Rereading is one of those reading strategies that is paramount to a reader’s comprehension. When we want to clarify our understanding of a text, we reread; when we need to summarize an article, we reread; when we do research, we reread. Reread, reread, reread. But let’s face it, students are not fans of rereading. Instead, they want to read quickly, move on and be done with it.
Music is one way we can reinforce the importance of rereading for understanding. Let’s call this relistening. (That’s not a real word, by the way… )
I listen to music every day with my students. Doing so is a great way to build community as well as expose them to a variety of musical genres and artists. In addition we do a lot with literacy skills; rereading is one of them. Actually, it’s the relistening. I will have my students focus on one piece of music for an entire week (we listen each day during our snack time) and it’s during that time that we are relistening to excerpts of the piece and the piece as a whole. Each time we listen again, I ask them different questions about the music. “What instruments are playing?” “How would you describe the tempo?” “Sing the melody back to me.” And for each prompt, some students know right away, while others need to hear the music again. And so we relisten.
After doing this a few times, I draw students’ attention to how we do the same thing when we read. If we are unclear about an event, who a character is or where exactly things are happening, we need to take the time to reread.
When you compare listening to reading, often students understand the concept a little better because they are exposed to it in a new way through music. For so many students music is a natural motivator, so practicing this way is actually a treat. For others this is a new and abstract way of thinking and so it stretches their minds.
You don’t have to be a master musician yourself to do this, you just have to enjoy music yourself. Actively listen to the music with your students and think of some questions you can ask them. Start with questions dealing with instrumentation, tempo (music’s speed), dynamics (musical volume) and pitch (high and low notes). Not every student’s hand will go up, so use this opportunity to relisten to an excerpt with your students. In no time, your students will find clues in the music to help them come to an answer to your prompt as they become better listeners. In time, your students will start to see the importance of going back to relisten and also reread for understanding.