9 Uses for Music in the Elementary Classroom - The Classroom Nook


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9 Uses for Music in the Elementary Classroom

Music can be so influential in the way we feel or think.  Music has always played a huge part in my life growing up and even today.  I was in choir and band all through school, I sing in the band at my church, and as of lately, I've been getting down with some epic toddler tunes with my daughter. Another round of "Old McDonald" anyone? (banging head on wall...)

When it comes to the classroom, there are ENDLESS ways to use music to spark excitement in learning.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Play music as students arrive in the morning to set the tone.  You can switch it up, too.  If you want a relaxed and calm environment, play slow soothing music.  If you want an excited and lively start to the day, play upbeat music to set the tone.
  2. Play music as a signal for a change of activity.  Want students to wrap up their math centers? Play a pre-determined tune that lets students know they must be cleaned up and back in their seats before the song is up.  This makes a great classroom management technique.  Want them to come to the gathering area?  Do the same thing.  Use the same song every time so students know exactly what it means.  You might even decide to switch it up for the season (think "Jingle Bells" at Christmas time, or "Here comes Peter Cottontail" at Easter) - as long as the students know whats coming.
  3. Sing about what you learned.  This helps students make meaningful connections.  YouTube is your go-to resource for learning songs.  You can find a song for just about any topic.  (Take this noun song for example - catchy, eh?).  Not a great singer?  Who cares? Your students sure don't!
  4. Play soft instrumental music during independent work time.  Again - great mood setter.  You'll definitely want to make sure its instrumental with no vocals so that students don't get distracted by the words of the song.
  5. Use music to manage the energy level in your class. If you're students are usually rowdy after lunch, play calming music to bring their energy levels back down.
  6. Brain breaks.  After a longer learning session, put on a "wiggle-it-out" tune and let students shake it out for 2-3 minutes before continuing on with your day.
  7. Play music to celebrate learning.  When you want to let your students know that they rock or did something great, play Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" song.  Have your students do a little "red carpet walk" while the music plays if you want to celebrate individual accomplishments.  You can do this once a week with new students.  Plus - it's an excuse to play "Celebration."  Ain't a person in the world that can't get on board with that! :)  Man - why do I all the sudden have an urge to go to a wedding and get out on the dance floor? (see - that's the power of music!)
  8. Use a song as a writing prompt. Choose an epic tune like the opening song from "Jaws" to spark writing creativity.  Play a minute or so of the music and then students can begin writing.  This works best if it is a song without words.  Choose tunes that evoke different moods to keep the creativity fresh. 
  9. Have students write their own songs.  Students work individually or in pairs/small groups to develop their own tune OR use a familiar one and put in their own words for a topic they are learning about.  Host a "sing-off" in your classroom.  Students will hear the same content over and over in a variety of ways.

Got any faves of your own for using music in the classroom?



  1. Hi there! What's your favorite way to find interesting music? YouTube? Thanks!

    1. I used music in my morning meetings. Often picking songs that will set the mood or challenge of the day. Stipulation is that this is a sing-along time. Let's face it... if we can't sing in front of one another how can we feel comfortable partner reading or peer evaluating? It is a wonderful ice breaker but an even better community builder. In the beginning of the year I pick the songs like James Taylor's "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" or Il Volo's "It's a Beautiful Day" and later in the year, the kids plan the songs depending on the season or project. During a particular difficult research project we were singing "High Hopes"..... a song even before the kids' parents' time! During our writer's workshop celebrations, we ask our audiences (parents, other classes) to join our sing alongs that always began our presentation.


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