With so many significant benefits of music, it’s easy to see how it can truly make a positive impact on our students. It has been said music is the universal language because it connects us in ways that nothing else can. It speaks to our hearts and souls, and when we stop to really think about it, it is everywhere. Our senses are directly connected to music. Think about all the background music involved in movies letting us know when it’s a happy, romantic, sad, or suspenseful moment. Music can tell stories without needing words and movies certainly would not be what they are without it. We can use music much the same way in our classrooms.
Music isn’t just fun; it can be an incredible learning tool that stimulates children’s creativity and imagination, and increases their ability to connect with others, express themselves, and process their emotions. Musical expression can also strengthen students’ coping skills and help heal emotional wounds.
With all these benefits, wouldn’t we want to include as much music in our classrooms as possible?
Chris Boyd Brewer of John Hopkins School of Education said in his book, Music and Learning, “Intentional use of music interwoven in the classroom throughout the day will set the scene and learning atmosphere to enhance teaching and learning activities. Using music for learning makes the process much more fun and interesting.”
Here are some ways you can intentionally use music to create magical learning experiences for your students:
Create a Positive Environment
As students enter the classroom, set the tone right away by playing music that creates and establishes a positive learning environment where everyone feels loved, valued, and accepted. Select music that sets the tone for what you and your students love. I often used “Something Good for Kids” songs by Steve James.
Sometimes I would sing what I called the Welcoming Song as students were coming into the classroom.
Begin the Day Together
After self starts, signal it is time to begin the day by having a morning routine song that all students can join in on.
Here is an example of one that students love:
My class sang this one every day:
You can try creating an inspirational class theme song together or use some of these favorites:
Promote Listening and Focus
Songs can draw in students and keep them engaged, because music is a joyful universal language and they can feel confident doing it. The way music helps students memorize is magical! The possibilities are endless!! Make up your own jingles or silly tunes for learning and reviewing things such as: days of the week, months of the year, seasons, weather, count by 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, ABC letters, sounds, sight words, sight words and vocabulary.
You can also use songs to teach about specific themes, from apples, to penguins, to patriotic, to dances and songs from other cultures, and everything in between. Music reinforces new information and helps students retain it. Here are some of our favorites:
Use music for holidays, birthdays, Star Students, 100th Day of School and more!
Establishing a positive learning space means contributing to the classroom community by building rapport, fostering connections, and setting a fun tone for everything you do. Use these getting-to- know you songs and games about friendship and inclusion at any time throughout the year.
Focus on Well-Being
Using music will help children express their emotions and understand others’ emotional perspectives, too. Try some of these songs to resolve conflict issues, for dramatic play, to learn and practice social skills, reviewing class rules and more.
Calm Down Routines
Music also works for comfort, calming, mindfulness, and thinking positive, and to help students deal with stress in a positive way. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, increases relaxation, improves moods, and boosts our immune systems. You can teach your students that their bodies need rest as much as they need food in order to thrive. Play calming spa-like music to signal rest and relaxation when coming in after recess.
Have certain songs that signal changes such as: clean up time, come for rug time, center rotations, calming and diffusing tension, rule reminders (hands to ourselves and calm bodies). When I used a familiar song for a transition time, my students quickly learned that when they heard it, it was time to move from one activity to the next.
I sang this song when it was time for students to sit down. I called it the Anytime Transition Song.
I sang the Safety Space Song whenever I needed to remind students to be safe.
The Lining Up Song:
I used this transition song, called Jump, Jump, when it was time for students to move back to the rug.
Having intentional brain breaks helps your students to release energy and tension throughout the day, get some healthy exercise, and refocus on learning. Sing funny songs with actions to quickly and effectively get the wiggles out. Make up hand jives, raps, rhythm routines, or put on music and play Freeze Dance. Here are some fun song ideas to use:
Scoot Scat Groove:
More fun break examples:
Engage the Brain
Music stimulates and connects the different areas of the brain. These connections help us study, engage in projects, concentrate, and improve our memory. Play music like Pachelbel for inspiration during writing.
End on a Good Note (Literally)
Have songs or chants to go with routines such as packing up, lining up, saying goodbye, and time to walk in the halls. Put on a song that students listen to as they get ready to go such as “Banana Boat (Day O)” song.
My students and I would sing the song, It’s Time for Us to Go at the end of the day.
Learning is forever because of music. Emotions are tied to music. Mindfulness and well-being are reinforced through music.
Add joy, dancing, singing, and moving each and every day and watch magical things happen!
I hope these ideas have inspired you to think about where you could add some musical benefits to enhance your classroom. As you add singing and movement to your day, you’ll see magical things happen!