Electric guitars fill the air and a chorus of student voices sing in Spanish, French and Mandarin fill the ’30s building. In his 20s building nearby, students hear the sounds of Hamilton’s “You’ll be Back” and Chopin’s “Nocturne.”
According to the school board, music is a very powerful educational tool and has been shown to improve listening skills, vocabulary, language and increase cohesion among classmates.
PHS teachers are incorporating music into high school classrooms as well as elementary schools. His new English teacher Eduardo Wolbert is one of them.
“I love music. I’ve been playing guitar for a long time and I’ve found it gives me the opportunity to engage with my students in a different way. It gives me a new way to connect with them.” ‘ he said.
Walbert said he had students in the past who were completely checked out of his class until they found him playing guitar. He said his shared love of music allowed him to bond with those students, and as a result, they became more enthusiastic about his class.
“Mr. Walbert is probably the most special teacher I have ever had. When he brought his guitar to class on the first day, I was so excited I knew we would get along very quickly.” said senior Micheala Bini.
Bini said that since then, she and Walbert have been able to bond because they share a love for music.
“I don’t think I’ve ever connected with a teacher on such a deep level before. Music has helped me do that,” she said.
Walbert also uses music as a way to teach some of his lessons.
“When I teach a Shakespeare unit, I talk about the rhythm of the language. It becomes very musical,” he said.
Social studies teacher David Keller also gives his students opportunities to play music in class.
“When I was studying the Romantic period, I realized that I could play music from that era on the piano, so I decided to play Chopin’s Nocturne in class,” said junior Ken Cybal. .
Sibal added that by enabling students to play music, Keller believes they are providing a better environment while they are learning.
“I think music is an important part of history that we don’t study as much, so I’m really excited to play it,” he said.
Additionally, Keller says that music is often used as a breathing apparatus in classrooms.
“Music is one of those things that seems to be a crossover between the emotional and the intellectual. When you’re trying to learn something really hard, music can often help make it more anchored.” he said.
According to Spanish teacher Joan Guillen, former French teacher Mrs. David loved to sing in her class and started the World Language Singing Competition.
“One of the reasons we sing in foreign languages is because it really helps improve pronunciation and it’s a good way to bring culture into the classroom,” she said.
Additionally, Guillen said the competition brings students together.
“It gives the students a sense of community. It was so beautiful last year to see almost everyone in the school come together and cheer on their friends,” she said. “Music is so important, we need to start seeing more of it here,” Gillen said.