A Music Teacher’s Brain

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When I first started teaching almost 30 years ago, there was “new” research said that music playing in classrooms helped students retain information. It had something to do with the tempo (speed) of the piece and the affect on brain waves.

As a beginning music teacher, I was very excited that my chosen subject was so useful. I soon realized, however, that music teachers do not adhere to this research.

A musician’s brain is not “normal” a fact my musically talented children can confirm and have done so for years.

When music is playing anywhere, a music teacher’s brain, or at least my music teacher brain, does not relax and retain information. It goes into overdrive trying to figure out what the music is, who wrote it and in what time period it was composed.

This “music teacher brain” phenomenon has manifested itself in many ways throughout the years. For example, when swimming laps, most people count 1 2 3 4 5 6 etc. I count 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 2 and 2 and 3 and 4 and as if I am counting measures of music.

In any given day, there are multiple times when I find myself saying, “I know a song about that.” This includes songs about scalloped potatoes and coffee.

Last Wednesday I decided to mop the kitchen floor. I put soap in the mop bucket and put it in the sink to fill while I put away the vacuum cleaner. The closet where the vacuum cleaner lives is very disorganized so it took longer than anticipated to complete that task.

I pictured the mop bucket overflowing with water all over the floor. Then my mind went to the Walt Disney version of “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas from Fantasia.

For the rest of the day I had the music playing in my head. I couldn’t help wondering how many people associate mopping the floor with classical music.

I imagine only other music teachers.


2 Comments on “A Music Teacher’s Brain

  1. Sarah, you are t alone. I am not a teacher but my whole life has involved music. A little lady in the church I attend (she is almot 90 /yo) is in our same catagory. Music, music, music. Often when someone makes a comment we look at each other and know that both of us are thinking of a song related to the comment. Once, many years ago while working in the office at Candlewood Baptist Church (now you know how long ago that was) I was printing out information for the church on an old copy machine and was keeping rhythm in my head and apparently with my body to a song related to the rhythm of the machine. Does that make sense? Soon someone was laughing at me because they realized what I was doing. It was just an unconcious reaction to the rhythm. I bet your mom could use words to explain this much better than I. How about it Judythe Morgan? Up to the challenge?

    • I’m so glad to hear from a kindred spirit. I know exactly what you are saying. I frequently find myself walking in step to whatever song is playing in my head. There is rhythm everywhere. We are just lucky enough to recognize it 🙂

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