March 2019
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TD Magazine

Play Music During Sessions

Friday, March 1, 2019

The situation

Part of implementing a positive learning environment is creating a warm atmosphere in the room. Aside from your conversation as an instructor, what is a good way to set the tone for a session?

The trick

One way to appease your learners is to play music. Everyone enjoys music, and it may pleasantly surprise them that you're willing to use it. It also makes you more relatable. Here's how to do it:

  1. Find appropriate music to play. You may want songs that are relatively soothing, but it really depends on the tone you're trying to set for the session. Make sure that the music is legal and doesn't include commercials. For the sake of your wallet, free music is also ideal. If you don't know where to find the right music, Jamendo can be a great source.
  2. Test your music before you try to use it in practice. Check whether it plays, and also make sure the volume is set at an appropriate level.
  3. Start playing music before the session, as learners are entering the room. Let them know up front how welcoming of an environment they'll be in. This should make them feel more comfortable and drawn to participate.
  4. Sprinkle music throughout the session. This can be a great way to demarcate when it's time to go on—or come back from—a break.
  5. Allow your learners to offer feedback on the music's volume, quality, and effectiveness. What works for you may not be the best for your participants, and they are the ones that matter in this setting.

    Pro tip

    Be prepared for the worst. Trusting technology is dangerous. If you're not confident that your music will play or have the desired effect, have extra music. If you plan to play music from your computer, also have options on your phone as a backup.

About the Author

Nikki O’Keeffe is an internal ATD Facilitator. She is dedicated training specialist who delivers a positive, memorable, and meaningful service that repeatedly meets or exceeds the expectations of the client. She has experience creating strategies and visions to ensure training requirements and deliveries are in line with quality, probability, and client need. 

Nikki has worked in varied industries, including education, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals. In her role as the global senior training and development specialist at PAREXEL International, her focus was on managing and developing courses for new and existing staff on technical systems, process changes, new products, and soft skills.  Her educational background includes a BA in psychology from Butler University and a master’s degree in exercise science, health, and wellness from Northeastern Illinois University. Her specific areas of interest include virtual training, facilitation techniques, and mentoring new trainers. 

Nikki is skilled at providing face-to-face and online learning programs for global participants of varying experience levels. In addition to delivering training, she has performed training needs analyses to identify gaps and recommend training solutions, worked with SMEs as a consultant to develop courses and curriculums, and evaluated programs for effectiveness. 

As a certified ATD Master Trainer and certified ATD Master Instructional Designer she understands the value of solid training plans and strong facilitation. Nikki looks forward to sharing her experiences and expanding her knowledge base by learning from her participants in the upcoming ATD courses that she leads.

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