Marcus Cherrill on how to transform your classroom with music – PP135

Mike Armiger
Mike Armiger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Mike and Kevin spoke to Marcus Cherrill this week about how to transform a classroom with music.

Marcus is a Digital Champion, educator, trainer and consultant who is also Director of  I Can Teach Ltd. Amongst other roles, he spent 15 years as a head of year, teaching science but also maths, ICT and even Italian and French. Marcus also did a short spell at an EBD schools for boys which he describes as ‘eye opening’.

Marcus established I Can Teach in 2007 which was a side project to enable teachers to use

Marcus Cherrill
Marcus Cherrill

music in the classroom. In 2015 he finally decided to work for himself full time.

How can music have a positive effect on learning and behaviour?

Marcus believes music is very powerful – it has a huge cognitive and emotional impact. You only need to consider military marching bands and Zulu warriors beating their shields to know that there is something primeval about music. It’s deeply embedded into our psyches to respond to rhythms, to lyrics, to different sounds. When it’s used carefully and constructively it can make a real difference.

How can we use it?

Marcus mentions the work of Julian Treasure who has done a lot in the area of background music for shops. His company creates ‘Soundscapes’ which have been shown to have an impact on shopping trends and spending habits in retail. Marcus believes we can apply the same kind of psychology to a classroom. He ‘trains’ students to behave in certain ways when they hear certain kinds of music. He uses calming ‘chill out’ music for after break times, for example, and for other times he employs ‘wake up’ music to get the students active and burning off energy.

Volume is really important but try putting on the theme music to Mission Impossible if you have a 3-minute timed task.

You can even have fun by taking children back to their earlier days as a warm up and playing ‘Head Shoulders Knees and Toes’!


Marcus thinks ..

Read the rest of the show notes on the Pivotal Education site

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(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –

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