What’s the name of that song? Using music in training: the pitfalls and benefits.

Music is part of our lives. We hear it on the radio, play CDs (or digital downloads, or even, if you’re old enough, vinyl), hear it in shops, in elevators, as a background on the television and, best of all, live at gigs or played with friends.

You can enjoy producing music or just consuming it. It’s an immersive and inclusive activity; if you can’t sing, you can still listen. Music forms a huge part of our lives, but it’s strangely lacking in the workplace. Sure, in some places you can listen to music whilst you work, but it’s not normally viewed as a medium that you’d employ to communicate or to train.

We’ve done some limited work with songs in training, which have generally been well received, although there have been some predictable challenges. Most of us like different genres of music, so doing something ‘folky’, will turn off people who like rock, whilst doing a rap will either sound dreadful (if i do it with my posh South England voice), or turn off older people. Sure, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, for everyone who likes one particular genre, there will be at least one person who doesn’t.

Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s not going to work, but it does mean that you need to think carefully about where and how you use it. It’s simple to use ‘famous’ songs, but desperately predictable. Starting your sales conference with ‘Things can only get better’ is probably not what i’ve got in mind here.

Used well, music can be attractive and engaging. People like to hear good songs and, even if it’s not entirely ‘their thing’, as long as we don’t go too hardcore, it’s quite straightforward to produce something acceptable to most people. And, of course, there are a hundred struggling musicians on your doorstep who would love to help.

We’ve used songs whilst training around Presentation Skills, to create catchy phrases and lyrics that reinforce particular points, but also just to liven up the session. There is no particular science to it, just an attempt to use the widest possible range of voices that we can for communicating.

Music is emotive, powerful and memorable. Exploring ways that we can use it within learning and training and sharing those ideas is valuable.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Learning, Music, Songs, Training and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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