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Classics Teaching Resources


Young people seldom do homework without a background of music. There is no reason why music should not be a regular part of classroom life, provided it does not disturb other lessons.

Use music in the following ways:

Set the mood for the lesson by choosing appropriate music as the pupils come in. Do you want to calm them? Brighten them up? Introduce a lesson on comedy? Or tragedy? The right music helps.
Research shows that baroque period slow movements are ideal to encourage concentration. They even help plants grow! Try a Vivaldi concerto slow movement. Or, for a change, how about some Gregorian chant, or my favourite Hildegard von Bingen, to take the class into another world and raise expectations of something new and strange? Those medieval chants have the advantage of setting Latin words. A recording of cheerful panpipe music can be bracing, and prepare pupils for a lively lesson.
Be warned that research has found that Heavy Metal kills plants! It is unlikely to help pupils in classics lessons.
Mark out the time for, say, working an exercise on their own, by playing, very quietly, a piece of the right length. It gives a beginning and an end to the work, and can help concentration. Do you ever see Countdown on Channel 4? Then you have the idea. CDs normally tell you the length of each track to the nearest second. Once again, baroque music is good, but not dramatic music like Vivaldi's Four Seasons - musical storms might distract pupils.
Read aloud material that needs to be thoroughly absorbed, to a background of music. When a Latin class needs to learn set texts for exams, for instance, they could follow either the Latin or an English translation while you read the Latin aloud to a subdued musical background. It is a highly effective way of learning. See also the lecture on Accelerated Latin. For further information see The Learning Revolution pub. 1994 and other books from Accelerated Learning. Use songs to aid learning. When teaching Latin, use songs in Latin, either 'real' Latin like medieval carols, or invented Latin. Pick a tune and write your own words to it, using vocabulary and grammar that you want your pupils to remember. Get hold of the ARLT song book at one of their Summer Schools, or download Latin songs from their site. Another collection of Latin songs, the 'Chanties' first published by WHD Rouse in 1922, is available here.

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