Nurturing the Next Generation: Integrating Opera into Music Education

By Donna Maurer
(Photo: Kenny Eliason on Unsplash)

Music education cultivates some beautiful advantages for students. Unfortunately, the arts are losing traction within the education industry, and the focus on how beneficial music education can be is getting lost for the next generation. Educators are working to stress the importance of music in the classroom and how it can help students across other subjects.

Integrating opera within music education may seem like a challenge; most musicals and entertainment revolving around the arts consist of more modern and temporary music. However, opera can be easily implemented as part of a well-rounded music education and can even be taught alongside different subjects. 

Children are often more opposed to learning and understanding opera because of its loss in popularity, so they lose interest in it. Incorporating opera in the classroom can be a critical factor in cultivating an interest as well as an understanding of opera, along with the benefits it can provide in music curriculums.

Music Appreciation and History

One such subject in music that can be helpful to bring in opera is through music appreciation. The value of music education must be recognized before bringing more into the mix. The impact of music education on students benefits students in numerous ways, from academically to socially.

Opera is an art form with many characteristics that contribute to new forms of music today, and students may not even realize it. Art experiences that include opera help students make connections to life and others; if they are younger, they can benefit from that type of emotional learning sooner. 

Consider seeing how some musical genres and performance arts have been derived from opera, because many have been done throughout history and have popped up in newer forms. For example, you could examine the synopsis of the opera “La Boheme,” an Italian opera that inspired the popular Broadway show “Rent.” Their storylines are almost identical, and even some of the character names are identical.

Bridging the history of opera with how it has come to shape new genres and how performances are done today can, in turn, help students learn to appreciate opera and its roots in music even now. Finding correlations with opera as an art form and how it directly inspired or was utilized in other music is a great introduction to learning and understanding genuine music appreciation.

Music Performance

Musical performing is always an exciting endeavor for students, and you can incorporate opera by learning some music of beginner-friendly guitar melodies or piano chords. Part of learning and understanding opera is knowing how the music carries the plot.

It can help aid the performance by first going over the opera as a whole. If there is a book that can be studied or read to help bring the opera to life, you can draw on student interest by learning the plotline and even watching a production.

You can promote creativity and self-expression with opera by allowing students to put their own spin on their performances. They can provide contrasts and incorporate different instruments that can be played to create classically inspired music. 

LOVA & Language Learning

A study incorporated opera to students, known as LOVA, short for ‘Opera as a Vehicle for Learning,’ proved that opera was an excellent resource for music education. It provided its students with benefits, including learning collaboration, social interaction, and emotional expression. It also suggested that this type of music education could be effective in the development of social skills.

Another study that can be done with opera is learning a new language. Opera is almost always in German, Italian, French, or Spanish, but not often in English. One of the key aspects of understanding a language comes with knowing how to pronounce the words. 

Singing opera can provide a way to familiarize students with sounds, practice the words, and learn the language faster than just studying the language alone. The primary goal of opera music is to communicate.

Through song, students can communicate emotion and understand what they are saying even before learning what all of the words mean. Students can study things like body language, rhythms, and intonations to understand what is happening in a particular operatic scene.


Opera can also be incorporated into music education as a means to write. Students who study songwriting and understand the part of a song can utilize opera as a way to research and advance their songwriting skills.

Lyrics are an essential aspect of an opera, and part of a songwriting course or class would involve creating those words to draw in the audience. As an educator, you can empower students to develop and perform their own original opera, integrating arts learning with curriculum content for a beneficial result.

Songwriting, like performing, is also a way for students to engage in artistic expression. Students can work together on a project by pooling their abilities in writing their own parts for their instrument or voice and pulling together their ideas from experiences, hopes, and dreams.

Opera is an excellent tool that should be utilized within the classroom in musical education to help students learn. The complexity should help to illicit interest instead of becoming irrelevant since it has shaped many musically-inspired performances on Broadway.

Students are open to new ideas and new music but likely haven’t been introduced to opera. It can be included in a well-rounded curriculum, taught through many different methods, and brought to the forefront of any educational program.

The lack of a music education that includes the importance of opera will only aid in its decline. As an educator, one should recognize opera has an effect on music education since it can help bring about benefits, including emotional empathy and social skills, which can be helpful not just in the classroom but in life itself.


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