Playing Music in the Classroom

Now that so many paid music streaming sites are being widely used (some cell phone plans even include them in your contract for free), it is a great thing to bring into the classroom whenever possible. I understand that some of the state rules do not allow for music to be played during testing and that is something we should be aware of – especially as we work to get our students acclimated to the testing environment. Even still, despite the state testing regulations, so many studies have shown that music in classrooms helps our learns focus and feel more at ease and in some cases, more confident, it is sometimes difficult to figure out which stations or genre of music would be best for our learners. This comes down to the purpose of the lesson and the energy needed to complete the task effectively as well as the amount of conversation that will be happening throughout the lesson. For example, the stations played while students are in small groups could be drastically different from the stations played while students are working on a collaborative project. Below are some stations that I have heard being played around campus and some stations that I have used with students as well:

For a Calming Room Environment:

To create an atmosphere of calm and ease, I enjoy using songs without words that I still know the tune of – things like songs remastered as lullabies or film scores. You may even hear your students talking about what song is being played

If you are interested in more lullaby choices, check out the Lullaby Renditions website here – they have about every rendition from Iron Maiden to Beyonce and Hamilton! Click the link above and then choose the album you are interested in, you can add it to your Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music account with just a few clicks! This could even become part of the prizes you offer your students – a student could choose the artist they listen to for a day and have some voice and choice recognized in this classroom routine.

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For Collaborative Group Work

When students are doing a group project or a task that requires a lot of movement or conversation, you do not necessarily want to play a calming lullaby. Instead, it might be a lot more effective to play music with words to help gauge the noise level of the group.

I have yet to find a station where all of the students enjoy the music genre. What I have found is that having a conversation around learning and appreciating the work of music has helped students understand that just because it is not their personal preference does not make it “bad.” This is another area where I have seen a lot of teachers offer voice and choice to their students. Instead of the teacher putting on their music, a student who has earned the privilege can choose what artist to listen to – just make sure you have your explicit music filter enabled to play radio edits as needed.


With the surge in popularity of apps like Tik Tok (formerly Musical.ly), it is clear that so many students have music and moving somewhere in their list of hobbies. Whenever possible, music is a great way to help our learners feel like their voice and choice are being recognized! If you have another station that you and your learners love, please share it out with others!

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