The value of using a technique beyond lecturing to help students really understand and connect with any topic was expressed in a great article over at edutopia.org.
As an English teacher, I have met many colleagues who struggle with this problem. They see our world through words and books, and get frustrated when students don't get the same joy from the words as they do. What I like to do is expand words from the page to dialogue, plays, movies, raps and more: it helps students get hooked on the topic, and then enjoy the text itself.
Edutopia highlights a great way to use music in this way: by looking at the lyrics and listening to the songs of unfamiliar cultures, they can get in touch more personally with historical and social justice issues.
How to do it? That part is actually pretty easy.
Have your students locate, analyze, and share songs that introduce related themes. Ask students to research and write their own song lyrics for a song about a topic as well. This group project will help them engage and learn about the topic more closely.
Try this example: 'Ea" Song Analysis Steps
Have your student's listen to Sudden Rush's song "Ea." (Video provided above, it shows some serious scenes of the movement, so make sure to screen it to ensure its appropriate for your students.
Ask your students about the song: "What is the tone or mood?" and "How does it make you feel?"
Now, have them read a hard copy of the lyrics while listening to the song. Have students highlight words that are unfamiliar and then locate the definitions of the words. Many terms are in Hawaiian (or Ōlelo Hawai'i) and can easily be found with a Google search.Then facilitate a discussion using questions about the song's meanings, word definitions, purpose of the song, perspectives as well as the history of Hawaii and more! Then, the discussion can continue into considerations of what other perspectives should we consider when learning about the history of Hawaii?
There you have it! Now, you can use music to help your students learn even more about the history they are studying, the book there are reading, anything! There is music about nearly any topic, so use it to enhance your classroom.