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

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Using creativity in training to establish a brain-based learning environment is essential for helping learners better gain, retain, recall, and use what they experience. As trainers and educators, you should open your eyes and take an objective look around from time-to-time in order to discover examples, issues, and ideas that can be incorporated into workshops and other learning vehicles. These observations might form the basis of an analogy or story that can help introduce or support a topic in one of your learning sessions. By collecting and assimilating such information and strategies, you will be able to better develop a creative learning environment.

Taking a Brain Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

Taking a Brain-Based Learning Approach to Training Design

One strategy that you might consider to identify new material and strategies to enhance your training is to conduct what I call a creativity analysis. By doing so you can often pinpoint issues and items that are important from a values standpoint or that impact various elements within a culture. Such a scan is especially effective if you travel to locations that are outside your own organization, geographic area, or comfort zone.

There are many cultures in various locations throughout the world where people view things differently and approach learning and life from a diverse perspective. They potentially view education and training from a standpoint that is literally foreign to you. These differences can cause challenges for you as a facilitator if they are new to you. They can also provide a learning opportunity and chance to expand your knowledge and grow professionally.

As part of your analysis, consider looking for trends in clothing, transportation, business processes, religious beliefs, and other key aspects of life which might be incorporated or compared to your personal or societal norm. Think of how these elements might serve as a basis for discussion in a session that you design or facilitate.

The following techniques may provide possible material, concepts, or ideas that can be easily integrated into your brain-based training design, training delivery, or learning content in your next training programs:

  • Scan movies, television, or radio programs. Look for ideas, material, or trends related to program content.
  • Evaluate newspapers, advertising, billboards, and professional magazine articles (about related topics/skills). Try to identify potential resources and societal issues.
  • Scrutinize junk email and mail you receive. Through it, determinations about existing resources and what else is being done in the field or on a specific topic can be made.
  • Brainstorm alone or with others. Take some time to evaluate and consider changing what is currently, or has historically been done in programs. To accomplish that, ask the following questions:

(a) What is currently being done which might inhibit or limit participant learning?

(b) What can be expanded to enhance learning?

(c) What is being done to ensure that the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom are transferred to the workplace?

(d) What techniques, strategies, or activities can be combined to increase learning?

(e) What techniques, strategies, props, incentives, or approaches could be substituted for ones currently in use?

(f) How can techniques, strategies, activities, incentives, or props be used in other programs to effective learning?

(g) What steps, processes, or information currently used could be reorganized in a different order to increase effectiveness?

  • Capture ideas. Keep a tape recorder or pen and paper handy at all times (IE By the bed, in the car, on desktop) to capture creative ideas and thoughts as they occur.
  • Take idea excursions. Search for props, incentives, and materials that can be adapted or used for training are everywhere. Go on outings specifically to find new anything that might enhance learning, involve participants, and add sizzle to your programs.

Some possible idea excursion locations to explore and what to look for follow. Do not forget a pen and paper or a tape recorder to capture your ideas.

(a) Toy stores (games, incentives, and props).

(b) Catalog suppliers (toys, games, incentives, props, prizes, software, and music).

(c) Teacher supply stores (incentives, clip art, and craft supplies).

(d) Discount/Clearance or closeout stores (toys, games, incentives, prizes, and admin supplies).

(e) Department stores (toys, incentives, and supplies).

(f) Card/Gift stores (prizes and incentives).

(g) Costumes stores (props and incentives).

(h) Magic shops (props, attention gainers, self-working magic tricks, and incentives).

(i) Flea markets (toys, incentives, prizes, and supplies).

(j) Book stores (incentives, prizes, and reference materials).

(k) Software stores (puzzle software, games, presentation productivity software/clip art).

(l) Party supply stores (noisemakers, incentives, confetti, and themed decorations, props, and supplies).

(m) Specialty shops (varies depending on inventory maintained).

(n) Arts and crafts stores (clip art, poster board, spray adhesive, supplies, and incentives).

  • Contact wholesale suppliers. There are numerous suppliers that can provide creative incentives, materials, programs, and products which can be adapted or used to enhance learning. Once you set up a commercial account with them, you get access to their catalog of products at discounted prices.

There is no limit to what you can adapt and use in your learning events. You are limited only by your imagination. Identify your program content and a theme to go with it, then search for items that can help make the content come alive and remain memorable to your learners.

Taking a Brain Based Learning Approach to Training Design and Development

For an encyclopedia of creative ideas and ways to incorporate brain-based learning strategies into your training and adult education programs, consider getting a copy of The Creative Trainer Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning.

Brain-Based Learning Strategies

brain based learning strategies
Robert (Bob) W. Lucas, Author, Facilitator, and Performance consultant

Brain-Based Learning Strategies

In 2013 in June, Robert (Bob) W. Lucas hosted two events for the Metro DC ASTD Chapter in Washington, DC (Tapping the Brain for Learning and Brain-Based Learning Strategies).

The sessions focused on how the brain learns and some of the research that has been done related to applying color, sound, motion, novelty, learner engagement and other strategies to enhance learning environments and potentially increase opportunities for learners to gain, retain, recall and use what they learn.

On the 26th, he provided insights at the chapter’s dinner meeting in a session titled: Tapping the Brain for Learning.  This session explored many ideas, brain-based concepts, and techniques that can be used to enhance virtually any training program or presentation topic.

At the end of the session, and when applying concepts learned, participants were able to:

a.  Facilitate creative training programs and presentations that can help induce behavior change and are FUN.

b.  Identify, make, or obtain inexpensive materials that add spark to training programs and presentations.

c.  Increase interaction with participants.

d.  Review program concepts throughout your sessions in order to get an interim check of learning before the program ends.

e.  Create memorable techniques for adding excitement and sizzle to programs so that participants keep coming back.

Brain-Based Learning Strategies Training – Past Success by Robert W. Lucas

On June 27th, Bob facilitated a one-day workshop titled: Strategies to Make Your Learning Events Sizzle. In this event, participants experienced dozens of creative training techniques based on brain research related to how the brain best learns and retains information. These strategies presented that day were meant to be immediately applied in their own learning events. They covered many training workshop essentials for typing in research to learning.

Bob went on to expand upon some of the ideas addressed in the previous night’s program. Therefore, the additional information through a variety of experiential opportunities in which participants hear about a concept, see it demonstrated and then have an opportunity to try or discuss it. They did also discuss how they might use the strategies to strengthen their own learning events.

At the end of the program, participants were able to:

  • Create training environments that stimulate learning.
  • Incorporate the latest learning brain research into their training design and delivery.
  • Design learning events that result in higher levels of attention and retention.
  • Use techniques and strategies experienced in their own learning events.
  • Add pizzazz and novelty to their learning events.
  • Immediately apply what they learned.