Bopping to the Bells

Overall, our bells have the potential to bring joy to our school community, create memories, and perform their intended purpose better. A plan to switch them to music would be relatively straightforward to implement.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Julia Shen

Many of my middle school memories were made during the four minutes we had to switch between our classes. Unlike many other schools, my school’s passing time was filled with music—theme songs from our principal’s favorite movies. I remember that fourth period was marked by the “Superman” theme song and that the period after gym was marked by the “Ghostbusters” theme song. Not only were these creative bells more effective at telling you how much time you had left to get to your next class (you would just listen to what point of the melody the loudspeakers were playing), but the four minutes of music also provided a mental break. My classmates and I would sometimes bop to the beat of a song if we got to class early or use the music to clear our heads before a test. It would be beneficial if Stuyvesant incorporated a similar system in which music is used as a substitute for bells. Music has been scientifically proven to decrease anxiety and improve focus, and it would also alleviate the problem of teachers and students being unable to differentiate between the five-minute bell, the end bell, and the start bell.

In many of my classes, the sound of the bell is muffled by the voices of teachers and students. Sometimes, the intense focus of the class causes students not to hear the bell. Furthermore, teachers are often unsure of whether the class has started and if the students walking in are late. Some of the most frantic circumstances occur during lunch, when I am unsure whether the period has ended or not. In these situations, I have to rifle through my backpack to locate my planner and find the bell schedule. While this inconvenience seems like a negligible problem, the solution to it is rather simple.

Having music for the duration of passing time in place of the bells would eliminate this problem, since the music would indicate to listeners that they are currently in passing and give them an idea of how much time they have left to get to their next class. It would take away the ambiguity created by the identical-sounding bells and thus decrease the number of mistakes made by teachers and students alike. It would further help facilitate hallway traffic, key to helping students remain somewhat socially distanced.

Additionally, using music as a substitute for the bells could act as a strategy of showcasing student work. The music for the bells could be pieces performed by Stuyvesant’s choral, orchestral, and band groups, allowing us to celebrate the talents of the students in our school. The school could exhibit the hard work of the SING! departments by using their music. These pieces could be changed every marking period to showcase different groups of students. Overall, this method would help bring the Stuyvesant community even closer together.

While there is a possibility that some students may be annoyed by the music, it is also arguable that many people are annoyed by the current bells. Looking back, I didn’t know anyone in my middle school who particularly detested the instrumental music of classic movies. To ensure maximum satisfaction, the school or the Student Union could host a poll every time the bell system is changed so that students can vote on what songs they would like to listen to. Likewise, the volume of the music could be altered accordingly to make sure that it does not disturb conversations but can still be heard.

Furthermore, having music as our bell system would bring joy into what is usually a sluggish school day. By using music that students have memories attached to, we can provide a source of happiness. The University of Maryland Medical Center supports the notion that listening to music acts as an effective stress and anxiety reducer, and a Stanford study found that music helps the brain focus better. All of this research backs up why we should consider incorporating music into our school day.

Music has the potential to bring joy to our school community and help us make memories. Changing our bells to music is a relatively straightforward plan that would improve their intended purpose and give students fun mental breaks in between difficult classes.