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5 Effective Ways to Use Music in Lessons

Used selectively and with careful planning behind it, music can enhance learning like no other stimulus. We outline 5 effective ways to use music in lessons through Songs for Teaching as well as your own, personal music collection…

5) Play music in the background

Use music in your classroom like it is used in other industries – to create an atmosphere. Play slower, instrumental songs during quieter times of the day to promote a certain type of energy in your classroom. Alternatively, play uptempo, popular songs when energy levels are slumping and need to be raised. It’s not rocket science!

4) Play music to signal transitions or instructions

Play a song or or an extract of music to ask the children to line up, to tidy things away or to complete certain tasks. This is even better if you can use a musical instrument to play a simple phrase the children associate with a particular command. Portable instruments such as tambourines or xylophones work particularly well. Sue Cowley refers to the practice of using music in this way as the “xylophone technique”.

3) Use songs as a starter or lesson introductions

This week I have used our very own ‘Skeleton Song’ to introduce the topic of the skeletal system as part of our science topic. Playing the song as a means of disseminating key facts and information was highly effective. Quickly, children were able to tell me the main functions of the skeleton as well as name some of the bones. All this without even opening my mouth!

2)  Use songs for lesson plenaries

A good plenary should refer pupils back to lesson objectives, cement their learning and offer the teacher opportunities for assessment. A carefully chosen educational song, along with some effective questioning or creativity, can make for an exciting and effective lesson plenary. It can also serve to reward pupils for their hard work earlier in the lesson.

  1. Use music as stimulus for philosophical inquiry

Certainly, this way of using music in the classroom is the most challenging and might require some skill and knowledge from the teacher in using Philosophy for Children (P4C) techniques. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with P4C though as it is really quite simple:

“The basics of philosophy for children are straightforward. Children, or older students, share some reading, listening or viewing with their teacher. The children take some thinking time to devise their own questions. They choose a question that interests them and, with the teacher’s help, discuss it together. The teacher aims to get children to welcome the diversity of each other’s initial views and to use those as the start of a process that encourages children to question assumptions, develop opinions with supporting reasons, analyse significant concepts and generally apply the best reasoning and judgement they can to explore the question they have chosen.”

The songs we have here at Songs for Teaching UK offer ample opportunities for philosophical inquiry. For example, Romans V Celts might stimulate philosophical discussion on the morality of the Roman conquest or Boudicca’s revolt.


With many songs being added to our library all the time, we’re sure you’ll never be out of ideas! Join us today or start a free trial.

By | 29 September, 2015 | Blog

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