The benefits of music in the classroom, and strategies for using it

Using music in the classroom can seem like a ridiculous idea when it can sometimes take long periods of training to have a silent classroom. But using music in the classroom can benefit those times you long for a more focused and concentrated environment.

In this piece we’ll not only give you the benefits of using music in the classroom, but also plenty of ideas how you use music in class without having to be the next Bob Dylan.



What are the benefits of using music in the classroom?


1. Build imagination, creativity and intellectual curiosity

Music is fundamentally an intellectual pursuit. Just by introducing music into their lives, you’re opening the eyes of your class to a form of art that is as wide as they come.

Music feeds our creativity cravings, helping broaden our imaginations or express ourselves in new ways. Studies confirm it too. This 2017 piece in scientific journal PLOS found that listening to music facilitates divergent thinking – a key facet of creativity. Flexing these parts of their minds might help them in other educational areas.

Plus, you could open their eyes to a new talent or hobby that they go on to enjoy for the rest of their lives. Musical talent is a gift we are envious of. Just by introducing the concept in the class you could be unearthing a talent that warms hearts for years to come.


2. Relax the class

Classrooms are often rowdy places, yet music could be your best bet for delivering a calming effect on people. In 2006, Stanford University found that rhythmic music may “change brain function and treat a range of neurological conditions, including attention deficit disorder and depression”.

You might not need to create as deeper connection with your class as that, but the theory can be applied here, where music can reduce excitement and eliminate distractions before class.


3. Foster a more positive classroom

Peer reviewed researched has also come out to suggest that expanding music education enhances other social areas of school life.

Published in the Music Education Research journal, the Finnish-based study from 2013 found that school satisfaction levels and a sense of opportunity and achievement were both enhanced in schools that offered extended music education.

This stretches some way beyond the idea of just looking to bring more music into the classroom, but it’s powerful evidence in support of applying more musical opportunity to the primary curriculum.


4. Improve test scores

It should be stressed that there is no evidence that music actually makes children more or less intelligent. However, there are some that believe that undertaking musical instruction, or more throughout or enhanced music education in schools does equate to better performance in other areas of school.

The cited evidence comes from 2007 and the University of Kansas. They found elementary (primary) and middle school (secondary) schools with “top-quality music programmes scored 22 percent better in English and 20 percent better in mathematics than students in deficient music programmes.”

The study focuses on distinctive music education, rather than just applying elements of music to primary education. Still, just by adopting music in class you could be encouraging a child to pick it up outside of class, helping them reap all the benefits discussed here.



8 ideas for using music in the classroom

Who doesn’t want to increase the creative thinking of any pupil? Far from suggesting you blare out the latest hit on TikTok, we’ve gathered a list of simple ideas for using music in the classroom that will help the experience be more purposeful as well as enjoyable.


1. Start the day with classical music

Classical music sets quite a specific tone for pupils. Using it at the beginning of the day, as pupils walk in, demonstrates to pupils that the day is going to be a focused and productive one. Obviously, classical music is a very broad genre, so consider looking up a classical playlist before you start. Blaring out Mozart Requiem might evoke the wrong impression, for example.


2. TV themes for transitions

Swapping from one lesson to another can be a bit of a logistical nightmare. Books need collecting in, books need handing out and sometimes, pupils need to seat change. Putting a fair time limit on this can really help to get the job done, which is why using a TV theme for transitions is an absolute dream. You can ask your class the TV programs they enjoy watching or just use your own favourite ones. Either way, they will love it and transitions will go a lot quicker. Mission Impossible is quite short, but every pupil feels like a hero on the other side of the transition.


3. A happy classic for a brain break

If you have a lethargic class on your hands (usually occurs after long writing sessions) a brain break can get them pumped for the next lesson you’ve got planned. A well-known classic that everyone knows the words to (or dance moves, if that’s your style) can do wonders. Try out a Disney classic or perhaps a cool 70s Disco tune or Happy by Pharrell Williams – something everyone will love.


4. For the hook of a lesson

If you’re looking for ways to spice up a new topic or lesson, music can do just the job. You might want to use music that is directly related to your topic like listening to some Beyoncé as part of a Black Lives Matter lesson, or the Schindler’s List theme when studying Rose Blanche. Or you might just want to evoke a particular emotion that reflects the topic you will be looking at. Either way, it can be very effective for setting the tone of the lesson.


5. To calm and relax pupils

Sometimes you want them up and raring to go. And sometimes you don’t. We touched on it in the benefits above, but music can play a key role in creating a harmonious classroom.

There’s lots of music for relaxing a classroom of rowdy children after lunch free and ready to go on YouTube. Or there are entire playlists dedicated to calming the busy minds of children on Spotify, too. Allow children to rest their heads on their arms at their desks and just enjoy a few moments of calm.


6. Background music

Many people need music to concentrate and your pupils will be no exception. However, there might be some pupils who find it very distracting. It is possible to accommodate all tastes by using a music player that headphones can be plugged into, like the Group Listener from Hope Education. This fantastic contraption means you can have a group of pupils listening to music for concentration, whilst the rest of the class enjoys the silence.


7. For inspiration

If there’s a lot of head-scratching around the room when it comes to creativity, using music can really help, particularly with writing. Use a piece of music to inspire free writing sessions (our blog on KS2 sentence starters has a great guide to free writing) or just as a stimulus to begin the writing lesson. Music could also help with problem solving in maths and even PE. Give it a go!


8. Look at the lyrics

I bet there isn’t a pupil in your class that can’t sing Let It Go from Frozen, but have they ever actually looked deeply at the lyrics? Probably not. Looking deeply at lyrics can be a real eye-opener, and it is a fantastic way of providing pupils with an opportunity to read between the lines.

<a href="" target="_self">Talitha McLachlan</a>

Talitha McLachlan

Hope Education writer

Talitha worked as a primary and secondary teacher for 9 years before turning her hand to writing. She is passionate about effective education of children and supporting teachers to do this. In her free time, Talitha enjoys sewing, films, and spending time with her two cats.

22 December 2020

You May Also Like…