"Without music," the German philosopher Nietzsche wrote, "life would be an error." The same might be said for the classroom.
As more and more research shows the value of music in education, schools are finding more ways to use it."Many teachers have found that classical music has a number of valuable uses in the classroom, in addition to its intrinsic value as art," said Amber Rowland, project director for Classical Classroom, a music kit put together by KUER FM-90, the University of Utah's public radio station.
Classical music, she said, "can provide a background for quiet reading, inspire artwork or set the tone for physical exercises."
KUER's objective in producing Classical Classroom was to provide classroom teachers, no matter what their musical knowledge, with recordings and a set of fun, easy-to-implement lessons that will expose students to classical music in ways that are both fun and relevant to other areas of study and interest.
The kit contains a two-CD set of classical music, called "The Classical Music Start-Up Kit," 18 integrated lesson plans with vocabulary lists and extension ideas, worksheets and visual aids, biographies of 16 featured composers and an encyclopedia of orchestral instruments.
At the beginning of the school year, one kit was sent to every elementary school, private school and a number of libraries throughout the state, thanks to support from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation and the Herbert I. and Elsa B. Michael Foundation.
Feedback has been wonderful, Rowland says. "We've had about 250 letters saying how excited teachers are. We've had tons more asking for more kits. Unfortunately, we don't have funds to do that, but we do encourage them to make copies, and they can buy more CDs very inexpensively."
Classical Classroom came about as the result of a survey of teachers and school districts, Rowland says. "We used to do a 20-minute program called `Soundwaves' that was broadcast over the radio. But teachers told us it was hard to use because it only came on at a certain time of day, and they had to set aside time right then or tape it. And some of the programs needed to be updated."
The survey revealed that teachers wanted access to music and lessons at any time, and they wanted music to play. KUER looked into producing its own CDs but then came across the Start-up Kit CDs and was able to use them. They trace the history and develop of classical music chronologically, and "the liner notes are just wonderful," Rowland said.
Responses from teachers around the state indicate that Classical Classroom has been well received. "The music curriculum kit we received from you is such an excellent resource for our teachers," wrote Riley Elementary in Salt Lake City. "The musical selections represent a broad spectrum of composers and types of music. The lesson plans are very appealing and well-designed for easy integration into curriculum areas."
"What a treasure!" wrote Syracuse Elementary. "Our school would like to express our appreciation for Classical Classroom. We will use it frequently - what a wonderful teaching tool!"
And from Valley View Elementary School in Roy: "Being a small school with a limited budget (that has not been increased for the last 12 years), we do not have the money to buy all the things that we need. This music kit is wonderful; it's people like you who keep great music alive for our students and teachers."