Andy Milne Guest Blog; Music in PhysEd

Prologue: This week the illustrious Andrew Milne is the #slowchatpe guest blogger. I once heard, “Life is collecting good people”. (I believe that Brian Costello first said that) If that is true then I am glad that Andy is in my life. Due to his age and wisdom, mostly his age, I consider Andy a mentor. Andy is constantly highlighting other people and their work. This blog is no different. In addition, to being a fantastic amplifier he runs the site. He sells various items and collects donations to send teachers in need to the National Health and PhysEd conference. 100% of the money he collects goes toward this fantastic charitable endeavor.  Please consider donating if you can.

I am a better person because of Andy. That is a statement that I don’t make often. I can’t thank him enough for his selflessness and passion for social justice, education, and lifting others up. Thank you, Andy, for being a part of my personal learning family. (credit Sarah Thomas with creating that phrase)

With no further adieu here is the #slowchatpe blog of the week:

As a teacher of both #HealthEd and #PhysEd my use of music varies depending upon what and where I am teaching. My love of music is no secret and one of my alter-egos (!) is DJ Milneshine. I love to collate playlists and share these with anyone who wants to listen. Before I share another playlist with you let’s consider a few ways in which I use music.

  1. State Management: Just as music can be used to motivate an athlete, it can be used to motivate students. Upbeat music makes a workout more enjoyable, and allowing students to choose the music played also energizes them to stay focused during the lesson. In his great book The Kinesthetic Classroom”, Mike Kuczala talks about a teachers need to manage a student’s learning state to stop their minds from wandering. Movement in the classroom, chewing gum and taking notes increase focus but so too can the use of music. I’ll play a mellow acoustic Pandora station in the background when students are working on extended group projects, just to take a break from the sound of my voice or (even worse) the sound of silence.
  2. Introduction of a Topic: At the start of my Identity unit I play Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as students enter the classroom. I don’t make any reference to it until the middle of the lesson where I ask what students think Lady Gaga means when she says “Rejoice & love yourself today, ’cause baby you were born this way“. This leads into a deeper discussion about gender identity. Andy Horne has a great lesson about love during which he has been known to play Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It” or Haddaway’s “What Is Love?”
  3. Shared Playlists: Shared playlists are a great way to make all of your students feel involved. I ask my students to suggest a song to add to the class playlist, that way I get to listen and pre-screen the lyrics. Then whenever we need music I’ll play the playlist on shuffle ensuring that everyone gets to hear their song eventually. Each class gets their own playlist, which in turn allows me to know my students a little better. When 15-year-olds suggest songs from the 70’s it makes for a great conversation with them!

Recently during a discussion on different types of ways in which to move, I asked my students to suggest songs with movement in the title. You can find the full Spotify playlist here, but here are 8 of my favorites from that list.

I Like to Move It – Reel 2 Real (Strictly Rhythym, 1994)

I like to move it, move it

I like to move it, move it

I like to move it, move it

You like to move it

MOVE. OK, so it won’t win any song writing awards, but here’s an example of meeting the students where they are at. This song was my jam in college but my students have no idea of the original 1994 version BUT they do know, and love this version from Madagascar. It is impossible not to move during this song, but how will you move, that is the question.

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (Big Machine, 2014)

I’ll never miss a beat

I’m lightning on my feet

And that’s what they don’t see mmm mmm

That’s what they don’t see

SHAKE. My own sons love this track and it’s often on repeat during long car journeys(!). The song won Favorite Song at the 2015 People’s Choice Awards, and also received nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance at the 2015 Grammy Awards. I feel like #PhysED teacher Ben Pirillo could put a great routine together showcasing shaking movements. Oh, wait….HE DID ALREADY!

Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) – Kidz Bop (Razor & Tie, 2016)

Now watch me whip

Now watch me nae nae

Now watch me whip whip

Now watch me nae nae

WHIP/NAE. Originally by Silento I’ve posted the Kidz Bop version for two reasons. Firstly this is the version that we were playing at home for a while (the Silento video is awesome, but shows a bit more flesh in the video than you’d want to share with younger kids perhaps), but also the songs performed by the Kidz Bop Kids will alter lyrics deemed too explicit or suggestive for younger audiences altered to be more “kid-friendly”. I never really understood that concept until I became a father – now I get it. The free Kidz Bop CD in the #SHAPENashville swag bag was much appreciated!

I love the simplicity of the dance that accompanies this song AND, it introduces new gross motor skills – the whip, the nae nae, the duff, the bop etc. Don’t be afraid to embrace new language, new dances and new motor skills from your students – you might learn something.

Jump – Van Halen (5150 Studios, 1983)

I get up and nothing gets me down

You got it tough, I’ve seen the toughest around

And I know, baby, just how you feel

You got to roll withe the punches and get to what real

JUMP. Now, if we could just get SHAPE America to classify playing air guitar as moderate-to-vigorous activity, we’d be onto a winning formula here. Here’s an example of the type of random song suggested by a student – how do they know songs like this from 1983? Songs with a repetitive lyric mean that you could encourage students to JUMP every time Eddie Van Halen says JUMP – similar to the way that Alex O’Brien does burpees in this video to the word THUNDER.

Here’s an interesting fact. If I asked you to name another song with ‘jump’ in the title, you might suggest Jump Around by House of Pain. Well, did you know that Van Halen’s Jump was on their 1983 album entitled…..’House of Pain’.

Hit The Quan – iLoveMemphis (Rush Hour, 2015)

Clean pair of sneaks, with ADs on her belt

Please watch your step ’cause I’m feeling myself

Throw a flag on the play, man somebody get the ref

Go blah da da da dol, man somebody get some help

HIT. In the same vein as Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae), Hit the Quan came out of nowhere with it’s own dance that went viral. Talking of viral dances….are your students STILL flossing??? Did Drake’s ‘In My Feelings’ viral dance reach you like it did my neighborhood over the summer? This comes back to my point made earlier – embrace the latest viral dance. If it makes students want to move, let them weave it into their school day.

Cha Cha Slide – Mr. C The Slide Man (Universal Records, 2000)

One hop this time, one hop this time

Right foot two stomps, left foot two stomps

Slide to the left, slide to the right

Criscross, criscross

SLIDE. There’s a great comment on the YouTube video that says “They played this at all the school dances. Even the non-dancers would join in.”. If you want to see the power of dance, play this. As #PhysEd teachers we state that we want our students to seek out movement opportunities, well the ch-cha slide is a movement phrase that they’ll need for every school dance, bar mitzvah, and wedding they’ll EVER attend. At the last two #PhysEd conferences I’ve attended I’ve witnessed a room full of teachers dancing to Wobble Baby. Now, I didn’t know how to ‘wobble’ the first time I witnessed this. Talk about NOT feeling competent or confident. Movement patterns are part of our #physicalliteracy journey. You can be sure I learned that dance in time for the second conference!

Here’s a challenge for you, wherever you are. In the style of the Cha-Cha Slide shout out…..”Everybody clap your hands” and see what happens.

Move Your Body – S.I.A (RCA, 2017)

Feel the beat in your chest

Beat your chest like an animal

Free the beast from its cage

Free the rage like an animal

MOVE. OK, I hear what you’re saying. These songs are great to dance to, my students want to dance to these songs….but I’m not great at teaching dance, how do I encourage my students to move to the music when I’m too afraid to do so myself. Well, in addition to the videos from Ben Pirillo mentioned above, you have to check out the work of Scott Williams and the #DanSirs. Scott coordinates simple videos showcasing #PhysEd teachers dancing using simple moves to popular songs – they’ve even got a video to this SIA song.  This enables kids/teachers/families to learn the dance without prior instruction and also builds confident dancers through the repetitive and simple moves. SIMPLE CAN STILL BE AWESOME! One of the many benefits of technology is that we can outsource expertise. Scott is a great dance teacher, I’m not. I can use his videos with students while I join in and facilitate the environment.

Traveling Without Moving – Jamiroquai (SONY, 1996)

Speed freak

Faster than a speedin’ bullet,

Slow down, if I don’t

If I don’t I might just lose it

WITHOUT MOVING. Ooh, now there’s a deep question for your students if ever there was one. “In what ways can we travel without moving?”.

This is MY playlist, and I get to add whatever I want, hence my addition of a Jamiroquai track. Music always transports me to a time and place in which I first heard it. This track takes me back to my early days as a teacher, seeing Jamiroquai live in concert a few times. However, in the spirit of collaboration here’s where YOU come in. My Spotify playlist is a collaborative playlist. That means YOU can add to it. Do you have a favorite ‘movement-inspired’ song, or a song with a great dance associated with it? Well, you can add that song to the list below. It would be great to see the playlist grow over time.

Shameless plug time. If you liked the movement blog, and the movement playlist, perhaps you’ll also like the movement coffee mug. The purchase of each mug goes towards helping a teacher in need.



8 thoughts on “Andy Milne Guest Blog; Music in PhysEd

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  7. Tracy Sharlow

    Hi, Thanks for sharing! I absolutely LOVE your context before content diagram of Maslow and Bloom! I am in Adapted PE so I totally relate to Maslow! Tracy



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