Music, Mindfulness, and Movement Go to School

“I learned how much power music has and that it affects so much more of the brain…it has so much power over your emotions. It makes you feel happy when you’re sad and it makes you feel energized and calm. Different music can have different outcomes. It’s really cool.”

These words are from Chloe, one of 53 sixth graders who participated in a Music for Social and Emotional Learning pilot program at The Incubator School, a Los Angeles charter school focused on creating entrepreneurs. Coordinated by Frank Fitzpatrick, founder and director of WHY Music, the multimedia, experiential learning program brings together music, movement, and mindfulness – or as Frank says, the 3Ms. Frank’s vision is to show the world how music effects our emotions, relationships, and learning capacity.

A talented cast of musicians, therapists, and teachers brought the 3Ms to life. During Jason Triefenbach’s ArtBeat for Humanity sessions, students created logos that they connected to their dreams via streamers and then used to decorate a gigantic REMO table drum. Megan Kling of HealthRHYTHMS led the youth through a series of drumming techniques to provide a beat to the 3Ms. David Tobocman accompanied Frank on piano during centering exercises set to classical music.

Music was also integrated into the movement sessions that I taught, accompanied by Matt DeMerritt (De La Soul) on flute and Aaron Wills (311) on bass. We led school-appropriate yoga with basic mindfulness practice and creative guided imagery.

Frank shared stories illustrating the powerful impact of music, yoga and mindfulness, (including telling about the time when he used meditation to cope during a shipwreck). Devyn Rush (of American Idol fame) had a captivating story to share in her Hey U.G.L.Y. presentation on anti-bullying.

WHY Music believes music can help youth navigate difficult emotions, connect more compassionately with peers and reach their academic potential. By illustrating the interconnectivity of music and social-emotional learning, Frank offers a formula for music programming in schools. Support these efforts at WHYmusicinschools.com.

Abby Wills is the co-founder and program director of Shanti Generation, a media program that guides teens to bring mindfulness into life: shantigeneration.com.