Take a Whiff of This!

by Abby @ Quaver on February 9, 2012

in Music Education News

In this edition of our peek at learning with music:

. . . Take a Whiff of This!

Sniff, Sniff!

How often do you engage the nose in learning experiences?

Yes, the nose.

We pour our hearts into bringing you riveting resources for the eye and ear but we’d like to challenge you to address olfactory faculties as well. Why is that?

The sense of smell is considered to be the most direct processing path to the brain and therefore possibly the most powerful. Smell operates in the reverse order of other senses. You react to a smell positively or negatively before you identify it. Compare that to sight. You identify what you’re looking at—a flower, a warthog, a VW bug—and then you decide whether you like it.

Now on to a flagrant use of fragrances for the purpose of learning. 

  • When teaching about Middle C, why not break open an orange? Vitamin C, meet Middle C. The smell of citrus provides a wake-up call to the brain.
  • When using Quaver’s episodes that explore the Baroque, Romantic, and Classical periods, use a cake as an illustration. You can even recreate Quaver’s Fancy Baroque and Simple, Ordered Classical Cakes before you eat them!
  • Bring out the polish when it’s time to talk Brass Instruments.
  • When you’re showing students “Baking with Beats” in Episode 1, get your hands on a breadmaker to fill the room with the aroma of bread.

Unasked-for crumb of knowledge: the smell of baked goods is the overwhelming leader in arousing a sense of nostalgia.

If you simply want to wake students up a bit, try peppermint or pine. Calm them with lavender or lilac.  Keep in mind that some students may have strong reactions to smells so be sensitive to those around you.

Do a bit of experimenting and let us know about your novel nostril explorations!

Have you ever used scent to enhance or inspire learning in your classroom?

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