How You Can Use Music in Your Next Training Session (In-Person and Online)

Music has a unique ability to bring people to their feet. A playful tune, an up-tempo beat, a lyrical harmony—they can get us tapping our toes and swaying in our seats.

That’s why music can be such an effective training tool. The right song (or the right playlist) can help you set a positive tone and energize participants. When used thoughtfully, music can even improve learning and retention.

So how do you introduce music into your online and in-person training sessions? Well, here are a few ideas.

Introductions and Icebreakers

Music is a wonderful way to set the stage, make some introductions, and establish the tone for your entire day. Here are a few ways you can deploy music as a nice form of introduction:

  • Have your favorite (safe for work) song playing before the session starts, while participants are drifting in and finding their seats. (If you’re training online, you can play music over your channel while people are signing in before the session begins.) A nice, high-tempo song can really help participants feel enthusiastic about the rest of their training day.
  • As an icebreaker, you can ask participants to share their favorite songs—either currently or when they were growing up. Time permitting, you can even play a few!
  • If you’re in a virtual setting, you can share a Spotify playlist filled with songs that will get participants energized. You can even share this playlist a couple of days before the session begins.

Smooth Transitions with Music

Any training session is going to cover a variety of topics. Sometimes the dynamic will be a little more up tempo. In other cases, you may want the energy level to feel contemplative. You can use music to transition between moods and topics. When you want more participation, amp up the energy level (and the beats-per-minute).

When you want participants to be a little more thoughtful, use a low-tempo musical piece to signal the change in tone. Sometimes even a short snippet of a song can help you signal the mood you want to achieve.

Associate Music with Content

Remember back in primary school, when you learned everything in the form of a song? That’s because pairing music with subject matter significantly improves retention. This remains true for adults, and you can use this to your advantage in training sessions. 

For example, you can play a consistent musical cue in association with specific content types. Maybe you pair the chorus from Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” with training material that focuses on combustible chemicals. The introduction of music will strengthen the neural pathways created by learning the new topic.

Improving retention helps your training make a more lasting impact.

Team Building

Music has always been good at bringing people together. That’s certainly true in a training setting. Consider the following ways to use music for team building:

  • Have all participants contribute to a group playlist. You can do this in face-to-face and online settings. Play selections from this playlist throughout the session.
  • Use music during breaks and social activities. Make sure the music isn’t loud enough to overwhelm the conversation, but using catchy and popular music can give people something to talk about.
  • Play music-based trivia games, such as “name this band” or “finish this lyric” style games. These are really easy and fun to do online, too. If possible, you can tie these games into material learned.

Use Music to Bring People Together

It’s important to remember that the purpose of these musical strategies is to bring participants together and make everyone feel more comfortable. That’s why you should avoid activities where you put people on the spot, making them sing or dance in order to participate. (You can certainly encourage singing and dancing—but never under pressure.)

When properly deployed, music can help provide participants with energy and give them new ways to digest material.

We hope these sonorous tips prove useful, but remember that music is really just the beginning. Attend a Train-the-Trainer Boot Camp to learn more about how you can use creative and innovative training techniques in your session.

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