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Hitting the Right Notes - Using Music in Training

Written by Andy Trainer – Thu 21 Feb 2013


Music is widely recognised as an effective teaching aid for young children but is often dismissed as a 'novelty' technique when talking about the development and training of adults. In fact, music is useful as an educational tool for all ages for a wide variety of reasons.

In this post I'm going to look at why music can be such a great method to help with training and give examples as to how you can integrate it into your sessions.

Piano

For maximum impact, music should be used alongside questioning techniques and even Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques; both of which can be learnt on our Train the Trainer Course.

Mood Setting

Music is strangely powerful when it comes to creating a mood, for individuals and groups alike. With that in mind, you can use it to your advantage in training sessions. It's worth having a bank of varied music stored on your laptop or phone or a subscription to a music streaming service like Spotify (and don't forget external speakers!).

From invoking a sense of concentration with some Mozart or Bach (or whichever 'classical' composer works for you) to garnering some enthusiasm with some upbeat, even motivational music (Eye of the Tiger anyone?) - used in the right way it can make training sessions a more pleasant and balanced experience for everyone, especially if you have difficult delegates on the course.

Equally, you could combine the two to create a motivated and focused atmosphere:

Increasing Memory and Recall

Many studies have been conducted into the effect that listening to music has on memory and general intelligence. While some theories such as The Mozart Effect are disputable, what is clear is that specific types of music can indeed increase memory in some people.

From this study, among many others, it has been proven that listening to music at a speed of 60bpm whilst studying/memorising information can significantly improve recall. The theory is that it is the ideal beats per minute to synchronise with brain activity when memorising.

Think about using various pieces around that speed (some examples include Black Eyed Peas 'I Gotta Feeling', R.Kelly's or 'I Believe I can Fly'. Check out the BPM Database for more ideas) at various appropriate points in your sessions and see if it makes a difference to your delegates ability to remember information. It might just surprise you.

 The Fun Theory

Volkswagen have started a programme they entitle 'The Fun Theory' in which they demonstrate that using activities that are deemed 'fun' can increase participation in otherwise less interesting things.

One example that's particularly relevant here is the 'piano staircase' example shown below, in which the task is to try and persuade more people to take a flight of stairs as opposed to the escalator next to them:

As the video shows, 66% more people used the stairs when the element of fun (the musical sounds) was introduced.

It's another reason to think about using music in your training sessions. People are more receptive and open to ideas when something is fun (as demonstrated above) and music can certainly be fun - think about introducing something surprising and different to the sessions with a funny or uplifting song.

Music is useful in training for the reasons outlined above and many others. If you're not confident about introducing music into your sessions, why not try our Assertiveness Workshop which will help you be more positive in your decisions and therefore more confident about using 'left-field' techniques like this.

Using music is a great way to finish a session as well. Read our post about ending on a high for other ideas.

So go on, try a bit of music in your sessions - you might just find it strikes the right chord!

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