Music During Work Time in Your Classroom



Do you use music in your classroom?


I do and I couldn't imagine it any other way :)

Every year I seem to appreciate having it more and more. Especially this past year, with my boy-heavy group, I really enjoyed the tranquility and focus it gave us during our reading, writing, and other quiet work times.

Background:
Many of you may have heard of the Mozart Effect (read about it HERE)- its basic premise is that listening to Mozart for as little as 10 minutes improves certain parts of a student's IQ.

If you Google "Music in the Classroom" you will find numerous websites, articles, and books all about the benefits of background music and its impact on learning, environment, and classroom management.

One article worth reading is The Benefits of Incorporating Music in the Classroom by Audrey Merrell. She points out the highlights of several research studies that support the role of music in learning. A few key points are:
  • Music is a set of patterns and and processes that benefits the brain and the act of learning
  • Music increases attention and lowers behavior problems
  • Music lowers stress and anxiety levels within students
  • The type of music played directly relates to the mood you can create- calming music=calm class, stimulating music=raises energy
This might be a nice article to show to your administration since Ms. Merrell quotes quite a few books and articles throughout her paper.

Ok, so onto how I use music in my class!

In the Classroom:

Have you ever used Pandora? I am in love with it!

It is a free music program that is web-based and allows you to create your own radio stations based on a song or artist.

It's free, but with commercials. I spent the $36 for a one-year subscription that allows me to listen commercial-free- this has paid for itself 10 times over and makes using Pandora in the classroom possible.

You can create up to 100 stations and believe me, they have nearly every artist and song imaginable in their database!

Best news: If you hear a song you love, you give it a thumbs-up and it will direct more music of that style to your station. If you hear a song you don't like, give it a thumbs-down and you won't hear it again :)
I name my classroom quiet work time music "Classroom Guitar Music". On this station you will find acoustic, classical guitar artists with no lyrics. It's all very steady and lovely- the music is complex, but not distracting.

The artists I love include:
  • Don Ross
  • Andy McKee
  • John Danley
  • Tommy Emmanuel
  • Leo Kotke
  • and many, many more!

What's great is that when you create a station, you can "Add Variety" and add additional artists to the station to make it more diverse and finer-tuned to your needs.

We use this music during Independent Writing Time and during DEAR (Silent Reading). I have also used it during Daily 5, social studies and research time. It fills the room quietly and really does help my students stay focused.  I have even reminded students that their voices need to stay quiet enough so they can still hear the music if they are whisper-reading or conferencing.

Helpful Hints:
- If you are interested in using Pandora, START NOW! It takes a while, in my opinion, to make a station "your own" and ensure no wild cards are in there ;) This would be a fun summer project!

- Pandora requires consistent internet access- your district may block it (boo!), so you may want to find some fun artists you enjoy and get their music on iTunes and make your own playlist

- My laptop is my best friend during the school year, but the speakers are not great- it sounds so tinny and doesn't project the sound across the classroom. I purchased these speakers which are perfect and simply plug into the USB port, no extra power cord needed!
click to see them on Amazon
- I have highlighted classical guitarists- you may want to use Mozart or other genres (Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar is AWESOME!)- play around and make a station that you wouldn't mind hearing a lot- you need to love it and it needs to soothe and relax you, so then it can benefit your students :)

- Try finding other fun music that fits with your content areas and/or the time of year! We listened to some instrumental Celtic music during St. Patrick's Day, Bluegrass Instrumental and Native American Flute during our unit on Pioneers & Native Americans, and Holiday Instrumental during the wintertime. The key for me is to remove the vocals so kids are not distracted by the words and a sing-along doesn't break out in the middle of Workshop time. You can choose to include vocals in your selections, it's up to you and what works for your group!

- Stuck trying to find artists that fit your style? Ask your music teacher in your school or in blogland!

Do you use Pandora, iTunes, or any other music in your class? How does it go? I would love to hear about your experiences :)



32 comments

  1. I love to use quiet music during independent work times. I've always used Enya, but I LOVE the idea of using Pandora stations. Thanks so much for the idea!

    Farrah
    ThinkShareTeach

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    1. You bet! Pandora does such a nice job of introducing artists without any hard work on my part, so I love the diversity :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stephanie

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  2. Thanks for linking up, Stephanie! I love Pandora, but haven't used it too much in the classroom. I need to be better at that! :)

    Amanda
    Teaching Maddeness

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  3. I use pandora... I always played music during work time and testing until someone ruined it for us. Some dummy (nicest word I can think of) played school house rock during state testing. Really??? So now- no music during testing.

    At the end of the year we would rock out to the kids bop and kids stations. The kids loved it.

    Thinking about upgrading my account closer to school starting. Thanks for sharing!

    Every New Beginning

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    1. ohmagoodness, who in the world would do that during state tests? Oh brother!

      I definitely recommend upgrading- there are so many new features and it is just so much more enjoyable than those awful commercials :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stephanie

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  4. This might be asking too much but is there any way you could email me your station?
    Fkilgo@gmail.com

    Thanks,
    Farrah

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    1. I would love you to email me your station as well! jennifer.m.gendron@gmail.com

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  5. I love Love LOVE Pandora! I am worried about getting wild cards though, so I am grateful for the tip of making the station during the summer! Also, if anyone has a smartphone, there is a wonderful Pandora app so you could plug your phone into speakers and access Pandora that way.
    Allie
    The Gypsy Teacher

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    1. I know what you mean- those wild cards are oftentimes very wild ;) I have found that the more I thumbs up and down, the better and more consistent it gets- plus, I always try to add artists to keep the diversity up and the crazy songs out. That being said, there are still some times I have to hurry back to my laptop to thumbs down a random song, but that's getting rarer and rarer :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stephanie

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  6. This is a fantastic idea! I already use Pandora for myself, but I never thought of using it in the classroom! I feel as though it could be a cool way to "cool down" after recess or another type of activity. Or you could use it to signal a transition to the next topic! Very cool!

    Amanda

    Surviving the First Year

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  7. I use spotify in the classroom. It's similar to pandora in that you an create radio stations, but you can also just search the type of music you want and play an entire album, make playlists, or use someone else's already created playlist. It's pretty amazing.

    I'm a new follower btw! Hi
    Adventures in Room 5

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    1. Oooo, I have heard about Spotify but haven't tried it out yet- thanks for the recommendation!!

      ~Stephanie

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  8. I download music from iTunes and have created different playlists for my class- My fourth grade love Kids Bop. I bring my Ihome to the cafeteria and play music on Fridays. The kids love the Cha Cha Slide. Thanks for the tip about Pandora!

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  9. Music in the classroom seems like a great new thing to try this year! Thanks for the tips!
    The Science Penguin

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  10. I love Pandora! Sadly our district filter will not allow us to play it in the classroom. :( We have petitioned the technology department to allow the website but they refuse. I will have to check out spotify and see if it is blocked! Love your blog ;)

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    1. Bummer, Tiffany! Our district is getting more and more picky about what it will let through. I hope Spotify works for you!

      ~Stephanie

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  11. I used Pandora too! I do recommend though purchasing the upgrade for no commericals. Last year at Christmas I was playing Pandora in the classroom, and that Victoria Secret Commerical came on, with the "Tell me you want me," line. No one has ever seen a teacher move so fast for the volume!! Thanks for Sharing.

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  12. Love to use Pandora at our study center. Specially young kids love the musicmix by Satvir (Our DJ friend). Will try the helpful tips this summer.
    Thanks
    grade 3 math worksheets

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  13. How did I ever teach before PANDORA?! I absolutely love it! It helps students get "in the zone" and focus. Students beg to have it on, especially for special events. We were Jamaica for our field day and got into the groove by listening to authentic Jamaican stations. (We also watched Cool Runnings...hehe) They love Kids bop for parties as well :) I usually listen to smooth Jazz... but all easy listening stations are great!

    Always A Lesson

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  14. Love it! I have even put on the Disney channel at the end of the day before when we had a few extra minutes and we would play name that movie

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  15. I have used Pandora for years and was THRILLED when my district finally decided to unblock it at the end of last year! {Crossing my fingers that it will still be unblocked next year!} I have never heard of any of the guitar artists you mentioned, so I just made a new guitar station and included them all... love it! Thanks for recommending them! I enjoy using the Kidz Bop station, but watch out for a few of the not-so-kid-oriented songs!

    Kate
    EduKate and Inspire

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    1. I'm so glad I could help intro some new artists :) It's great that your district allows you to listen to Pandora- they can be so picky sometimes :)

      KidzBop is definitely fun- we listen to that station during birthday treats or during choice time.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ~Stephanie

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  16. I love Pandora; unfortunately my district blocks pretty much anything involving streaming :(

    I am awarding you the One Lovely Blog award!

    Julie
    Math is Elementary

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    1. Bummer, Julie! Our district is getting more and more picky about what it will let through, as well. It's sooooo frustrating when that happens :(

      Thanks for the award!!! :)

      ~Stephanie

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  17. Thanks for the info on Pandora! Just downloaded and started playing!

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  18. Thanks for the info on Pandora! Just downloaded and started playing!

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  19. Great ideas. I am a new follower (collecting more 3rd grade blogs to my reader)

    Laurie
    Chickadee Jubilee

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  20. I've used music for years as well! I have loved using itunes playlists but have gotten into using Pandora (and now even spotify) the last couple of years. I have a Jim Brickman (pianist) station that usually plays pretty calming music. I've had to tweak it a bit over time to filter out vocal songs. Another great source for songs is youtube! I am always surprised at how many I can find and then they usually have suggestions on the side. We watched Happy Birthday by the Ting Tings for each child's birthday last year while doing a follow the leader style birthday dance! My first graders loved it. (I'll have to think of a way to up the cool factor for my third graders this year! :-) ) Thanks for sharing specific artists for the guitar station!

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  21. We use Bela Fleck and the Flecktones during our writing time - the kids love it! It's a great pandora station.

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  22. This was so helpful! I've been using Pandora but overwhelmed trying to figure out what artists to add.

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  23. I us iTunes, but definitely want to try Pandora. I think I will make it a summer goal like you suggested. Thanks for the idea!

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  24. I also use Pandora in my classroom, we love it! My favorite station is Black Violin, it's similar to your station - Classroom Guitar Music. In case you're wondering, Black Violin is a duo hip hop violinist group that mixes classical and hip hop music together. I've also added the Dallas String Quartet, The Piano Guys and Eklipse to my Black Violin station.

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Thank you so much for your comments! :)
~Stephanie

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