Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Can Trane, Iyer, and Monk improve your test scores?

Coltrane & Monk
Today immediately after my students began their midterm exams, I informed them that "studies I've read show that students do better on exams when and if they listen to jazz while taking tests." That's actually untrue; I've read no such studies. But the statement provided me with the necessary cover to play music as the students took their exams.

I played a rotation of tunes by Vijay Iyer, Thelonious Monk, and Coltrane. Given the fact that my groups were taking exams, I only played fairly mellow tunes by the artists. Nobody complained that the music was distracting. I take that as a good sign. 

The music provided me with good company as my groups took their exams. I initially planned to listen to only Coltrane and Iyer, but then I recalled that Iyer had written about being influenced by Monk at some point, so I included some of his pieces so I could listen to alternating songs by both pianists with a couple of Trane pieces mixed in.

Who knows if the music helped or hurt? Most of the students will likely say that the music was the least of their worries for today's class. For me though, it was a good day, hearing all this wonderful class. I felt good about the midterms, and I haven't even started grading them yet.

Related: A Notebook on Vijay Iyer


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