A new program is hitting the right notes at Forest Primary School in North Olmsted. Students and staff can relax and focus on their school work.
The Mindful Music program began in late January and is quickly proving to be a hit, Principal Denise Ressler said. A parent learned about it several months ago and passed information to teachers and administrators at the school, which has students in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
“It seemed like a really good fit for what we want to do in the school,” teacher Beth Nagy said. “We want the students to learn in an atmosphere which encourages learning but is fun and helps them learn in other ways.”
A different piece of classical music is played each morning. Students and staff sit in comfortable positions in their classrooms and offices and listen. Afterward, they can discuss the music and their reactions to it.
“Everybody is enjoying it,” Nagy said. “The students are enjoying hearing the music and the chance to do something different in the classes. It’s fun for all of us to hear and talk about how the music made them feel while listening.”
Ressler said she liked the idea immediately upon hearing about the program. She found a receptive audience in the North Olmsted Education Foundation, which provided a $1,000 grant to bring the program to Forest. The music is pre-selected and designed for students.
“We appreciate the foundation being there for the district and the school and letting us do something which wasn’t like a lot of other educational programs,” she said.
Students and staff have a wide range of reactions while the music is playing, Ressler said.
“You’ll see a lot of different expressions, with some being thoughtful about the music, others are more intent and some people are really relaxed,” she said. “People have different reactions to music personally and we’re seeing that with this program.”
The program also doesn’t require a lot of additional training or equipment.
“It’s pretty easy to play over the PA system for everybody and then discuss it in an educational setting,” Ressler said.
The music plays for three or four minutes. Students and staff have heard Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5, Movement 2 and Debussy’s La Mer. Mozart and Gershwin will be played in the next two weeks and other composers will be scheduled for later this year.
Besides making people feel good and being easy to use, the program has educational benefits, Ressler said.
“It certainly helps prompt discussion of the music and people’s reaction to it,” she said. “But it also helps them learn more about focus and being open to different types of music and ideas in areas of their lives and not just at the schools.”
Eight-year-old Charlie said it reminds him of another literary and movie classic.
“It’s like Harry Potter to me,” he said. “There’s a lot of fun in it and other good things in it, but it also has other parts that make you think about different things.”
Shelby, another 8-year-old, said students can talk about it with different people.
“You talk about it with friends or teachers or at home with your family,” she said.
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