Three Game-Changing Ways to Use Music in Your Classroom

It’s all about the feeling.

Great music makes you feel something. But when it comes to children’s music, there’s nothing there. These melodies are sanitized. There’s no energy. There’s no character. There’s nothing to feel except sleepiness and boredom. That’s not fair for our kids.

So, what’s the solution?

This would probably be a great set up to say “Punk Rock Preschool will solve ALL your problems!” And yeah, I think my music is pretty great for kids. It’s educational. It’s fast, fun, and oh boy (oh man) does it have some feeling.

In fact, I guarantee it will get your class up and dancing. Give it a listen and watch the music take over.

Still, the solution is a lot bigger than Punk Rock Preschool. I’m just one guy making educational music that rocks. We need every teacher and every classroom using music to create positive feelings about learning.

Pre-K and Preschool is a child’s first impression of school. That first impression has to kick ass. And that first impression is hardly ever a logical evaluation. A first impression is not a weighing of pros and cons. It’s a feeling. And music is the ultimate tool to create a great feeling.

Music needs to be everywhere in your classroom. Listen to it. Explore it. Create it. Feel it.

But what if I’m not a musical person? That’s okay! I’ve got you covered with some simple steps to make your classroom more musical, even if you’ve never touched an instrument in your life.

First, explore and listen to all types of genres. You may even discover something you like. For a short list you’ve got: Classical, Gospel, Swing, Big Band, Ragtime, Jazz, Doo-Wop, Motown, Blues, Classic Rock, Country, Bluegrass, Soul, Funk, Boogie, Disco, Prog Rock, Punk Rock, Reggae, Latin, Folk, New Wave, R&B, Metal, Pop, Pop Punk, Pop Rock, Hip Hop, Rap, Acappella, House, EDM, and more.

For the full list of genres throughout time, check out Pentatonix performing the Evolution of Music. Also, listen to this breakdown of musical genres (but watch out for bad words in the rap section). Here’s one more breakdown of the genres performed live as “It’s a Wonderful World“.

Let kids dance and move however they want to this music. How do each of the songs and styles make them feel?

Then, after you’ve explored genres, explore some instrumentals. Instrumentals are the ultimate feeling inducers. Play movie soundtracks and scores. Play Hip Hop beats in their instrumental form. Create your own lyrics over the instrumentals if you’d like. Hell, you can even sing nursery rhymes to new beats. You’ll probably make them sound a lot better.

When it comes to these movie soundtracks, there’s no one better than John Williams. I still get chills when I see the Brachiosaurus in Jurassic Park while the most beautiful theme ever written plays in the background. But if you’re not as big of a Jurassic Park fan as I am, think about the feelings you get when you listen to some of his other works.

Jaws feels pretty suspenseful, like something is chasing after you. Harry Potter feels pretty magical, like you’re about to fly off around Hogwarts. Halloween’s theme (not John Williams) makes you feel scared without ever seeing the movie. Find these tracks that make you feel happy, sad, angry, scared, etc. Use them in your classroom. Use them in read aloud (this makes a huge difference). Use music everywhere!

If you need some extra evidence of music creating feelings, listen to Angelo Badalamenti explain how he wrote the Twin Peaks theme song based on a feeling and description from David Lynch. Or watch how Fargo brilliantly blends their story with the music of Peter and the Wolf. Can kids guess who is the good guy and who is the bad guy by the instrument? As a bonus, Westworld has one of the greatest soundtracks ever when it comes to instrumental music.  Switch music in and out of the listening center as you explore.

Finally, and the most important way to bring music into your classroom — literally bring music into your classroom. Fill your centers with instruments. Guitars, drums, horns, keyboards, organs, accordions, microphones. Turn your classroom into a music studio.

Won’t that be kind of loud?

Yup. It will be very loud. You could hear our drum set pretty much throughout the whole school. So you won’t be able to play every day, but you can play most days. It’s worth it to give your kids this kind of experience. To help them learn how to express themselves through music and song. To dance and to create. It’s the best feeling in the world.

Here is a list of instruments we used in our classroom with links to Amazon (we used DonorsChoose to fund the instruments):

Now, I guarantee you, the music they create won’t sound anything like a nursery rhyme. It probably won’t sound much of anything. But it will inspire them to create, imagine, and to feel something unbelievable about school.

That alone makes you a rock star teacher.

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