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Hitting the right note in training

There was a really good exhibition in Glasgow Central Station for National Album Day earlier this month which got me thinking about times when and where I’ve used music in training and the impact it had. In short, very positive and highly recommended.

It was only a few years ago that I was introduced to Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. A theory that suggest traditional psychometric views of intelligence are too limited and that all people have different kinds of “intelligence” – music being one of the eight. Worth a look at.

In children’s learning music is used to great effect. However, when it comes to adult learning, it’s often dismissed as “gimmicky”. Music can be great in learning for all ages.

Getting the atmosphere right

One of the most important jobs we have as trainers, right from the start of a session is to create a welcoming environment which is conducive to participants feeling comfortable, able to share their experiences and learn together.

Having music playing in the background as you welcome people can help significantly. I tend to favour classic rock which everyone is familiar with and may even sing. It’s also a good conversation starter for participants – it helps to break the ice and start to get to know one another.

Memory

We can all think of a song and associate something with it. I was in a car crash in my teens while Robbie Williams Old Before I die was playing. Chilling right? Oasis Live Forever was at the exact same spot on the other side of the cassette! Paul Weller – my first dance with my wife. You’re probably thinking of your own memories associated with music right now.

We can achieve the same effect in training. The right piece of music at the right time can help embed the learning further and keep it “sticky”. I can remember delivering training around coping with stress and just to up the ante I put on System of a Down’s Bounce. I don’t think any participant has forgotten it to this day.

Adding the fun factor

Using music in training just helps add to the fun factor. Part of a leadership programme I was delivering involved a two-day Dragon’s Den type activity and over the course of one particular session I took on a second job of DJing as participants put out request after request. The room was buzzing with energy and, of course, the productivity was off the scale.

Parting ways

There’s no harm in closing out your session with a bit of background music both while evaluations are completed and participants get ready to leave.

The legal bit

Before you consider using music, just check your venue and/or organisation in terms of PPL and PRS for Music to make sure you’re licenced to do so.

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