A Schoolteacher’s Experiment With Classical Music

I had often heard that classical music enhances brain power. In particular, I had heard that since math and music are closely connected, listening to classical music can improve one’s ability to do math. So one year when I was teaching school, I decided to do a little experiment to see for myself what effect classical music might have on math abilities. (Yes, my former students. You didn’t know I was using you for a scientific experiment, did you?). For an entire school year, I played classical music during every other math test. One time on, next time off. We used Saxon math, so I administered a math test nearly every week. Then I kept track of the scores, keeping the with-music and without-music grades separate.

At the end of the school year, I found the average of each student’s math grades for both categories. You’re probably not surprised at the results I found. Almost every one of my little third graders scored an average of at least several percentage points higher on the tests they had done while they listened to music, compared to the tests with no music. But what really intrigued me was that it made the biggest difference for the two students in my class who struggled the most in math. One of these students scored seven entire percentage points higher on the with-music average than on the without-music average. You know, like jumping from an 83 to a 90.

So the next year I tried the same experiment with CCM. Just kidding! The next year I played classical music during every math test.


Sweet Simplicity

You may have your amusement parks, tourist traps, and expensive vacations. Just take me to the forests of northern Pennsylvania. Take me ten miles up a rough mountain road, then up a bumpy dirt lane
Mountains 07 (29)
to a little cabin in the woods.

This is where my family likes to hang out for a few days each summer. You might wonder what’s so great about it. Well, probably not everyone would think of this place as the perfect vacation spot, but we love it. It’s where you say goodbye to indoor plumbing. Welcome to the joys of an outhouse and bucket baths! It’s where electricity runs only with a small generator. When you turn on the coffee maker, the generator starts chugging, and the lights go dim. It’s where you’ll brush the mouse turds off the bed before you unroll your sleeping bag.

But it’s also where the daisies grow with wild abandon in the sunny spots. It’s where you can lie in bed at night and listen to the owls hooting. It’s where you’ll see chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and darling little orange-spotted salamanders. If you are fortunate, you might see a bear or a rattlesnake, and if you are very fortunate, you might see both. This time we were very fortunate.

It’s also where you can hike a mile or two from the cabin and find great views like this.
And of course we make fun family memories here. We were feeling un-photogenic this year and didn’t take any family pictures, but here’s one we took at the cabin last year. I guess we haven’t changed too drastically since then. Hurray for fun family times and the beauty of unspoiled nature!