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Tip #14| Music & Other Strategies to Ease Stress
Fall 2007

Feeling end-of-the-semester pressure? Music can be an easy, yet powerful way to reduce stress. Medical studies (see links below) show that conducive music can trigger the nervous system to shift away from tension and into relaxation. Both you and your students can benefit from the relaxing use of music:

  • Make an effort to play music that puts you in that calm frame of mind. There are many sources from which to draw. Consider listening to instrumental music, such as Bach, Debussy and Satie. RCA, for example, has a relaxation series separated by artist or instrument. Other calming instrumental genres include soft jazz, ambient, and New Age.
  • Some teachers have tried introducing music as a prelude to class. One teacher-researcher found that when he began to play music 20 to 30 minutes before his classes began, students started arriving earlier and seemed more focused. There is a side benefit to using music before class. As class begins, turn the music off (and keep it off). This transition to silence will serve as an additional signal that it is time to get to work.

Pressures in school (i.e. deadlines, internal and external expectations) are often the same as students will face in their professional lives. Certainly music is not a magic fix. It is part of a whole stress management regime. Consider spending a moment with your students talking about how to manage stress and stay productive:

  • Urge them (and yourself) to take a break from their work (stretching, moving, or resting). The ideal formula is 5 to 10 minutes for every 90 minutes of work. Studies show that their focus and productivity will improve with these mini-breaks.
  • Adequate sleep and good nutrition will also keep them sharp.
  • If they finish a lengthy task, they can treat themselves to a reward.
  • Student Academic Support (part of the ARC) can help students with time management and other stress reduction tools.


Stress Happens
Helping Stressed-Out Students
About.com’s Top 10 School Stress Relievers for Students

Studies and articles on the use of music for stress reduction:

Music as Medicine
Music Reduces Stress in Surgery Patients
Music, Especially by Bach, Helps Reduce Stress
Music and Your Body: How Music Affects Us and Why Music Therapy Promotes Health