Teaching Lyrics Using Learning Styles

Published by Darlene on

Talking about learning styles can almost be like opening a can of worms. There are sooooo many different categories and styles and studies for them all. For our purposes, I’m going to stick to the 3 most common: Auditory, Visual, and Kinestectic.

How do these learning styles play out in our music classrooms or choirs? Much of our population is classified as visual learner. I believe that is because most children learn visually at some stages. So many curriculums and activities are written toward that end – visual learning.  We don’t want to misinterpret learning styles for those who are truly visual, nor do we want to leave out other learning styles.

A child who is a Visual learner likes color.  A misinterpretation of this would be to use lots of color. However, for a true visual learner, too much color could be distracting.  I am a true visual learner, and too much color for me is very chaotic.  Instead, use less color on the outer rims of a visual learner’s focus, and use a main color on the activity or area of primary focus.  Visual learners also love mapping. So song maps are fabulous! When focusing on lyrics, I like to use color to emphasize meanings or concepts.

I did this in Song Drills: Our God.  By the time your students help you lay out the lyrics to the verse, they will clearly be able to identify the words that specify miracles because those words are set apart by color.  The chorus is all one color, but it contains words in all caps that tell us who “God is.” The bridge of the song is set apart in four posters that (when put together) allow students to see what to repeat and what to hold out longer.

An activity like that not only provides color for the visual learner but also allows for the processing of words for the Auditory Learner. Someone who learns this way needs to process the words, read through them, and know what they mean. The art of listening is only one aspect of the way an auditory learner is taught. He doesn’t just hear the spoken or sung words but rather reads and thinks through them. Audible learners need to be able to hear the nuances of tone, pitch, speed, and vocal flucuations. In contrast, the visual learner may miss something in your voice but will be drawn to your facial expressions and body language.

Kinestetic Learners need a hands-on approach. They learn through feelings and touch.  Included in this category is the tactile learner, but there is a difference. The Kinestetic learner wants to hold a resonator bell, to feel the weight of it and the cool touch of the metal.  He wants to hear how the bell sounds and feel how hard he must strike the bell or how quicly or slowly he must use the mallet to get to the bell. The tactile learner is also interested in those things but will go a step further in that he will take the bell apart just to see how it is put together.   The best thing I have ever done was to put out a basket of broken instruments.  The kids had so much fun trying to figure out what parts went to which instrument.  In the example above, we gave out lyrics to the children, and (as we talked or sang through these lyrics) the children would put the words in order.  We engaged the body of the kinestectic learner to move and put the lyrics in order. In the chorus we put movements to the words that taught who “God is”.

So with the one activity we helped all three learning styles process through the lyrics of a song.

1. With color we helped the visual learner.

2. We processed through the words for the auditory learner.

3. And we involved the body for the kinestectic learner who needs to be involved physically to process the lyrics.

From that point forward the visual learners will picture the colors used in the verse when I ask them to sing it. They will picture the solid color when I ask them to sing the chorus, as well as picturing the words in all capital letters.  The auditory learner will remember the empasis that I had put on the words in all caps when I spoke them.  They will also remember thinking through each line of the verse and understanding that each miracle, set apart by color, was from a Bible story.  The kinestectic learner will remember the moves we put with the words in all caps and how far they had to walk to put their word in its place in the lyrics on the floor.  Or they will remember how it felt the first time we put the song on an instrument.

I encourage you to think through involving all learning styles when planning how to teach a song, especially one that your kids will share with others in a performance-type setting.

Have a great year and keep singing!!




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