Educational Music Research

A Letter From Us

By Dr. Isaiah Jackson, BA, MA, MS, DMA
President of Rhythm, Rhyme, Results

As parents we are familiar with the hunger that students feel in wanting to be a part of their classroom community and to be comfortable and accepted by their peers. We know as educators the intense desire dedicated teachers feel to connect with students, and to impart and share important information that they are passionate about and that is crucial to a student’s educational growth. As former students we realize the importance of understanding basic math, science and writing concepts from our early years that formed the solid knowledge base on which be built our educational development throughout school and college years, and beyond.

There is no substitute for learning basic information during those early years. And there is no “catch up” for years lost in the learning process.

Our mission at RRR is to address a very important period in a students’ life, the middle school years. The middle school years when scientific, mathematic, and literary understanding that bear fruit in later years of study are laid down, and functioning literacy in those same areas of study begin to separate students into categories of perceived abilities that can label a student for years to come.

Whether a designation of “below” or “above” average is assigned to a student’s achievement, we feel it is incumbent on educators and purveyors of educational products alike to ensure that all students have access to basic building blocks of knowledge.

Studies indicate that this is best done by using a variety of delivery mechanisms and formats. Every child has a learning style and a modality in which they receive and process information. Commonly researched and identified conduits of learning include auditory, visual, and kinesthetic modalities.

RRR’s goal in creating music to supplement learning is to provide teachers, parents, and students another way of accessing information. It is not the only way, and certainly not a “silver bullet” for all, but it is a culturally relevant, accessible and affordable educational tool which can be used in a variety of ways to help students learn.

Along with many educators and dedicated professionals, we, too, have searched for the best way to present information and have accessed the finest musicians to help us create a path to learning for many students who stumble with text-based information, or who lack confidence or sufficient skills to express themselves solely through written proof of comprehension.

Our intent is not to replace a teacher, a fine text, or other forms of academic intervention, but only to help make the process easier, more accessible, and more engaging. We seek to help build a bridge so that dedicated teachers can find the path to help all students in their classroom learn. And if we can also make that journey a little more fun and put a smile on faces… we feel that perhaps we’ve made the contribution to education that we want to.

We are so very fortunate to live in a country that permits a variety of educational tools to be in our schools, and cherishes the right of all children to pursue an education.

At RRR we stand in awe of those organizations, educational materials providers, and educators who dare to try new things, who reach out to the most disenfranchised student and the poorest school, and who offer their services, products, expertise and passion to truly equalize the opportunities in our nation’s classrooms. It is to this end that RRR serves all students who want to learn.

- Dr. Jackson and the RRR Team

What Educators and Researchers Say

Kelli Paquette and Susan Rieg, from the College of Education and Education Technology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, have written an article which appeared in Early Childhood Education Journal 36, August 2008,(3) pages 227-232, citing the use of music to support the literacy development of young English language learners. According to Paquette and Rieg, music can be used to effectively support ELL with vocabulary acquisition because songs are an effective way of not only helping ELL acquire new vocabulary, but also teaching the pronunciation of those words.

“Regardless of the musical form and despite a teacher’s level of musical training, the value of …enhancing literary instruction through music is vital in today’s classroom. This is particularly true for ELL…”

Prolific authors and respected education professionals and researchers Richard D. Kellough and Noreen G. Kellough have noted repeatedly in their writings that “using programs and approaches that appeal to multiple student learning modalities and intelligences will help all students perform well.” They encourage teachers to take an eclectic approach to teaching, and actively engage adolescents in learning and give every student an equal chance to participate, learn, grow, and succeed.

Taken from his article, “Less than equal: A former urban school teacher examines the causes of educational disadvantage”, Urban Review, 33 (2) 10-129, G.J. Fritzberg, 2001., describes non-mainstream students that often feel that subjects they study are culturally foreign to them. He continues to say that ideas and concepts that students are introduced to must be both relevant and familiar enough that they are able to make essential connections. Growing cultural diversity in today’s classrooms demand that teachers be knowledgeable, responsive, and well-prepared to work with a diverse student population. The use of hip-hop music to present important academic concepts and ideas supports the needs of culturally diverse students with different learning modalities and styles.

Excerpts from an article appearing in the ASCD online publication, Educational Leadership, entitled “Academics and the Arts” Pages 80-81 February 2007 | Volume 64 | Number 5, Douglas Reeves, Founder and President of the Leadership and Learning Center, a professional development center for educators and school leaders, states as follows:

Leaders set priorities. With multiple demands on limited school resources and classroom time, an essential job of every school leader is allocating resources to produce the greatest student success…In the current education climate, standardized test scores in literacy and math are important to both schools and individual students. The challenge for school leaders is to offer every student a rich experience with the arts without sacrificing the academic opportunities students need. Here are three guidelines to consider.

First, call a truce. Establish a norm that there is no such thing as a “nonacademic” class in school and that every subject, including the arts, is worthy of the thought and discipline that we associate with academic study. Just as we expect all teachers, including those focused on the arts, to teach honesty, self-discipline, and organization, we can also reasonably expect all teachers to regard literacy not as a diversion from their primary subjects, but as a useful way of helping students think about their subjects. We write in music and art class because those subjects are worth writing about.

Second, make it a two-way street. Although it is increasingly common to expect music and art teachers to integrate literacy into their lessons, we also need to encourage content-area teachers to integrate the arts into their classes. Wise teachers of history, English, science, and math know that music, art, and dance can form powerful visual, auditory, and kinesthetic associations that help students learn essential content and concepts. [emphasis added]

Third, refuse to settle for a limited curriculum for any student. If you were the headmaster of an elite private school and some students were behind in reading and math, parents would expect you to provide necessary academic interventions and also deliver a rich and engaging arts curriculum. Perhaps you would provide extra literacy instruction for all students, from those who are struggling to those who are advanced. You certainly would ensure that every student received opportunities to excel not only academically, but also in the arts, technology, and athletics. As you reflect on the challenge of allocating limited resources and time, ask yourself, does any public school student deserve less?”

Further Reading and Research

Gardner, Howard, (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York: Basic Books. A seminal work on the multiple ways we learn and process information.