience and then, after a few minutes, proceeds on to the lecture.
To focus attention sooner I started playing music before class started and synchronizing the end of the song with the class start time. When the music would stop students would notice the change and knew class was about to begin. I did this for four years until my head TA, Andrew Rice, indicated that it was possible to take the lyrics of a song, synchronize them to the music and also add commentary related to economics.
Ever since then I have played economics-related animations before class. I turn down the lights to focus attention. The results have been amazing. Students watch the animations and often -- because so many students arrive before music starts -- I am able to reference the pre-class music during the lecture. I can also start class without needing to focus attention, a very valuable time-saving device.  Want to add a dose of music to your classroom? Check out my collection of Econ-related Song Lyrics in the media library and and find tons of ideas to match the topic you’re teaching!
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