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I have found that flute music--some Native American; Zamfir on the pan flute
(my favorite)--is especially effective. Some of the environmental tapes,
especially those which incorporate water--babbling brooks, surf--are also
The key, from my experience, is that the music, whatever the type, should be
fairly soft, very melodic rather than rhythmic, and of medium speed. Avoid
anything for which familiar words are available. However, there may be times
when you will wish to choose a more vigorous music to go with specific projects.
Your older kids may protest--but if you have ever let them choose "Their"
music, you know that the mood and attention are likely to deteriorate rather
than enhancing the creative atmosphere. If you get too much resistance,
I'd either start it at the very beginning of the year, and/or keep it very
soft, almost subliminal in the beginning. And make it a habit, not a choice.
In one 4th grade class each student got to wear headphones with Zamfir
playing (they could adjust the volume) for 15 minutes during the drawing
project. In most cases you could tell exactly what they had been drawing
during their 15 minutes and what was done before and, often, after--the
difference was that dramatic.
Then I got my own art room and had no access to headphones or even a tape
recorder, so working from a cart isn't >all< bad!
Let us know what you discover!
Lily M. Kerns
Educational consultant for KIS Inc, Coppell TX
"An artist is one who looks at what everyone else is looking at and sees
what no one else is seeing." (source unknown)