Powerful Ways to Use Music in the Classroom

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Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Do you play music in the classroom? Benefits of playing music in the classroom are undeniable, as long as you are using the right music at the right times! A study from the University of Helsinki noted that the simple act of listening to music whilst in class can help improve students’ memory and learning capability.

There is also evidence to show that music played at low volumes during class activities can boost creativity and concentration.

If isn’t enough to encourage you to experiment with music in your classroom then you need to check out this amazing video showing the effects of music on the human brain! Playing music in the classroom will not only help your students but yourself as well!

With all this research proving the positive impacts of music on the human brain and within the classroom, it’s important to know what types of music to play and where the best places to source suitable music are. This blog will give you all the information you need to effectively use music in your classroom.


How to Effectively Use Music in the Classroom

Start the Day with Music

When I was teaching, I would walk into my classroom and put on some music. It was a way for me to get prepared for the day and also set the mood for the morning when my students walked into the classroom. This was my classical music time of day.

Duke University’s Dr. Kevin Labar states that classical music can produce a calming effect by releasing the hormone dopamine and inhibiting the release of stress hormones, all of which generates a pleasant mood! Having the teacher and all students in a good mood is the ultimate start to any school day. Although, I would often pop some classical music on during the day as well if I felt my students were getting agitated!

This YouTube clip is 2 hours long and packed full of some of the best classical music for kids!

Music for Transitions

Transitions in the classroom, especially in the early years, are crucial to the effective organisation of a classroom.

By using familiar songs during transition time, students quickly learn that when they hear that familiar song they need to move from one activity to another.

You may use a set of songs that are of different durations. This way when they hear a track that is only 30 seconds long, they know they need to do this quickly. A longer track gives the students enough time finish off what they are doing and then move to their next activity or sit on the carpet for group work.

There are a number of great songs on YouTube that are of varying lengths. I found this one by doing a simple search. It’s 28 seconds long so would be perfect to play for a quick transition.

Music for Brain Breaks

As educators, we all know the importance of brain breaks in the classroom. It’s a simple fact, they improve concentration and brain activity!

Why not incorporate some movement and music into your brain breaks throughout the school day?

So where do you find age-appropriate music and some awesome moves your students will be begging you to do…. GoNoodle! When I asked our Instagram community what ways they used music in the classroom, I would say 90% came back with this amazing and FREE website! The songs are relevant, funky and definitely get stuck in your head!

Here’s an example of one that the Teach Starter team loved…

Music as the Hook of a Lesson

Coming up with creative ways to ‘hook’ your students into a lesson can sometimes get tricky! The hook of your lesson is a short opening that prepares your students for what they are about to learn. It is meant to be engaging and grab the interest and attention of your students immediately!

Why not use music to capture your students interest at the beginning of a lesson?

This is an example of a video that I have used with my Year 1 students in the past. I used it for a hook for just one lesson and then every day that term, the students begged me to play the song! Listening to this song became a reward after finishing their work – little did they know, they were learning at the same time!

Music to Calm and Relax Your Students

In my classroom, providing students with 5 minutes to calm down and relax after breaks (when they had often been outside running around like crazy animals with their friends!) was an important aspect of my daily routine.

I alternated between reading the whole class novel to my students and playing some type of relaxation music to help calm them down, ready for the learning session ahead.

Again, GoNoodle to the rescue with some of their amazing relaxation songs and videos. This is one that I would use in my classroom…

Background Music in the Classroom

Using music in the classroom during activities is something that is dependent on the types of students in your class. For me, playing music during activities such as art and handwriting was beneficial to my students. It kept the chatter down and helped my students maintain concentration.

I felt playing music during reading or writing activities too much of a distraction for some students so I kept that to a minimum.

Take time to think about how your students work best during different activities, at different times of the day. Let your knowledge of your class group guide what type of background music you might like to play and when.


How to Find Suitable Music for the Classroom

  1. Use Spotify in the classroom to create a variety of different lists – relaxation, upbeat, transition songs etc. Using songs that are current and in the charts for older students is always a popular way to go!
  2. Do a search on YouTube. I found using YouTube for catchy songs for the hooks of my lessons was the best! You can also search for transition songs and relaxation for kids on YouTube as well.
  3. GoNoodle seems to be another extremely popular way to incorporate movement and mindfulness through music into the classroom.

Do you use music in your classroom?

We’d love to hear where you source your music from? Let us know in the comments below.


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