Tip #59: Aural Engagement: Music

Music can be used so many different ways during a training program. The following is a medley of practices and thoughts on the subject:

I enjoy playing upbeat, happy music to welcome participants into the training room.

Once the training begins, I like to play calming classical music (the Lind Institute’s “Classical Melodies”) at a subliminal level to produce a relaxed feeling.

It is fun to have a variety of different up tempo music to play at breaks. Oldies from the fifties, sixties and seventies tend to get most folks’ feet tapping, regardless of their age. The idea is to play the music just loud enough to change the energy in the room, but not so loud that participants are unable to have a conversation.

Some trainers use music, such as a trumpet blast or the Lone Ranger Theme, to alert their participants that it is time to return after a break. They consistently play this music at the end of breaks, so the participants know immediately what it means.

Right before and right after lunch, as well as the last hour before the end of the training session, I play energetic classical music (the Lind Institute’s “Classical Rhythms”) at a subliminal level to keep participant energy high.

It is fun to use music during games and physical activities. Bob Pike’s Creative Training Techniques Press has an entire series of copyright fee paid, high-impact seminar music: “Powerful Presentation Music” that includes Introduction and Exit Music, Break and Game Music, and Reflection and Discussion Music. Their website is: www.creativetrainingtech.com.

For accelerated learning sessions, it is always enjoyable to find music that reinforces the key themes. For example, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” works well for any number of interpersonal communication topics. Holidays can be celebrated with nondenominational music- for example, big band renditions of winter holiday music.

New age music works well in the background for visualization exercises.

Moving away from recorded music, there are all sorts of musical ways to get participants’ attention: bell chimes, kazoos, train whistles, plastic clappers, gongs, even hand clapping. Any of these is preferable to straining your voice trying to be heard over a noisy, enthusiastic crowd!

Now that I have used music for so many years, a silent training room seems cold, unwelcoming, and un-alive. In fact, I find that I need the music, whether or not my participants do! As soon as I feel my own energy flagging, I turn to music to pep me up.

It is a wonderful legacy from my parents, who have always played classical music. I find that classical music gives me both clarity and peace of mind as I prepare training, set up the training room, sit and read the evaluations after a training, and pack up to leave.

As George Eliot wrote: “I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.”

But perhaps Plato said it best: “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything.” I cannot imagine training without music.

This concludes our discussion of methods to ensure aural engagement. Next week, we will begin a new focus on methods to ensure haptic engagement. We will start the discussion with the first of several tips on the use of touch.

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