Couple helps students learn through song
Posted: January 19, 2013
The Winchester Star
VIRGINIA BEACH — Two former area residents have found a way to bring singing into the classroom.
Last week, Virginia and Steve Largent of Virginia Beach launched their new website — acadamiacs.com.
The site features Virginia singing more than 2,000 educational songs in 32 subject areas, including biology, American history and math, to the tune of songs such as “Jingle Bells,” “Amazing Grace” and “Old McDonald.”
The educational songs target preschool children through college students.
“Everybody responds,” said Virginia, 44. “Left brain, right brain, gifted and average students. Every brain is wired to learn through music.”
Virginia is a 1990 Shenandoah University alumna who majored in piano pedagogy. Steve, 55, is a 1976 James Wood High School graduate. Together they own and operate The Virginia Beach School of the Arts, which teaches 600 students in preschool through 12th grade.
The idea for the project began nine years ago, when one of Virginia’s young students asked her if she could sing a song about volcanoes. After searching without success for such a song, she decided to write one and sing it to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.”
“The kids absolutely loved it,” she said. “It got them excited about learning.”
Virginia began to incorporate songs into her classes. In 2006, she and her husband wrote a book with 400 songs about various school subjects. Later came more books. They also began speaking to teachers, educational groups and schools about the effectiveness of music in the classroom.
Virginia said she has students younger than 3 who, through music, have learned all the countries in North and South America and Europe, all the presidents, the states and capitals and multiplication tables up to 12.
With music, gifted students and those with autism learn at the same rate.
“If you can sing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat,’ then why don’t you sing something to them that has some knowledge to it and some facts?” she asked. “If they’re old enough to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ then they’re old enough to sing their multiplication tables.”
The Largents studied textbooks and Standards of Learning tests to ensure that they covered every viable topic — from insect exoskeletons to the periodic table.
According to studies, the human brain processes sung language in more areas than it does spoken language, and information learned through music goes immediately into long-term memory.
The subjects of math and science are mainly processed in the left-brain hemisphere.
According to the Largents, studies show that 70 percent of all teachers are left-brain dominant, meaning they tend to be more logical, analytical and objective.
However, 70 percent of all high school dropouts are right-brain dominant, meaning they tend to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective.
“What left-brain dominant teachers are serving up is left-brain dominant instruction to right-brain dominant children,” Steve said.
Studies also show that, through music, children can develop their brains earlier.
A subscription to the Largents’ site costs $300 per year and $30 per month. College material costs $20 per month.
— Contact Rebecca Layne at email@example.com