We should use calming music when we start our classes with silent reading. How does the it work? Our normal heart rate is around 72 beats per minute, and is much faster in kids who have eaten sugar and drunk those caffeine and sugar laced monster drinks just to get themselves going in school.
The music in the calming music (found soon in downloadable form on this site) is mostly taken from the second movement of certain Baroque concertos. Those are written at 60 beats per minute. This slows the heart rate down to 60 bpm. When that happens, the brain waves, which in the active waking state occur at 22-24 cycles per second, slow down toward, but not all the way to, 14 cycles per second. For those familiar with this process of , it is called Suggestopedia.
This slowing down of the mind via the slowing of the heart rate via music and yogic breathing brings the calming energy. There is no doubt that teaching is a hazardous profession. Many teachers just plain burn out, and their health suffers, because they are in such a chaotic state of making thousands of decisions per day in the severely dysfunctional environments that we call American schools. Teacher burnout is rarely the fault of the teacher, or is so only to the extent that teacher accept a totally insane setting as normal, without taking conscious steps to change how they react to it.
So, taking the first ten minutes of every class to play the calming music is a good idea, for the betterment of everyone in the room. I have to admit that the reason I have not done this in the past, rarely doing the reading in spite of the obvious research about its benefits and the protestations of Diana Noonan, is because I want to get the story going. That is not a good reason to skip over one of the great strategies we have at our disposal, especially when it helps us and our kids in so many ways.
If I do the reading with the calming music in every class every day, will start our story in a much more peaceful way. Kids won’t have to jump on a moving train to get class started. The train (from the previous class and the hallway conversations) will be stopped in the station and it will pull out into the next story in a sane way.
Adding the calming music to the SSR start of class time brings greater simplicity and thus greater mental health to us.