Mindful Music Moments starts at Canton School

Mindful Music Moments starts at Canton School

CANTON – As morning announcements ended at Worley Elementary School, the students in Jennifer Schott’s second grade class braced themselves for what was coming next.

Over the speaker system, a soothing voice told the children to sit up straight, place their hands on the table or in their laps, focus their eyes or close them, and regulate their breathing. Soon, the music started playing.

For the next four minutes, the students — many with their eyes closed — let the music take over, relaxing them and preparing them for a day of classes.

Canton City Elementary School partnered with the Canton Symphony Orchestra and The Well, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit, to bring Mindful Music Moments to Worley. The symphony is sponsoring the program, providing funds for the purchase of materials.

Each morning, students will listen to a different piece of music. From orchestral and jazz pieces to new music and instrumental Disney hits, a variety of music will be played for the students.

“The program combines mindfulness techniques with classical and instrumental music in everyday audio or visual experiences to help schools create a calmer and more focused learning environment,” said Bryce Kessler, director of music and arts programming for The Well.

Students receive a mindfulness boost each morning to focus on creativity, feel their heart beat along with music, or listen to a specific instrument.

That morning, the students were asked to listen to the trumpet part and try out how they felt when they started playing the brass instruments.

How have students responded to Mindful Music Moments?

Worley Principal Jennifer Stokoe said students have responded well to the music program. The music selection sets the scene for a day of learning.

“Listening to music is easy to do,” Stokoe said. “It’s only a very short amount of time—less than five minutes—but it’s very powerful. We’re always looking for easy things to help our students without taking away from instructional time.”

Last year, Worley started a mindfulness initiative. They teamed up with Lululemon, who provided each student with a yoga mat. The teachers used yoga movements at different times in their classes to encourage attention.

Mindful Music Moments was a perfect addition to their mindfulness initiative, Stokoe said.

Second grader Jada Sumpter loves the early morning music sessions.

It’s peaceful and makes me feel calm,” said the 7-year-old. “It gets me ready for the day.”

“They automatically put down their iPads and listen.”

Schott has noticed a difference in her juniors since starting the program this fall.

The start of the day, especially leading up to her arrival at class, can be noisy and chaotic. The start of the music immediately calms her pupils.

“They automatically take out their iPads and listen,” she added.

Caroline Eberhard, manager of education and community engagement for the Canton Symphony Orchestra, hopes that the introduction to music and its impact on a person fosters a lifelong love of music in students.

Music is one of the few activities that stimulates both sides of the brain and can be helpful in processing emotions, Eberhard said.

A parent of a student at Golden Key School for Special Children in Canton, who used the Mindful Music Moments program, reported that their child, who has trouble processing his emotions, would lock himself in his room and listen to music.

“Instead of an emotional outburst, they knew how to play music to help calm them down,” she explained.

Kessler, who interned with the Canton Symphony Orchestra, said the partnership with the symphony provides a local musical connection for the students, allowing them to build a relationship with the orchestra as they grow.

The symphony said the partnership allows them to not only address social and emotional learning, but also reach more students, Eberhard added.

In addition to musical selections, The Well also offers worksheets and other materials for teachers, students and parents. The program also has an animated video version of the music that some schools use. Music can also be shared with parents.

In addition to Worley, Harter Elementary School also presented the program this year. Golden Key School for Special Children in Canton and Killbuck Elementary School in West Holmes School District in Mahoning County have used the program for several years.

The Well began bringing the program to schools in Cincinnati in 2016, and it has since grown to serve 320 schools, camps and social service organizations across the United States, according to the nonprofit’s website .

While in town, Kessler met with members of the Stark County Educational Service Center to discuss the Mindful Moments Music program. He hopes to bring the program to more Stark schools.

“This is a school-wide and community resource that everyone can access,” Kessler said. “And we’re very happy to bring it to Worley.”

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *