Using Music and Sound for Learning

Using Music and Sound for Learning

Using music and sound for learning is an easy way to contribute to a more stimulating, brain-based learning environment. Make some noise, introduce sound, and wake up your learner’s brains. You cannot share information and ideas effectively if your session participants are distracted or not focused on you or the task at hand.

To ensure that participants in training programs, classrooms, and other meeting situations are ready to gain, retain, recall and use what will be experienced, take some time to plan how you will gain, regain and hold their attention.

Using Music and Sound for Learning by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas, Awarding Winning Adult Learning & Training Author

The following are some simple techniques that tie to research on brain-based learning regarding brain stimulation and how the brain and attention works. By applying strategies such as these, you will be able to potentially get participants to stop side conversations, reading materials, daydreaming, and other distracting behaviors and focus their attention on the front of the room. Once they do that, you can share instructions or information related to the topic or task at hand.

Use your voice.

Some people are gifted with a loud, commanding voice that carries throughout any room and can be used to gain the attention of distracted learners. Others have less forceful volume and tone and must depend on alternative methods to refocus participants.  A simple “Let’s get started” or “If I can have your attention” might work for some people but there are other more creative ways to accomplish this desired outcome.

using music and sound for learning
Game Show Themes for Trainers

Use music. 

There has been quite a bit of research and numerous books on how music impacts the brain (e.g. This is Your Brain on Music) and the topic of using music in learning environments (e.g. Top Tunes for Teachers and Training with a Beat). There are even music selections designed for training (e.g. Game Show Themes for Trainers) and learning environments. Such resources tap into the fact that music can evoke emotion, set the tone for a learning environment, and connect with a training topic. The key is to select music that has a relationship to your learning objectives and that helps stimulate the brains of your attendees.

Some of the ways that you might employ music would be to have upbeat music playing as people enter the room. When ready to start your session or you want to end a break and regroup participants, simply turn it off. The silence sends an unspoken message that something just changed and participants instinctively turn their attention toward the front for the room.

You can also use music in the background as learners work in small groups and participate in visioning activities. In such instances, use music without lyrics and that matches the intended pace of the activity. Research indicates that selecting a music beat that closely matches the desired energy level of the activity is best. For example, if you want to have people on their feet and excited, use some upbeat theme song. If your goal is serenity and reflection, you might use a baroque selection.

Using music and sound for learning

Use Noisemakers.

Inexpensive noisemakers are an excellent and creative means of gaining or regaining participant attention. Simply by blowing a whistle, using a musical slide flute, ringing a school or classroom bell, striking a gong, squeezing a squawking chicken, or using some similar device, you add a bit of sound, fun, and novelty to your sessions.

Like anything you do in a learning environment, using music and sound in novel ways during your sessions or meetings is a clever means of gaining and regaining learner attention. The key is to avoid doing anything that is distracting or does not relate to your stated learning objectives.

Learn This Blogger – Robert W. Lucas

Robert W. Lucas is an internationally-known author and learning and performance expert. He specializes in workplace performance-based training and consulting services. Furthermore, he has four decades of experience in human resources development, management, and customer service in a variety of organizational environments. Robert Lucas was the 1995 and 2011 President of the Central Florida Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

Robert W. Lucas has lived, traveled, and worked in 28 different countries and geographic areas. During the past 40 years, Bob has shared his knowledge with workplace professionals from hundreds of organizations, such as Webster University, AAA, Orange County Clerk of Courts, Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Martin Marietta, all U.S. military branches, and Wachovia Bank. In addition, Bob has provided consulting and training services to numerous major organizations on a variety of workplace learning topics. To contact Bob visit his website at or his blog