8 ideas for using music in the classroom

17 Jul 2020 | Ideas for Teaching & Learning, Primary

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.

What are the benefits of using music in the classroom?

Let’s just take a look at some of the many benefits of music in the classroom. The National Association for Music Education have written an entire article on the important benefits of music in our schools, and below are just some from this list:

  • Music builds imagination and intellectual curiosity
  • Music can be relaxing
  • Music can help with development in creative thinking

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. Use 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. Use 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. Use music 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. Use music to calm and relax pupils

Sometimes you want them up and raring to go. And sometimes you don’t. 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. Use music 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.

If you’ve got ideas for using music in the classroom, we’d love you to share them with us on Twitter @HopeEducationUK.

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