By Olivia Urrico, Staff Writer
The students of New Paltz High School are frequently found listening to music. Throughout the day, it is a common occurrence for teachers to ask their students to disconnect from their airpods, headphones, or whatever other device they are listening through. But students are never asked what they are listening to, or why.
Although it can be considered a distraction while in class, music can be beneficial in a plethora of ways. Many teachers at New Paltz High School have insight surrounding what both they and their students can get out of listening to music. So why does the idea of incorporating music into our classwork sound so far-fetched?
NPHS math teacher, Matthew Paley has a fervent love for music, using his passion to write his own songs. Paley believes that music is a powerful mood-booster for anyone, as well as a tool for creativity and memory.
“It sets a tone for the day, a rainy day can be pepped up with the right kind of music”, stated Paley when asked about the benefits he believes music provides his students.
As an educator, Paley wants students to know that on personally bad days, music can help cheer them up. In his experience, he has come to find that music can help on a deeper emotional level.
“Music enhances a specific emotion,” Paley says. “I like the way it can help you feel happy or emphasize sorrow”.
Choosing to listen to music that aligns with how one is feeling can help people accept and clarify their emotions. This is a coping strategy that many youth have already learned to use. As an accomplishment, it should be recognized and encouraged by adults, including teachers. Paley also incorporates music into his classroom lessons. As a musician, he wrote a song about radicals to help his students remember the monotonous subject.
“They should listen to my songs to help them remember big ideas”, Paley said when discussing his students.
Paley believes that by listening to his music, students find some lessons more appealing and easier to remember. This teacher of New Paltz High School has found a way to bring music into his classroom. By doing so, it improves the learning of his students, as well as connecting with them by finding a common interest.
Amelia Crisafi, a sophomore at New Paltz High School, listens to music regularly. She feels that by listening to music, she can feel calmer and less overwhelmed.
“I listen to music because it gives me a sense of peace”, Crisafi stated, when asked why she listens to music.
For Crisafi, music helps her relax as well as better her attention. In class while silently working, she likes to put in her airpods when the teachers let her. This helps Crisafi stay focused on a task while working on assignments individually.
“If I’m feeling upset or out of it”, says Crisafi. “I listen to something and it just drowns out the rest of the world”.
This furthers the idea of how people of all ages can use music as a coping strategy. When dealing with negative emotions, music is something that relaxes and distracts Crisafi.
English teacher at NPHS, Joel Neden began his classes with a song each day during the pandemic.
“Music could be designed to set the mood,” Neden states, “I could use music that would be upbeat when the circumstances were so dyer”.
Looking for something to give a warm welcome into the isolated google meets, Neden turned to music. Now that we are back in the building, he continues this tradition as it provides an upbeat beginning to each class.
“I would tell anyone to listen to music because it’s a coping mechanism, it’s a very safe release and escape”Mr. Joel Neden
Neden touches on the idea that music allows an escape from all the stresses in our individual lives. By listening to music, people can feel like they are taking a break from the things they are worried about, without feeling any risk involved.
Students and staff at New Paltz High School view music as an opportunity to decompress or reset. This is a universal tool that is cherished in NPHS. Two teachers at NPHS have come up with helpful ways to incorporate music into their classroom routines. It’s time to stop seeing music as a distraction, and instead view it as a strategy for relaxation and emotional wellbeing.