Mary-Kathryn Wert

Choir director Robin Christie watches Concert Chorale practice for an upcoming show. “We rehearse together starting and stopping, reworking sections, improving elements, trying different methodology to improve our sound and technique,” Christie said.

Teachers find ways to bring music into the classroom

Music plays all around the classroom as students listen to French songs, voicing their opinions and singing along to the lyrics. This is what life in the classroom was like for French teacher Leigh-Ann Haggerty’s students during “Manie Musicale,” or Musical Mania.

The French classes participated in this event, which was a bracket with more than 2000 schools, choosing the overall favorite French song. Students picked their favorite songs to compete and learned more French along the way.

“What’s great is now a lot of students have a playlist of French songs and sing along to French songs, and that’s an amazing way to learn a language,” Haggerty said.

While students incorporate music into their day-to-day lives, teachers also discover ways to use it in their classrooms. 

“Music helps to do what’s called differentiated learning, which means some people learn things really well by reading it and some people learn really well by hearing it,” Haggerty said. “It is important to touch how each person learns the best, and music is one way that people can learn.”

For students at Miege, music is not exclusive to music classes. Classes such as French, Spanish, and Theology have figured out how to use music to help students learn.

Junior Francesca Dessert shows her language skills in places outside of school after learning songs in the classroom.

“I love singing songs in other languages in choir, like in French or German,” Dessert said. “There was one song we sang in my choir in Lawrence, Lawrence Children’s Choir, and it was for my best friend’s grandma, and it was in German.”

Along with learning, teachers like Spanish teacher Jennifer Dessert use music to help boost students’ moods in class.

“I think it lights different parts in your brain and you see music in all cultures and it makes people happy,” Jennifer Dessert said.

According to senior drummer Parker Summers, he uses music to express himself and improve his mood on bad days.

“Music is just something that makes me happy, to listen to it and play and even perform in front of others,” Summers said.

Theology department chair Steve Koesterer uses music to connect with his students and their interests outside of the classroom. Every Friday, he has a “Jukebox Reflection,” where he finds a song to convey the message of his lesson.

He uses songs both newer and older, from “You Say” by Lauren Daigle to “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong UNITED. According to Koesterer, music helps students retain focus and stay engaged.

“It’s something enjoyed and resonates with people,” Koesterer said. “And since music is art, it can express differently and speak differently to different individuals. No matter who you are, you can always get something from art, because you’ll find something within it that speaks to you.”

Jennifer Dessert also relates to her students through music in her personal life.

“I have been in bands and I’ve always sang, and it makes me very happy and it loosens me up,” Jennifer Dessert said. “It makes me feel more alive, so I know that’s probably how the students feel as well.”

According to Haggerty, it’s important to connect with students on a personal level. For both Haggerty and Jennifer Dessert, the best way to do this is through music.

“It’s important to me to be a part of my students’ lives and vise-versa,” Haggerty said. “By music, we can communicate and we can say, ‘Even though I’m 3000 years older than my students, we can still connect with each other.’”

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