The University of St. Thomas


Rau, Janelle

Rau, Janelle

Developing Lessons to Teach Music Through Students' Multiple Intelligences
Janelle M. Rau

Howard Gardner’s (1983) theory of multiple intelligences suggests that every person possesses some degree of intelligence in seven different areas, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. In teaching music, we ought to ensure that we do not ignore these intelligences, but rather acknowledge them and honor their existence in all students.

My purpose for studying the incorporation of multiple intelligences in music lessons was to provide opportunities for students to experience music in a variety of ways by exploring musical skills and concepts using all their intelligences. In order to incorporate the multiple intelligences as a regular part of music lessons, I developed fourteen lessons which use each intelligence as a vehicle for reaching a musical objective. Seven lessons, one per intelligence, focus on performings steady beat. The remaining seven lessons contain a variety of objectives.

Developing and teaching these lessons led me to discover a variety of perspectives and methods which can be used to approach musical concepts. These methods and perspectives were easily transferred to lessons other than the fourteen which I had specially developed in this study. They strengthened the lesson by providing a unique perspective on a concept or reinforcing students’ understanding of material. With such thought and practice, teaching with multiple intelligences can become part of a person’s natural teaching style.

Experiencing musical concepts through their multiple intelligences enabled my students to learn about music more effectively, captured their interest and increased motivation, and strengthened the music lessons. By developing lessons which use a specific intelligence as a means for reaching a musical objective, I gained a broader perspective on the many ways music can be experienced via the diverse intelligences of students. Allowing students to more fully experience and understand music through all their intelligences can help them embrace music as an important, fulfilling component of their lives.

Capstone Supervisor
Dr. Richard Bents